My Holiday Playlist

I have bad news: I am that person who starts playing Christmas music as soon as Halloween is over.

Actually, I lied. I start playing Christmas music in September.

To avoid being banished universally by everyone around me, I use a sneaky trick: I play music that no one knows is Christmas music. Such as “The Boar’s Head Carol,” “The Wren in the Furze,” and the unpronounceable “Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil.” (Other fun fact: Not only do I know how to pronounce that title in Irish Gaelic, I can actually sing the whole song.)

You see, I’ve always had a big thing for history. And so some of my Christmas music tastes go way back. I mean way back. “The Boar’s Head Carol” was written in the middle ages when a young Oxford student rammed his book down a boar’s throat when it charged him in the woods. The college then served the boar up for Christmas dinner, and wrote this song in the young scholar’s honor.

But I also listen to many of the oldies and goodies–which I carefully keep to myself until well in November.

Today, I thought I’d serve up a selection of my favorite Christmas albums–and to pay homage to my historical bent, I arranged them from “albums with everyone’s favorite” and worked my way backwards to “albums with the most ancient/unknown songs.” I hope you enjoy!

Note: The rest of this article contains affiliate links. If you click then buy, I’ll get a little kickback. Thanks for supporting a small business! 

Home For Christmas

by Amy Grant

Home for Christmas by Amy Grant

I’m hopeful a lot of you already know this one. I hear tracks from this album in stores and malls during Christmas all the time! Originally released in 1992, this collection of holiday music has already stood the test of time–and I think it will for many years to come. Amy’s soulful singing combines with amazing acoustics, orchestra, and choir to create an experience that takes you everywhere from a playful stroll through the woods, to a reverent moment in church, to sipping coco by the fire. This album never fails to transport me.

My favorite track? That’s so hard! I love them all! But if I were forced to choose, I might say “The Night Before Christmas.”

Stream or buy now


Christmas Album

by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Christmas Album by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

Hello, retro! I’m hoping some of you recognize this album, too! Brass player Herb Alpert released it in 1968, and I listened to it the old-fashioned way when I was a kid–vinyl on a good, old-fashioned turn table! (Is there any better way to get sound?!) The upbeat brass band music on this album will have you dancing in your kitchen all day while the pies and cookies are in the oven.

My favorite track? Definitely “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle.”

Stream or Buy Now!

Dickens Christmas

by Ed Sweeney

Dickens Christmas by Ed Sweeney

I promise you’ve never heard of this one! But if you like really old-fashioned acoustic instrumentals, this is definitely the album for you. We’re talking banjos, hammered dulcimer, bones, and even a hand bell choir! I’ve done a lot of historical re-enacting in the past, and this album really puts me back in the 19th century.

My favorite track? Another hard choice! But I’m going to go with “Good King Wenceslas.”

Stream or Buy Now!


The Bells of Dublin

by The Chieftains

The Bells of Dublin by The Chieftains

You fans of Irish music–you’ll know what band I’m talking about! The Chieftains are probably the most famous (and almost certainly the longest-running) Irish band ever. They’ve been active since 1962! This album was released in 1991 and contains some of the most ancient and unheard-of holiday music I know, including many traditional pieces with forgotten origins. This album is boisterous and full of Celtic spirit. It’s also a little hard to get ahold of these days! Amazon streaming isn’t an option, and as I write this, Amazon advises that the CD usually ships within one to two months.

But it’s worth it.

My favorite track? “The Wren in the Furze.”

And since I can’t link you to the track, I’ll instead provide you the fascinating history on this song. This was a kind of wassailing song–wassailing being the tradition of singers going house-to-house begging for food and money. Think Christmas caroling combined with modern-day Halloween.

In Ireland specifically, an ancient tradition took place on St. Stephen’s Day–the day after Christmas. Boys and young men would go out in the woods to kill a wren, then put it in a little box and sing from house to house, asking for food and money to give the wren a wake. “The Wren in the Furze” is one of the songs they would sing.

There are layers up on layers of historical tales I could tell related to this one song–such as why the boys kill a wren and why the wren is called “the king of all birds” in the song. But doing so would seriously bunny trail this blog post! Instead, I’m going to recommend that you simply shop for this rare album and enjoy it’s incredibly vast array of holiday favorites and little-known tunes!

Buy the CD Now!

And that’s it! Four of my all-time favorite holiday albums. I hope you check them out, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Need some reading while you listen? Here are today’s best-sellers!

A Few of My Favorite Things!

I understand that #ShopSmall is important to y’all! Guess what–me, too! So I decided to throw together a list of some of my favorite small businesses. I know these establishments personally, so you know they come with my stamp of approval.

All of these businesses can ship within the United States or otherwise get their product or service into your hands, wherever you are! Oh, except the one at the end that involves kittens… and puppies… You’ll see.

Old Bat Kitchens – jams, jellies, etc. 

Old Bat Kitchens - jams and jellies

From my hometown of Mandan, North Dakota, Nancy serves up some amazing jams, jellies, pickles, and other canned goods! Message her via Facebook to see what she has in stock. She will ship to your door!

