Christmas Sheet Music: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"

Explore piano solo arrangements by Jennifer Eklund of the novelty holiday song "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by John Rox.

This post is part seven of the Sonic Surprises Sheet Music Series.
Christmas Sheet Music: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"

A holiday “sonic surprise”!

This one was certainly a “sonic surprise.” When it was requested by a piano teacher I kind of rolled my eyes and bit my tongue. But, it has turned out to be hugely popular with buyers all over the globe. Let’s explore more about this sleeper holiday hit!

About “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”:

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is a fun and whimsical Christmas song written by John Rox and performed by Gayla Peevey when she was just 10 years old. The song was released in 1953 and quickly gained popularity, reaching number 24 on the Billboard pop chart in December of that year.

The lyrics of the song express the childlike desire for a rather unconventional Christmas gift—a hippopotamus. The catchy and playful nature of the song, along with Peevey’s youthful and energetic performance, contributed to its charm and enduring appeal.

A notable aspect of the song’s history is the connection to the Oklahoma City Zoo. While there’s a popular legend suggesting that the song was recorded as a fundraiser to bring a hippopotamus to the zoo, Peevey clarified in a 2007 interview that it wasn’t initially intended as such. However, the zoo and a local newspaper decided to capitalize on the song’s success and Peevey’s local roots by launching the Gayla Peevey hippo fund. The goal was to raise funds so that Peevey could be presented with an actual hippopotamus for Christmas.

The fundraising campaign was successful, and Peevey was indeed presented with a real hippopotamus. Following the plan all along, she donated the hippo to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The hippopotamus lived at the zoo for nearly 50 years.

Despite its unconventional theme, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has become a beloved and enduring holiday classic, often played during the Christmas season, contributing to the festive and lighthearted atmosphere.


🎹 1. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” Easy Piano Solo

Key features of the easy piano solo version:

  • Appropriate for late beginners
  • Includes truncated lyrics & fingerings
  • 3 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 2 minutes

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


🎹 2. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” Beginner Piano Solo

Key features of the beginner piano solo:

  • Appropriate for beginners and late beginners
  • Melody-line only version is great for first year students!
  • Includes truncated lyrics & fingerings
  • 3 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 2 minutes

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


🎹 3. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” Beginner Solo with Duet

Key features of the beginner solo with duet version:

  • Appropriate for beginners and late beginners
  • Melody-line only version is great for first year students!
  • Includes truncated lyrics & fingerings
  • Includes a bouncy, fun teacher duet part
  • 4 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 2 minutes

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


🎹 Looking for more easy Christmas piano sheet music?


👋 Did I miss one of your favorite Christmas tunes? I’m always open to requests so drop me a comment!



Jennifer Eklund
Written by Jennifer Eklund
Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks. She is also a Signature Artist with Musicnotes.com with a large catalog of popular music titles for musicians of all levels.

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