Christmas. It’s a time of cheer, filled with lights, trees, (hopefully spiked) eggnog, and of course Christmas songs. Often, radio stations begin blasting Christmas tunes obnoxiously early. Usually, it’s before Thanksgiving. But one year I remember hearing holiday songs playing before Halloween. That’s simply uncalled for. Party foul, radio DJs.

Seasonal songs are more bountiful than dishes at a Thanksgiving meal. While many bring joy to the season, quite a few are purely awful. Whether they’re earworm material, grating, or just depressing, here are the worst Christmas songs of all:

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

“I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is either really cute or strange. This depends on interpretation. One camp views this as (spoiler alert) a child witnessing their parents kissing. The other party takes the song more literally, that mom’s shacking up with Santa. I guess she left out more than just milk and cookies for Santa. Perhaps it’s the Billy Bob Thorton variety of Santa.

Regardless, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” ranks among the most polarizing of Christmas songs. But hey, this Jackson 5 version is pretty adorable regardless.

Last Christmas

Ok, so I admit I kind of enjoy “Last Christmas.” However, Wham’s Christmas jingle has the propensity to become a raging earworm. Nay, it’s an ear-tapeworm. For that reason, it’s one of the worst Christmas songs of all time. Probably just reading about “Last Christmas” has this catchy tune stuck in your head. And the very next day, it will still be your earworm. You’re welcome.

The 12 Days of Christmas

I was quite surprised to learn that “The 12 Days of Christmas” is rather unpopular. But upon revisiting this classic tune, its repetitious nature can be pretty overbearing. Also, the gifts are just plain strange. It’s like a white elephant party, but with only one recipient. And 12 days of unwanted gifts.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Originally intended as a silly jingle, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is a fairly derisive Christmas song. You either love or hate this one, depending on your familial relations. Underneath the goofy veneer, it’s a bit dark. Grandma gets trampled and killed. Moreover, Grandpa doesn’t mourn, but instead takes it rather well chugging beer and watching football. It’s this grim nature that makes “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” one of the worst Christmas songs. Somehow, this little ditty became a phenomenon. But for those of you who dread family get-togethers and your grandma, maybe this is your favorite.

Baby it’s Cold Outside

Regardless of the version, “Baby it’s Cold Outside” is downright creepy. So questionable in fact that a couple from Minnesota rewrote “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with a reminder of this important thing called consent. The new version features lines like “I ought to say no, no, no,” and “You reserve the right to say no.”

When you take a moment to ponder the original lyrics, it’s really discomforting. There’s even a line “Say, what’s in this drink.” If that’s not creepy, I don’t know what is.

The Christmas Shoes

Christmas is generally a time for happiness. Dubbed “the hap-hap-happiest season of all,” I’m baffled why anyone would enjoy “The Christmas Shoes.” For those of you blissfully unaware of this depressing song, it’s the story of a boy who is finishing up his Christmas shopping. He wants to purchase a pair of shoes for his mother who is suffering from a terminal illness. The narrator is behind this poor kid in line, and ends up paying for the shoes.
I prefer my Christmas songs with dancing snowmen, candy canes, and jolly fat Santa Claus. Thanks “The Christmas Shoes,” but if I wanted to feel really sad, I’d just turn on the news. Or watch an Ingmar Bergman film.

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Unanimously annoying, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” has absolutely nothing redeeming. The hook is painfully grating. And if that’s not bad enough, there’s a Chipmunks version. All I want for Christmas is to not hear this song.

Dominick the Donkey

From its sing songy tune to the fake donkey “he haw, he haws,” “Dominick the Donkey” is pretty unbearable. It doesn’t even appear that there’s a legend of a Dominick the Donkey. Rather, the character was created merely for the song. There’s no historical significance, and moreover the spelling was changed from Dominick to Dominic for a re-release. That lack of consistency does not help.

Do They Know it’s Christmas

Fun fact: While the 1984 version may be the most well-known iteration, there are several “Do They Know” releases. My favorite features a brief snippet with UK grime legend Dizzie Rascal. Lyrics raise awareness for victims of famine and financial strife. Although I understand the overall message, it’s a bit muddled with the Bono lyric “But tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” That just seems incongruous with the chant of “feed the world.” Saying “be thankful for what you’ve got” is completely different from “be thankful it’s them instead.”

Later this lyric would be changed. But the original, despite its good intentions, makes the list.

I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” doesn’t even make sense. Why does this small girl want a hippo? And not a stuffed animal, but an actual hippopotamus. The chorus proceeds to remind us that crocodiles and rhinos are out of the question. Who is this girl? Hopefully she became a zookeeper with her inexplicable fascination with unusual pets.

Wonderful Christmas Time

What happened to Paul McCartney? No, I’m not referring to the fact that he evolved into an Angela Lansbury doppelganger. Instead, I’m talking about his bloody awful “Wonderful Christmas Time.” From the repetitive synth to cliche lyrics, it’s the star atop the tree. The king of all bad holiday songs.

Its high probability to become an earworm does not help the reputation of “Wonderful Christmas Time.” What’s more, the lyrics are so forgettable, that you’ll probably just have “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” and that annoying synth pinging around your head for hours. And hours. And hours. NPR found that its audience would use this track as punishment.


What are your least favorite Christmas songs? Comment below and get in the holiday spirit!

  • Michael

    Totally feel ya on this list… “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” definitely should’ve never happened. Now this is just a theory, but I’m willing to bet that these aren’t even real little girls singing these songs! :-O

    By the way, you left out “Santa Baby” which in my opinion is the apex of terrible little-girl voiced Christmas songs. I’ll just assume that you were sparing us the ear worm.

    • Moe

      Hahaha! The only version of “Santa Baby” I like is the Madonna version. Because I love Madonna.