An Unofficial Guide to Holiday Movies 

The time is here, you guys. November. December. Thanksgiving & Christmas. I live for this: The crisp chill in the air, the warm comforting foods, family and friends, the music, the decorations. I love all of it. I even love the warm and fuzzy commercials. And I don’t even mind when Christmas decorations go up a bit early. If you let yourself get wrapped up in it all, you can’t help but feel the spirit of the holidays fill you up and make you just light up inside.

Besides the food, one of my favorite parts of the holidays is all the Christmas movies! I could just sit all day and snack on seasonal goodies, drink warm cider and hot chocolate and have my biggest decision be whether to watch Lifetime, ABC Family, or Hallmark. All by the light of my Christmas tree, of course.


note: as nice as this is, this is not my house or tree. it does look quite inviting though, doesn’t it?

I took it upon myself to put together a little holiday movie guide. This isn’t definitive, by any means (Oh, wouldn’t that be a fun project though!) This is just a list of movies that I’ve seen over the years and that I enjoy watching. It is an analysis (of sorts) of what it takes to be a holiday movie.

My plan is to take each “category” mentioned below and create a yummy recipe to go along with a more specific list of movies in separate blog posts. You know what they say about the best laid plans, though. I’m kind of excited about this, so I’m confident this will happen. I’m pretty sure I can make time for spreading Christmas cheer.

Which movies are your favorites?!

Abby’s Unofficial Guide to Holiday Movies

  1. Network: Lifetime, ABC Family, and Hallmark. You can’t go wrong with just about anything found on these channels. Hallmark got started on October 31 and will keep going strong. ABC Family will start November 22 with mostly Disney movies, after Thanksgiving is when they start with the Christmas fare. Lifetime usually tends to wait until closer to Thanksgiving. I will say, once upon a time, Lifetime was the go-to for Christmas movies. They still have some good ones, but over the years, my new go-to’s are ABC Family and Hallmark.  
  2. Throwback Thursday: It has been my experience the holiday-themed TV movies are a good place to find your favorite stars of yester-year. If the star of the movie was on a career high in the 90s at some point, you’re golden. This will be a good movie. Set your DVR now. Examples: Melissa Joan-Hart, Mario Lopez, Joey Lawrence, Tiffani Thiessan. Lacey Chabert, Candace Cameron-Bure, and Dean Cain all have enough holiday movies to host their own film festivals.  
  3. Singled Out: Single is the key word. Single ladies, single guys, single moms, single dads. A common denominator in these movies is the cornucopia of singleness. But fear not! (Spoiler Alert!) They will not be single by the end of the movie. If, on the off chance, the main character is in a relationship at the beginning of the movie, you can rest assured knowing that they are with the wrong person and they will break up after meeting the right person. They will probably meet the right person at the beginning of the film and not get along. Then they will see what they’ve wanted to make them happy all along and happily ever after will ensue.
  4. Career Plans: The most often found career in holiday movies seems to be chef or baker or some other food related job. Market/Advertising/PR is a really close second. Even if a character has a different job, it is likely menial and they go home dreaming of opening a bakery. Which they will do—unrealistically successfully—by the end of the movie. If a character works in finance or owns a big business, they will be the Scrooge, who’s heart may or may not change in the end. Holiday films like to stick it to the man.
  5. Location, location, location: Snow is a must. Whether the setting is in a big city or small town, it will always be in a place that gets snow. Sometimes characters will say they are going off to a sunny spot for the holidays, but something will always derail their plans and they’ll have to stay in the snow. The only thing warm in the end will be their hearts.   
  6. Do You Believe in Magic: As you’ve probably noticed in the above list, there is guaranteed to be a single parent or a grouchy boss in your chosen holiday movie. The single parent isn’t bad, but they are busy and a bit jaded by life. That’s where the precocious kids come in. They will likely already have a strong belief in the magic of Christmas, but at some point, they will encounter a magical being who will reinforce their belief. It is the job of this child to make the jaded adults believe in the magic of the season again. Don’t worry. They will. 

    Waiting on Santa (this is my son a few years ago)

  7. Seasons of Love: As seen in #3 above, romance is a given in these movies. And there are a few situations presented:
  • The Hate/Love Relationship: Two people, often in some sort of competition, hate each other. They will spend the majority of the film showing each other their worst sides. At some point they will let their guards down and that is when they will fall in love. Can’t fight this feeling.
  • Parent/Teacher: The single parent and the oddly good-looking teacher will bond over trying to help the magic-obsessed child from #6.
  • Fake love: This is the situation where the single girl is trying to appease her family because she is supposedly the least successful of her siblings. Likely she is trying to start a bakery or become an artist or something. She brings a fake boyfriend home for Christmas (or kidnaps him) and he is, of course perfect and her family falls in love with him. She will fall in love too, but the jig will be up before then and he will leave because she will have said something bad and messed it up. She will have to find him at the end and explain herself. They will end up happily ever after.

Don’t forget the classics!: The holiday TV movies are definitely in a class of their own, but don’t forget the classics. A lot of these tropes apply still. See if you can find them in your favorites! (Classics include, but are far from limited to: Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, A Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, Christmas in Connecticut)


9 thoughts on “An Unofficial Guide to Holiday Movies 

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