When Christmas is just around the corner, it gets more and more difficult to turn on the radio without hearing Christmas music.
There are countless classic Christmas songs celebrating the yuletide season, and for many of us it only takes hearing the opening bars of “All I Want for Christmas is You” or “Last Christmas” to be sent into a spiral of nostalgia, imaging the warmth of the fireside with a glass of eggnog in hand.
If you’re feeling festive, then why not try learning some easy Christmas songs on ukulele? Many of the most classic ukulele Christmas songs are actually quite harmonically simple, and even beginners should be able to learn to play along with relative ease.
Want more Christmas songs? Check out these posts.
What Chords Do I Need to Know to Play These Ukulele Christmas Songs?
In order to play these easy ukulele Christmas songs, you will need to know a few basic ukulele chords. These are C, Am, F, and G.
The chord progressions of many easy ukulele songs are based around those basic chords, and if you can already play them, then you will be well on your way to playing some instantly recognizable Christmas classics.
If you haven’t learned these ukulele chords yet, then it would be a wise idea to try to get familiar with them before attempting to learn the songs on this list. While it isn’t a necessity that you can already play them, it will ensure that you have a much easier time learning to put the chords together and play along to the song.
There are also some other basic ukulele chords that you will need to know for some songs, but we’ll go over everything you need below. If you learn just a few basic chords, you can be playing full songs faster than you can say, ” Merry Christmas.
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You might be wondering which strumming pattern you can use for these Christmas ukulele songs. We think that the best recipe for success is listening carefully to the song and trying to come up with a strumming pattern that fits in well with the overall tempo and feel. Still, this can be easier said than done, especially if you are a beginner to the ukulele.
The easiest strumming pattern that universally works with most songs is simply strumming on both the downbeat and upbeat. As long as you play in time, this should sound good with just about anything!
If you’d like to try something a bit more advanced, the following strumming pattern is slightly more rhythmically complex. It should help give your playing a bit more personality, and we feel it would be fairly suitable to most of the songs on this list:
D – D U – U D U
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Learning new strumming patterns can be challenging at first, so if you’re having a tough time learning this one, be patient with yourself. Try slowing it down and practicing with a metronome until it becomes part of your muscle memory. Then, you can try taking it up to speed and playing along to some of your favorite Christmas tunes.
Have a Merry Christmas With your Favorite Yuletide Songs
Below is our working list of popular Christmas songs that are also easy to play.
“Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby (chords used: A7, Ab, B7, Bb7, C7, D, D7, E7, Em, Eb, Eb7, F7, Fm, G).
Don’t be put off by the number of chords in this popular Hawaiian ukulele song; this Hawaiian Christmas song is an absolute classic, and it sounds gorgeous when played on the ukulele. “Mele Kalikimaka” is probably one of the most requested Christmas songs for just about any ukulele player, too, so it’s a great one to have up your sleeve.
Once you start playing, you’ll find that many of the chord changes in this song use the same shapes, too, so it’s much less daunting than it first appears.
“Silent Night” (chords used: C, F, G7, G)
Not only is “Silent Night” a gorgeous song, but it’s a harmonically simple one, too. The laid back tempo and gentle melody make this piece of music a very enjoyable choice to play along to on the ukulele, too. If you’re looking for the perfect song to round out the evening and send everyone off into a peaceful slumber, then this is a fantastic choice.
All of this is helped along by the fact that you only need to know four chords to play this beautiful song on the ukulele. And while “Silent Night” is, strictly speaking, a hymn, it’s a Christmas classic that is beloved by many.
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey (chords used: Am7, B7, C, Cm, D, E7, Em, G)
Probably one of the absolute best-known modern Christmas songs, “All I Want for Christmas is You” is often impossible not to hear during the holiday season. Still, the recording showcases a stunning vocal performance by Mariah Carey, in addition to perhaps being one of the catchiest Christmas songs on this list.
It’s important once again not to get put off by the number of different chords in “All I Want for Christmas is You”. It might seem like a lot, but in reality you just have a few major chords, minor chords, and major 7 chords. Many of them use the same shape at a different part of the fretboard, so it’s not as complicated as it seems!
“Last Christmas” by Wham (chords used: A, Am, Am7, C, Dm, G, G7)
This melancholy tale of regret and nostalgia is yet another modern Christmas classic. George Michael’s wistful and emotional vocal performance is a huge part of why this song so memorable, but don’t count the instrumentation out. Another thing that makes the song so unusual among Christmas tunes is that it’s in a minor key, which is what gives the composition an overall ‘sad’ sound or feel.
