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The Best Podcasts for Your Holiday Playlist 2021

The holidays are here! The time of year when we get to spend more time with our families, and where many decorate the house, bake up a storm, and belt out those songs that only play during this season.

But you need to add another activity to your Holiday list! Podcasts! In our books, there’s no way to better celebrate than by listening to some excellent podcasts. So right about now, we start picking out our top contenders for the Ultimate Holiday Podcast List! But great podcasts are even better shared, so we’re sharing our picks with you!

Here is a list of some of the best podcasts for your Holiday Podcast Playlist:

Shocking True Tales

1. Unraveled (Long Island Serial Killer and The Stalker’s Web)

If you love true crime, then Unraveled has two incredible seasons for you to binge-listen this Holiday season. The first season unravels the complex mystery of The Long Island Serial Killer. It’s a great investigation and through the “unraveling” hosts Billy Jensen and Alexis Linkletter sift through the many questions remaining in this unsolved mystery.

Billy and Alexis do such a thorough job researching, interviewing, and presenting the facts. And it’s a twisty roller-coaster ride! Great for road trips (for adults, obviously!) or cozy night’s in!

2. Queen of the Con

Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress is such a fascinating tale! Mair Smyth came into the life of reality TV producer Johnathan Walton as an angel, promising salvation and friendship in a time of need. And not just an everyday angel, a glamorous one—with a storied family in Ireland who is fighting her over a whopping $25 million inheritance.

But one day, after trying to help Mair out of a legal “snafu,” Johnathan accidentally learns the truth about the woman who has become his best friend: she’s actually an international con artist who has scammed him and a slew of other victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, from Los Angeles to Belfast. The fact that this story is told from the perspective of someone who was swept up in the con makes this one a must-listen!

3. To Live and Die In LA

Another shocking true tale to dive into is To Live and Die in LA. In Feb 2018, an aspiring actress vanished from her Hollywood apartment. Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss was asked to help the family get answers. Together, they found them…sometimes at great personal risk. This one is a heart-wrenching tale told expertly. You listen as it unfolds in almost real-time, which is a unique spin on the usual true-crime podcast. This is another great option for road-trip entertainment.

4. The Lazarus Heist

“Almost a perfect crime.” That’s the way The Lazarus Heist is described. And that makes it a near-perfect podcast! This true-crime show details the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures. Which then escalates to the hacking ring attempting to steal a billion dollars. It’s a great pick if you love an intricate unravel!

We discover the players, the motives, and those caught in the cyber crossfire. In one corner, the investigators who blame North Korea. In the other, Pyongyang who denies involvement. Hosts Geoff White and Jean Lee tell an incredibly detailed tale. And because of their particular positions, can offer insights with authority and meaning. It will have everyone hooked!

Honorable Mentions

5. The Dropout

While this is not a new podcast, we think it deserves a mention because the trial of Elizabeth Holmes is currently taking place. You may have seen the news stories, but if you haven’t heard the podcast yet, it’s a great one for some holiday listening!

The Dropout was the winner of iHeart Radio’s Podcast of the Year, and it’s an expertly crafted podcast that tells the flabbergasting story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, a medical company headed by Holmes, with grand ambitions of changing the world. The podcast expertly shows the unraveling of the scandal, but it’s also a truly eye-opening exploration of Silicon Valley, the strong motivation of believing in something, and the sheer extent a person will go to perpetuate a lie. This one is a crowd-pleaser!

6. The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door gets a mention because of the renewed hype due to the release of the mini-series on Apple TV+. Starring Will Ferrel as Marty Markowitz and Paul Rudd as the infamous Dr. Ike Herschkopf, it’s a treat to see the story come to life. So, if you haven’t yet listened to the podcast or watched the new mini-series, The Shrink Next Door will provide great holiday entertainment on two fronts!

Fun Fiction

7. Showmance 

Move over Hallmark, we’re getting our fill of romcoms from some fun podcasts! If you love rom coms or light-hearted stories for some perfect holiday entertainment, then Showmance is the podcast for you. It’s fun, quirky, and full of that rom com magic we love, particularly during The Holidays! And with two previous RomComPod seasons available as well, you’ll have an abundance of that rom-com magic stored up for the holiday season!

8. Passenger List

Are enthralling thrillers more your speed? Then the two seasons of Passenger List should be on your list! Atlantic Flight 702 disappeared mid-flight between London and New York with 256 passengers on board. Kaitlin Le, a college student whose twin brother vanished with the flight, is determined to uncover the truth. Passenger List is another fantastic option for those holiday road trips, or the perfect choice to keep you entertained while you’re cooking up some holiday treats!

