Sean Hurley, NHPR

When reporter Sean Hurley heard that one of his neighbors was giving away Christmas trees, he wanted to find out more about this local charity. And what he found was that this man's very public act, letting people wander over his property to pick out and cut down one of the Christmas Trees, was also very private. This story won Second Place in the 2007 Best Feature category from the New Hampshire Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Tim Barry
Amanda Loder / NHPR

With Christmas a week away, shoppers are crowding into malls, outlets, and downtown shopping districts looking for last-minute gifts.  But, for those looking for unusual handmade gifts, there’s another, unorthodox, option available.

Is Die Hard A Christmas Movie?

Dec 15, 2012

What doesn't say Christmas like a terrorist plot foiled by Bruce Willis? - Author Kevin Flynn, Die Hard die-hard

To many, any best-of action film list would ring hollow with the exclusion of Die Hard - but each year, as the holiday season approaches, it begins to fly under a different flag:  an admittedly less warm, less traditional Christmas classic.

Word of Mouth 12.15.2012

Dec 14, 2012
Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

An anthropologist embeds herself with hackers. Santa opens shop in Hooksett. A Hobbit scholar explains why Tolkien fascinates. Women comedians find success on through podcasts. And the very interesting history...of boredom.

Word of Mouth 12.15.2012

Dec 14, 2012
Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

An anthropologist embeds herself with hackers. Santa opens shop in Hooksett. A Hobbit scholar explains why Tolkien fascinates. Women comedians find success on through podcasts. And the very interesting history...of boredom.

Part 1:

Kids Don't Cry at This Santa's Workshop

Dec 13, 2012
Adam McCune

Been to the mall lately? If so, you’ve probably seen a long line of nervous kids waiting a turn to sit on Santa’s lap and give him their Christmas wish list. There’s another place in New Hampshire where kids can visit Santa Claus, though a bit off the beaten path. It’s arguably even more magical, with not a tearful tot in sight.

Word Of Mouth contributor Adam McCune bundled up his own kids to take us on this radio field trip just a wee bit south of the North Pole.

Bah Humbug! Thieves Snag Lights From Boscawen Christmas Tree - Twice

Dec 9, 2012

Thieves have stolen the lights off a small New Hampshire town's Christmas tree twice in less than a week.

Officials in Boscawen say someone stole the bottom set of lights off the town tree in the overnight hours last Monday or Tuesday just hours after firefighters had put the lights up. The tree has been a tradition in Boscawen for decades, standing by the road at a well-traveled junction.

kevinthoule via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not terribly surprising that for the second year running, the national retail federation claims the hottest holiday present is a gift card. But are we losing something when we focus on the material aspects of gift-giving? With us to rundown some alternative ideas for experiential gifts you can’t fit under the tree is Rick Broussard, editor of New Hampshire Magazine.

wootam! via Flickr Creative Commons

I hate Monopoly. Always have. The reason is simple: it's impossible to play the game and feel good, even if you win. Monopoly, simply put, is all about crushing  your fellow players through bankruptcy, even if they're your own kids. Turns out, there might be a reason for my hatred of Monopoly.

The most popular game in the world, according to this amazing article in Harpers, is, simply put, theft. And it has an incredible, almost unbelievable history:

NH Department of Cultural Resources

Students from the Indian River School in Canaan worked with sculptor Emile Birch to create New Hampshire's official ornaments for the 2012 National Christmas Tree.

The tree will be on display at President's Park in Washington, D.C. throughout December.

SigurDD via Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, Dec. 7th

9:00 - 10:00 pm:   Hanukkah Lights 2012

A perennial NPR favorite, Hanukkah Lights features Hanukkah stories and memoirs written by acclaimed authors expressly for the show, as read by NPR's Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz.

Sunday, Dec. 16th

A Carolina Christmas from Biltmore Estate, with Kathy Mattea is a festive celebration of holiday music -- from one of the most magnificent acoustic venues in the country! A Carolina Christmas features soloists and large ensembles performing a rich variety of songs, including sacred music of the season, African-American spirituals, Celtic jigs and folk favorites.

Everyone knows Julia Child loved to cook, but not everyone knows she loved to read. Long ago she started work on a series of specials that are only just now being completed and aired -- stories about food and a little cooking, but mostly about people. "A Christmas Carol is a lovely story to read over the holidays," she says, "because it has a happy ending." Actor Peter Donat brings the story to life -- with sounds and music that stimulate the theatre of the mind.

Echoes of Christmas

Dec 25, 2011

This program features moving selections of choral classics celebrating Christmas. The Dale Warland Singers provided magical performances to listeners across the country for over 30 years and were acclaimed as America's premier choir. Their signature holiday concert—beloved by public radio listeners nationwide—was the annual Echoes of Christmas program. Drawing upon the archive of their live performances, Dale Warland and host Brian Newhouse create a very special Christmas musical treat.