Susie Q’s Craft Emporium – handmade crafts and gifts

Susie Q's Craft Emporium, Mandan, North Dakota

Another shop form my hometown! Sue carries all kinds of hand-crafted items, antiques, and edibles, and yes, my books! Brows her listings at her shop or get in touch with her via Facebook.

Ten Seven Acres – alpaca yarn and wool products

Ten Seven Acres - alpaca yarn and wool

If the guys behind Ten Seven Acres in North Dakota aren’t living the dream, I don’t know who is. Alpacas, horses, ducks–I lose track of all the animals they keep. If you’re the crafty sort, check out their all-natural alpaca yarns. Don’t know a knitting needle from a crochet hook? That’s okay! They also carry socks, hats, and rugs already-made!

Krystl Louwagie – artist

Krystl Louwagie, artist, portraits, portraitist

This girl be so artsy!  I mean, literally–if you meet her in person, she’s like a walking art piece. If you like creative, edgy stuff, check out her work. Her art is displayed in local Minnesota galleries all the time.

Carrie Lewis – artist

Carrie Lewis, artist. "Running Free."

If your taste runs more traditional, then visit my friend Carrie Lewis from Kansas. Specializing in portraits of horses (be they celebrated race horses or your horse!) she paints with a level of detail that absolutely stuns. Check out her artwork for sale or see if she’s currently taking commissions.

You can also take her online colored pencil classes and tutorials or subscribe to her colored pencil magazine, CP Magic!

Don & Stephanie Prichard – Christian suspense

Don & Stephanie Prichard - Stranded, Christian suspense novel

Fear not, bookworms! I haven’t forgotten that we’re all readers here. These authors from Indiana will keep you guessing what will happen next. If you need a new read to keep you breathless, check out Don and Stephanie Prichard’s (completed!) Christian suspense trilogy. A romantic cruise goes mass murder-levels of wrong, and Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers ends up washed ashore on a desert isle. One of the co-authors, Don, was himself a Marine, and his knowledge of survival skills definitely shows. And Steph? She’s the best not-my-actual-grandma a girl could have.

Adrian Ashwah – literary novelist

Audria by Adrian Ashwah

Christian fiction not your style? Fear not: My circle of writerly friends covers all territory–sometimes literally. From Egypt to Siberia to Montana, where has Adrian Ashwah not lived? And if you want a riveting (yes, riveting) literary novel that takes an excruciatingly honest look at all major religions, then check out his book. You will be fascinated by both the dystopian world–strange and familiar at the same time–and the brave heroine, a girl named Audria.

Central Dakota Humane Society – pets!

Danielle Lincoln Hanna and her dog Molly

Does a pet shelter count as a small business? Why not. I thought I’d include it anyway, just because CDHS is so important to me. Guys, I live in Montana now, but I still donate to my shelter back home in Mandan, North Dakota. Their motto is “Doing Great Things for Pets and People,” and I can testify that it’s true. They gave me my first dog (my beloved Molly, RIP), one of my first volunteering experiences, and one of my first jobs. They also helped rescue my life out of the dumpster the way they rescue any stray creature they run across. So if you’re in North Dakota and looking for a cat or dog–or if you’re just looking for a worthy cause to donate to–CDHS is worth your time.

Danielle Lincoln Hanna – The Mailboat Suspense Series

The Mailboat Suspense Series by Danielle Lincoln Hanna

Umm… I guess I may as well include me? If you couldn’t tell by the inordinate number of North Dakota businesses in this roundup, I’m originally from the that place with all the wind and snow. Nowdays, I live in Montana, which I’m finding far more amenable to human habitation–which means life here is far less exciting. I’m the author of the Mailboat Suspense Series, a story about a girl in foster care who only wants a home of her own. Instead, she finds a body at the end of a pier…

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this collection of some of my favorite small businesses. And I hope you find one you’d like to support! I have to say, it really warms my heart to look over my eclectic collection of friends and all the amazing things they do. I hope you’ll fall in love with them, too!

Today’s best-sellers:


Cyber Monday!

It’s Cyber Monday!

Which strikes me as odd, considering that the majority of holiday shopping this year probably happened online. (Thanks, pandemic.) But anyway, here we are.

Friends, today is the last day to grab my books at their best prices all year long. Still need to buy something for someone on your list? I’ve got all your bookworms covered!

In fact, here’s a handy holiday shopping guide so you’ll know exactly what to get for whom. (Including you! Don’t forget to pre-order Book IV at the lowest price you can get!)

I also want to say THANK YOU to everyone supporting my small business this holiday season. A lot of my readers prefer shopping directly with me, because they know they’re helping my business grow. Writing novels is my dream, and because of you, that dream gets to come true. For the next couple of days, I’m going to be super busy autographing books and putting them in boxes and padded envelopes and making trips to the post office. And the whole time, I’m going to be thinking of YOU with a heart full of joy and gratitude.

So don’t miss out on those deals today! This is the last time my books will be this low until next November! I can’t wait to help bring smiles and wonderful hours of cozy but breathless reading to your friends and family.

It’s your last chance–get these deals before they’re gone! 30% off TODAY ONLY!