There are people out there who, every year, complain about “Christmas creep.” They fret about how all of the numbing, consumerist holiday malarkey — store displays and ad campaigns and Starbucks promotions — starts earlier and earlier every fall. To which I say, “Feh!” In this house, the only Christmas creep we choose to acknowledge is Paul Giamatti in Fred Claus. Christmas comes but once a year, and that “once” happens to last for two entire months. Did your landlord turn the heat on in your building? Surprise! It’s Christmas now.
Two prime offenders of the Christmas-creep agenda are dueling women-focused cable channels, Lifetime and Hallmark, which over the years have ramped up their made-for-TV holiday-romance output to near–Santa’s Workshop levels. This year, Lifetime’s 24/7 Christmas-content schedule is called “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” and will feature 30 new features. Hallmark had so much Christmas content it had to split it over two channels: Hallmark and its sister channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Hallmark will also have 24/7 Christmas programming, and both channels combined will feature 40 new Christmas films.
Then there’s Netflix, which has had some of the least-disposable Christmas content of late with films like The Christmas Switch and A Christmas Prince. And to round out the wintry landscape, there are a couple of theatrical releases and a Disney+ film in the mix. So start your Advent calendar early: here’s what to watch, and when, sorted by holiday-movie trope.
Let’s Create the Perfect Conditions for Intimacy Using a … Snowstorm!
Let It Snow (Netflix, November 8): This YA Christmas rom-com is based on the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Laureen Myracle, and it’s packing three teen holiday love stories in one. It’s a mini-anthology! There’s no trailer yet, but the description says, “A snowstorm hits a small town on a cold Christmas Eve, affecting the friendships, love lives and futures of several high school seniors.” Netflix’s No. 1 Teen Kiernan Shipka is one of the several, as is Odeya Rush. Will she play a mean girl like in Lady Bird? A nice girl like in Dumplin’? Actually, this movie looks too cute and frictionless to have a mean character. Also: Joan Cusack stars as, I don’t know, “Adult.”
Grounded for Christmas (Lifetime, December 8 at 8 p.m.): Not every arrogant but charming pilot can be Rob Lowe. Some have to be named Brady (Corey Sevier) and have a winter storm ground them in Cleveland. Fellow pilot Nina (Julianna Guill) has family in the area, though, and invites Brady to stay with her at her parents’ house. The catch? He has to pretend to be her boyfriend, because her parents are hosting a tree-trimming party and they invited Nina’s ex. Psychopathic!
Get Thee to Your Hometown Holiday Concert
A Christmas Love Story, From the Hallmark Hall of Fame (Hallmark, December 7 at 8 p.m.): This is not a drill! Kristin Chenoweth is starring in a Christmas movie! She plays a youth-choir director who falls in love with Scott Wolf, who plays the widowed father of a talented teen singer. Finally, they’re putting the Kristin back in Christmas.
A Christmas Winter Song (Lifetime, December 14 at 8 p.m.): Ashanti(!!!!!!) stars as Clio, a Christmas-shop owner who befriends Fred (Stan Shaw), a homeless jazz singer. Clio helps Fred reconnect with his daughter and grandkids, “just in time for the town’s annual Christmas concert.” Of all the Christmas concerts in all the Christmas towns in all the holiday movies, we’re sure Ashanti’s will be one of the best.
Intimacy via Snowstorm and a Hometown Holiday Concert
Sweet Mountain Christmas (Lifetime, October 25 at 8 p.m.): Well, it’s all downhill from here, folks. How can you possibly beat a Lifetime movie starring the original Bombshell herself, Megan Hilty, as a country star named Laney Blu? This movie takes the “freak snowstorm” route to stranding its too-big-for-her-britches protagonist in her Tennessee hometown. With nowhere to go, she gets roped into performing in the town’s holiday concert, and falls for a — oh my God — hunky snowplow driver (Marcus Rosner). Mr. Plow, indeed! If the cable holiday-movie lineup were a chess game, this would be a very strategic opening gambit.
The Road Home for Christmas (Lifetime, October 26 at 8 p.m.): The central couple in this one is Lindsay (Marla Sokoloff) and Wes (Rob Mayes), who are rival, dueling pianists! Let that sink in! They go on a road trip, perform with Marie Osmond in Nashville, and — yes — brave a “massive snowstorm.”
It’s a Profession Both Romantic and Festive to Own and/or Work in a Small Shop
A Merry Christmas Match (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, October 25 at 9 p.m.): In the first all-new original holiday movie of the 2019 season, Kyle Dean Massey (of having-played-both-Pippin-and-Fiyero-on-Broadway fame) sweeps antique-shop worker Corey (Ashley Newbrough) off her feet.
