All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords – Your Ultimate Guide To This Holiday Classic

Christmas songs are timeless! Let’s explore these All I Want for Christmas Is You chords & learn how to play them!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play along to All I Want for Christmas Is You
  • The influence that Jazz had over Pop & Holiday music
  • How to break a song down into sections for easier learning
  • Why this song has so many cool chords!

Expand Your Holiday Repertoire With This Classic Tune

As the holiday season approaches, anyone who knows that you have a guitar will inevitably ask you to play some Christmas songs at a meeting, party, or other gathering.

The holidays are really your opportunity to shine as a guitarist, whether you’re a beginner or a professional.

Everybody loves holiday music – at least for a month or so before Christmas if they haven’t already been subjected to it since mid-September.

This is the year for you to be the person to bring the joy of holiday music wherever you go, and we’ve got the perfect song for you to add to your holiday repertoire.

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” might be Mariah Carey’s most famous song.

  • It’s gone to the top of the charts numerous years and in numerous countries, so it’s a true worldwide holiday classic.
  • Now, it’s your holiday classic! In this lesson, along with learning the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords, we’ll get into what makes it such an incredibly popular song.
  • We’ll also talk about how to make holiday songs sound like holiday songs on the guitar by using different chord combinations and rhythms.

Get ready to learn some new chords! Away we go!

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Songwriting

Here’s the difference between Mariah Carey and the rest of us: she and her songwriting partner, Walter Afanasieff, wrote this song in fifteen minutes.

To those of us with decades worth of song pieces stashed around the house with nowhere to go, that seems miraculous.

  • As tricky as some of the chords in the song will be to play on guitar, one of the main factors in this song’s success is its simplicity in structure and melody.
  • People have to be able to sing along in order for something to be a hit, and Carey’s simple melody, with just enough of that pizzazz, is easy and great fun to sing.
  • Of course, there are other simple songs that are easy to sing that don’t achieve instant worldwide fame and enduring popularity!
  • This one has several secret-sauce ingredients.

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

First of all, this song is a direct descendant of Phil Spector’s iconic Christmas album, A Christmas Gift for You. 

  • Go put it on right now while you’re reading this. You can’t fail to pick up on everything Carey and Afanasieff learned from Spector.
  • The rhythm and feel of this song is everything, and Phil Spector is the grandfather of that groove.

Second, the lyrics, which Carey pulled out of her initial “I don’t want a lot for Christmas” idea, encapsulate a universal holiday feeling.

  • We all want to spend our holidays in the company of people who are important to us, and Carey expresses that with great joy, and a little longing.
  • Finally, and more on this later, the structure of the song itself – the chord progression and catchy melody – is a lesson in hitmaking.

Let’s get into the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords!

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Intro

This song has a simple intro, which is played on the recording with a simulated glockenspiel.

It’s four bars of arpeggiated chords, which are chords that you play one note at a time.

They’re chords referred to as “ice cream changes.” You’ll find the ice cream changes in all kinds of songs, from Sam Cooke’s “What a Wonderful World” to Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

If we’re in the key of G, which we’ll use for the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords, those chords are G major (the I chord), E minor (the vi chord), C (the IV chord), and D major (the V chord).

If those capital and lower-case Roman numerals seem confusing, you can find out how they work in this lesson: Music Theory for Beginners

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

If you’re a beginner, or you’d just like to keep your intro simple and low-effort, you can just strum each of these chords once before you begin singing:

G (320003)

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

Em (022000)

C (x32010)

D (xx0232)

There are a couple of ways to arpeggiate these All I Want for Christmas Is You chords. The simplest is to use the above chord shapes. You could try this basic arpeggio.

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

For a version that’s a little closer to the recording, we’re going to dress up that first chord and make it a G major seventh.

This intro also uses the first notes from the melody once the singing starts. You can play it with or without a pick.

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

Pro-Tip: If you’d like to play the intro in a higher register, you can just add 12 frets to each number in the tab above.

 

You’ll get the same notes one octave higher, so it will sound a little more twinkly and Christmasy!

All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Is-You-Chords

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

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All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Verse, Part 1

The first verse of this song is sung somewhat out of time. There’s an interesting musical term for this: rubato.

It (roughly) means ‘robbed of time.’

When you sing this verse, you can just hit the chords when you get to the corresponding lyric of each chord change.

After the first verse, the rhythm kicks in and you’ll be strumming in time from there on out.

There’s a lot to review in these All I Want for Christmas Is You chords.

We’re going to divide everything up into manageable chunks so you can learn it without driving yourself crazy until Easter.

First, we’ll go from “I don’t want a lot” to “underneath the Christmas tree.” Here are the simplest versions of the chords that you’ll need:

G (320003)

Gmaj7 (3×0001)

C (x32013)

Eb (x65033)

 

How-to-play-All-I-Want-for-Christmas-Is-You

Notice that we’ve modified the C major chord a little so that your fourth finger is on the high E, third fret.

The purpose of doing this is to create an easy chord change to the next chord, which right now we’re calling Eb. Just slide that C shape up three frets and you’re there!

For this section of verse, play the new chord where the lyrics are bold.

                                                     Gmaj7

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need

C                                                    Eb

I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree

The only difference between the first verse and the rest of the song is that you’ll be playing these chords in a lovely swinging rhythm, so if you’ve got this part down, let’s continue!

How-To-Play-All-I-Want-for-Christmas-Is-You-On-Guitar

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Verse, Part 2

The next part of the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords is interesting, beautiful, and complicated.

