The Cider-Sipping, Mitten-Wearing Guide To 2020 Holiday Movies
Every year, a barrage of holiday films arrives to fill our lives with sweaters, children, chaste kisses, and even Santa. We've rounded up the ones from Hallmark, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Lifetime, OWN, Hulu, Netflix, TV One, Bounce and BET, so you can find whatever you might be looking for. Along the way, I've made some notes about elements that recur over and over again, in case you're the kind of person who specifically wants to seek out old flames (which are sometimes just old friends, to be honest, but: same deal), or plots that revolve around ruses, or whatever your favorite may be. Some have already premiered, but most of those are still in circulation if you check your listings.
Christmas On Ice (Lifetime, premiered 10/23): A figure skater who runs the local ice rink in her adorable hometown will need help from a hockey player (who's the single dad to a moppet) to save the critical community asset. They really missed out by not calling this something like The Tree-Cutting Edge.
Jingle Bell Bride (Hallmark, premiered 10/24): A wedding planner visits an adorable small town looking for a rare flower and meets a helpful local. It's a quest!
Christmas Tree Lane (Hallmark M&M, premiered 10/24): Hallmark stalwart Alicia Witt plays the owner of an adorable small business, a music store. She's also working to save the critical community asset of the shopping district from a developer. She will be surprised — but you will not! — to find out that the man she's falling for and the local representative of the developer might be one and the same.
Christmas Unwrapped (Lifetime, premiered 10/24): A reporter investigates a generous local man who plays Santa to his town. But is he actually passing along gifts from ... Santa? The description says she learns the true meaning of Christmas, so I'm assuming she does.
Chateau Christmas (Hallmark, premiered 10/25): A pianist comes back to her beloved hometown for Christmas and meets up with her old flame. And there's probably music!
Deliver By Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premiered 10/25) A bakery owner meets a single dad with a moppet, whom she likes very much. She does not realize that he and the client she's communicating with anonymously are one and the same.
Forever Christmas (Lifetime, premiered 10/25): A serious career woman who works in television is assigned to create a wacky holiday stunt show about a man who cares way too much about Christmas, he might just turn out to be the real gift. (Eh? Eh?) I'm guessing she, too, will learn the true meaning of Christmas, as working women so often do in these things.
Holidate (Netflix, premiered 10/28): Two people who hate Christmas agree to be each other's plus-one for holidays.
A Crafty Christmas Romance (Lifetime, premiered 10/30): A woman who owns a craft store encounters an old book she wants to return to its original owner. She goes on the hunt with a man she doesn't know, and along the way — why yes, it appears they begin to like each other. It's a quest!
One Royal Holiday (Hallmark, premiered 10/31): Broadway performers Laura Osnes and Aaron Tveit star in this story of a royal family that's snowed in with a woman who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas by hosting them in her beloved hometown. It's hard to imagine there's not music, although it's not necessarily indicated.
Cranberry Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premiered 10/31): An estranged married couple participates in a ruse pretending to be happy on television. (This will also save their business; it is not clear how.) I think we all know there's some rekindling coming.
Candy Cane Christmas (Lifetime, premiered 10/31): A woman who loves it when her town cares too much about Christmas is very sad when people decide they're going to skip it this year. But perhaps once there are fewer decorations, she can learn the true meaning of Christmas.
On The 12th Date Of Christmas (Hallmark, premiered 11/1): What happens when two professional rivals who are game designers are tasked with planning a wacky holiday stunt like a Christmas scavenger hunt? They might just fall in love. Might.
Holly & Ivy (Hallmark M&M, premiered 11/1): If you looked at this title and thought, "I wonder if Holly and Ivy are two moppets who will help bring two people together," then you are correct! The two people in this case are the woman who wants to adopt these orphans and the man who's helping her fix up her house. He's played by Jeremy Jordan, so there could be music, but I'm not sure there will probably be music.