Nostalgic Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, October 31 at 9 p.m.): Infraction A: Find me a lazier Hallmark movie title. “Nostalgic Christmas??” Hon, you can’t just name your movie after two IMDB keywords. And infraction B is that it airs on Halloween! It’s one thing to start airing Christmas movies three weeks into October, but the only Christmas fare that’s acceptable All Hallow’s Eve viewing is crossover event The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or Polar Express, because those dead-eyed mo-cap Tom Hankses are spooky. Anyway, it’s about a woman (Brooke D’Orsay) who is nostalgic at Christmas about her father’s toy store. Fine.
Always and Forever Christmas (Lifetime, November 3 at 8 p.m.): Sadly, this is not an Alyssa Edwards Christmas movie. Happily, it is a movie about a marketing exec (Lexi Lawson) who plans on selling her grandfather’s year-round Christmas store “to a hip athletic-leisurewear company.” Finally, a Lifetime Original that addresses the absolute epidemic of Athleta and Outdoor Voices locations wiping out this nation’s year-round mom-and-pop Christmas stores. There’s also a hunky local diner owner, Scott (Mark Ghanime), and a magical “Christmas stranger” (is this a thing?) from the North Pole (Beth Broderick).
Last Christmas (in theaters November 8): Look, few cinematic experiences in this life are as sublime as London-set Christmastime rom-coms with phenomenal soundtracks and Emma Thompson. Rom-coms starring Henry Golding as a romantic lead with Michelle Yeoh going above and beyond in a supporting role come close, though. And then there’s Paul Feig’s latest film, Last Christmas, which has all of the above. Emilia Clarke stars as a disillusioned department-store elf with an angelic voice who meets the too-good-to-be-true Golding in London. Yeoh is her boss, Thompson is her mom, and the supporting cast is rounded out by Patti LuPone, Peter Serafinowicz, and Rob Delaney. On top of it all, the soundtrack is wall-to-wall George Michael and Wham! If you don’t go see this in theaters and do your part to save the endangered species that is the rom-com, I may never forgive you.
A Sweet Christmas Romance (Lifetime, November 10 at 8 p.m.): Bakery owner Mrs. Rose (Loretta Devine) is retiring, and she’s decided to take estate-law advice from Willy Wonka, Esq.: She’ll host a 12 Days of Christmas contest to see who can re-create her Christmas recipes. Sure! Food stylist Holly (Adelaide Kane) throws her toque in the ring “despite not being much of a cook,” which begs the question: Can Lifetime just name multiple female protagonists across different movies in one year Holly? I get that it’s a very Christmas-y name, but is that allowed? Who cares. Holly competes and falls in love with local hunky baker Brad (Greyston Holt. Greyston. Greyston. Greyston Holt. Now that is a name).
A Very Vintage Christmas (Lifetime, November 27 at 8 p.m.): Tia Mowry-Hardrict stars without Tamera on a rival network as Very Vintage Antiques shop owner Dodie. When Dodie finds a hidden box full of old mementos from one couple’s “timeless romantic union,” she sets out with hunky new tenant Edward (Jesse Hutch) to find its rightful owners, forging a romantic union of her own.
Can a Christmas Miracle Save Capitalism?
Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses (Hallmark, October 26 at 8 p.m.): Wait, you mean to tell me this movie has Christmas wishes and mistletoe kisses? In this climate? Slant rhymes aside, this movie follows single mom Abbey (Jill Wagner), who “takes a risk in following her true passion of interior designing.” So brave! But can she design hunky eligible businessman Nick’s estate in time for Christmas Eve? Matthew Davis plays Nick. He’s Warner from Legally Blonde. That’s huge!
Merry & Bright (Hallmark, November 2 at 8 p.m.): Kind of like Desk Set if Katherine Hepburn played the middle child on Full House, this one follows Cate (Jodie Sweetin), the CEO of a candy-cane company, who begins to fall for Gabe (Andrew Walker). He’s posing as her arranged suitor but is really a consultant from Empire Corporate Recovery looking to streamline and elevate candy-cane production. Will they save the business? Do you even have to ask?
Christmas à la Mode (Lifetime, November 15 at 8 p.m.): Emily White (Katie Leclerc) loves running her late father’s deeply unprofitable dairy farm. It’s a real choice to put all your chips on dairy, of all things, in 2019, and it seems like Emily’s sister, Dorothy, realizes this. Dorothy brings in hunky business partner Charlie (Ryan Cooper) to propose they sell the farm, unless Emily can buy it out by Christmas Eve. Her strategy is to “hold an online holiday-ice-cream-flavor contest that goes viral with the help of a key ingredient, Charlie’s amazing apple pie. Christmas à la Mode ice cream is born!” Lifetime. Girl. You need to be doing five fewer things with this movie. It’s somehow so much and so little, all at once.
