The 25 Best Holiday TV Episodes and Movies Streaming Right Now

The holidays are a time to be thankful, reflect on the year, and be amongst loved ones as the world collectively calms down and a hush falls over the airwaves of television (I still argue that “Silent Night” was originally written about the winter hiatus television faces during the holidays). Of course we all know that the most important thing to do during this time is go into a vegetative state from watching all of your favorite holiday movies and episodes of television! But rather than risk bruising your precious gift unwrapping fingers from relentlessly searching for what to watch, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are the 25 most worthy holiday themed pieces of entertainment for you to watch this season. And they’re all even streaming for you so you don’t even have to leave the warmth of your home! Get cozy!

“A Benihana Christmas” (The Office)

For nine seasons The Office did a very good job at crowning themselves the masters of Christmas episodes, nearly turning to one every season and usually using them for huge moments of emotional catharsis. While all of The Office’s holiday outings are strong contenders, season three’s “A Benihana Christmas” is the winner in the end (slightly edging out season two’s “Christmas Party”). Directed by Harold Ramis, no less, “A Benihana Christmas” shows Michael Scott at his egotistical worst, leveraging his recent break up to take over the holidays. Michael’s cringeapalooza of a double date with Dwight to Benihana is a lesson in awkwardness, but the antics at the office also don’t disappoint. Dueling Christmas parties make the holiday tension high in the best possible way, and seeing Pam and Karen needing to buddy up together reminds you of this rare time during the series. (Netflix)

“Afternoon Delight” (Arrested Development)

It doesn’t hurt that this offering of Arrested Development has largely been considered to be one of the best episodes that the show would produce, but it’s also just a very solid holiday episode in its own right. There might not be a lot of snow, but for a time so often associated with family, the dysfunctional Bluths do not disappoint. “Afternoon Delight” is a pretty flawless episode from top to bottom, whether it’s through these fractured relations, seeing Gob in that banana costume, or the inspired way in which everything dovetails together. Gob’s legendary sexual harassment speech at the Bluth company holiday party has eve gone on to become a classic moment from the series. If you haven’t watched this thing already, then, “Come on!” (Netflix)

“A Very Sunny Christmas” (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

It’s kind of beautiful to see Always Sunny’s twisted take on what the holidays should consist of, and A Very Sunny Christmas doesn’t hold back. The rather bleak entry almost works as an origin story of sorts, explaining in a number of ways why these characters are how they are, with Christmas having been a formative time for the lot of them. Dennis and Dee attempt to teach Frank a lesson for all of the Christmases that he selfishly ruined for them, while Charlie and Mac re-connect with their parents, seeing their childhoods in new tragic lights. For one, Charlie realizing that his mother’s vagina might as well have had a mistletoe over it for how much action it was getting from Santa(s). Plus, the visual of Frank birthing himself out of a couch is one you won’t soon forget. (Netflix)

Bad Santa

Look, I don’t need to tell you why you should watch Bad Santa. It has more than proven itself at this point and I’d even say it’s the go-to for people’s off-kilter Christmas movie selection, But with news of its long-awaited sequel finally coming to fruition (Merry Christmas, y’all) there’s now more reason than ever to re-visit this dark comedy where Billy Bob Thorton acts crass and Lauren Graham gives validation to Santa fetishists everywhere. Hey, maybe picture Thorton’s character as Lorne Malvo from Fargo this time around, just to make it a little different! (Netflix)

“BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish” (BoJack Horseman)

BoJack’s Christmas installment cleverly uses the show-within-the-show, Horsin’ Around, as the vehicle to explore the Yuletide season, and it’s a concept that works quite well for them. Ever the wry show in general, combining the saccharine nature of the holidays with the overproduced hokeyness of sitcoms is a perfect fit. Unsurprisingly, the Horsin’ Around episode hits some emotional peaks, and the same sort of impact is felt between BoJack and Todd who are watching the episode. Plus, with how reboot, sequel, and nostalgia crazy we’ve all gotten lately, what could be better than taking a trip back to the ‘90s? (Netflix)

“Christmas Cheers” (Cheers)

