Learn to play four easy classic Christmas songs on guitar

Santa Claus in the library celebration concept playing guitar
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re a new guitar player, or you’re looking for some easy and fun Christmas songs to learn for a family sing-along in the holidays, this lesson will get you going in the right direction.

We’re going to be looking at four Christmas songs that use only open chords. The songs are perfect for beginner players to learn and play along with.

Each of these songs is instantly recognisable classics everyone will know! Follow the video and check out the chords and pointers below for the full lesson. 

The chords you'll need

Am Chord

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Em chord

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Dm chord

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A chord

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A chord

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D chord

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G chord

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C chord

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1. Jingle Bells

Chords: G, C, A and D

Let’s kick off with a song that everyone knows, Jingle Bells. This Christmas staple is guaranteed to get the party singing.

The rhythm for this song can be strummed very simply by playing a full strum of each chord on the beat. If you want to spice up the rhythm, you can alternate between full strums on the 1 and 3 and partial strums of the lower notes of the chord on 2 and 4.

The first 4 bars of this song is just the G chord played. The second 4 bars have a chord change on each bar. It goes from C to G to A to D.

2. Feliz Navidad

Chords: C, D, G and Em

This track, written by Puerto Rican artist Jose Feliciano, is a great, upbeat Christmas singalong that has some really good, faster chord changes which makes it a great challenge for a new player.

Rhythmically, you’re going to be playing each chord for a single bar, playing a strum of each chord on every beat of the bar. On beats 2 and 4, you also need to add an up strum between the beats on the “&” of the beat. You will count this as 1 2 & 3 4 &

This song is a four-bar loop. Play each chord for a single bar in the order of C to D to G to Em.

3. Silent Night

Chords: G, D, C and Em.

This is a very traditional Christmas song but and has been the centre of many a carol service for many years.

This song is actually made up of a 3 beat bar instead of a 4 beat bar. You will treat the counting aspect of this the same, except only count to 3. You will count this as 1 2 3 rather than 1 2 3 4.

Rhythm-wise, you’re going to be playing on each beat of the bar. On beat 1, play just the lowest note of the chord and on beats 2 and 3, play the higher notes of the chord. 

Remember when playing the lowest note that the string this occurs on changes based on the chord. For the G and Em chords, this note is on the E string, for the C it is on the A string and for the D it is on the D string.

This is quite a long chord progression to play, it’s made up of 24  bars in total. The first 4 bars are a G chord, before moving to D for 2 bars and back to G again for 2 more bars.

Then you’re going to C for a 2 bars and then G for 2 bars, before repeating C to G for 2 bars of each once more.

The next 2 bars are a bar of D followed by 2 bars of Em. Then you have a single bar of G, a single bar of D and 2 bars of G to end.

4. Last Christmas

Chords: C, Am, Dm and G

This classic by Wham is without a doubt one of the best-known Christmas songs in the world. Written by George Michael, it’s become a regular fixture on everyone’s Christmas playlists.

To play this at the same pitch as the recording you’ll need to place a capo on the 2nd fret of your guitar. 

The rhythm for this is the same rhythm that you used for Feliz Navidad, you’re playing a downbeat on each beat of the bar with an upstroke inserted on the “&” of beats 2 and 4. 

In this track you will need to stay on each chord for 2 bars. Starting with C for 2 bars, you then shift to Am for 2 bars, Dm for 2 bars and finally G for 2 bars.

Leigh Fuge

Leigh Fuge is a guitar player and content creator with a love for all things '80s. When he’s not creating gear demos for his Youtube channel he’s teaching students via his online guitar course Right Notes Music Tuition. Off camera he spends most of his time travelling around the UK performing at functions and corporate events.  www.instagram.com/leighfugeguitar