“Last Christmas” is a great introduction to ‘jazzier’ chords, featuring an Am7 among its lineup of chords. If you’d like to broaden your repertoire of Christmas songs and have a break from all the cheery, upbeat numbers, then you can’t really go wrong with “Last Christmas”.
“Jingle Bells” (chords used: A7, Am, C, D7, G)
Is there anybody reading this list who hasn’t heard “Jingle Bells before”? This is one of the most popular Christmas songs for people of all ages, and is a fantastic choice for a singalong. What’s more, the harmony is relatively similar, featuring only five chords. This makes it a great option for beginners to learn on the ukulele.
There are many versions and recordings of this Christmas song, but the classic melody is always instantly recognizable. The fact that the song is so popular means many know it off by heart, making “Jingle Bells” a great one to play along to with family and friends.
“Joy to the World” (chords used: G, C, D)
Despite the fact that it is based around only three chords, “Joy to the World” is another absolute Christmas classic. Its iconic descending melody is something that most people will instantly recognize and be more than happy to sing along to. Some recordings of this Christmas song feature bombastic instrumentation while others are more subdued, but regardless, its stunning melody makes it a fantastic choice to play along to on the ukulele.
Beginners to the ukulele should have no trouble whatsoever with “Joy to the World”, as the song uses only three chords. If you’re brand new to the ukulele and looking for Christmas songs to learn, then this would be an excellent place to start.
“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin/Bing Crosby (chords used: Am, C, D, D7, G)
There are plenty of reasons why “White Christmas” is a beloved Christmas favorite. The lyrics conjure up an image of an idyllic winter wonderland, and the lush instrumental gives you the feeling of sitting by the fire while the snow falls gently outside your window. Another great thing about the song is that it lends itself very well to adaptation to the ukulele.
In order to play along to “White Christmas”, you’ll only need five simple chords. Playing along to the chord changes should be manageable for beginners, thanks to the slow, meditative tempo of the original recording.
“Christmas Unicorn” by Sufjan Stevens (chords used: C, G, Am, D)
If you’re looking for a Christmas tune that is a bit left field, then why not tackle “Christmas Unicorn”, Sufjan Stevens’ epic yuletide odyssey? The song is based around the same four chords, yet somehow manages to last over 12 minutes without getting boring. Stevens is renowned for having released several full-length Christmas-themed records. “Christmas Unicorn” is arguably the crown jewel of this group of recordings, and it’s also among the best Christmas ukulele songs.
As the song progresses it becomes increasingly bombastic and wild; you might like to adjust your playing accordingly. Try changing up your strumming pattern or playing with more attack to really take your performance to the next level.
“Good King Wenceslas” (chords used: G, D, C, Em)
“Good King Wenceslas” is an accessible Christmas carol that is often taught to children in school. Thanks to its heartwarming story and charming melody, the song is a highly memorable one, which also makes it a great choice for beginners to learn on the ukulele. The song is based around only four chords, making learning it fairly quick and straightforward.
Plus, the straightforward rhythm and stepwise motion of the vocal line make it fairly easy to sing “Good King Wenceslas” while playing an instrument at the same time. To really mix things up, you could try switching between strumming the chords and finger picking the melody.
“We Three Kings” (chords used: Am, G, F, C, Em, G/B, Dm, E)
As one of the few songs on this list in a minor key, “We Three Kings” presents a refreshingly sober take on the Christmas legend of the birth of Jesus. Chronicling the incredible journey of the three kings of the Orient, we are transported through mountains, fields and deserts alongside the kings as they make their way to Bethlehem.
The chorus of “We Three Kings” has a much brighter, more optimistic feel and this contrast makes the song very compelling from start to finish. Beginner ukulele players might initially be daunted by the number of chords that make up this number, but it’s important to note that many of them share fundamentally the same shape.
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” by Felix Mendelssohn (chords used: C, G, Dm, Am, D, Em, G7, F, A7)
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is known for its incredible melody and often bombastic instrumentation, thanks in large part to the classic arrangement of its original composer, Felix Mendelssohn. Given that we usually associate the carol with orchestras and blaring trumpets, learning “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” on the ukulele might seem like something of an odd choice.
