Much of Christmas decorating relies on recalling the past. Whether it’s putting out family heirloom ornaments or highlighting vintage patterns, many holiday items rely on creating a warm sense of nostalgia to celebrate. Indeed, many of the things we think of as classic American Christmas traditions are steeped in a kind of rosy depiction of years surrounding World War II. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer debuted in 1939, and many of the classic Christmas songs we all know where written in the 1940s and early 50s.
It’s fitting, then, that you would look to combine those decorative pieces with music. Collectable Christmas music boxes offer thematic decorations for any area of the home paired with a holiday melody that can be played any time. Just that simple, short sample of music could be enough to put you in the mindset of the season.
Music boxes descend from a common instrument invented in Iraq in the 9th century, which featured a cylinder played automatically via water power. Advancements in the late 1700s and early 1800s brought about the basic concept of the device as we know it today: a metal disc imprinted with a melody, played by winding a spring. Though the invention of the phonograph largely supplanted the music box as a feature item of interest, they still provide a sentimental function perfect for Christmas.
Whether you want to add to your collection or offer a simple gift of music, here are the top ten best Christmas music boxes for 2017.
1. Northlight Animated Victorian Street “Gift Shoppe” Winter Scene Rotating Christmas Music Box
Starting small and simple, this little music box will put you in mind of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with this Victorian scene. In the center of the town is a mirrored skating rink upon which two figures skate while “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” plays. This piece measures 6.5 inches square and is made of hand-painted resin. I personally love the intimate space created by the three shops nestled together.
Buy the Northlight Animated Victorian Street “Gift Shoppe” Winter Scene Rotating Christmas Music Box here.
2. The Bradford Exchange Clara and the Nutcracker Porcelain Music Box
Originally debuting in 1892, but not finding widespread popularity until the late 60s, The Nutcracker now enjoys a permanent place in the collective holiday imagination. This elegant piece honors that status, being made from hand-painted porcelain and trimmed with 22k gold. The 40 simulated crystals add sparkle to the outside, while Clara and the Nutcracker dance around the inside to the tune of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”. This music box measures 4.25 by 4.125.
3. The San Fransisco Music Box Company Rotating Christmas Tree Figurine
Speaking of The San Fransisco Music Box Company, with a name like that, it would be shame to pass them over for consideration. They offer this heavily decorated Christmas tree music figuring, done up in all the classic colors. When you wind this up, you set the tree to slowly rotating while it plays “O Christmas Tree”. The tree measures 9.5 inches tall by 6.3 inches wide, making this a good-sized decoration.
4. Mr. Christmas Magical Maestro Mouse
It’s fair to wonder if this quite counts as a music box. This battery-operated figurine brings the magic of a piano player into your home. Using RFID, this talented little mouse can play 24 classic Christmas tunes simply by having the sheet music put in front of him. Among the songs available to be played are “Jingle Bells”, “Up on the House Top”, “Away in a Manger”, “Deck the Halls”, “The First Noel”, “Silent Night” and more. This will keep everyone entertained on Christmas Eve. It’s about six and a half inches long and made of plastic.
5. Mr. Christmas Gold Label World’s Fair Skating Rink
If you already have a Christmas village collection, you can add this other Mr. Christmas option to it. This deluxe treatment is definitely pushing the limits of what could be considered a music box, requiring wall power to move the six skating figures across the top of the ice as one of 25 Christmas songs (or 25 year-round classics) plays. This is 13 inches wide, which is fairly large compared to the average Christmas village buildings.
6. Hawthorne Village Thomas Kinkade Following the Star Nativity
To round out the larger, full scene “music box” options, it only makes sense to feature a nativity scene. This comes from The Bradford Exchange’s Hawthorne Village line and is inspired by the art of Thomas Kinkade. Handcrafted of hand-painted resin, this nine inch scene features 19 figures and 20 buildings, including, of course, the room with the manger. Songs available include “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and “The First Noel”.
7. Roman, Inc. Retro Animated Vintage-Style Red Trunk Christmas Music Box
This charming music box combines two popular eras of Christmas nostalgia: the Victorian and World War II eras. The outside of the box is modeled on World War II style shipping details, while the inside depicts a Victorian village. The small train in the center rotates while “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” plays. This is made of a combination of resin, wood, and metal and measures 3.5 inches by 6.25 inches by 4.25 inches.
8. The San Fransisco Music Box Company Lion and Lamb Holiday Musical Figurine
Representing the dual nature of Jesus Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God, this music box manages to convey the spiritual center of Christmas using the adorable image of snuggling creatures. The earth, stars, and doves base drives home the theme of “Peace on Earth” through the birth of Jesus. This measures about seven by five inches and plays “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”.
9. BestPysanky Rotating Santa & Reindeer Christmas Carousel
Here’s a simple hand-painted resin music box that puts Santa and his reindeer front and center. When wound up, this plays “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” while the carousel of figurines turns around the 3.5 inch base. It measures 5.5 inches tall and comes packed in a lovely gift box. If you wanted to gift more than one, they also make a The Nutcracker themed music box, too.
10. Collections Etc. Cardinal Christmas Music Box
This lovely item reminds me so much of the Christmas of my youth. This is very much like some of the ornaments my family had when I was a child, some of which came from my grandmother. As I wrote in our wooden Christmas ornaments post, some think that hanging a cardinal on your tree is good luck. This cute music box measures 3.75 by 6.5 inches and plays “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” when wound.
Follow our Christmas category throughout the season for shopping guides from our whole team.