Over the nearly 300 episodes that Cheers would produce, it’s only natural that they would turn to the holidays every so often. While there aren’t as many Christmas episodes as you might think, “Christmas Cheers” is the best of the lot, largely due to how it keeps everyone so busy. The episode’s main concern is that Sam has found himself without a gift for Rebecca on Christmas Eve, and desperate to find any place that’s still open that can help him. Watching Danson go from 0 to 100 as he realizes he not only needs a gift, but also one that will allow him to be Rebecca’s stocking stuffer (had to go there). Manic Sam is always the best in my book, plus we also get Frasier acting all Grinch-like, and Cliff exploiting the holiday season to win a trip to Disney World. What’s not to love? Also, Norm with a part-time job. I cannot stress that enough: Norm with a part-time job. (Netflix)

“Christmas Special” (The Office UK)

British series have an interesting tendency to conclude themselves with a Christmas Special, and so there’s usually a lot at stake in these seasonal denouements. So many began loving the original Office because of how cripplingly honest and real it was. This special contains all of that brutal honesty – almost being too much at times – and brings the Jim and Pa – I mean Tim and Dawn relationship to a beautiful conclusion. This pre-superstar Gervais does a perfect job at conveying the often complicated feeling of the holidays, with this closing the doors on his iconic series in the most fitting way. And if you’re a Big Brother fan, then this is going to feel like Christmas morning for you. (Netflix, Hulu Plus)

In Bruges

For whatever reason Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang seems to be purged from Netflix at the moment, but if you can’t have that snappy, sardonic peripheral-to-Christmas movie, then In Bruges is the next best thing (actually, it’s probably even better). The less you know about Martin McDonagh’s crime film, the better, to be honest. Part of the fun of this chaotic, messy rampage is letting it take you and not know where you’re heading next. Colin Farrell does some of the best work of his career here as he’s stuck slumming it in (fucking) Bruges over the holidays, and couldn’t be more disenchanted over the idea. This film is a great time and something that’s not so Christmas-y can always be a nice palate cleanser. (Netflix)

“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz” (Frasier)

Frasier would turn to the holiday season a number of times through its long and storied tenure on television. They’re all probably worth your time, but the madcap energy that the show would pride itself in that made you feel like you were sometimes watching live theater is never more present than in “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz.” An innocent misunderstanding has Frasier’s new girlfriend’s mother under the impression that his family is Jewish. Then, in perfect Frasier fashion the group tries to keep the lie alive, juggling an ever-increasing amount of matzo balls in the process. Watching everyone ping pong around, as well as the visual of Niles dressing as Christ himself as Frasier bellows, “Jesus!”, is just too much fun to ignore. There’s also some real sentimentality reached between Frasier and Martin that’s the perfect amount of sweet. (Netflix)

“Minstrel Krampus” (American Dad!)

Before the rest of the world was collectively jumping on Krampus’ spikey dick (sorry), American Dad was trying to educate everyone about the appeal of this fringe character of the holidays. American Dad is a show that has always given their Christmas episodes a great deal of respect, even treating them as huge indulgences in continuity sometimes. As a result high expectations have come with these offerings, but “Minstrel Krampus”, one of their latest Christmas installments, is the perfect kind of weird. In a nutshell, Steve gets kidnapped by Krampus, with Stan pursuing in his rescue. What you wouldn’t expect is the soulful, quasi-romantic, Beauty and the Beast riffing angle this case of Stockholm syndrome develops into. Krampus even delivers some very beautiful, bluesy numbers that mark this episode as the most interesting depiction of the Christmas demon to date. (Netflix)

“The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (Friends)

I know there are probably some people that would fill this list with purely Friends holiday episodes, but that’s not going to happen. What is very much worth your time though is by far their weirdest Christmas entry, which features multiple Santas, Superman, a bizarre fetish which is never mentioned again, and Ross in a giant armadillo costume as Judaism’s new mascot. I could say more, but let that weird Mad Libs of a mystery steer you to this very silly, entirely pleasant episode of the series. (Netflix)

“Rapture’s Delight” (American Dad!)

This episode might not have a singing Krampus in it, but it does have pretty much absolutely everything else that you can think of. Seen as the crown jewel of American Dad for a lot of people, and not without good reason, the episode is dripping with ambition and hardly feels limited by the usual trappings of Christmas. Instead this episode takes us to the Rapture and the ensuing apocalypse that follows, giving us a badass Mad Max-like depiction of Jesus and turning usual convention on its head. This episode is everything about American Dad that makes it so great and I still can’t get over how brilliant it is to turn the Antichrist into a Riddler-esque villain. (Netflix)

