By Setota Hailemariam

If you’re anything like me, you start celebrating the holidays the second the calendar page flips to Nov. 1. I don’t like to think of this as jumping the gun — I truly believe it takes a full month to get completely ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

There is one problem with starting holiday preparations early, though. It feels like the radio, shopping malls and grocery stores all conspire together to play the same five songs on repeat, making you more than happy to never hear a Christmas song again long before Dec. 25. To solve this issue, here are some non-traditional holiday tunes — perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or just getting into the winter spirit.

  1. Thank You” – Dido

You may recognize the opening verse of this song from its sampling in the popular Eminem track, “Stan”, but Dido’s original stands out in its own right for its earnestly simple message. “And I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life / just to be with you is having the best day of my life,” she croons. Play it all throughout Thanksgiving season, whether you’re thankful for your partner, your family or anyone special in your life.

  1. Cooking Up Something Good” – Mac Demarco

I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory why this song fits in with the Thanksgiving theme. Though it’s actually based on Demarco’s real life experience with his father’s addictions, the cheery guitar strums and mellow vibe make it seem totally innocent. It’s the perfect background music for having a good time running around the kitchen making Thanksgiving dinner.

  1. 30 Days” – Never Shout Never

The music of one-man-band Never Shout Never (Christofer Drew) may be a relic from scene days past, but this cutesy, pseudo-Christmas song is worth revisiting. It describes the feeling of dread one feels about the approach of the holidays after having ended a relationship, a not-uncommon situation. Short and sweet, it’s definitely not your average holiday tune.

  1. Christmas Time is Here” – Vince Guaraldi Trio

“Sad Christmas” is clearly a popular subgenre of holiday music, and for a good reason. This classic from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” not only brings on a wave of nostalgia, but also is a stirring, melancholy alternative to the blindingly bright Christmas carols that everyone fawns over.

  1. Jingle Bells” – Barbra Streisand

Some Christmas traditions get a pass to stay, though, especially when they’ve been remixed like this Streisand version. It’s weird, erratic and frantic, yet it somehow works.

  1. Santa Tell Me” – Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande has often been compared to Mariah Carey for her powerhouse voice, and this song offers another comparison. The original pop/R&B Christmas anthem is nearly up there with “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The hook is sure to stay stuck in your head for the entire duration of the holiday season, and you’ll want to belt it along with her.

  1. Come on Over (All I Want is You)” – Christina Aguilera

Hot take: this gem from Xtina’s debut album is the perfect Christmas song. It just makes you want to call up whoever makes you happy, huddle together by a fire and avoid the cold winter air for a few blissful hours. Maybe even roast a chestnut or two.

  1. Mushaboom” – Feist

On a similar note, this tune from indie darling Feist also makes you want to get snowed in with someone you care about. The chorus even goes “Knee deep snow / watching the fire as we grow old,” as if it couldn’t get more clear that this is mandatory holiday, or at least wintertime, listening.

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Kenny G

Another reworked Christmas classic, this smooth song is romantic, but with a bittersweet undertone. Impressively, it conveys all this without a single word as Kenny G uses his sax to say it all. Watch the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” to get a full sense of how beautiful this song is with a Christmas backdrop.

  1. White Christmas” – Bing Crosby

Some classics are classics for a reason. This just might be the one Christmas song that never gets old — because Bing Crosby’s voice doesn’t, either.

In the words of *NSYNC, Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Setota Hailemariam is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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