When I think of the Christmas season, one of the first things that comes to mind is sitting on the couch for a full Saturday or Sunday (whichever day my hangover is worse) and watching back to back original holiday movies. Whether it be on the Hallmark channel, Lifetime, ABC Family, or UP (the God Network), it is through the magic of Christmas and underpaid actors that I’m able to crush cheesy rom-coms back to back. It was not to my surprise that when I brought up this guilty pleasure with friends, most* of them admitted they love* these movies too. (*Most meaning my sister and my mom, *love meaning love to hate.) Since I’ve consumed far too many to reveal to the masses, I’ll give you a list of the ones to watch and the ones to skip this holiday season.
Disclaimer: There are two general things that I immediately look for before I get invested in watching a holiday movie and sitting through endless commercials. 1. The movie needs to have two attractive people that will eventually fall in love. If one or more of the soon to be couple is uggo, ditch the movie because there is no reason to root for them. 2. This has been proven wrong in one case, which I will detail below, but if there is any sort of child story line it will blow and you will be forced to watch the kid cockblock all romance in the movie for a full 2 hours until there is one kiss at the end, and the person that doesn’t have a kid (usually the guy) has to impress the kid and then probably adopt it. It’s not worth the fuss…if there are kids in the descrip, move on to the next.
Snow Bride (2013)
Although this movie has no one famous in it, it was good enough for me to DVR and then force my parents to leave it on the DVR until I moved and they deleted it without a care in the world.
Plot- Greta, a reporter for a gossip magazine (do you see why I was hooked from the start?) has to get the juice on classy, famous family the Tannenhills that are always in the tabs, when she finds a way to pose as one of the son’s girlfriends, she spends Christmas with the fam and has to choose between exposing all their secrets to stomp her way to the top of her career or can you guess it…follow her heart.
Bonus Points-A good ole fashioned thirsty gold digger dates both Tannenhill brothers and tries to weasel her way into the family and it makes for some quality side story.
Rating- 5 candy canes
A Bride For Christmas (2012) Arielle Kebbel, Andrew W. Walker
Plot-Within 10 minutes we already know this one is a keeper because it starts with men making a bet over a girl like EVERY 90’s movie and buckle up because this obviously will not blow up in their face at any point during the next 2 hours. Aiden (such a typical hot guy name) is our cocky frat bro character, who happens to look like an Abercrombie model and makes a bet with his equally as dimwitted coworkers/poker buddies that he can get engaged by Christmas. If he fails, he has to work in a cubicle (THE HORROR), also his dum dum buddies get to pick the girl. His bro, Matt hits on Jessie at an art show, she turns him down and clearly has baggage, so Matt presents her as the prize to propose to and obviously Aiden says yes please. Aiden approaches Jessie and dribbles out “You would be the envy of every girl in this room if you wore kicks with that dress.” Aaand it was love at first pickup line. Jessie happens to love burgers, horror flicks and dogs…cause she’s the cool chick, duh. What happens next? Guess you’ll have to watch and find out (if you have a brain you absolutely know what happens next)
Best Quote- “There’s a lot of people you can live with, there’s only one you can’t live without.”-Dad…what a guy, a modern poet if you will.
Bonus Points- Abercrombie interacting with puppies, literally the only two things women love most.
Rating: 4 candy canes
Christmas with Holly (2012) Sean Faris
Before getting too invested in this one I referred to my sister who has seen more made for TV movies than me and her advice for me was very distinct:”Neg. Sean Faris has long hair.” This was very sound advice, because Sean Faris was real woof looking in this movie…but it was slim pickins’, so I got sucked in. The good news is that it ended up making the watch list.
Plot- The reason why this movie is the exception to the kids rule is that the little girl in this movie, Holly doesn’t talk. She had just lost her mom and her Uncle Mark was given custody of her but she was so distressed from losing her mom that she didn’t speak for most of the movie. And boy was it peaceful. She didn’t butt in or try to steal the attention, she was a quiet part of the storyline and it was really the best case scenario here. Mark moves Holly back to his hometown and they move in with her two other uncles for some family bonding and obviously love interest times with the newbie, Maggie, who opened a toy store in town. All kids should play the quiet game during the holidays…
Bonus Points- Maggie Irish step dances as a way of flirting and step dances right off the curb. This is absolutely something I would do except it would be 1000x less graceful.
Rating: 2 candy canes
A Royal Christmas (2014) Lacey Chabert, Jane Seymour
Literally didn’t even see this whole movie and already knew by half of it that it was a keeper. First of all it has Hallmark/Lifetime vet Lacey Chabert, and they never put an ugly guy with her. Sure it was the poor man’s version of the Prince and Me but did it stop me from eating that shit up? No, no it didn’t.