This is the large handful of additional chords you’ll need to get through the rest of the verse. We’re again using the simplest versions here:

B7 (x21202)

Eb6 (xx1313)

G/D (xx0003)

E7 (020100)

Am7 (x02010)

Cm/D (xx0313)

Why so many crazy chords?

Through the mid-20th century, pop Christmas songs were influenced by jazz’s use of diminished, augmented, sixth, and seventh chords.

The use of that throwback style to contemporary songwriting is what makes this song great, and a little tricky!

Easy-way-to-play-All-I-Want-for-Christmas-Is-You-guitar

Let’s get you through this section of the verse before we do anything else..

Again, for the first verse, play the new chord when you sing the bolded syllables.

                                       B7    Em                                          Eb6

I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know

G/D                                 E7 Am7                     Cm/D

Make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is…

This is the hard part! Practice the chord changes slowly while singing, and you’ll be prepared for when the song kicks into rhythm.

And it kicks into rhythm when you finish the line with the word “you.”

Starting then, you’ll play those ice cream changes, one measure of each chord, before starting the next verse, like this:

G  Em C  D

You

The next verse, and the rest of the verses, have the same chord changes.

Christmas-songs-guitar

Pro-Tip: Changing between new and unfamiliar chords can start to sap your enthusiasm for a song. Don’t let it happen!

 

When you run across a tricky chord change, isolate that chord change and just go back and forth between the tough chord and the one before it.

 

You just have to get the chord change into your muscle memory, and that’s the hardest part. Keep practicing!

Cool-guitar-songs-to-learn

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: Song Structure

You’ve already learned almost everything you need to know about All I Want for Christmas Is You chords!

Let’s take a look at the song structure.

Once we’ve kicked the song into gear, the second verse follows the pattern of the first verse (part 1).

The chord progression happens twice before the verse part 2. Here it is, with each chord symbol standing for one measure, or four beats.

G  G G  G

C  C Eb  Eb

The first time through those chords, the lyrics and melody are the same as when you played and sang without keeping a steady rhythm.

The second time through that chord progression, the melody is different, and so are the lyrics, so it’s not as obvious that the progression is repeating – but it is!

Listening for unique parts throughout a song will make it incredibly easy to learn.

easy-Christmas-songs

The second verse progression now seems like a chorus or refrain.

The lyrics are the same: “I just want you for my own…” and the chords are the same as well.

After the chorus, there’s another verse: “I won’t ask for much this Christmas, I won’t even ask for snow…”.

That verse follows the same chord progression and timing as the verse before, and there’s another chorus after that.

This chorus has different lyrics:

“Cause I just want you here tonight…”.

After this chorus, there’s a bridge! We’ll get to that in a second.

Following the bridge, there’s a short verse, once through the verse part 1 progression, and then straight to the chorus.

The ice cream changes repeat through the outro, which you can play until you’re tired of them or until you think of the next song you want to play.

easy-Christmas-song-chords

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Bridge

The bridge is the part of the song that happens somewhere around or after halfway through.

Occasionally, people use the chord progression from the bridge as an intro, as in “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by Brian Wilson, but normally it’s an entirely new song element meant to break up the verse-chorus repetition.

The bridge in this song begins with “All the lights are shining so brightly everywhere,” and ends with “Won’t you please bring my baby to me.”

Here are the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords for the bridge. You’ve seen them all before!

B7  B7 Em  Em

B7  B7 Em  Em

Eb  Eb G/D  E7

Am7  Am7 D  D

Mariah-Carey-guitar-songs

All I Want For Christmas Is You Chords: The Rhythm

The last thing we need to cover is the rhythm, and then you’ll be prepared to take your All I Want for Christmas Is You chords out caroling!

This song has such a great swing feel, and you can easily make that happen on the guitar.

Swing feel is also sometimes referred to as triplet feel. Instead of dividing each beat into two with your down-up strums, you’ll divide it into three.

The down strum gets about ⅔ of the beat and the up strum gets ⅓.

Strum as though your arm is heavy, and the up strum will lead right into the down strum.

This song has so many chords in it that you do not need to dress it up with a fancy strumming pattern!

If you’d like to see a full chord and lyric chart for the All I Want for Christmas Is You chords, you can get one right here.

National-Guitar-Academy

All I Want For Christmas Chords: Summary

Now that you’ve got all the components of this wonderful holiday song, let’s recap the structure of the song so that you can get through it in one piece!

Intro (also the interlude):  G Em  C D

Verse Part 1 (x2, rubato):  G  G Gmaj7  Gmaj7 C C  Eb Eb

Verse Part 2:  G  B7 Em  Eb6 G/D  E7 Am7 Cm/D

Interlude:  G  Em C  D

Bridge: B7  B7 Em  Em B7 B7  Em Em Eb Eb  G/D E7 Am7 Am7  D D

Verse Part 1 x2

Verse Part 2

Interlude

Verse Part 1 x2

Verse Part 2

Interlude

Bridge

Verse Part 1

Verse Part 2

Interlude & repeat

For More Timeless Christmas Classics…

We hope learning these All I Want for Christmas Is You chords has inspired you to learn more great holiday tunes.

Here’s a good guitar book for the season: Christmas Songs for Easy Guitar.

Have a great time sharing holiday music with your family and friends!

Recommended Resources

If you’ve enjoyed this lesson, we have other places for you to go next! Continue on your path with these lessons:

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