When is it Too Early to Start Listening to Christmas Music? American Songwriter Weighs In

Imagine it: you’re idly shopping in the grocery store on a crisp fall day, pushing the cart with the busted wheel through another aisle, when suddenly “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Michael Bublé comes pouring forth from the PA system. You’re irate; it’s not even Halloween yet, and pumpkin spice creamer is still on the shelves, who has summoned Bublé?

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The debate goes something like this: should we be allowed to start the holiday season at any point in the year, or should playing Christmas music in October be considered a felony offense? Does Mariah Carey really have the power to call forth Christmastime? And will there finally be snow in Africa?

Jokes aside, the question remains: how early is too early to start listening to Christmas music? It seems like Christmas has started earlier and earlier each year, and soon “Christmas in July” is going to be more than just a Southern Hemisphere celebration or a marketing tactic for furniture sales. To get into the spirit, American Songwriter staff weighed in on this controversial topic and included their favorite holiday songs while they were at it.

American Songwriter Weighs In — Christmas Music Edition

Lisa Konicki, Editor-in-Chief

Lisa started us off by claiming any time “before Halloween” is too early for Christmas music, while the perfect time to start playing holiday tunes would be “the day after Thanksgiving [or] Black Friday.”

Lisa’s Favorites: White Christmas,” “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey, and “Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill.

Lorie Liebig, Features Writer

Lorie said, “I think anytime before November is too early, we should let Halloween have its moment. I think a few days before Thanksgiving is acceptable, but ideally it would be Black Friday.”

Lorie’s Favorites:A Willie Nice Christmas” by Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Death Cab for Cutie, and “The Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Tina Eves, Senior Writer

According to Tina, “It’s too early to start during Halloween. I think the day after Thanksgiving is a proper kick off to the Christmas season (trees, music, etc.). Until then, it’s all about the leaves and pumpkins.”

Tina’s Favorites:Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, “Christmas Must Be Tonight” by The Band, “Step Into Christmas” by Elton John, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” She also added the entire Nat King Cole Christmas catalog, as well as Neil Diamond’s holiday offerings.

Dean Moore, Associate Editor

Dean said, “The first Christmas song should be played at 12:00 am the night of/day after Thanksgiving and not before. But then it’s ON.”

Dean’s Favorites: The Christmas Song” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Nat King Cole. He also included the 1959 album Christmas with Conniff by the Ray Conniff Singers as “the greatest Christmas album ever.”

Clayton Edwards, News Writer

“Anytime before Black Friday is too soon for Christmas music,” said Clayton. “I’d prefer to wait until mid-December, honestly.”

Clayton’s Favorites: Christmas in Prison” by John Prine, “Feliz Navidad” by Asleep at the Wheel, “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer” by Joe Diffie, and “We Wish You a Irie Christmas” by Jacob Miller and Ray I.

Alex Hopper, Features Writer

“In my humble opinion,” Alex began, “the exact right moment to start playing Christmas music is November 1. I know what you’re thinking, ‘What about Thanksgiving?’ I never understood why those things have to be mutually exclusive. I can listen to Christmas music all month and then still celebrate Thanksgiving to my fullest abilities. Is there any Thanksgiving music? Exactly. So why can’t I start bringing out my Christmas music? If you wait until December then you only get 31 days to listen to Christmas music and that is entirely not enough.”

Alex’s Favorites: Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney.

Jacob Uitti, Senior Writer

Jacob said succinctly, “Too early: before Halloween,” and “Right time: though I put my tree up day after Halloween the right time for Xmas music is probably after thanksgiving.”

Jacob’s Favorites: A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack from 1965, and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, originally composed in 1892.

Matt Friedlander, News Writer

According to Matt, the right time to play Christmas music is “definitely after Halloween and maybe a couple of weeks into November.”

Matt’s Favorites: Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon, “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry, “Father Christmas” by The Kinks, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love, “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders, and “The Little Drummer Boy,” making note of the David Bowie and Bing Crosby duet.

Annie Reuter, Managing Editor

“I think the right time to start playing Christmas music is Thanksgiving Day,” said Annie. “Once the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade officially ushers in the holiday season with the arrival of Santa Claus on his sleigh in New York City then it’s time to crank up Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ and tune into all those feel-good holiday movies. Anything before then is too soon for me!”

Annie’s Favorites: All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey, the album Once Upon a Christmas by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, and Elvis Presley’s The Christmas Album.

Thomas Galindo, Hip-Hop Writer

Thomas said “before Thanksgiving” is too early for Christmas music, but “Black Friday” is just the right time.

Thomas’ Favorites: “White Christmas,” “Christmas at Swae’s” by Swae Lee, and “Very First Christmas” from Spongebob Squarepants.

Cillea Houghton, Features Writer

Cillea commented on the fact that Christmas seems to be starting earlier each year, saying, “I agree with the consensus that Christmas music should start the night of Thanksgiving, that feels like the official start of the Christmas season. For me, Christmas music doesn’t get its magic until Thanksgiving night. Anytime around Halloween is waaaay too early. However, I will say that during COVID, I found myself longing for the Christmas spirit early, so my roomie at the time and I set up the decorations and started watching the (really bad) Hallmark Christmas movies pre-Thanksgiving. It seems that I have been getting into the holiday spirit a little earlier each year since COVID.”

Cillea’s Favorites: Christmas Makes Me Cry” by Kacey Musgraves, “O Holy Night” by Josh Groban, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon, and A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.

Lauren Boisvert, News Writer

As for this author, Christmas starts in early November, when the Florida fall is getting tiresome and it’s time for peppermint mocha already. “There’s not really a season change to usher in Christmastime here, so I have to make it be Christmas through sheer force of will. Sometimes that means wearing a handmade sweater in 85 degree heat, sometimes that means putting my Christmas playlist on a little early and just pretending it’s going to be chilly tomorrow.”

Lauren’s Favorites: Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg (“technically a New Year song but let me have my simple pleasures”), “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” by Blink-182, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by My Chemical Romance, “What Christmas Means to Me” by Hanson, “Christmas Will Be Soon” by Lemon Demon, and “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses.

Photo by Mark Erickson/Getty Images

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