12 Fingerstyle Songs of Christmas

Christmas Song Guitar Lessons (The 12 Fingerstyle Songs of Christmas)

It's that time of year once again and what better way to spend it than with your beloved guitar (friends and family too, of course), playing all your favourite Christmas songs.

Here are twelve fingerstyle arrangements of some of the most famous and popular Christmas songs of all time. They all range in difficulty and cover a huge amount of techniques.

Each song comes with a full demonstration of the arrangement and video lessons. Guitar tab is available to buy if you feel it would help you out. So get ready to really impress all your friends and family this Christmas!

Let's get straight on and start learning all these great fingerstyle arrangements. Buckle up as there is a HUGE amount to learn here!

The 12 Fingerstyle Songs of Christmas 

  1. Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont)
  2. Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry)
  3. Last Christmas (George Michael)
  4. Merry Xmas Everybody (Slade)
  5. Frosty the Snowman (Steve Nelson)
  6. Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms)
  7. Silent Night (Franz Xaver Gruber)
  8. Happy Xmas (War is Over) (John Lennon)
  9. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (composer unknown)
  10. Driving Home For Christmas (Chris Rea)
  11. All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)
  12. Auld Lang Syne (Robert Burns)

Xmas Fingerstyle Medley

First off, here's a little taster of some of the songs that are taught in the lessons in the form of a fingerstyle medley!

Jingle Bells

The first song we're going to learn is well over a hundred years old and is one of the best known songs in the world. You simply can't go through December without hearing this song somewhere, and for that reason it's the first of the list.

Song Details:

  • Key - C major 
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Difficulty - intermediate

Jingle Bells Lesson 1 (Verse):

The hardest part about this arrangement is the alternating bass line, especially on the C chord. You can simplify it by alternating between the A and D strings and omitting the E string altogether.

If you're struggling with alternating the bass then I recommend trying one of my courses.

Jingle Bells - Chorus:

Here we learn how to play the chorus to Jingle Bells. Warning! Prepare for the tune to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

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Here Comes Santa Claus

Here Comes Santa Claus was written in 1947 by Gene Autry and is a greatly loved Christmas song. It's great fun to play and sounds good executed at any speed, fast or slow.

Song Details:

  • Key - C major
  • Tuning - standard
  • Difficulty - beginner - intermediate

Here Comes Santa Claus - Performance

Here's a quick demo of Here Comes Santa Claus, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Here Comes Santa Claus - Intro:

OK let's get stuck into Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane). The song begins with a quick four bar intro. This part isn't too hard to play at all but it does move across the whole neck so visualising the notes can be tricky. Pick up your guitar and let's start!

Here Comes Santa Claus - Verse (Part 1):

The first section of Here Comes Santa Claus is quite similar to Jingle Bells, you'll hear straight away that the first few notes are identical.

Here Comes Santa Claus - Verse (Part 2):

Things get a little harder here and you may find gripping the F chord tough, but persevere and you'll get it!

Last Christmas

Last Christmas was written in 1984 by George Michael and is one of the most successful Christmas songs released in the '80s.

This fingerstyle arrangement is pretty demanding to play, but once you start to master all the subtle techniques it becomes a great deal of fun. It's really one to impress your friends and family with!

Song Details:

  • Key - D major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 110 bpm
  • Difficulty - intermediate - high intermediate

Last Christmas - Performance

Here's a quick demo of Last Christmas, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Last Christmas - Lesson 1:

This arrangement jumps straight into the chorus so in this lesson we learn how to tackle that first section. Thankfully the entire song is just four chords, which takes a little pressure off the mind and allows you to focus more on the melody line. Familiarise yourself with the chords first and then jump into the melody.

Last Christmas - Bridge:

Remember that this song should be played lightly, don't be too aggressive on the strings and really let them ring into each other to get the best results.

Last Christmas - First Verse:

The light strums run throughout the whole song and land on the counts of 2 and 4. Gently strum (roughly) the G and B strings on these two counts.

Last Christmas  - Second Verse:

This one is similar to the last verse but the melody has changed a little.

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Merry Xmas Everybody

This song was written by British rock band Slade in 1973 and went straight to number 1 in the UK after its release. 

Merry Xmas Everybody has a reasonably simple chord progression throughout but with the fingerpicking thrown in it does get a little tricky. However, it's a great deal of fun to play!