The Ref

For whatever reason The Ref doesn’t seem to be on as many people’s radars as it should be, but lets change that this year. The black comedy sees Dennis Leary at his Dennis Leary-est as a burglar who botches up an operation on Christmas Eve. As he improvises, he takes a squabbling, dysfunctional married couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) hostage as he tries to figure out what to do. The Ref is so much fun and it’s so satisfying to see the relationship between these three people continually warp as the movie goes on. Surprise someone with this one! (Netflix)

“Winter in Portlandia” (Portlandia)

With Portlandia taking so many subjects under its microscope, it makes a lot of sense that something as rich as the holidays would see examination from them at some point. The on point, dry sketch show is at no shortage of things to talk about, as winter weight, vacations, family, and more all see exploration. I lament the fact that Seeso isn’t fully in place yet and that the Alec Baldwin Saturday Night Live episode from December of 1998 isn’t on Hulu, but in lieu of that this is your resident streaming sketch show to get your Christmas fix. (Netflix)

“Xmas Story” (Futurama)

Futurama saw a lot of changes going down in our distant, distant future, but one of the most drastic ones was surely the fact that Santa had become a dysfunctional murder robot from Neptune with Xmas (not Christmas) pretty much turning into their Purge equivalent. The episode was even so controversial that its original air time was pushed several hours later due to the severity of its content. But you can watch it any time you want now! Even 3pm! We always need a little danger in our holiday seasons, so let Futurama be your requisite dose. (Netflix)

“Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” (Community)

Community is masterclass television that is in a league of its own. They’ve seamlessly sent up almost every genre in the book, reinventing what you can do with the sitcom structure and what is achievable in television. One of the earliest examples of Community showing off its penchant for mixing things up would come in the form of their second season’s Christmas special. Hitting emotional depths that are unusual for television are par for the course with Community, but turning yourself into a perfect piece of Claymation to carry your point home is on a whole other level. There’s a lot being said here about the dark underbelly of the holidays (as well as there being plenty of sweetness), but really, just kick back and watch this gorgeous thing move. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” is a great synthesis of everything that this show does right and I firmly believe that down the road this piece of television will be treated as a classic. (Hulu Plus)

“A Very Crappy Christmas” (South Park)

For a show that features perpetual snow, Christmas is a safe place for South Park to go to every now and then. South Park has been on long enough that its opinion on the holidays and what it’s been trying to say about the season has constantly been in flux (ranging all the way from Mr. Hankey’s inception to Wizard of Oz detours in Canada). “A Very Crappy Christmas” might not be as flashy of an episode as say, “Red Sleigh Down”, but it holds a special place in my heart due to how consumed it is with its own history. The episode sees Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman trying to make a Christmas video to bring back the spirit of the holidays, and in some very well done metaness, the short that they end up making is the Spirit of Christmas short that led to South Park’s inception in the first place. It’s some beautiful reflexivity that still has a lot to say, as well as just being a fun example of how far South Park has come, not only from this fourth season episode, but also the short that began it all. (Hulu Plus)

“The Strike” (Seinfeld)

Never a series to embrace sentimentality, it perhaps shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Seinfeld would effectively create its own Christmas substitute in the form of Festivus. In what is now a celebration that sees wide acknowledgement around the world (every December 23rd, you guys!), this quirky episode of the A+ comedy sees George wrestling with his past, and then literally wrestling with his father when it comes to Festivus’ feats of strength. All of this stuff works, whether it’s Jerry’s “two-face” girlfriend, Elaine’s quest for a free sub, or George’s creation of the fictitious Human Fund. We even get Kramer back to work! Seinfeld is always a good way to relax, but when a holiday episode has become a weird piece of history, that deserves recognition! (Hulu Plus)

“Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics” (South Park)

I wouldn’t be surprised if this episode was in the Bottom 10 for a number of fans. It’s arguably superfluous, a pandering indulgence, but God if it isn’t just so much fun. There’s not much at all to this episode. Mr. Hankey gives a brief introduction that sets up the 22-minutes of caroling, and I love every second of it. It’s such a weird episode that milks humor from ideas like characters singing well known Christmas songs that they shouldn’t be singing (like Cartman singing “O Holy Night” or Mr. Mackey doing a rendition of “Carol of the Bells”, or even Adolf Hitler’s performance of “O Tannenbaum”) or the creation of new, subversive Christmas classics. Mr. Garrison’s “Merry Fucking Christmas” could have won a Peabody Award for how many lines it crosses. Besides, what’s a better holiday tradition than getting the family together and Fighting the Frizzies at 11? (Hulu Plus)

“Regional Holiday Music” (Community)