Christmas Under the Stars (Hallmark, November 16 at 9 p.m.): Ooh, finally one of those raunchy, racy, 9 p.m. Hallmark Christmas movies. Maybe they regularly pull that kind of thing over on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, but round these parts? Scandal! This one’s about a hotshot finance guy who gets fired at Christmas and takes a job at a Christmas-tree lot. There he meets “Julie, an astronomy teacher who’s always looked to the stars for hope.” With his business savvy and her, um, knowledge of constellations, will they help the kindly widower who owns the lot?
Christmas at the Plaza (Hallmark, November 29 at 8 p.m.): We looked up December availabilities, and spending Christmas at the Plaza is gonna cost you $995 a night, and that’s at the absolute lowest. And besides, there’s already been a TV movie about Christmas at the Plaza: It’s called Eloise at Christmastime and Julie Andrews plays Nanny!
Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 29 at 9 p.m.): Gosh, Hallmark. Way to come for the artistic integrity of 2009 parody novel (aren’t you glad this trend is over?) Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. This Christmas flick transposes Austen’s novel very loosely onto modern-day Chicago, where Edward (Luke Macfarlane) runs a toy company but is generally a grump. Sisters Elinor (now Ella, played by Erin Krakow) and Marianne (Kimberly Sustad) are “Christmas-enthusiast party planners.” At one point in the preview clips, Edward tips his hat and says “M’lady’” and it’s played straight. That’s some Joker-meme-account energy right there.
You Light Up My Christmas (Lifetime, December 1 at 8 p.m.): Because one movie about a family-owned Christmas-light factory wasn’t enough, You Light Up My Christmas follows Emma (Kim Fields) to her hometown where the holiday lights have gone dim. Inspired by true events, no less.
A Storybook Christmas (Lifetime, December 6 at 8 p.m.): Event planner and very involved aunt Celeste Everett (Ali Liebert) hires a Christmas nanny (Jake Epstein) who becomes a Christmas boyfriend. If the name Ali Liebert jingles a bell, it’s because she’s also starring in Hallmark’s Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2.
The Christmas Temp (Lifetime, December 20 at 8 p.m.): “An out-of-work artist discovers a special Christmas temp agency that matches her with a handful of festive jobs …” Let me stop you right there, Lifetime synopsis. I’ll take it. Perfect. A fantasy. Employment? I’m in. Wait — “… but falls into a creative rut while juggling holiday preparations and feelings for the agency’s HR manager.” No! You were so close, The Christmas Temp! An HR manager violating HR protocol? Mess!
Enchanted Holiday Objects and Similarly Enchanting Strangers
Two Turtle Doves (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 1 at 9 p.m.): Dr. Sharon Hayes (Nikki DeLoach) “searches for a beloved family heirloom in a small Christmas town.” What is a “Christmas town?” I’ll tell you: It’s a place where a grieving doctor can fall in love with Michael Rady. Kostas! Kostas from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! You’ve seen him in a deep-V, now check him out in a scarf!
A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 15 at 9 p.m.): Married Christian writers Squire Rushnell and Louise DuArt executive-produced this Hallmark movie with Kathie Lee Gifford. It’s a sequel to their 2018 movie A Godwink Christmas, which was based on their Godwink book series and brand identity, which is based on a term Rushnell copyrighted, which basically means a coincidence, only, um, godlier. Get it? God winks!
The Knight Before Christmas (Netflix, November 21): Poor Vanessa Hudgens. Girl can’t celebrate a normal Christmas in peace without some big British disturbance coming along to change her fate. First it was her Parent Trap–style performance in Netflix’s The Christmas Switch, and now it’s happened again in The Knight Before Christmas. The gist: Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens) is a science teacher “who’s disillusioned by love.” Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) is a medieval knight who gets sent by a witch’s curse to present-day Ohio. The rest will probably follow a Kate & Leopold tack, with Sir Cole teaching Brooke that chivalry isn’t dead and that science is a lie and that big, lit-up Christmas trees are for pagans. Brooke will teach Cole how to use a Roku.
The Magical Christmas Shoes (Lifetime, November 22 at 8 p.m.): Have you ever watched Tiny Fuppets? It’s a web series by Scott Gairdner about a Portuguese rip-off of Muppet Babies. I think it’s meant to parody those disturbingly low-budget straight-to-DVD rip-offs of Pixar movies that used to abound in sales bins to fool and confuse well-meaning grandmothers. Anyway. Everything in the world of Tiny Fuppets is ever so slightly off. Kermit and Miss Piggy are replaced by Kormit and Ms. Woman. The dialogue is stilted and the eyes are dead. The Magical Christmas Shoes sounds like an episode of Tiny Fuppets.