The Christmas Aunt (Lifetime, premiered 11/1): Keshia Knight Pulliam stars as an aunt who shows up at Christmas, so we're on track so far. She runs into an old flame and tries to cheer up the moppets with a little "12 Days Of Christmas" action.
A Very Country Christmas Homecoming (UPTV, premiered 11/1) The third in a series, this one finds married couple Zane and Jeannette planning their first Christmas at home, but when a stray family member pops up, things could get messy. (Not that messy; it's UPTV.)
Operation Christmas Drop (Netflix, premiered 11/5): A serious career woman meets a handsome Air Force pilot while trying to shut down the base where he works. Will she stop his treasured holiday tradition of gift-giving in its tracks? WHO CAN SAY?
The Christmas Yule Blog (Lifetime, premiered 11/6): Maybe the worst title of the season? A journalist is unhappy when she has to go to an adorable small town in New Mexico to cover their treasured holiday tradition, a Christmas parade. But a local high school music teacher helps her get into the spirit. There's probably music!
Never Kiss A Man In A Christmas Sweater (Hallmark, premiered 11/7): Hallmark stalwart Ashley Williams plays the single mom of a moppet. A handsome man has no choice but to crash over the holidays, and before you know it, well, you know. Amazingly, the description says they "overcome Christmas," so apparently Santa is completely owned.
The Christmas Ring (Hallmark M&M, premiered 11/7): A journalist teams up with a man to track down the story of an antique ring. It's a quest!
A Welcome Home Christmas (Lifetime, premiered 11/7): This one seems to be almost devoid of conflict! A woman who works with military veterans teams up with a vet to organize a dance. Well, that sounds nice.
Christmas With The Darlings (Hallmark, premiered 11/8): A woman winds up put in charge of dealing with her boss' nephew and nieces, forcing her to crash over the holidays in their giant house with their other uncle. And even though she's organized and he's free-spirited, they just might figure out a way to put this messy family together.
The Christmas Bow (Hallmark M&M, premiered 11/8): This movie has a woman who has to put her fiddling on the back burner after an accident, but who runs into an old flame who might put the zing back in her strings.
A Very Charming Christmas Town (Lifetime, premiered 11/8): A journalist goes to an adorable small town that cares way too much about Christmas to make her "next holiday vlog piece" (urrrgh). When she gets there, the local chocolate maker shows her around. Sparks fly through the ... nougat or what have you.
A Ring For Christmas (UPTV, premiered 11/8): A spoiled rich woman gets cut off. Her only source of funds is money that will be available to her once she gets married. Thus, she has only one choice: Find a guy to participate in a ruse!
Christmas On The Vine (Lifetime, premieres 11/13): A woman returns to her adorable hometown to help save an adorable small business, a winery. As it turns out, various vultures have been buying up all the wineries, but perhaps she and the owner of this one can find a way forward. Wouldn't that be ... grape? (I regret nothing.) Beloved celebrity Meredith Baxter!
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix, premieres 11/13): Full of actual supernatural forces and original songs from writers including John Legend, this one stars Forest Whitaker as a "legendary toymaker" who falls victim to the machinations of a scheming Keegan-Michael Key, meaning his granddaughter must save Christmas.
Christmas In Vienna (Hallmark, premieres 11/14): Violins really are getting some good publicity this year. A violinist (played by Grey's Anatomy's Sarah Drew) with the blues (who does not, obviously, play the blues, because it's Hallmark) goes to Vienna, an amazing location location location, where she meets a man played by Hallmark stalwart Brennan Elliott, whom you also might know as UnREAL's fake Chris Harrison. There might be music?
Meet Me At Christmas (Hallmark M&M; premieres 11/14): Hallmark stalwart Catherine Bell plays a woman who has to do some emergency event planning with a man she doesn't know when her son's wedding planner quits. But does she really not know him? Or does she just think she doesn't know him?
