Christmas is in the air...

With Thanksgiving (and for that matter, November!) having coming and gone, that means Christmas is right around the corner!

After eating turkey and pumpkin pie and finishing my Christmas shopping for this year, it was time to put up the tree and put out all the Christmas decorations!

In the spirit of Christmas, here are some of my favorite holiday albums to throw on, in no particular order:

1. "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" by The Transiberian Orchestra

Product DetailsMy two favorite tracks on this album are "Christmas Sarajevo 12/24" and "A Mad Russian's Christmas," both instrumental pieces that I heard on the radio around Christmastime when I was a kid. Eventually my mom got me the CD one year. While I'm not too crazy about and tend to skip over the songs with a choir in it, I LOVE the instrumental pieces on this album.

What's great about the TSO is that they combine electric guitars into their orchestral pieces to create amazing instrumental works that everyone can enjoy!

2. "Snowed In" by Hanson

Product DetailsNow I know not everyone is fond of Hanson - either you loved their breakout hit "Mmmbop" or you didn't - yes, I was a Hanson fan back in 7th grade but grew out of them by the time I reached high school, however the brothers are definitely gifted and talented and as a Christmas album, this is probably still one of my favorites just due to several of the classics Hanson performs so well.

My favorite tracks on this one are "At Christmas" - a Hanson original - and their rendition of a "Silent Night Medley: O Holy Night/ Silent Night/ O Come All Ye Faithful."

Don't write it off just because it's Hanson! As a Christmas album, this one is solid!

3. "Little Drummer Boy EP" by Jars of Clay

Product Details This 3 track EP is worth getting if not for Jars' version of "The Little Drummer Boy" but for their version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," which is also included. Probably one of the prettiest versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"it is also very dark and cryptic sounding, really drawing you into the song, making you apart of it. Their version of "The Little Drummer Boy" also is very delightful and one that everyone should enjoy.

4. "A Very Special Christmas 3" by various artists

Product DetailsSo I know this compilation series has been around for awhile, but volume 3 is the only one I own. This particular volume of the series contains Christmas songs covered by various popular artists from the mid-90s, such as Natalie Merchant, Hootie and the Blowfish, Blues Traveler, Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Enya, and more.

My personal favorites are No Doubt's "Oi to the World" - which is an upbeat, uptempo ska song - and The Smashing Pumpkins' "Christmastime" - Billy Corgan really knows how to croon em out!

5. "Happy Christmas, vol. 1+2" by various artists

This compilation set (which is now on volume 5 according to Amazon.com), features Christmas songs by some of the more well-known Bec Recordings artists such as Five Iron Frenzy, Plankeye, Switchfoot, MxPx, Sixpence None the Richer, The Deluxetone Rockets and more. True, the majority of artists and bands on Bec Recordings are Christian, being a Christmas album series, it's not strictly limited to hymns - quite a bit of these bands and artists are pretty rocking musically!

Some of my favorites off the first two albums in this series are "You Gotta Get Up" by Five Iron Frenzy, "Away in a Manager" by Plankeye, "Winter Wonderland" by Joy Electric, "Heaven's Got a Baby" by Sarah Mason, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Sixpence None the Richer, and "Christmas Day" by MxPx

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