The Christmas Club (Hallmark, November 27 at 8 p.m.): “Two busy strangers” (not to be confused with Three Busy Debras) fall in love “thanks to fate and Christmas magic” when they “help an elderly woman find her lost Christmas savings.” The main character’s name is Olivia Bennett (Cameron Mitchell). We think it’s written by algorithm. Hallmark says it’s based on a novel by Barbara Hinske. We think Barbara Hinske must, therefore, be an algorithm.
A Christmas Wish (Lifetime, November 28 at 8 p.m.) Faith (Hilarie Burton) puts a wish to find true love in her town’s Christmas wishing box and thinks it might have come true when she meets “the very handsome and eligible Andrew” (Cristian de la Fuente). But then she wonders if her Christmas wish was really leading her to her best friend Wyatt (Tyler Hilton) all along. This is set in the “small town of Ponchatoula, Louisiana,” making it a Louisiana Christmas, if not the Louisiana Christmas.
A Date by Christmas Eve (Lifetime, December 22 at 8 p.m.): “When Chelsea Simms, the good-hearted brand strategist” (I’m listening …) “for the popular dating app The Nice List” (Go on …) “has granted her magical powers —” SAY NO MORE. Black Mirror is absolutely shaking.
Letter Writing Is Hot and Aspirational
Holiday for Heroes (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 8 at 9 p.m.): Marc Blucas, who once dramatically left Buffy in a helicopter, plays a soldier who exchanges letters for a year with coffee-shop owner Melissa Claire Egan before they I guess meet for realsies on Christmas? Patti Murin plays “Pam!” Can’t wait for this, by which I mean I can’t wait for Patti Murin as “Pam,” specifically. This title is very misleading because there’s only one true “holiday for heroes,” and that’s the Olsen twins’ birthday.
Write Before Christmas (Hallmark, November 17 at 8 p.m.): Jessica (Torrey DeVitto) is single and sending out Christmas cards to people who matter to her, including “a pop star (Drew Seeley) who was part of the soundtrack of her life.” Considering the open secret that Drew Seeley did the vocals for Zac Efron in the first High School Musical, he was definitely part of the soundtrack of so many of our lives. Chad Michael Murray is second billed, but his role isn’t specified in the promo materials. Guess it’s just another one of those classic Mistletoe Secrets™.
Christmas Love Letter (Lifetime, December 21 at 6 p.m.): Relationship-advice columnist Amalie Hess (Ashley Newbrough) receives an unsigned love letter and tries to track it down in her hometown. There’s a floofy Westie dog in the promo stills, so, you know, points for that.
Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2 (Hallmark, November 24 at 8 p.m.): We all have cherished memories of 2017 Hallmark TV movie A Gift to Remember 1, starring Peter Porte as mysterious-yet-charming amnesiac Aidan and Ali Liebert as the woman who caused the accident and falls in love with him. No, wait. That was While You Were Sleeping. Whatever! We’ve been on tenterhooks for two years, clamoring for more, but finally, everyone’s favorite franchise is back, baby, now with 100 percent more cherished memories.
Christmas On My Mind (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 19 at 9 p.m.): Cullen vampire clan member Ashley Greene plays Lucy, who wakes up with a wedding dress in hand and no memory of the past two years. She tries to regain her memory with the help of ex-boyfriend Zac, played by Andrew Walker, the same Andrew Walker who plays the candy-cane fixer suit in Merry & Bright. Jackee Harry plays a doctor. Sounds like a wintry 50 First Dates.
Journalism Is a Job Some People Do, Even at Christmas
The Mistletoe Secret (Hallmark, November 10 at 8 p.m.): Country-music artist Kellie Pickler plays a woman who convinces a travel writer to profile her hometown, only to be torn between him and his ghostwriter. The “mistletoe secret” in question is either a deep-buried collective trauma shared by the townspeople from their dark past … Or it’s the whole ghostwriter thing.
A Christmas Miracle (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 14 at 9 p.m.): Tamera Mowry-Housley stars without Tia in what is shockingly the first movie about a writer at a lifestyle magazine on this list. When tasked with writing a story about a Christmas miracle, “ever-optimistic single mom Emma Sanderson” decides to make one herself for a lonely street musician. Brooks Darnell plays her office love interest.
Random Acts of Christmas (Lifetime, November 17 at 8 p.m.): Okay, the name of this one made me laugh out loud. Investigative journalist Sydney (Erin Cahill) and competing reporter Cole (Kevin McGarry) fall in love while sussing out who is behind the “random acts of Christmas” popping up all over town. And they say the rom-com is dead!
Christmas 9 to 5 (Lifetime, November 24 at 8 p.m.): “Jennifer (Tiya Sircar) is a tough crime-beat reporter who gets the assignment of her life: to find the true meaning of Christmas.” Reader, I laughed out loud.