Plot- Emily is dating Leo in Philly and then suddenly she finds out he is a prince, because naturally when you’re dating someone this information just doesn’t come up in conversation. They go back to his castle and obv the Queen hates Emily because she’s a trashy seamstress from Philly and not a royal. So the Queen sets out to get her the F out of her country and Emily just wants to teach the maids how to make a good ole fashioned hoagie. Power struggle.
Bonus Points- There’s obviously a scene where the Queen makes Emily wear a hideous dress to the fancy ball and she turns it into a slutty tight dress that she looks like a knockout in, modern day Cinderella.
Rating: 3 candy canes
Let It Snow (2013) Candace Cameron Bure, Alan Thicke
By this cast of characters you see that they’ve got some real Hallmark gems leading the movie here. DJ from Full House debuts a new Christmas movie every year and this one was a banger. The guy is super hot and it allows me to look past how queer Candace is throughout this whole movie.
Plot- Stephanie works for her dad as chief of marketing for all the resorts that he manages. He sends her to a property they’re planning on updating/destroying and it happens to be a family-owned lodge in the woods that has a lot of character and goes all out for Christmas each year. Stephanie hates the cold and hates Christmas because she’s a bitter bitch whose dad worked instead of kicking it with her during holidays and then suddenly the family who owns the lodge warms her icy heart and makes her see the magic of Christmas and their hot son Brady gets all up in that and they decide they love snow and Christmas after all. Will Steph-dawg be able to save this magical lodge from her money grubber asshole dad?
Bonus Points- Once Steph realizes she loves Christmas she writes a letter to Santa and wakes up Christmas morning with candy in her sensible flats and does an extremely embarrassing dance around her room and shouts like a 12 year old, it’s pretty cringeworthy and also awesome. Also she puts her flats on with her pjs and socks. No, girl.
Rating: 3 candy canes
Holiday High School Reunion (2012) Lifetime-Jonathan Bennett, Harry Hamlin
Plot- This movie has Aaron Samuels in it, what more do you need to know? Ok, fine, Georgia and Ben were besties in high school and it’s clear that Georgia has friend zoned Ben for an excruciating amount of years because she was always trying to be in the cool crowd and bang the football players. Their high school reunion around Christmas time is when it all goes down. Georgia finds out that half of her besties from high school are actually huge betches and they hate her, and her football boyf has penetrated everyone in the school and she’s quirky and doesn’t fit in with them/her career is a hot mess (whose isn’t amirite?) and at this point Ben has had blue balls for 10 years.
Bonus Points- Georgia takes over the dance team’s holiday performance at the reunion and makes a mockery of it like a real goober. I love a good quality dance scene.
Rating: 3 candy canes
Matchmaker Santa (2012) Lacey Chabert, Florence Henderson, John Ratzenberger
What did I tell you about Lacey? Gold. Every time.
Plot- Melanie wished for prince charming when she was a kid (the outcome of this movie gives me hope, guys) and as an adult she owns a bakery and is dating a hottie biz man who invites her home for the holidays to meet his mom. Plans go awry and Melanie gets stranded in a random town with her boyfriend’s assistant/friend Dean and it seems that the mechanic fixing their car is an elf or somehow connected to Santa. Elf and Santa obviously start pulling some strings, as they’re known to do, and try to get Dean and Melanie to bone because they’re perfect for each other…and everyone knows don’t F with Santa’s wishes.
Bonus Points- Always the feel good network, they never want one person in a movie to be dumped without cause, so they find a match for whoever’s left out in the cold. So kosher and lame sauce, but leads to a nice awkward end scene where the new couples hang and ignore the fact that they’ve traded partners without a care in the world.
Rating: 3 candy canes
12 Men of Christmas (2009) Lifetime-Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Hopkins
This movie is so great that my sister has it on DVD. True story, really committed to this one.
Plot- A NYC publicist, EJ catches her fiance banging her boss at the Christmas party and therefore quits and is single during the holidays…sob…then she takes a job in Montana just for shits promoting a charity and decides to take a risque turn and publicize the charity via a nearly nude calendar of the male volunteers in town. She’s photographing a bunch of men modeling shirtless, so which one does she snag? The hot one…duh.
Bonus Points- I’m gonna go with all the shirtless attractive men.
Rating: 5 candy canes
Christmas on the Bayou (2013) Lifetime-Hilarie Burton, Tyler Hilton
All my OTH superfans will understand exactly why I subjected myself to this movie even though the plot looked real stupid…also there was a kid, which I realized AFTER I had already committed to watching. I think we all know where this is going…
Plot- Katherine is a single mom who works way too much in NYC and her son, Zack is a weirdo who gets bullied and usually has his face in a gameboy (or whatever today’s equivalent is). They take a trip back to Katherine’s hometown to stay with her mom and celebrate Christmas and in very “Sweet Home Alabama” style but without good writing or actors, Katherine remembers what she loved about the south and reconnects with childhood crush Caleb. Zack makes a little girl friend next door and then also casually becomes bros with Santa Claus (Papa Noel) himself. Everything is swell on the bayou…except for the gators.
