Ukulele Holiday Spirit 2023: Cheerful and Cheeky Tunes from Hawaii and the UK


In this first installment of our Ukulele Holiday Spirit video roundup for 2023, we begin with Craig and Sarah and a couple special guests in Hawaii. Then it’s off to the UK for an underrated classic and a new original. You never know where a new Christmas favorite will come from—sometimes it may be right under your feet!

Check out more Ukulele Holiday Spirit 2023 articles here.


Christmas Luau

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel are joined by Herb Ohta Jr. and Jon Yamasoto, on this delightful performance of “Christmas Luau” from their Backyard Concert Series. Two ukes (Ohta and Chee), two voices (Yamasoto and Maisel), and a mellow guitar hold down this mid-tempo tune. You may be familiar with this Hawaiian holiday classic written by Leonard Hawk (Pure Heart’s 1999 recording still holds up), but this short, brisk jaunt would make a welcome addition to any Christmas playlist. If you need translation for some of the Hawaiian words in this song, like hoomalimali, imu, or laulau, Hawaii Magazine has you covered.

Driving Home for Christmas

The original version of this tune by Chris Rea was released in 1986, and made it up to the middle of the UK charts. Anarchy in the Ukulele’s version feels as full as the original, despite its lack of synthesizers, strings, keyboards, and guitars. This relaxing, happy tune is a good way to get in the mood for holiday travel. This cover by this UK group features two ukes, a u-bass, drum set–style percussion, and vocals. They’ve got a whole playlist of holiday songs and tutorials that’s worth checking out if you dig their style.

Dog Poo on Me Shoe

This catchy little ditty by Graham Hall tells the unfortunate tale of a messy Christmas present left by a canine friend. It’s even worse than getting coal in your stocking. Graham and Roz sing wonderfully while strumming their ukuleles (skip to the 1:00 mark to start the song). My only complaint is that he’s made it so darn catchy, I’ve been singing “I’ve got dog poo on me shoe” around the house for the the past few days. I can only imagine the odd looks I might get singing this tune in line at the grocery store. No matter if you’re singing this as your own tale of woe or just for the fun of it, remember, it’s not the dog’s fault!