"A mix tape! He made a mix tape! He was thinking of me, which shows he cares!” sings Kate Monster in Avenue Q. While technology has changed since the irreverent musical debuted in the 1990s, homemade compilations still please gift recipients because of their highly personal nature. Since this Christmas has forced us to maintain strict budgets, Christmas compilation CDs are an inexpensive gift option for family and friends.
You can create CDs to match everyone's tastes on your gift list, particularly since holiday carols have been recorded in virtually every musical style you can imagine. Today's software enables you to create professional-looking covers and labels, and CD burners can quickly and easily record any playlist you can devise. People will appreciate your thoughtfulness in customizing a CD to match their preferences, and they may view such a holiday compilation as a keepsake to play every Christmas season for many years to come. Best of all, the materials needed for CD projects won't break the bank.
First, assemble the materials you need, namely blank CD-Rs, labels, jewel boxes, and jewel box inserts (optional). All of these supplies can be found at any office supply store, superstores like Wal-Mart, or electronics stores like Best Buy. The CD brand typically matters very little, though older players may only play those marked as specifically for music.
Labels come in brands including Avery, Neato, and Memorex. Like the blank CDs, the brand makes virtually no difference. If you've never designed CD labels before, you may want to opt for a starter pack including labels and inserts, a holder for affixing the label onto the CD, and either software or a link to free software (often with additional templates and graphics) for downloading. More experienced users can choose page refills, which include just the labels and inserts. No matter which brand you choose, be sure to visit the brand's website for free software, templates, and graphics.
Some software, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publish, Open Office, or (if you already own it) Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition, comes with templates included. Additional label and CD booklet templates are available on the Microsoft Office website, or execute a Google search for freeware or shareware.
Next, you will need software for burning MP3 files onto a disk. Most media players already include burning capabilities, so if you already use iTunes, Windows Media Player, Real Player, or another compatible program, they are more than adequate for your needs.
Now comes the fun but challenging part: selecting the track lists. Since Christmas music comes in so many different styles and genres, it should be relatively easy to customize track lists to individual musical tastes. However, if you do not possess an extensive music collection, you may want to stick with the crowd-pleasing Christmas carols that everyone loves.
Once you finish burning your music, design some festive CD labels and covers. If you want to create labels quickly, simply use templates and graphics included with your labeling software. Unleash your artistic side and design a label, insert, or booklet from scratch; free clip art and images are available on the Internet. To locate these items, do a Google Image search to find graphics. Make sure your printer contains plenty of ink, whether you are using a laser or ink jet printer. To reduce waste, test-print on regular paper to ensure that your labels will print correctly. Sometimes printer calibration is needed to adjust the printing to specific labels; label software usually provides instructions for this task.
Now, present your custom-made Christmas CDs to your friends and family, and watch them be amazed by your time and effort! You have given them a meaningful, yet inexpensive, present that they will cherish for years to come. Isn't that what the holiday season is about?
Need inspiration? Below are some sample compilations suited to different musical tastes. All songs are available on iTunes and other online music stores. Obviously this is just a small taste of the Christmas music available, but the following lists may help get you started.
(Classic) Rock the Christmas Tree!
Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon
Step into Christmas – Elton John
Merry Christmas Baby – Bruce Springsteen
I Believe in Father Christmas – Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
Run Run Rudolph – Chuck Berry
Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles
Silent Night – Stevie Nicks
Deck the Halls – James Taylor
Here Comes Santa Claus – Elvis Presley
Celebrate Me Home – Loggins & Messina
I Love the 80s Christmas
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
Jingle Bell Rock – Hall & Oates
Winter Wonderland – The Eurythmics
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – John Cougar Mellencamp
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Pretenders
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2
Santa Baby – Madonna
Last Christmas –Wham!
Gabriel's Message – Sting
A Soulful Holiday
This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – Jackson Five
Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto – James Brown
Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC
Christmas in the City – Mary J. Blige
Someday at Christmas – Stevie Wonder
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – The Temptations
White Christmas – The Drifters
My Favorite Things – The Supremes
The Christmas Song – Luther Vandross
O Christmas Tree – Aretha Franklin
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Tony Bennett
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – Peggy Lee
Christmas Time Is Here –Vince Guaraldi Trio
(It Must Have Been Ol’) Santa Claus – Harry Connick Jr.
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
Jingle Bells – Diana Krall
He Is Christmas – Take 6
The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra
Christmas Night in Harlem – Louis Armstrong with Benny Carter & His Orchestra
White Christmas – Ella Fitzgerald with the Frank DeVol Orchestra
I Bought You A Plastic Star for Your Aluminum Tree – Michael Franks