Christmas On Wheels (Lifetime, premieres 11/14) A woman (played by Tiya Sircar, The Good Place's Vicky) goes back to her adorable hometown to help out a relative temporarily. But she gets swept away in old family traditions, and she meets a guy, and before she knows it, she's considering whether it's time to leave the big city. She also restores a car, which is why this title exists.
A Timeless Christmas (Hallmark, premieres 11/15): This one involves actual supernatural forces in the form of time travel. A man travels from 1903 to 2020, surprised to find his own house is now a landmark, and a pretty woman is giving tours. That would be unsettling.
The Christmas Doctor (Hallmark M&M; premieres 11/15): Holly Robinson Peete plays a doctor who travels over Christmas for work, only to find that an old flame is in pursuit.
The Christmas Edition (Lifetime, premieres 11/15): A hard-working journalist gets a chance to run an adorable small town's newspaper. Of course, it's in Alaska. But when she gets there, she both falls in love and needs to save the critical community asset, the paper, from various vultures. Beloved celebrity Marie Osmond!
The Princess Switch: Switched Again (Netflix, premieres 11/19): Remember the movie with two Vanessa Hudgenses? Now there are three Vanessa Hudgenses. What will become of the royal family?
A Taste Of Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 11/20): As you can probably tell from the title, this one is in food world. A woman learns that her cousin (beloved celebrity Nia Vardalos) has to call off her Christmas even restaurant opening. That will not do! But can she help get the restaurant open in time for Christmas, with the hope of a handsome chef?
A Nashville Christmas Carol (Hallmark, premieres 11/21): Buckle up. This one takes place in a famous location location location, which becomes the site of a Christmas Carol riff. It's packed with beloved celebrities from country world, including Wynonna Judd and Sara Evans. Our main character is a TV producer in charge of a wacky holiday stunt (a Christmas TV special) who cares too much about work. When her old flame shows up, she begins seeing ghosts, brought to her by, of course, actual supernatural forces. Will she learn the true meaning of Christmas?
The Angel Tree (Hallmark M&M, premieres 11/21): A writer is trying to figure out who's granting wishes. She bumps into an old flame. Could it be ... the old flame and the gifter are one and the same? (They might not be; I'm just guessing.)
Feliz NaviDAD (Lifetime, premieres 11/21): I take it back. This is the worst title of the season. Mario Lopez ... plays a single dad to a moppet. Yeah. He's also a high school principal. Because he lost his wife around Christmas, he's lost the Christmas spirit, and only a musician he meets (so there's probably music!) can lift his spirits. This one is directed by Melissa Joan Hart, so I assume that during filming, Clarissa really did explain it all.
The Christmas House (Hallmark, premieres 11/22): Beloved celebrities Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence play parents who ask their two sons to come home for Christmas. One of them runs into an old flame. The other is in the process of adopting a moppet with his husband. That's right: It's not a falling-in-love story, it's an adoption story, but Hallmark is bringing you this Christmas the story of a gay couple. Hallmark is!
A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love (Hallmark M&M, premieres 11/22): This is another growing holiday movie franchise. The idea is that coincidences are called "Godwinks." (Hallmark M&M has the more dramatic films of the season as compared to the regular Hallmark Channel, and also the ones with the more overt religious content.) Here, a man winds up in traffic next to his old flame. He's also got moppets!
Homemade Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 11/22): The only things I really can tell you about this one are that a woman becomes "the ultimate holiday freelance assistant for hire" and "must choose between the man of her aspirations and Mr. Right," which sort of makes it seem like I know which one is going to win. You're giving away the game, blurb writers!
Dashing Home For Christmas (UPTV, premieres 11/22): She's a serious career woman trying to get home for Christmas! She's organized; he's free-spirited! They're strangers, stuck with each other on an urgent road trip trying to get where they're going on time.
Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square (Netflix, premieres 11/22): Dolly Parton plays the angel brought by actual supernatural forces to make a rich mean lady played by Christine Baranski aware of the true meaning of Christmas in her adorable hometown. There's a bunch of original Dolly Parton music here (she's an executive producer, as is Debbie Allen!) as well. Jenifer Lewis! Treat Williams! The stops have been pulled out!