Santa Is Real
Noelle (Disney+, November 12): In what looks to be one of the more promising Disney+ launch-day offerings, Anna Kendrick stars as Santa Claus’s daughter Noelle Kringle, whose brother Nick (Bill Hader) ditches Santa-ing to teach yoga somewhere warm. Oh, and Shirley MacLaine is low-key third-billed as a sassy elf? This looks like a decently cute Christmas movie. Maybe not Elf-level legend status, but it has Bill Hader looking adorable while drinking hot chocolate in a big fluffy Santa coat.
Klaus (Netflix, November 15): Santa Claus origin story Klaus is Netflix’s first original animated feature, and it looks gorgeous. The film is directed by former Disney animator Sergio Pablos and appears to be a blend between traditional, hand-drawn character design and computer-enabled light and texture effects. Klaus seems like a very smart acquisition for Netflix, considering it’s releasing it right around the time that Disney+ launches. Disney+ has based a lot of its branding on the animation studio’s classics, but the majority of its original programming appears to be live action and not traditional animation. If Klaus is a hit and Netflix continues releasing more original animated features, it can maintain its status as a top-tier family streaming service. That’s a lot of pressure on a grumpy proto-Santa voiced by J.K. Simmons and his delivery-boy assistant voiced by Jason Schwartzman. (This clip gives an extra glimpse into the latter character, whom Schwartzman plays as kind of an Emperor Kuzco.) Netflix is also giving Klaus an awards-qualifying limited release in select theaters on November 8, if you’ve been starved for half-interesting-looking animation since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.
It’s 2019 and Apparently There’s This Thing Called Hanukkah Now?
Double Holiday (Hallmark, November 26 at 8 p.m.): When I began compiling this list, I couldn’t find a description for the film on Hallmark’s website, but the movie’s IMDB page listed characters named Sara and Ruth Hoffman, so I imagined that the “double holiday” in question was a nod to the last night of Hanukkah falling on Christmas Eve, forcing an interfaith couple to go to both family celebrations. Well, Hallmark eventually released the plot and I was so close: “Fate has brought Rebecca and her arch-nemesis, Chris, close as they have to throw a holiday party at the office. It so happens that the dates coincide with Hanukkah!” Hallmark, please please please please let me write that other movie for you. It will make my Jewish mother so proud.
Mistletoe & Menorahs (Lifetime, December 7 at 6 p.m.): It’s a Lifetime Romantic Lead Jake Epstein Double Feature, folks! Epstein plays Jonathan, who is “in desperate need of turning his bachelor pad into a Christmas Wonderland to impress his girlfriend’s father.” But wait: He’s Jewish! Luckily, toy company exec Christy (Kelley Jakle) needs Jonathan to teach her all about Hanukkah to help her land a big account. What’s a Hanukkah account need a toy company for? What’s she gonna do, reinvent the dreidel? (Just saying, cable networks: I’m still available to do punch-up on your Hanukkah scripts.)
What If Christmas Happened in Other Countries? It’s More Likely Than You Think.
Holiday in the Wild (Netflix, November 1): Kristin Davis plays a Manhattanite whose husband leaves her, forcing her to take their romantic safari second honeymoon all by herself. (It’s a very Trey MacDougal move.) Davis isn’t alone for long, though, once she meets a handsome bush-plane pilot played by Rob Lowe. Together, they save a baby elephant and celebrate Christmas at an elephant orphanage. Hallmark who? Lifetime what? Netflix has those baby elephant dollars.
Christmas in Rome (Hallmark, November 30 at 8 p.m.): Whatever Lacey wants, Lacey gets. If Hallmark Channel crown jewel Lacey Chabert wants to film on location in Rome, Hallmark will Film. On. Location. In. Rome. “I kind of feel like Rome plays a character in this movie.” Lacey Chabert said that, about the movie Christmas in Rome.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (Netflix, December 5): There are generally two kinds of Netflix original films: There are the ones that feel like movie-movies, like the kind you’d log on Letterboxd; these are often, but not always, actual cinematic releases. And then there are the ones that feel undeniably like made-for-TV, direct-to-VOD movies. Even though both types are technically direct-to-streaming, movies like the Christmas Prince saga really lean in to that Hallmark rerun, $5 DVD bin at RiteAid feel. Rose McIver plays Amber, an all-American girl who fell in love with her onetime interview subject, now King of Aldovia, Richard (Ben Lamb). It’s kind of funny how for every major event in Meghan Markle’s life, Netflix has responded accordingly with its blonde alternate-universe Meghan: 2018 saw royal weddings for both England and Aldovia, and now in 2019, Queen Amber is having a Royal Christmas Baby. Hopefully, 2020 brings us A Christmas Prince: Aldovian Tabloid Lawsuit.
Hot Single Dads
Picture a Perfect Christmas (Hallmark, November 9 at 8 p.m.): This is a play on words of “picture-perfect Christmas,” which is close enough to being a real thing, and because the main character — yes — takes pictures. An extreme-sports photographer (Merritt Patterson) goes home to care for her grandmother and ends up engaging in the extremest sport of all: love!