Song Details:

  • Key - G major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 130 bpm
  • Difficulty - high intermediate

Merry Xmas Everybody - Performance

Here's a quick demo of Merry Xmas Everybody, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Merry Xmas Everybody - Intro:

OK let's get going with Merry Xmas Everybody. The intro to this one begins with a descending bass line over a Bb chord. This sounds great, is a lot of fun to play and isn't too hard providing you've got your barre chords down.

Merry Xmas Everybody - Verse/Pre Chorus:

Into the verse/pre chorus now and things really start to pick up. I'd recommend learning the chord progression off by heart before trying to do the fancy fingerpicking.

Merry Xmas Everybody - Chorus:

So here it is, Merry...um Chorus?

Merry Xmas Everybody - Bridge:

Here we have a four bar bridge that firmly moves into the key of D Minor before returning back to the chorus, in G Major.

Frosty the Snowman

This song was originally written by Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry in 1950. It's been covered many times across multiple styles of music, with one of the most popular covers being done by The Ronettes in 1963.

Song Details:

  • Key - G major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 145 bpm
  • Difficulty - intermediate

Frosty the Snowman - Intro/Verse:

On the tab I've included a very simple four bar intro, just strumming through some basic chords. I've not taught it in the lesson but hopefully you're OK playing it. Things get a little more complicated for the verse, but it still follows a straightforward chord progression.

Frosty the Snowman - Bridge:

The only other part to the song is the bridge, a slightly hard chord progression to get through but a lot of fun to play.

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Jingle Bell Rock

This classic Christmas song was written by Bobby Helms in 1957 and it will almost certainly be a song you stumble upon at Christmas time. It's received frequent radio play each year for over 60 years now and shows no sign of letting up. 

Song Details:

  • Key - D major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 118 bpm
  • Difficulty - intermediate

Jingle Bell Rock - Performance

Here's a quick demo of Jingle Bell Rock, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Jingle Bell Rock - Intro:

Let's jump into Jingle Bell Rock - a real classic and an awful lot of fun to play. Watch out as there's some pretty tricky chords to grip at times and they move by at quite a speed. So practise nice and slowly to make sure you're playing accurately. If you do that, you'll have this song sounding amazing in no time!

Jingle Bell Rock - Verse:

Moving into the verse now and make sure to get the chord progression down before you tackle the melody.

Jingle Bell Rock - 2nd/3rd Verse:

Hopefully you were OK with the first verse, so let's look at the next two.

Silent Night

One of the prettiest Christmas songs around and a real joy to play.

This arrangement is reasonably easy to play but there are certainly some tricky parts here and there. You may find some of the chords a little hard to grip and there's a quick run of diminished chords that may take a bit of practice. Having said that, I'm sure you'll really enjoy it once you've mastered it and hopefully you'll be playing this arrangement of Silent Night for many Christmases to come. 

Song Details:

  • Key - G major without a capo (A major with capo)
  • Capo - 2nd fret
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 88 bpm
  • Difficulty - intermediate - high intermediate

Silent Night (Performance)

As you learn to play this fingerstyle arrangement of Silent Night, be sure to frequently return to the performance as a good reference point and guide.   

Silent Night - Lesson:

Let's start learning how to play one of the most beautiful Christmas Carols there is. The capo is of course completely optional for this one - put it wherever you like, or lose it all together. Really try and play the song with a lot of feel and make sure to let all the notes ring into one another as smoothly as possible.

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Happy Xmas (War is Over)

This song was written by the great John Lennon in 1971 with the John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band. For an extra helping hand, Lennon recruited the Harlem Community Choir to help out with the backing vocals. Although the song didn't race to the top of the Charts upon its release, it has become and continues to be a Christmas classic to many.

Song Details:

  • Key - A major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Difficulty - intermediate

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - Performance

Here's a quick demo of Happy Xmas (War is Over), be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - Chord Progression:

There are loads of chords in this song so before we jump into all the fingerstyle parts, I think it's vital to properly learn the chord progression off by heart. This lesson focuses solely on the chords and a good strum pattern you can use throughout. Let's get cracking!

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - Verse:

Remember that you can simplify this down as much as you want to. Feel free to take out the alternating bass at any point, and don't feel as though you have to add all the chord variations.