Heart Of The Holidays (Hallmark, premieres 11/23): Now this one seems like they're just putting in the parts I need for this guide, because the description reads, verbatim: "Career-driven Sam returns to her hometown for the holidays where she comes face-to-face with her high school boyfriend, Noah. Together they rediscover what matters most in life." I have no idea what this actually entails.
A Christmas Tree Grows In Colorado (Hallmark, premieres 11/24): A woman planning a treasured holiday tradition (the town Christmas party) needs a tree from what I'm guessing is a grumpy man who doesn't appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. But you know how things tend to go when you're in the right location location location.
Happiest Season (Hulu, premieres 11/25): Certainly one of the highest-profile new films of the season, this one features Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as a couple who go home to Davis' family for Christmas, buuuuut she's not out to them yet. Daniel Levy plays one of their pals, and the film is directed by Clea Duvall. (I'm pretty psyched for this one.)
Good Morning Christmas! (Hallmark, premieres 11/25): Hallmark stalwart Alison Sweeney and Buffy The Vampire Slayer boyfriend Marc Blucas play professional rivals -- TV hosts who are sent to an adorable small town over Christmas. While they participate in a ruse in which they get along, they might learn that it's becoming all too real (dun dun DUN!).
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two (Netflix, premieres 11/25): If you liked the original, which cast Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, perhaps you'd like to revisit this actual supernatural forces movie in which Santa is joined by Goldie Hawn in helping save Christmas once again, with the help of the same siblings who made such trouble last time.
Christmas By Starlight (Hallmark, premieres 11/26): A lawyer finds that her family's adorable small business, a cafe, is going to be demolished. What's more, the mean suit man who's in charge of its demise won't even listen! But after he asks her to participate in a ruse to impress his father, maybe she can work something out. If you know what we mean.
Five Star Christmas (Hallmark, premieres 11/27): If you think this sounds like it's about Yelp reviews, you're not wrong! A woman's family owns an adorable small business, a bed and breakfast. A journalist who's an "incognito travel critic" appeals to her, but what will happen when she learns that he might hold her family's fate in his hands, because the critic and the new man are one and the same?
Dear Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 11/27): Okay. So. Melissa Joan Hart plays the host of a podcast that is entirely about holiday-themed love stories. (I wonder whether Groundhog Day counts.) But she herself is unlucky in love. Back in her adorable hometown, she meets a firefighter played by ... Jason Priestley. The '90s nostalgia is strong with this one. It also has a whole honkload of beloved celebrities including Ed Begley, Jr., Robin Givens, and Faith Prince.
Christmas Waltz (Hallmark, premieres 11/28): Hallmark stalwart Lacey Chabert plays a woman whose wedding is canceled. But she finds some hope in a dance instructor! The photos also suggest a moppet.
USS Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premieres 11/28): A journalist goes on a "tiger cruise" (where loved ones of service members get to join them), where she meets a "handsome naval officer" and also discovers a mystery that needs solving. It's a quest!
Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding (Lifetime, premieres 11/28): This one is a sequel to a movie from last year. It finds Kelly Rowland getting married and her "boisterous family" being boisterous. Family chaos!
If I Only Had Christmas (Hallmark, premieres 11/29): Hallmark stalwart Candace Cameron Bure plays a "cheerful publicist" who works with a "cynical business owner" for charity. It doesn't even say what kind of cynical business!
People Presents: Once Upon A Main Street (Lifetime, premieres 11/29): Again with the year-round Christmas shop! Here, a woman who plans to set one up finds that she's in competition for the space with a handsome stranger who quickly becomes her professional rival. They're both at the mercy of the owner (beloved celebrity Patrick Duffy). Who will win? Let's just say ... I'm betting it's both of them. [eyebrow waggle] Also: "People Presents" does indeed refer to People, the magazine. So the magazine is presenting the movie in conjunction with Lifetime, which is a kind of naming rights I hadn't even thought about.
