music and coffee

6 Songs to Inspire Your Holiday Writing

The holidays are here, and with them comes no shortage of poetry prompts. If annual traditions, snowy landscapes, and festive decorations have you feeling inspired, you’re joining a long line of poets—from Emma Lazarus to John Milton, writers throughout history have celebrated the season through verse. Since the best poetry sings, take advantage of poetry and music’s natural connection. Let some of your favorite holiday songs serve as innovative, musical writing guides.


1. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

This song has topped charts for 25 years and broken Spotify streaming records, and it’s easy to see why. In the soulful anthem, Carey belts out her longing. Romance poets, your holiday soundtrack has arrived. Let “All I Want For Christmas Is You” inspire some dreamy, seasonal love poems.


2. “Light One Candle” by Peter, Paul, and Mary

“Light One Candle” stands out as one of the most popular Hanukkah songs. “Don’t let the light go out!” The chorus proclaims. “It lasted for so many years! / Don’t let the light go out! / Let it shine through our hope and our tears.” In addition to being a lesson in common poetic features, like anaphora and rhyme, “Light One Candle” showcases the power of symbolism. Just as “Light One Candle” references the significance of the menorah, explore a small item with a much larger meaning in your next holiday poem.


3. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

This iconic song from your favorite animated holiday movie has serious poetic energy—after all, it’s inspired by Dr. Seuss’s famously whimsical wordplay. It’s also unique due to its storytelling nature and characterization. Just as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” addresses the Grinch directly, consider writing a holiday poem in the form of a letter, otherwise known as an epistolary poem.


4. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Bublé

What does Christmas—or any other holiday you celebrate—look like where you are? This classic carol lists several details: “candy canes and silver lanes,” “a tree in the Grand Hotel,” and “toys in every store.” This resonant, comforting imagery just might be why the song has been rerecorded so many times. Follow in the footsteps of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” by painting a poetic picture of your holiday surroundings.


5. “Hanukkah Blessings” by Barenaked Ladies

This holiday gem from hitmakers Barenaked Ladies comes from their EP “Barenaked for Hanukkah.” The song begins, “How lucky are we that we have lights so that we can see / Although the day is done / What a miracle that a spark lifts these candles out of the dark / Every evening, one by one / Until the end of Hanukkah, of Hanukkah.” To mirror “Hanukkah Blessings,” which focuses on small victories and positive moments, write a holiday poem with a tone of gratitude.


6. “The Little Drummer Boy”

Warning: Don’t click on the link above unless you want to get this song stuck in your head for a full day. The infectious and boisterous tune exemplifies a clear poetic feature: sound play. Be like “The Little Drummer Boy,” and let rhythm lead a holiday poem.


Want more ideas? Check out our December writing prompt feature.