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - Chorus:

That's most of the hard stuff done! You will hopefully find the chorus a bit easier.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We Wish You A Merry Christmas is a traditional English Christmas carol. The most famous version hails from the West Country in the 1930s but the song itself is thought to date back to the 16th century. It was popularised by Bing Crosby on his 1963 album I Wish You A Merry Christmas.

The carol probably originates from when wealthy people used to give Christmas treats to carollers on Christmas Eve, including the famous figgy pudding (which was very similar to a modern day Christmas pudding, although often didn't contain figs!).

Song Details:

  • Key - C major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Difficulty - beginner
  • Time Signature - 3/4

We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Lesson:

This one is slightly easier than some of the others that we've looked at but it still has its challenges. One of the hardest things about it is the chords because there's a lot of them and they seem to fly by at a great speed. But don't let that put you off, just take your time and go slow. 

We Wish You A Merry Xmas Guitar Tab

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Driving Home for Christmas

Written in 1988 by Chris Rea, Driving Home for Christmas is a timeless classic. This isn't the easiest song on the list but it certainly is a lot of fun to play!

Song Details:

  • Key - A major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 180 bpm
  • Difficulty - high intermediate

Driving Home For Christmas - Performance:

Here's a quick demo of Driving Home For Christmas, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Driving Home For Christmas - Intro:

Let's jump right in! The intro is predominantly an A and a D chord but it uses variations of each chord to really add that Christmassy sound that you hear throughout the song. It's good to know that the intro uses exactly the same chords as the verse.

Driving Home for Christmas - First Verse:

The chords are the same as the intro so here you just need to learn how to add in the melody line.

Driving Home for Christmas - Chorus:

In this section of the song there's a new chord progression to learn, which is slightly more involved than that in the intro/verse. This section uses a lot of barre chords.

Driving Home for Christmas - Bridge:

There's just the bridge to tackle now. Hopefully you're OK with the other sections by this point so this part will come easily to you.

All I Want for Christmas Is You

Written and produced by Mariah Carey herself, All I Want for Christmas Is You is the ultimate Christmas song. It's full of twists and turns and fast move chords, this is tricky but great one to play.

Song Details:

  • Key - G major
  • Tuning - standard 
  • Tempo - 150 bpm
  • Difficulty - high intermediate - advanced

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Performance:

Here's a quick demo of All I Want for Christmas Is You, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Lesson:

I've done a whole post on All I Want for Christmas Is You - check it out here!

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Auld Lang Syne

To finish up the 12 Fingerstyle Songs of Christmas we're going to learn the New Year's classic Auld Lang Syne. It's a truly beautiful piece of music that works wonderfully well when played fingerstyle.

Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish poem originally written by Robert Burns in 1788. The poem was then put into a folk song and has since been used for to bid farewell to the end of the year at midnight on News Year's eve.

Song Details:

  • Key - D major
  • Tuning - drop D
  • Difficulty - intermediate

Auld Lang Syne - Performance:

Here's a quick demo of Auld Lang Syne, be sure to refer back to it as you learn the arrangement to make sure you're playing it correctly.

Auld Lang Syne - Intro:

The arrangement starts with a quick 4 bar intro based around a D major chord. I've altered the bass-line in bar one, adding in the note of G followed by F#. Then in bar two I simply arpeggiate a Dsus2 chord.   

Auld Lang Syne Guitar Tab Intro

Auld Lang Syne - Verse:

For the verse of Auld Lang Syne the chords move pretty rapidly, so you really have to know what's coming up next. Work hard on getting the melody to be nice and clear and remember that you're trying to get it to sound as much like a vocal as possible. In other words, put your heart into it. 

Auld Lang Syne Guitar TAB Verse

Auld Lang Syne - Chorus:

The chorus of Auld Lang Syne is very similar to the verse, just with a few small changes. I've also added a tiny scale run in bar 4 just to fill the space a little, this is of course completely optional.

Auld Lang Syne Guitar TAB Chorus

That's it for the 12 Fingerstyle Songs of Christmas! I hope you enjoyed learning these festive songs.

If you want to make sure that you're really on the right track with fingerpicking, then try one of my fingerstyle guitar courses - find out more here.

If you have any questions or want to share anything at all, then please leave a comment below.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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