It’s beginning to look a lot like non-denominational holiday season!

Ten jingles that really butter The Varsity’s fruitcake

It’s beginning to look a lot like non-denominational holiday season!

Whether or not the holiday season is your cup of tea, there’s no denying the catchiness of a good Christmas bop. Buckle up, because Santa Claus is about to take you to church with these 10 songs that need to be on your holiday playlist!

“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Michael Bublé, 2011

I’m sure we’ve all heard Mariah Carey’s classic Christmas pop song but dare I say it: Michael Bublé does it better. In fact, his 2011 album fittingly titled Christmas is one of the best holiday albums released in the last few decades. Be sure to check out the rest of the album, including songs like “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas.”

“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson, 2013

Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to bops like “Since U Been Gone” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” but nothing quite gets to me like a good Kelly Clarkson song. Mix her powerhouse vocals with a catchy holiday tune and you end up with this masterpiece of a song!

“Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber, 2011

You had to have seen this coming. I’m adding this iconic Christmas hit to the list as a tribute to his marriage to model Hailey Baldwin last year. He may be married and all grown up now, but ‘Beliebers’ will never forget the charm of his side-swept hair that forever changed the music industry.

“The Magic of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)” by Celine Dion, 1998

Can’t forget queen Celine! Her trademark vocals do not disappoint in this original Christmas song. Written by none other than Dee Snider, the heavy metal and hard rock singer-songwriter, I guess you could say this song is something like a Christmas miracle!

“This Christmas” by Pentatonix, 2012

Pentatonix prove that acapella can only make Christmas songs better with this hit off their Christmas album, PTXmas. Fair warning, when this song comes on, you may feel compelled to belt out the lyrics and suddenly become the sixth member of Pentatonix.

“All Alone on Christmas” by Darlene Love, 1992

This song might be familiar to those of you who grew up watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York during the holiday season. You’ll recognize this song as the one with the catchy saxophone solo that plays while Kevin is cruising down the Queensboro Bridge in a yellow cab in the city that never sleeps!

“Last Christmas” by Ariana Grande, 2013

You currently may be listening to Sweetener on repeat but never forget the gift that is Ariana Grande’s Christmas album from 2013, Christmas Kisses. This song is a completely different, fresh take on the original song by Wham! which will surely make its way on to your winter playlist if it isn’t there already.

“This Christmas” by Patti LaBelle, 1990

Now, I know I already listed a version of this song by Pentatonix above, but one of the best things about Christmas music is the abundance of varying versions and covers by different artists of all genres! This classic tune sung by none other than Patti LaBelle never fails to remind me of warm Christmas memories growing up and listening to my mom’s outdated — but fabulous — playlist of holiday hits from the ’80s and ’90s.

“Sleigh Ride” by TLC, 1992

This is probably one of the most underrated and underappreciated Christmas bops out there. If you want to channel some ’90s Christmas vibes this year, it can’t be done without this song. Be sure to check out the music video to see some of TLC’s iconic fashion statements of the ’90s, like the oversized denim overalls — my personal favourite.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Christina Aguilera, 2000

Christina Aguilera totally kills this classic holiday carol and makes it her own jazzy bop. The song is full of her trademark ad-libbing, powerful vocals, and killer high notes, paired with a beautiful instrumental background that is reminiscent of the original song. If there’s one Christmas song on this list that makes you cry, this just might be it.

Win your next potluck with this killer mac and cheese

A comfort food classic for the holiday season

Win your next potluck with this killer mac and cheese

I love holiday potlucks — in theory. In an attempt to impress my friends and steer away from the usual chips, dips, and desserts, I always end up plotting something far too complicated. Last year, I spent an entire day in the kitchen trying — and failing — to produce some magnificent enchiladas I had dreamed up, only to show up at the party with something that strongly resembled brown mush with a side of guacamole. Needless to say, it was not the first dish to run out.

This year, I’m determined to have a popular dish, and what better way to please my friends than with a dish that all students love? So I’m cooking up a creamy, gooey, homemade mac and cheese that even the pickiest of students will devour.

This potluck season, keep it simple and give the people what they want. Put those traumatizing potluck memories behind you, lace up your apron, and be prepared to win potluck season with this killer mac and cheese.

If you’re making this dish ahead of time, cool the pasta and cheese sauce separately before combining them in the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate up to two days. When you remove it from the fridge, heat for 20 minutes at 350º F, then stir in ½ to 1 cup of warm milk. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Top with bread crumbs, broil for two to three minutes, and then cover and keep warm until serving!

Homemade mac and cheese

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

  • 4 cups macaroni pasta (1 lb)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 3 ½ cups milk + extra as needed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 ½ tbsp flour
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water — use about 1 tbsp of salt for each pound of pasta — until al dente, or until just slightly crunchy and undercooked. Drain the pasta into a colander and let cool while making the sauce. Don’t keep the pasta cooling in the pot you cooked it in, otherwise it will stick to the bottom!

3. Warm the milk in a pot over the stove or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave until hot but not boiling, which should take about two and a half minutes. Set aside. Cook 1 tbsp butter and grated onion in a pan for two minutes over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk the mixture together. Don’t worry if it clumps! Cook the mixture like this for one minute. Very slowly, pour in the hot milk, whisking vigorously to remove the clumps.

4. Stir in the salt, pepper, ½ tsp cayenne, and mustard and let the sauce simmer over medium heat until thickened, about five to seven minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more cayenne, salt, and pepper as needed. Take the pot off the heat and slowly whisk in the grated cheddar until melted and smooth.

5. Return the pasta to the pot and pour in the sauce. Stir until combined. The mixture should be creamy but still quite runny — aim for the runniness of Kraft Dinner. If it’s too thick, slowly add about a ½ cup more milk until you achieve a runnier texture.

6. Pour the pasta into a two-quart baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

7. Melt 1 tbsp butter and stir in breadcrumbs and parsley. Remove the pasta from the oven, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top, and broil for two to three minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove and serve!