They're stocking sized, and if you make the right choice, stocking stuffer perfect. Yes, we're talking holiday CDs. In hopes of making your shopping experience a less hectic one, we've picked out albums among this year's seasonal offerings that could be a musical fit for that particular fan on your list:
If they would rather say "Merry Christmas" than "Happy Holidays"
> McDonough Christian act Casting Crowns "Peace on Earth."
> "And There Was Christmas," a contemporary gospel collection including Kirk Franklin & The Family, Marvin Sapp and Mary Mary.
If they'd prefer anything but a "Silent Night"
> The ever-classic Tony Bennett's "A Swingin' Christmas," featuring the Count Basie Big Band.
> Spirited jazz singer Ledisi's "It's Christmas".
> Rocker Little Steven Van Zandt's "Christmas A Go-Go," an Underground Garage production that includes Keith Richards' "Run Rudolph Run" and the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)."
> Al Jarreau's "Christmas."
> Bela Fleck & the Flecktones' "Jingle All the Way."
> Putumayo's "A Jazz and Blues Christmas" compilation, featuring the late Ray Charles' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the Mighty Blue Kings' "All I Ask For Christmas."
If they enjoy the company of others
> Yo-Yo Ma & Friends' "Songs of Joy & Peace," with friends including James Taylor, Renee Fleming and Chris Botti.
> Natalie Cole's "Caroling, Caroling: Christmas With Natalie Cole," with assists from the London Symphony Orchestra.
> Sarah Brightman's "A Winter Symphony."
> Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey's "Christmas at St. Michael's Abbey: The Three Masses of Christmas."
If they need a soundtrack to match their prize-winning light display
> Mannheim Steamroller's "Christmasville," focusing this year on music from "The Grinch."
If they're forever stationed under the mistletoe
> R&B crooner Brian McKnight's "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
> Rahsaan Patterson's "The Ultimate Gift."
> "Pushing Daisies" co-star Kristin Chenoweth's "A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas" (she's even got mistletoe on the cover).
If all they want for Christmas is ...
> a new tin of hair grease: Elvis Presley's "Christmas Duets"; the Boxmaster's "Christmas Cheer" (including Oscar-winning Boxmaster Billy Bob Thornton);
> a 10-gallon hat: Faith Hill's "Joy To The World";
> a Cliff Huxtable sweater: Spyro Gyra's "A Night Before Christmas";
> a CD they'll want to play holiday after holiday: Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin's first-ever holiday CD, "This Christmas."
If they barely know what a CD is (much less an album)
> "The Essential Now That's What I Call Christmas" has a wide range of seasonal fare, including Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad," Wham!'s "Last Christmas" and the Temptations' "Silent Night."
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