That's why I always call these "favorites" lists. To me, its at least a fraction less arrogant. There's no particular order to my favorites presented here (though, in general, I liked the ones I present at the top half better than those further down). Re-issues are not included in my lists, nor are free downloads. Digital releases are fine, as are compilations (so long as they aren't just recycling the usual suspects). The cover art will link to a purchase site.
We have a couple of anomalies this year. Jazz artist Thisbe Vos recorded a Christmas album which was available to those who helped fund the project this year, but to the rest of the world next year. I actually kind of like that idea but I think it would be unfair to include her "A Jazzy Christmas" in this year's list when you can't officially purchase it until November 2015.
The other anomaly is "Jingle Bell Rocks!", which is not a record of any kind, but was certainly my favorite new holiday release of the year. I have, I believe, included DVDs on this list before. But that's always kind of weird. Let's just say right up top, the "Jingle Bell Rocks!" DVD WAS my favorite release of the year. It exceeded even my own unrealistically high expectations. I wept like a baby over the closing credits--the film was that beautiful. And I highly recommend you see and/or buy the film at your earliest convenience. I may do up a full review for next Christmas season. But, just in case I don't, know that I thought "Jingle Bell Rocks!" was entertaining, enthralling, magical, and pure genius. Just for the record, I purchased my copy of "Jingle Bell Rocks!" from Bullmoose; it was not a freebie provided for promotional consideration.
I absolutely loved the Spartan Records digital compilation. By all rights, "Homesick" ought to be on this list (full write-up here). The reason its not is because I wonder if I'll love it as much after I've lived with it for awhile. I think I will. I know there are individual tracks I will. But I feel I want to spend a little more time with it before I declare it a favorite.
The other album I want to mention is Felix Cavaliere's "Christmas Joy". Let's face it, Christmas albums from the oldies circuit are usually a disappointment. You want them to be at their peak, when that was then and this is now. You want that sound that they had, but you also want something fresh, not a familiar song rearranged to sound like their big hit (although sometimes that works really well as with "Takin' Care Of Christmas" or Earth Wind & Fire's "December"). It's a lot to ask, frankly. Well, Felix, I think, pulled it off really well. His voice may not be 100% of what it was with the Rascals, but it's a solid 92% or more. And many of the arrangements are in a classic '60s Blue-Eyed Soul groove without being the least bit derivative of the Rascals' big hits. Worth checking out. Gonna be big on the Beach Music circuit for sure. Favorite tracks: "White Christmas", "Christmas Is Coming Soon", "Christmas In New Orleans", and "The Bells Of St. Marys".
If you don't see your favorite on the list, here, let us know what it is and why in the comments. I'd truly be interested in hearing what Christmas album excited you this year.