Despite only having four strings, we think the ukulele is actually the perfect choice for playing along to the classic Mendelssohn carol. It allows you to take a much gentler, mellower approach to the piece and helps the beautiful leading melody to shine through, unencumbered and without needing to compete with a massive orchestra for the listener’s attention.
“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano (chords used: C, D, Em, G)
Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous Christmas numbers of all time, “Feliz Navidad” is absolutely inescapable in the Latin world during the holiday season. Before you know it, the insanely catchy chorus is stuck in your head, where it often remains well into the new year. “Feliz Navidad” is based around a few simple chords, which is why we think it’s a fantastic Christmas song for beginners to the ukulele to learn.
The upbeat vocals and instrumentation lend themselves perfectly to adaptation to the ukulele, too. Before you know it, you’ll be getting “Feliz Navidad” stuck in the heads of your friends and foes alike… so what are you waiting for?
“O Holy Night” by Adolphe Adam (chords used: Am, B, C, C7, Dm, Em, F, G, G7)
Known for its haunting melody and atmospheric arrangement, “O Holy Night” is definitely one of the more striking and memorable holiday songs that you can adapt to the ukulele. Many arrangements of this Christmas classic include some form of harp accompaniment, which is most often playing arpeggiated figures through the chord changes.
If you’re up for a challenge, we would recommend doing the same on the ukulele. Simply fingerpicking some arpeggios through the chord changes is actually fairly simple, and it creates a truly stunning effect. And, of course, if you haven’t mastered fingerpicking just yet, you can try simply strumming through the chord changes, which also sounds fantastic alongside the beautiful vocal melody that makes “O Holy Night” so special.
“Deck the Halls” (chords used: D, A, G, Bm, E7)
“Deck the Halls” is one of the ultimate Christmas carols to sing along to, and it sounds great when accompanied by ukulele, too. The simple harmony makes following through the chord changes fairly simple, and beginners should be able to keep up without too much effort. Anyone looking to flesh out their performance might like to try playing the main melodic line as well.
The melody in “Deck the Halls” is largely scalar, meaning that it moves up and down the scale one note at a time. This actually makes it fairly easy to play, as most of the notes are close together. You don’t need to worry about any crazy intervals or leaps when playing along.
“Jingle Bells” by James Lord Pierpont (chords used: D, G, A, Bm, E7)
This one is another absolute favourite for kids to sing along to. Both the verses and chorus in “Jingle Bells” are upbeat and infectious; it’s almost impossible not to sing along! Simple chord changes and a moderate tempo mean that “Jingle Bells” should be manageable for ukulele players of all skill levels.
If you’re planning on having a carols night or singalong this Christmas season, then “Jingle Bells” should probably be the first song you start learning. It’s a song that just about everybody will know, and you can send off your carols night with a bang by finishing up with a rousing rendition of “Jingle Bells”.
“The Little Drummer Boy” by Katherine Kennicott Davis (chords used: C, F, G)
“The Little Drummer Boy” is one of those Christmas songs that truly tells a story. With interesting lyrics and a plaintive melody, “the Little Drummer Boy” is a nice addition to any Christmas song repertoire. The melody and arrangement have a subtlety that most Christmas songs lack. Plus, the song is based around three very simple ukulele chords.
If you’re looking for an easy Christmas song for beginners to learn on ukulele and would like a break from bombastic melodies and arrangements, then “the Little Drummer Boy” would be an excellent choice. The melody features a lot of repeating notes, too, meaning beginner ukulele players should be able to learn to fingerpick it without too much trouble.
“God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” (chords used: Am, C, E, F, G)
This sombre, ancient Christmas carol is built on just a few chords, but they do change quickly. In doing so, “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” is given a sense of continuous forward momentum, but this is something for beginner ukulele players to be mindful of. If it feels like the changes are moving too quickly to keep up with at first, then slowing the song down until you have the chords committed to memory should definitely help.
As another of the classic ukulele Christmas carols written in a minor key, “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” is a fantastic way to introduce a more serious, reflective number to your Christmas singalong, as well as giving yourself a break from all the strumming that you’ll be doing along to the more upbeat numbers!
Even More Christmas Songs to Learn on Ukulele
Still haven’t got enough of learning Christmas songs on your ukulele? If you’ve learned all of the songs on our list and are looking for more, then we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of honorable mentions for Christmas carols and songs that are also worth learning on the ukulele.