Features, Location Love, Originals

Location Love [Special Edition]: Our Favorite Holiday Albums, And Where To Enjoy Them

Editor’s note: this week, we’re doing something a little different. Julia and I split Location Love duties to give you a peek into our December lives – Dena

Julia’s Picks

Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas 

We have traditions in our house about Christmas movies and Christmas music. For me, the jazz notes of A Charlie Brown Christmas are best listened to through oversized headphones with my head wedged between a few presents underneath the Christmas tree looking up through the branches. There’s something soothing about looking at twinkle lights from this angle, and the secretiveness of the bottom branches of a tree, the strong smell of pine in my nose and probably a pine needle or four in my hair. Maybe it’s my love of cozy spaces and forts, but this makes me feel Christmas in the way I did as a kid, and I love it. I also maybe only do it when I’m alone in the house. It looks a little weird lying under a tree with your head between gift boxes.

The Woodsy’s suggested listening locations:

  • Wandering the amazing holiday markets around the region like Urban Craft Uprising in SLU in Seattle, or Crafty Wonderland in Portland
  • any long stretch of road in Idaho (it’s timeless)
  • that classy dinner party you happen to be managing a playlist for
Trans Siberian Orchestra – The Christmas Trilogy

If the inside activities of Christmas are getting overwhelming, I love breaking away for a quick run  around outside. I like to blast the Trans Siberian Orchestra when I go because not only does it help motivate my poor frozen limbs in the chilly (and usually wet) conditions, but I always think “fitness: holiday edition!” in my head which, for some reason, makes it that much more fun.

The Woodsy suggested listening locations:

  • Running or biking on the Burke-Gilman Trail in the Seattle metro area
  • the I-5 corridor (or anywhere where you’re stuck in traffic) since you can pound your steering wheel emphatically as needed and keep your energy up
  • the stretch of I-90 in between Moses Lake and Spokane (did we mention it’ll keep your energy up?)
Bing Crosby – Christmas Classics

We drive across the state every year after Christmas to spend time with family north of Spokane. I’ve been doing it for more than ten years now, and the drive is not complete without the classic Christmas tunes of Bing Crosby. I have strong audial memories of “White Christmas” playing while we drive through Snoqualmie pass, and “Mele Kalikimaka” as we’re pulling into the snowy driveway of my in-laws, often late at night.

The Woodsy suggested listening locations:

Dena’s Picks

Michael Bublé – Christmas

Michael Bublé’s voice makes me feel classy, even when I’m in my sweatpants.  This particular album is always in heavy rotation at my parents’ house during the holidays, so to me it evokes gray Puget Sound skies, baked goods, and the best spot in the house: the floor, directly in front of the fireplace (they offer me couch space every year, and the answer is always “absolutely not.”)

The Woodsy suggested listening locations:

  • Driving to and from your favorite upscale shopping destinations a la Bellevue Square or Pacific Place in Seattle, or Pioneer Place in Portland
  • when you go through a coffee drive-thru in your pajamas and want to class up your experience
  • Sitting at your desk in the office trying not to count the minutes before you can go home and relax in front of the fireplace


Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

This album is twenty-two (22) years old, guys. That means for the entire history of time less twenty-two years, humans went without “All I Want For Christmas.” I may or may not have taken it upon myself to listen to it enough times so that this deficit is resolved. However, this makes it nearly impossible to pin down a specific connection to the album as a whole, since it’s obviously stood the test of time (for, again, twenty-two years).  I mean, if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m pretty sure it was a significant part of my middle school boy-crazy stage. But, I wouldn’t wish recreating that on anyone.

The Woodsy suggested listening locations:

  • any shopping experience where you need some extra enthusiasm
  • home for the holidays in your parents’ car with the windows up singing at the top of your lungs with sweeping hand gestures and hair tosses until you notice someone from your high school class knocking on the passenger side window
  • on your commute to work on the Sounder train in earphones, hidden behind a large and serious looking hardback novel


Various Artists – Home Alone Soundtrack

John Williams meets Christmas music? Yes, please. Equal parts classic and whimsical, songs from the Home Alone soundtrack bring the kind of warm fuzzies that rival peppermint hot chocolate. The main title alone evokes the same festive mischief that the whole film channels, but makes it accessible, like I too can thwart burglars, or perhaps play a tame prank on my relatives at the next family gathering.

The Woodsy suggested listening locations:

  • any road that passes a nativity scene
  • on your way to/from your child’s holiday play (since you’ll be reminded of how much you appreciate them and their non-hijinks)
  • At your next Ugly Holiday Sweater soiree (or really, anywhere where you’ll find 90s kids gathered)
  • Inside Powell’s in downtown Portland since it shares that aforementioned classic/whimsical vibe as the score