Merry Happy Whatever (Netflix, November 28): Dennis Quaid and Ashley Tisdale, a meeting of the greats. This Netflix seasonal release isn’t a movie; it’s an eight-episode, holiday-specific anthology series that’s also a multi-cam sitcom. If I were streaming service Disney+, I’d be steamed that I had to go out and find all-new singing teens for that confusing High School Musical reboot while Netflix has Christmas offerings with both Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale.
Staging Christmas (Lifetime, November 29 at 8 p.m.): Wealthy widower Elliot (George Stults) hires home stager Lori (Soleil Moon Frye) to stage his home, not because he’s putting it on the market but because he wants to cheer up his daughter, Maddie. Because kids love home stagings!
Hot Single Dads in the Exciting World of Radio!
Radio Christmas (Lifetime, November 9 at 8 p.m.): Kara Porter (Keshia Knight Pulliam) is a radio DJ in the little town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who “seeks to uncover the identity of the town’s Secret Santa, an anonymous benefactor that saved all of Bethlehem’s Christmas festivities.” She’s also falling for a handsome single dad with a cute daughter. Might they be one and the same? Yeah.
Holiday Rush (Netflix, November 28): Single dad Rashon “Rush” Williams (Romany Malco) loses his radio-DJ gig right around the holidays … just in time for his four spoiled kids to give him their wish lists. His producer and aunt agree to help him buy another station if he and his family can learn to pare back their riche lifestyle. Feels like there’s gotta be an easier way to get a job in radio than buying a whole station, but sure. Whatever works. If Melanie Griffith in Working Girl taught us anything, it’s acquiring radio is a real head-for-business move. La La Anthony guests, because Netflix knows what we want.
Old Hometown Flames
Christmas Scavenger Hunt (Hallmark, November 3 at 8 p.m.): Belinda (Kim Shaw) is teamed up with her ex, Dustin (Kevin McGarry), for her hometown’s Christmas scavenger hunt. From there, we can only hope things take a Belinda Blinked turn for the steamy.
Christmas in Louisiana (Lifetime, November 16 at 8 p.m.): Christmas in Louisiana has as rich and deep a mythology as Westeros, with much less bloodshed and much more zydeco holiday music, presumably. So there’s the Winter family, see, and they’re kind of like the Starks of New Iberia, Louisiana. They’re “Christmas royalty.” Daughter and scion to the Winter Family Christmas legacy is Sarah (Jan Kramer), a former Miss Christmas, which Lifetime assures you is a very, very big deal. She returns for the town’s Sugarcane Christmas Festival and “rediscovers the magic of the season” with her former Mister Christmas, Luke (Percy Daggs III).
Holiday Hearts (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 21 at 9 p.m.): In a description almost as AutoFill-sounding as Nostalgic Christmas, Holiday Hearts follows Peyton (Ashley Williams) and Ben (Paul Campbell) who have to plan an annual Christmas party, find Christmas spirit, find love, and care for a friend’s daughter.
Turkey Drop (Freeform, November 23 at 9 p.m.): Freeform’s not like the other girls; she’s different. She’s got a Thanksgiving movie. Olivia Holt plays a freshman who “returns home to her small town for Thanksgiving break and suspects she’s about to get turkey dropped — a.k.a. dumped by her high-school sweetheart.” Cheryl Hines is in this in some capacity!
Christmas Unleashed (Lifetime, December 7 at 8 p.m.): Marla’s (Vanessa Lachey) dog runs away on Christmas Eve, so her ex-boyfriend Max (Christopher Russell) helps her track him down through their North Carolina town. Spoiler alert: They’ll definitely find the dog and near-definitely rediscover each other.
Rediscovering Christmas (Lifetime, December 15 at 8 p.m.): Big-city department-store window-dresser Mia (Jessica Lowndes) has just about had it with Christmas, having designed holiday windows for months. She plans on spending Christmas in the tropics, until her sister pulls her into planning their Vermont hometown’s “annual Snowflake festival.” Lifetime really buries the lede in its blurb for this one, because it fails to mention that Jessica Walter co-stars as someone named Mrs. Barrington.
(Mostly) Country Singers
A Homecoming for the Holidays (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 5 at 9 p.m.): Charlotte (Laura Osnes) is a country singer. Matt (Stephen Huszar) is an ex-soldier. Can I make it any more obvious? She’s working on an album, and together they build a house for a friend. The overlap in Nielsen households that enjoy home-reno shows and Hallmark Christmas movies is probably massive, so this was a shrewd and brilliant call.