Weird Deets- They make up their completely own Christmas traditions in the south apparently, Santa is called Papa Noel and gets pulled along the bayou by gators instead of reindeer, cause there’s no snow, or like everyone there is a hick or something.
Rating: 1 candy cane
Holidaze (2013) ABC Family-Jennie Garth, Cameron Mathison
I love my girl Jennie Garth but this movie was an abomination. Even Cameron, champion of Christmas love interests couldn’t save this train wreck.
Plot- Melody is a bitchy workaholic and goes home for the holidays, falls down a flight of stairs and wakes up in an alternate reality, as most of us do, where she married childhood sweetheart, Carter. Melody is a real twat and should probably be thankful that she’s tricked Carter into marrying her, alternate universe or not, but it’s pretty insufferable. Obviously in the spirit of the holidays she stops being the worst but there’s really no turning back with this mash-up of bad acting and turning down a perfectly good six pack for a job.
Rating: 1/2 candy cane (can’t do half…I made it smaller. So there.)
In My Dreams (2014) Katharine McPhee, Mike Vogel
This might not count because it technically premiered after the holidays last year but they made a huge deal about it and it was featured on a major network. My mom and I were supes excited to watch it. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that they will never play this movie again because it was embarrassingly bad. In the event that they do, here is your warning to never watch it unless you’re inclined to turn it into a drinking game (drink every time they sleep.)
Plot- Natalie and Nick have shitty love lives so they throw a coin in a fountain to wish for someone and they don’t know it but OBVIOUSLY the fountain is magical and matches people up. However, the catch is that they only meet and see each other in their dreams and they have a certain amount of time to meet in real life or else they’re cursed forever. Suuuuper realistic obviously…will they meet in time or only have a sleep relationship? Spoiler alert they’ll obviously end up together, IRL.
Weird Deets- What made this movie absolutely wooftastic is that these two goons would put off real life plans to sleep, because they were dating each other in THEIR DREAMS. Like they would go to bed at 7pm and Natalie would put on her nicest nightgown and do her hair and makeup for her dream sequence of a date. I can get down with a LOT of stupid story lines as you can see from this list, but this was preposterous. I won’t stand for it, ABC.
Rating: 0 candy canes, no redeeming qualities.
Finding Christmas (2013) J.T. Hodges (country singer)
Plot- The ole’ I’m bored with my city so I’m going to go online and find someone who is willing to do a city/home swap with me for a change of scenery that always ends in a relationship. Sean is a big-wig advertising guy in NYC trades places with Owen, a small town handyman/musician and obviously it goes exactly how you would expect it to. My problem with this movie is that they forcefully incorporated singing and also one of the guys we’re supposed to believe is falling in love with a girl has me completely convinced that he’s actually gay. Tough sell on this one.
Weird Deets- There’s a kid. Yuck. And terrible christmas songs coming from a professional country singer.
Rating: 1/2 candy cane
Holly’s Holiday (2012) Lifetime-Literally No One Famous
Plot- A NYC ad exec, Holly, passes by an elaborate window display every day with the “perfect man” in it and essentially has a crush on an inanimate object and wishes it were real. Well don’t ya know she slips on ice in front of the store window and he comes to life and they start dating, because that’s how we find true love, ladies. Once she’s dating her perfect man she realizes that he’s creepy and too much at once so catch 22 maybe Holly should date real humans.
Weird Deets- Everything about this movie is weird, she’s dating a G-D mannequin.
Rating: ½ candy cane
The Real St. Nick (2012) Lifetime Torey DeVitto (Nanny Carrie from OTH)
Nanny Carrie and a hot guy? Sign me up. Just kidding this movie blows.
Plot- Hot guy Nick saves Kate, a psychiatrist from an accident but Nick hits his head and thinks he’s Santa Claus. YOU’RE TOO HOT AND YOUNG TO BE SANTA CLAUS. Also there’s kids…lots of them, because Santa/Nick is committed to a hospital where they can evaluate his brain.
Weird Deets- This was a real review on IMDB: “This is not a movie you would like to see or admit you watched. The story was lame and the acting was worse.” BRAVO.
Rating: 1 candy cane (hey the guy was real cute)
I can only hope that this guide will be like the north star, guiding your sleigh through all cheesy holiday movie endeavors. Feel free to comment below if I’ve missed any major flicks.