From one holiday musical to the next, in all honesty I not only think “Regional Holiday Music” is the better Christmas episode of Community than “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, but it’s also one of my favorite episodes of the show in general. Christmas episodes can have such an infectious charm to them, especially when their musicals, and this episode not only coasts off of that concept but also uses it as its obstacle. Brilliantly “glee” is seen as some Body Snatchers-esque invasion, taking people over one by one. So much is crammed into this episode, all of the songs are a catchy, great time, and Taran Killam is an inspired casting choice for Mr. Rad, the glee club leader. (Hulu Plus)

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

So this might not technically be a comedy, but with how entrenched the piece has become as a fixture in MST3K lore, it’s practically has a genre reassignment surgery at this point. As the title might lead you to believe, aliens invade and it’s up to Santa to save the day, and really that’s all you need here. The film hits just the right level of “so bad it’s good-ness”, and while the majority of the inclusions on this list have you laughing on purpose, it’s nice to change up the pace a little bit and be laughing at something for a while. (Hulu Plus)

“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Chrimbus Special” (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!)

Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! ran for five influential years on Adult Swim before wrapping up their show. After its conclusion, they made the decision to do an hour-long holiday special to be the final swan song for the series. Tim and Eric have spread their unconventional joy across many platforms and shows at this point, but their Chrimbus Special (and yes, you read that right) is one of their finest products to date. The series’ variety show style works very well to their stable of oddities like David Liebe Hart and James Quall delivering pieces revolving around their made up holiday, Chrimbus. There is also a larger framed narrative going on involving a delightful little holiday creature named DeeVee, the DVD Monster, that truly makes this feel like some after school special. Turn off your brain, don’t ask questions, and let the wonders of Chrimbus take you away. (Hulu Plus)

“Yippie Kayak” (Brooklyn Nine Nine)

This might be the most recent Christmas program on the list, airing earlier this month even, but it still deserves a spot here. “Yippie Kayak” acts as a useful reminder of the strong series that Brooklyn Nine Nine has grown into, with this third season entry showing you the sort of payoffs that are possible when you focus so much on characterization. There’s some wonderful inter-office stuff going on between Santiago, Holt, and Diaz that has Santiago at her most insecure and desperate. The triangle between them provides a lot of fuel for the episode but the real thing to get excited is the Die Hard situation that he’s gotten himself, Boyle, and Gina into. They stumble into a hostage situation on Christmas Eve, and with so much of Jake’s identity stemming from Die Hard, the appropriate stakes are set up here. What’ incredible about “Yippie Kayak” is how it not only services up all of the Die Hard material in a satisfying fashion, but it also cuts to the core of Jake and Charles’ friendship, again coming down to characters in the end. Also, yeah, Canadian terrorists would be the worst terrorists. (Hulu Plus)

“Mary, Joseph and Larry” (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

For a series that seems to exude Judaism, even when it isn’t trying to, Curb Your Enthusiasm has really only had one holiday episode through its run. Perhaps Larry David had said everything that he needed to on the holiday in Seinfeld, but Curb’s lone entry here goes much farther than Seinfeld ever did. Most of the humor here stems from Cheryl’s Christian family coming to visit for the holidays and Larry just being out of his depth when it comes to Christmas. He think Jesus looks like a monkey (in cookie form), he ogles Mary in their live Nativity scene, and if you want to cringe inappropriately over the holidays in a way entirely different than what The Office offers up, look no further than here. Spoiler alert though: revelatory plot machinations do go down here regarding the arc of the pubic hair that’s caught in Larry’s throat. You’ve been warned. (Amazon Prime, HBO Now)

Home Alone

You’ve all seen this movie and its sequel, so don’t even try to pretend that you haven’t. While you might have all of Kevin’s notorious traps memorized to heart, and even the key of Marv’s tarantula scream etched into your brain, it never hurts to brush up on John Hughes’ holiday masterpiece. Besides, with that kitschy video that’s making the rounds of how messed up Kevin is in his 30s, don’t you watch to watch the “prequel” and pick up on all of the warning signs? Sure you do, ya filthy animal. (HBO Now)

There you have it (although it’s pretty devastating that The Muppet Christmas Carol, Gremlins, Scrooged, or even Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang aren’t currently streaming anywhere; get on that, streaming services of the world!). The rest is up to you, but you now have all of the ingredients for having the most binge-worthy holidays possible!

The 25 Best Holiday TV Episodes and Movies Streaming […]