Light-Hearted Laughs

9. Off Menu

Looking for a laugh? Look no further than Off Menu! This podcast is always a treat! Hosted by comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster, each episode sees a special guest visiting Ed and James’ magical restaurant. The guests get to choose their favorite starter, main course, side dish, dessert, and drink.

A simple premise, but it packs a seriously hilarious punch! The interviews are top-notch, there’s an incredible lineup pf guests, and every episode is stuffed with fun banter and insightful conversation! And with six seasons, there’s plenty to feast upon! A fun-filled funny podcast perfect for the holidays!

10. SmartLess

If you’re looking for a podcast for when you just need a laugh, one of our current top picks is SmartLess. Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett are so great together, every episode is guaranteed to bring the laughs.

Throw a celebrity guest into the mix, and you’re always in a treat! It’s a superb mix of authentic conversation and genuine hilarity! A wide variety of well-known names have already joined the crew, and from our experience, you’re guaranteed to learn something new or have a really good laugh at the very least. 

Faithful Favorites

11. Against The Odds

Another great show from Wondery, Against The Odds shares incredibly true stories from around the world. From the daring rescue of a soccer team trapped in an underwater cave in Thailand, to a woman taken hostage by Somali pirates, you’ll be drawn into the story, kept on the edge of your seat with suspense, and totally inspired by the tenacity and resilience of the human spirit! It’s a great podcast to turn to when you when you’re looking for an engaging listen. But with 9 seasons available, it’s also perfect for a holiday road trip binge-listen!⠀⠀

12. This Is Love

This Is Love is always a solid podcast pick. This podcast comes to us from the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, but this show investigates life’s most persistent mystery – love in all its vast and varied shapes and forms. There are stories of sacrifice, obsession, and the ways in which we bet everything on each other. There are incredible stories of daring feats, of heroic animals, and stories of encounters with majestic creatures. Phoebe Judge expertly narrates and guides the stories, and the honest, no-frills style of storytelling will leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged.

13. Imagined Life

Imagined Life by Wondery ranks right up there with my favorite podcasts and it’s absolutely perfect for holiday listening! Through some immersive writing and lovely narration, each episode shares a snippet of the life story of one famous person or another, past or present, but you never know who it really is until the very end.

There are clues along the way as to who the subject is, but you’re often hearing a part of their story which you’ve never heard before, making the guessing all the more fun! The writing is excellent, the narration is superb, and the storytelling is just so good! Look out for episodes marked as Imagined Life Family, as these episodes are intended for family listening, which is perfect for the holidays!  

For the Kids

14. Little Stories Everywhere

We can’t feature Imagined Life without also including Wondery’s Little Stories also hosted by the vocal dream team of Virginia Madsen and Robbie Daymond. This is a great podcast to help little imaginations take flight these Holidays! Each episode shares a magical, adventurous, fantastical tale that will keep young listeners enthralled. It’s the perfect podcast for family nighttime listening. Curl up in front of a fire with a warm cup of cocoa in your hands and let your imaginations sore with magical Holiday stories.

15. Looney Tunes Presents: Bugs & Daffy’s Thanksgiving Road Trip.

While this is a Thanksgiving-themed podcast, if the kids haven’t listened to this one yet, it’s a fun Holiday listen. Bugs and Daffy’s Thanksgiving Road Trip is Warner Bros. Animation’s first scripted podcast. When Bugs and Daffy are invited to the Warner Bros. lot for a big Thanksgiving feast, Daffy is determined to become Thanksgiving’s official bird.

How is he going to do that? He has to star in the big-budget Holiday movie. But Daffy isn’t famous enough to star in his own movie. So what can they do? Bugs and Daffy hatch a plan to take a road trip all across the country, making stops at football games, chili cook-offs, and fashion shows to raise Daffy’s profile, get his movie made, and make him the Thanksgiving Duck!

16. Melon’s House Party

Another great new(ish) podcast for young listeners, Melon’s House Party. Did you know that the objects in your house sing and speak all day long? They just do so in a key only dogs can hear! Enter, Melon, an eight-pound dog with a thousand-pound heart who is the key to a world that lives right under our noses! She lives in a world full of friends. There’s an always singing record player, a soulless computer, her bookshelf therapist, and many more. But her best friend in the world is Couch.

As Melon learns about herself and the world around her, she shows us how to appreciate the little things in life and the importance of friendship and family. This one is so sweet and fun and will be perfect to keep the youngsters entertained these Holidays.

Related read: 21 Of The Best Podcasts For Kids In 2021

Closing Thoughts

With so many fun shows, there’s no room for boredom these Holidays! Whether you’re looking for binge-worthy entertainment for upcoming road trips to see friends and family, or you’re looking for something to keep you company while you’re cooking up a storm, there’s something for everyone on this list!

What podcasts do you have lined up for the Holidays? Share them with us in the comments!

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