Time for You to Come Home for Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 6 at 9 p.m.): The title sounds like something Yule demon Krampus chants before he kills you, but it’s actually just a Blake Shelton joint! He executive-produced 2018’s Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, based on his song “Time for Me to Come Home” from his 2012 Christmas album, Cheers It’s Christmas. This one is about a Christmas dance for military families. That doesn’t make the title any less menacing, though.
Christmas at Dollywood (Hallmark, December 8 at 8 p.m.): I get that this title made sense for theme-park promotional reasons, but not calling it Holly Dolly Christmas is a huge missed opportunity. Is it just going to be a thinly veiled travelogue for Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival? Oh, definitely. But Dolly Parton’s in it, so we’re all watching it.
Christmas Stars (Lifetime, December 13 at 8 p.m.): Aspiring R&B singer Layla (Erica Durance) pairs up with amateur songwriter Spence (J.T. Hodges) to try and land a record deal, but the label thinks Spence might be the real star. Also, it’s set at Christmas!
Country Singers and Old Hometown Flames
Our Christmas Love Song (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 22 at 9 p.m.): Country star Melody Jones (Alicia Witt) gets accused of plagiarizing her latest holiday single, which is funny because, like, aren’t all holiday songs roughly riffing on the same four musical motifs? What element of the song did she steal, exactly? Bells? Anyway, she returns home to wait out the media storm with her estranged family … And her old flame (Brendan Hines).
A Charming Inn
A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, November 7 at 9 p.m.): Hallmark Channel mainstay Rachael Leigh Cook plays Willow Petersen, who helps her sister plan a wedding at the inn her family once owned. This movie that had a working title of “Christmas Bride.” That’s it. That’s the entry.
Check Inn to Christmas (Hallmark, November 28 at 8 p.m.): There isn’t a photo of the two leads together on the website, let alone a blurb. I love the unnecessary punnage behind this name, though, because it’s only, like, a semi-spin. “Check In” is already an inn-related term in itself; it’s something one does in an inn. The second n is so, so redundant. It vaguely seems like it’s referencing Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas,” but that’s all I’ve got. If there isn’t a travel-writer B-plot, I’m checking out of this one.
A Charming Inn and an Old Flame
Christmas Hotel (Lifetime, December 21 at 8 p.m.): Look. Eventually, you run out of plucky leads to name “Holly.” So you make a movie about the “Mt. Holly Inn” in the town of “Mt. Holly.” Erin (Tatyana Ali) is sent by her big-city boss to buy out the beloved inn in her hometown, and the townspeople are none too pleased. Her ex-boyfriend Conner fights her on taking over the hotel, but comes to her aid when the hotel staff come down with the flu and the two of them have to plan the Christmas Hotel’s Christmas events. “Erin has to figure out if what she really wants is a promotion or to be home again.” It’s insane that we’re still doing this.
A Charming Inn and a Hometown Holiday Concert
No Time Like Christmas (Lifetime, October 27 at 8 p.m.): Emma (Kyla Pratt) finds herself staying for the holidays at the same charming B&B as her former flame (Ed Ruttle) and his daughter. Together, they have to put on a holiday show (about a magical watch, hence the title?) to save the local historical theater. Kyla Pratt was the voice of Penny Proud, of the Proud Family Prouds. This alone is reason enough to watch. On top of that, Jim O’Heir, Jerry from Parks and Rec, plays a kindly, mysterious man in a bowler hat.
A Hot Single Dad and a Hometown Holiday Concert
Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays (Hallmark, November 23 at 8 p.m.): Hello, Adrian Grenier as a wealthy widower named Owen who falls in love with the nanny to his three children, Harper (Kaitlin Doubleday), while they plan an “Elvis at Christmas” Graceland event! With appearances by Priscilla Presley herself and country singer Chase Bryant, this is an E-ticket Hallmark Christmas movie.
A Charming Inn, a Hometown Holiday Concert, and an Old Flame
Christmas Duet (Hallmark, November 25 at 8 p.m.): Nashville’s Chaley Rose and How to Get Away With Murder’s Rome Flynn are Averie and Jesse, a former music duo who reunite at Averie’s Vermont lodge for the annual Yuletide Festival. Will they sing their “famous” duet, “Wouldn’t Be Christmas?” Will they write something new? All we know is … this one also has a travel-writer B-plot.
A Charming Inn, an Old Flame, and a Hot Single Dad
Christmas Reservations (Lifetime, November 2 at 8 p.m.): Holly is the event coordinator at the Treeline Ski Resort. She’s also Melissa Joan Hart. When her now-widowed college sweetheart (Ricardo Chavira — Carlos from Desperate Housewives) checks in with his two kids, “Holly discovers she has her own reservations about life and love.” Get it? Christmas Reservations is produced by Hartbreak Films, which of course is Melissa Joan Hart’s impeccably named production company.