Christmas In Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing (Hallmark, premieres 11/30): The Christmas In Evergreen franchise is several movies old now. In this one, Michelle, played by Holly Robinson Peete, is about to get married, but the woman helping her out is questioning her own relationship, just as the adorable small town they love prepares to open a museum.
The Christmas Listing (Lifetime, premieres 11/30): This is the first one I can remember that actually describes its serious career woman as "uptight" in the synopsis, but there you go! She works in real estate and winds up stuck at an inn over Christmas with her professional rival while she tries not to accidentally discover the true meaning of Christmas. I'm betting it will not work. Beloved celebrity Greg Evigan!
Angela's Christmas Wish (Netflix, premieres 12/1): These are characters from Frank McCourt, and it's an animated story about a girl who reunites her family for Christmas.
Spotlight on Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 12/4): An actress retreats to her adorable hometown to avoid bad publicity. But a reporter is hot on her trail, and a local man is just hot. WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
A Little Christmas Charm (Hallmark M&M, premieres 12/5): A jewelry designer needs to find the owner of a bracelet, and she enlists a journalist to help her. It's a quest!
Let's Meet Again On Christmas Eve (Lifetime, premieres 12/5): The always charming Kyla Pratt stars in this story of a couple who miss their shot at romance, only to find that they're reunited a couple of years later while they're thrust into joint event planning for a Christmas wedding.
A Christmas Surprise (BET, premieres 12/5): Family chaos ensues when a young woman returns home with the fiancé nobody knew she had. Will the family come together with the help of the Christmas spirit? I'm going to guess ... yes.
Time For Us To Come Home For Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premieres 12/5): This rather ungainly title is attached to a story in which Hallmark stalwart Lacey Chabert stars as one of several people who are invited to a Christmas gathering at an inn. They are all connected! (Did you guess that? Sure you did.)
Christmas She Wrote (Hallmark, premieres 12/6): Hallmark stalwart Danica McKellar and stone fox Dylan Neal star. She's a romance writer with a column, but he cancels it right before Christmas, making him quite a mean suit man. So she retreats to her probably adorable hometown, where she stays with her family. He, however, shows up to try to fix everything.
Christmas Dilemma (TV One, premieres 12/6): Directed by Essence Atkins, this is the story of a couple that encounters family chaos when their families descend during the holidays.
Christmas Ever After (Lifetime, premieres 12/6): Ali Stroker, who won a Tony for Oklahoma! not long ago, plays a romance novelist who likes to hole up over Christmas to write. But this year, it's not going too well until the man who has bought the adorable small business where she likes to visit begins to remind her of romantic heroes she has written. I definitely can't remember a film on one of these networks that featured a lead who uses a wheelchair, so that's another new thing this season.
Marry Me This Christmas (Bounce, premieres 12/6): A pastor falls for his old flame who happens to be both his parishioner and already engaged.
The Santa Squad (Lifetime, premieres 12/7) A woman joins the "Santa Squad" to help cheer up a widower and his moppets who need to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. Can she bring the magic back? I'm guessing she can.
A Christmas For Mary (OWN, premieres 12/8) Extremely beloved celebrity Vivica A. Fox plays the demanding boss of a journalist who has to come up with a story for Christmas. She follows a mystery to an adorable small town where she realizes that it's a quest!
Inn Love For Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 12/11) Boooooo for this horrible pun title. A serious career woman returns to her adorable hometown to acquire the adorable small business -- an inn — which is also being pursued by an old flame who quickly becomes a professional rival.
Cross Country Christmas (Hallmark, premieres 12/12): For whatever reason, old flames (at least old friends?) wind up running into trouble on a road trip home for the holidays, and they're basically snowed in in transit, as they try to make it home.
A Glenbrooke Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premieres 12/12): Hallmark stalwart Autumn Reeser plays a very rich woman who sneaks off to an adorable small town to celebrate Christmas. Does she meet a hot fireman? You know the answer.