A Chanticleer Christmas

Dec 25, 2011

A Chanticleer Christmas is American Public Media's one-hour celebration of the season as told through the glorious voices of Chanticleer, the 12-voice San Francisco-based men's choir. The program spans the globe and the centuries — from England in the 1300s to new arrangements of classic and contemporary carols.  Information is available at

One of the great holiday traditions in America, the choirs of Morehouse and Spelman Colleges -- two of the most prestigious historically black institutions in the nation -- get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. This encore presentation features the best works of the last several years. It's a joyous celebration of the schools' tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols.

Christmas Daybreak

Dec 25, 2011

Christmas Daybreak brings together two of the finest groups of singers and actors at the cutting edge of live performance in America today, the singers of The Crossing and actors from the Pig Iron Theatre company.  Specializing in work of the finest contemporary composers, The Crossing has commissioned many beautiful new carols for Christmas by composers such as Andrew Gant and Benjamin Boyle and sung many new works by British composers Gabriel Jackson, Jonathan Varcoe, and James MacMillan.

An updated version of a public radio tradition hosted by NPR's Susan Stamberg. Master comedian Jonathan Winters presents a distinctive reading of Dickens' holiday classic, with a special performing edition prepared by Dickens for his own presentations. This program is produced by NPR and KCRW and information at available at

A service in song and word that has become one of the nation's most cherished holiday celebrations. Tickets to the event, which takes place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, are always gone months in advance. The festival includes hymns, carols, choral works, and orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity and featuring more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St.

The National Cathedral bring you their signature broadcast from the Cathedral's service of lessons and carols as heard at 6pm on Christmas Eve from Washington DC.  Each Christmas-tide the Cathedral hosts a number of special services, including a quietly spectacular Lesson and Carols on Christmas Eve at 6pm, combining biblical readings that mark out the story of the birth of Christ with much-loved, as well as new, carols, from folk to ethereal polyphony, from the splendor of all the voices and organ together, to the hush of Silent Night, as the service draws to a close.  Washington National

Welcome Christmas

Dec 24, 2011

This year's VocalEssence Welcome Christmas concert celebrates the holidays with the warmth of traditional carols and the exhilaration of new songs for the season. The concert features a garland of carols from Sweden, and the world premiere of this year's Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest-winning carols, composed for chorus and bell choir. Other carols were chosen by VocalEssence fans in an online audience favorite poll.  Join us for holiday classics new and old, when Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence Welcome Christmas!

Hosted by Michael Barone, this is a live stereo music and spoken-word broadcast from the chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England. The 30-voice King's College Choir performs the legendary Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service of Biblical readings and music.  Information is available at

Brady Carlson, NHPR

When you think of Christmas, auto racing might not come to mind.

But the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon has turned a mile long race course into a Christmas display featuring more than a million LED lights.

NHPR’s Brady Carlson took his family to see the show and has this report.

I’m not really a light kind of guy – in fact, the first thing I do when I host All Things Considered is turn down the studio lights.

Winter solstice is fine with me.

But then I’m not really the target demographic for the Gift of Lights show.

<a href="">macrobertstirling<a/> / Flicker/ Creative Commons

The London Sunday Telegraph once proclaimed Charles Dickens as "The Man who Invented Christmas" and his timeless story "A Christmas Carol", the main reason why. Written in London in 1843, at a time of expanding urbanization and industrialization, and a declining interest in old customs and ceremonies, "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge, Cratchit, Tiny Tim and a host of ominous ghosts, helped its readers find the true spirit of Christmas and look back nostalgically at the old time Christmas traditions of friends, family, fun and frivolity.

A favorite children’s book I loved when my kids were young was The Night Tree by Eve Bunting. First published in 1991, the now 20-year-old story relates how a young family drove to a forest on a cold December night to decorate a living Christmas tree with edible ornaments for wildlife. The story and luminous illustrations capture the spirit of holiday giving and a special ritual in a cherished place.

Photo by: drafthorsedressage

While taking a break from the online portion of my Christmas shopping the other day, I discovered a colorful conversation ballooning on Facebook about a disgruntled minority that isn’t part of the 99 percent. That is, the overwhelming percent of all Christmas chores thought, bought and wrapped by the women of the household. This, of course, was not a conversation backed by facts or data, but an informal survey based more likely on the spirit of Christmas exhaustion.

Photo by Tomasz Krawczak, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The holiday season, we’re often reminded, is a time for people to come together…except, when it isn’t.   This year’s ‘War on Christmas’ skirmish revolves around the Christmas tree.

(Photo by Matthew Mead)

Celebrity designer Matthew Mead shares his tricks for making entertaining easy, beautiful, and fun...even if you don't have time to make a walnut wreath.

Wanna Sing "The Messiah"?

Dec 6, 2006
Ell Brown

It's hard to imagine Christmas without a choir singing Handel's Messiah.

In recent years a new tradition has developed: the 'Messiah-sing.'

It operates like a pick-up basketball game. Anyone who wants to sing the Messiah shows up at a concert hall with music in-hand. Tenors sit with tenors and sopranos with sopranos. And then -- without rehearsal -- the concert begins.

New Hampshire Public Radio correspondent Doug MacPherson attended one-such Messiah-sing at the Music Hall in Portsmouth.

He filed this audio postcard.

Faceless Librarian

Thousands of people left New Hampshire this month on a train for the North Pole.