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Good cheer to burn: Making the ultimate holiday music mix CD

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Do you hear what we hear? It's the start of the holiday season, which can mean only one thing for music lovers: It's on — the competition to create the perfect holiday mix CD.

The mix is all about impressing your friends and family with your voluminous musical knowledge and unimpeachable taste. Honestly, we know a couple of people who shoo away trick-or-treaters so they can get a head start on this year's perfect playlist.

The great thing is, anybody with a CD burner and an iTunes account or something similar can do this, and it's not too late. We have a friend who went to a lot of time, expense and effort to create a four-volume perfect holiday compilation last year.

If you're feeling lazy and want to crib somebody else's list, there are plenty out there up for grabs online, but perhaps none so plug-and-play as, which has 35 pages of holiday-theme track lists for your streaming pleasure and an Amazon link to download each song.

But for those of you who are so inspired, we encourage you to do your own. To get you on your way, several staff members offered up their holiday mix ideas for 2010.

So give it a try, and if you're pleased with your results, send your playlist— including song title and artist — to . We'll take the lists submitted by Dec. 2 and pick the top three, which we'll run on the Austin Music Source blog. We'll also give the winners a curated selection of CDs and DVDs.

Happy downloading!

Sarah Beckham's picks

Her tip: The assistant features editor and ‘Life Guide' columnist approaches her playlist with her signature sense of humor. Read on.

‘Space Christmas' — Shonen Knife. What it would sound like if Hello Kitty and Joan Jett had a Christmas party.

‘The Little Drummer Boy' — Joan Jett. And then Joan Jett started doing karaoke at the party. If you pick this up on ‘A Blackheart Christmas,' you'll also get a couple of swell covers from San Antonio's Girl in a Coma.

‘Christmas Bells' — the Original Broadway cast of ‘Rent.' Actually, the whole Christmas-set first act of ‘Rent.'

‘Christmas Morning' — Lyle Lovett. If you're planning to do more brooding this season than, say, playing with your new Kinect.

‘I'll Be Home for Christmas' — Old 97's. A sentimental song from my sentimental favorite band. Rhett Miller sounds so forlorn, like he's looking forward to being home but he's also pretty sure you're going to pick an argument about politics with him once he gets there.

‘Merry Christmas From the Family' — Robert Earl Keen. I thought this was a novelty song the first couple of times I heard it, but that was really dumb of me. If the poetry and scruffy love of this song doesn't remind you of at least one branch of your family, please consider whether you are, in fact, way too fancy.

‘Children Go Where I Send You' — Nina Simone. Not officially a Christmas song, but just try to find something so filled with joy and faith and a little-bitty baby who was born, born, born in Bethlehem.

‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today' — Julian Casablancas. Yes, it's the song from the ‘Saturday Night Live' skit where they're all goofing around with the keyboard. Because I think it will be a good icebreaker at your party when people start doing their Tracy Morgan impressions.

‘O Come All Ye Faithful' — Weezer. I like a good, hearty ‘O Come All Ye Faithful,' not some acoustic version where the singer's all ‘Excuse me? Ye Faithful? If you don't mind ... ' Weezer's take is sweet yet rocking.

Nicole Alvarado's picks

Her tip: This features editorial assistant and recent college graduate is not afraid of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and thinks you shouldn't be, either.

‘Ice Dance': Danny Elfman

‘Carol of the Bells': Trans-Siberian Orchestra

‘Ave Maria in A minor': Charlotte Church

‘White Christmas': The Drifters

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas': Judy Garland

‘You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch': Thurl Ravenscroft

‘Santa Baby':Eartha Kitt

‘Jingle Bell Rock': Bobby Helms

‘Baby It's Cold Outside': Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark

‘The Christmas Song': Nat King Cole

‘All I Want for Christmas Is You': Mariah Carey

Patrick Beach's picks

His tip:This features reporter and former music critic advises you to avoid the obvious, which for him includes ‘Fairytale of New York' by the Pogues, even though he loves it. (He'd also like to thank his Facebook friends for their ideas.)

‘Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)': The Ramones

‘Run Rudolph Run': Chuck Berry

‘Christmas Wrapping': the Waitresses (Remember them?)

‘Okie Christmas': Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis

‘Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis':Tom Waits (Classy!)

‘There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In': Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello

‘The Christmas Song': Nat King Cole

‘The Night Santa Went Crazy': ‘Weird Al' Yankovic

Kathy Blackwell's picks

Her tip: The executive features editor advises you to factor your iTunes bill into your holiday shopping budget. And she thinks it wouldn't be Christmas without ‘Fairytale of New York,' no matter what Patrick Beach says.

‘Run Rudolph Run': Keith Richards

‘Xmas Curtain': My Morning Jacket

‘Another Lonely Christmas': Prince

‘Fairytale of New York': the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

‘Christmas, Christmas': Mojo Nixon

‘Christmas in Hollis': Run-DMC

‘I'll be Home for Christmas': Bob Dylan

‘Christmas Rappin': Kurtis Blow

‘The Man with All the Toys': The Beach Boys

‘Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)': the Decemberists

‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)': U2

‘Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!': Sufjan Stevens

‘Soulful Christmas': James Brown

‘White Christmas (WXPN Version)': the Flaming Lips

‘What are You Doing New Year's Eve?': Rufus Wainwright

‘Winter Wonderland': the Funk Brothers

‘Daddy Won't Be Home Again for Christmas': Merle Haggard

‘Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You': Billy Squier

‘River': Herbie Hancock (with Corinne Bailey Rae)

‘Do They Know It's Christmas?': Band Aid