The Christmas Setup (Lifetime, premieres 12/12): Like Hallmark, Lifetime also has a gay couple this year, but in this case, their love story is the central plot. Specifically, a man returns to his adorable hometown where he is set up with an old flame. Their feelings develop over the holidays, but he must decide whether to forgo the big business opportunity to pursue love. Suspenseful! This one features beloved celebrity Fran Drescher.
The Christmas Lottery (BET, premieres 12/12): Reginald VelJohnson plays a man who wins the lottery and tries to bring together his daughters and find his ticket. It's family chaos!
Christmas Comes Twice (Hallmark, premieres 12/13): Tamera Mowry-Housley plays a driven professional woman who has a chance to get back her old flame. When a treasured holiday tradition in the form of a Christmas carnival comes around, she winds up traveling back in time, thanks to actual supernatural forces. Can she get it right this time?
Unlocking Christmas (Hallmark M&M): A woman and a man both receive a key and a riddle. It's a quest!
A Sugar & Spice Holiday (Lifetime, premieres 12/13): It's safe to say that recent advances in representation for Black and Latinx people in these films have not extended, in general, to characters or actors with Asian heritage. Here, however, you have your basic adorable small town in Maine where protagonist Suzie's parents run the local lobster place. Not only is the woman Chinese-American; her father is played by the great Tzi Ma. Suzie winds up entering the local gingerbread contest and working with an old flame to make gingerbread infused with her baking grandma's traditions.
Lonestar Christmas (Lifetime, premieres 12/14): It's all about location location location, as a single mom to a couple of moppets goes to Texas to spend Christmas with their grandfather. An attractive local — with a restaurant — makes an impression.
Cooking Up Christmas (OWN, premieres 12/15): A chef takes a job with a single man and his moppets over the Christmas holiday. Can she love this family and also pursue her dream of opening her own adorable small business?
Holiday Heartbreak (BET, premieres 12/16): A man learns that actual supernatural forces mean that his daughter is paying the price in her love life for his past sins, and he has to make things right.
Christmas On The Menu (Lifetime, premieres 12/18): Yup, it's another food one. A chef who grew up in an adorable small business (a B&B) goes home for Christmas, but a grumpy critic who might put a hole in the B&B's reputation comes around to grump up the holidays. Can the two make peace?
A Christmas Carousel (Hallmark, premieres 12/19): Hallmark stalwart Rachel Boston plays a woman hired by a royal family to fix a carousel. She might fall in love with the prince. Might.
Swept Up By Christmas (Hallmark M&M, premieres 12/19): You know what doesn't get enough attention as a romantic activity? Cleaning! In this story, two people who handle clutter in different ways — one cleans, one sells antiques — work together to "downsize" an estate. This is absolutely real. Horrible pun title.
A Christmas Exchange (Lifetime, premieres 12/19): A woman trades her home for a rich guy's London apartment. While they're in touch about the swap, they discover that they also like each other, which I would find very creepy, since the last thing you want when you're interested in someone is for them to have free rein to go through your stuff.
Love, Lights, Hanukkah! (Hallmark, premieres 12/20): A woman "takes a DNA test revealing that she's Jewish," and she falls in love over Hanukkah, and I am very curious about how this one is going to go over. Beloved celebrity Marilu Henner is in it.
Project Christmas Wish (Hallmark M&M, premieres 12/20): Details are sketchy on this one, but it seems to have to do with a woman who grants wishes. Look, I didn't say the titles were all hard to parse.
A Christmas Break (Lifetime, premieres 12/20): A teacher is sad because her school is closing. But a Hollywood actor who grew up in her adorable small town is back, and between the two of them, perhaps they can save the critical community asset.
First Christmas (OWN, premieres 12/22): A woman who grew up in foster care spends the holidays with her birth family, including several siblings, one of whom is hesitant about introducing her girlfriend to the family. It sounds more like a heartwarming family story than family chaos, but either way, I'm betting they have a merry Christmas.
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