A Charming Inn, a Hot Single Dad, and Capitalism
Twinkle All the Way (Lifetime, November 23 at 8 p.m.): Cadence Clark (Sarah Drew) is a wedding planner, planning a wedding at the exclusive Snowview Lodge. Henry Harrison (Ryan McPartlin) is “co-owner of a family-run Christmas decoration and house-lighting company,” who just used up Vulture’s hyphen budget. This movie has it all: adorable daughters and massive snowstorms.
Capitalism and an Old Flame
Matchmaker Christmas (Lifetime, December 14 at 6 p.m.): Not to be confused with 2012 Lacey Chabert Hallmark movie Matchmaker Santa, Lifetime’s Matchmaker Christmas follows editor Maggie, who volunteers to find a date to the office holiday party for her boss. She gets distracted on her quest when a new author joins their publishing company … and it’s her ex-fiancé, Jaxson.
Merry Liddle Christmas (Lifetime, November 30 at 8 p.m.): For the first time ever, Kelly Rowland enters the world of television production to bring a true story of “her own recent Christmas catastrophe” to life onscreen. Rowland stars as Jacquie, “a successful, super-together single tech entrepreneur” whose family brings all kinds of mess to her house on Christmas. How will she keep it together in time for “a glossy video shoot of ‘the perfect Christmas’”? It is very brave of Kelly to share this true story of a Christmas catastrophe with audiences — the stakes have never been higher.
Christmas Town (Hallmark, December 1 at 8 p.m.): Picture this: coral pink nails drumming menacingly on the screen of an iPad Mini second generation, open to Deadline. A full glass of hot milk sits bedside. “Well. Well. Well. Look who they flew to Rome. Rome. Little Miss Lacey thinks she’s queen of the channel now, doesn’t she, Kirk? I’ll show her who really wears the Hallmark crown in this town.” The coral talons clutch the second-gen iPad Mini by its bedazzled case. “Town. That’s it! I’ll have Hallmark build me a whole damn town. A Christmas town!” This is how I imagine Candace Cameron Bure reacting to the news of the Lacey Chabert vehicle Christmas in Rome and responding in turn with the Candace Cameron Bure vehicle Christmas Town, about a teacher who leaves Boston to move to a Christmas town and fall in love with Mutt from Schitt’s Creek.
Christmas in Montana (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 12 at 9 p.m.): Christmas … but make it in Montana.
Black Christmas (in theaters December 13): It’s written and directed by women. It’s a Blumhouse adaptation of a 1970s Canadian slasher flick. Cary Elwes plays a professor with a tweedy accent. There’s a reenactment of the Mean Girls “Jingle Bell Rock” dance. The tagline is “Slay, girls.” This seems like a fun, spooky reprieve from two months of cable holiday-movie marathoning.
Angel Falls: A Novel Holiday (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 13 at 9 p.m.): Daytime soap star Jen Lilley stars in this, either as a novelist or a fallen angel?
Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy (Hallmark, December 14 at 8 p.m.): Ah yes, the third in the Hallmark Christmas in Evergreen series, after Christmas in Evergreen and Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa. This third installment will feel like goin’ home to see old friends. I presume. For people out there who really like Christmas in Evergreen. Apparently, the Evergreen franchise is inspired by the literal art on Hallmark greeting cards? Did Hallmark Christmas cards really need a film adaptation?
Holiday Date (Hallmark, December 15 at 8 p.m.): Here’s another one that we don’t know much about, yet. It also has really bad SEO. You know what you get when you google “Holiday Date?” You get Veterans Day. It’s November 11. Now you know.
A Family Christmas Gift (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, December 2o at 9 p.m.): Hark! Rejoice! Definite Masked Singer contestant Patti LaBelle does Hallmark movies now. We don’t know what this one is about, but we can make informed guesses. Prediction One: There will be pie. Prediction Two: If there’s a Christmas tree in the vicinity, there better be some background singers underneath it.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Hallmark, December 21 at 8 p.m.): As of October 5, they were still in casting. That piping-hot bit of nog is based on a fan interaction on Twitter with its star, Eric Mabius. On October 5, he also saw an otter.
A Cheerful Christmas (Hallmark, December 22 at 8 p.m.): This one doesn’t have a synopsis. It doesn’t even have a cast. It just has this mood-piece color story on the Hallmark website.
When Calls the Heart Christmas (Hallmark, December 25 at 8 p.m.): This! This is the reason for the season! This is what we’re all going to abandon our various family gatherings for on Christmas itself! It’s the Christmas movie for When Calls the Heart, the Hallmark show that literally edited Lori Loughlin out of its sixth season after the college-admissions scandal! They didn’t kill her character off, so could she make a surprise, special appearance in the Christmas special? Leave your loved ones and tune in on Christmas to find out!
New Year, New Me (Hallmark, December 28 at 8 p.m.): Do New Year’s movies count? Nope!