It's the most wonderful time of the year! As the holiday season quickly approaches, there are tons of traditions to uphold — perhaps, an ugly Christmas sweater competition or planning the perfect Christmas activities you can do with the whole family. But there is one thing that's always on the agenda, and that's a Christmas movie marathon, filled with choices that are meant to evoke the spirit of the holiday season.
While there are many Christmas movies you can watch on streaming services like Disney+, you may be looking for a quicker watch. Enter Christmas-themed TV shows, which are available on Netflix, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video and more. Choose from modern favorites like The Office, Friends, New Girl and Ted Lasso. Or go for more classic choices, such as The Golden Girls, I Love Lucy or Seinfeld.
As it can be a lot to nail down the Christmas-themed episodes that really bring forth the magic of a winter wonderland, we've rounded-up the best ones to watch right now. These TV shows not only lean into the holiday spirit perfectly, but they make us truly appreciate the things we've gone through this entire year. Now sit back, relax and prepare yourselves for the ultimate TV marathon, all before Santa comes with your gifts!
You can't start a list of Christmas-themed TV episodes without mentioning the most classic one of all. The TV special follows the Peanuts gang as they try to find purpose during the holiday season. With Charlie Brown being in the dumps, Lucy resolves to help gain his smile back by making him the director of the yearly Christmas play. This leads to everyone appreciating the true meaning of the holiday, and it never fails to warm everyone's hearts while watching as well.
Originally aired in 1956, this episode made history as the first "flashback" seen on television. Lucy (Lucille Ball), Ricky (Desi Arnaz), Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel (Vivian Vance) share their favorite holiday memories, giving viewers a glimpse of pivotal moments that shaped the gang's lives forever. After all, isn't that what Christmas is about — taking a moment to be nostalgic from years' past?
In this season 1 episode, none of the patients and staff are looking forward to spending Christmas in the hospital. But as it happens to be, a series of coincidences occur all at once from J.D. (Zach Braff)'s unconscious patient waking up and Elliot (Sarah Chalke)'s pregnant patient suddenly going missing. As they look for answers, everyone begins to wonder whether it's a sign to have faith.
When Topanga (Danielle Fishel) expresses her wishes to spend Christmas with Cory (Ben Savage) and the Matthews family, you'd think her boyfriend would be thrilled. Instead, he starts to worry about their future because their traditions are vastly different from one another. Yes, this may be a relationship-focused episode, but in it lies one meaning of Christmas — spending time with your loved ones.
When Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is on leave from her position at the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department, she finds herself wanting to get involved in local government. Thankfully, her friends support and help her prepare for what is sure to be the best gift she ever gave. And that's saying a lot, as she is known to be quite the gift giver.
This Christmas-themed TV episode not only showed what the holiday season potentially looks like in the White House, but it also touched on heavier topics that align with this time of year. Despite all the storylines, one underlying current remains clear: the holidays are meant to bring joy ... even if it's only for yourself.
Viewers all know Fonzie (Henry Winkler) as a tough, leather jacket-loving ladies' man. But this episode shows a different side to him when he spends the holidays without his family. Thankfully, he has Richie (Ron Howard)as a friend because as soon as he finds out Fonzie's plans, he gets invited to the Cunningham household for Christmas. It's an episode that's all about familial bonding — even when said family isn't your own blood.
Everyone knows the best place to get your annual Christmas photo with Santa is at a local megastore! At least, that's what Superstore does in this season 3 episode. When Amy (America Ferrera) overhears her co-workers saying she's boring, she decides to have fun right before the biggest holiday of the year. Add in some issues with some roommates and you've got yourself the perfect holiday special.
What happens when a young doctor accidentally gives the day off to the town's only Santa, the mayor wants to propose to his girlfriend and the go-to lawyer is scrambling to find the perfect Christmas present? It's yet a season 2 episode of Hart of Dixie, which will keep you both laughing and reminiscing about the simpler moments of the holiday season.
You didn't think Black Mirror could escape the magic of Christmas, right? Well, it kind of does the holiday in its own trippy way. In this episode, Jon Hamm stars as s confident man who gets trapped in a job that only sees him and his fellow employees coming together for Christmas. But after learning the backstory, we realize that even the most wonderful time of the year can have consequences with just the touch of a button.
Ted Lasso gets the Love, Actually treatment in this season 2 episode. Although Ted (Jason Sudeikis) starts off the episode with a serious case of the holiday blues, things pick up when Rebecca shows up at his door and asks him to help her spread jolly good cheer. Oh, and Roy Kent gets a Christmas miracle of his own.
Ludachristmas is something we can all get behind. The made-for-TV holiday includes some aspects of Christmas (tacky sweaters, for one), but it's basically just an excuse for Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and her co-workers to hide from their families. Tracy Jordan is the mastermind behind it all, so obviously, chaos and hilarity ensue.
The Bunker family is missing the holly, jolly cheer after Archie (Carroll O'Connor) learns that he won't get his annual Christmas bonus. And while he goes into full-on Scrooge mode, the rest of the family tries to lessen the blow by inviting the Jeffersons over for some holiday fun. Maybe just maybe, it includes a lesson for us all.
Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) takes her love of Christmas to the next level as she tries to organize a caroling outing with her friends, but not everyone is into the idea. Meanwhile Maya (Golden Brooks) is throwing a Christmas party where she invites her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Lots of Christmas laughs (and a little drama) make this a great episode.
Word to the wise: Don't watch this holiday episode of your favorite NBC drama without a box of tissues nearby. (But you wouldn't expect anything less than a whole bunch of emotional twists and turns from This Is Us, would you?)
Yep, even your favorite medical drama knows how to get into the Christmas spirit. Rewind all the way back to season 2 for a show that's not really about the holidays ... but is holiday-adjacent, nonetheless.
Turn to the season 2 Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls for a whole lot of holiday fun ... and the very beginnings of the Jess-Deanand-Rory love triangle.
"The Strike" is the Seinfeld episode that brought us Festivus. Enough said.
Yep, the Belchers' last-minute Christmas adventures are just as kooky and chuckle-worthy as you'd expect them to be.
In this one part heartwarming, one part hilarious episode of ABC comedy black-ish, the Johnsons try to help their kids rediscover the true meaning of Christmas (and spoiler alert: it's not "stuff").
This sci-fi spin on the classic Charles Dickens tale was the first Doctor Who Christmas special to star actor Matt Smith, a.k.a. the Eleventh Doctor.
Thanksgiving might be the most highly anticipated holiday in the New Girl loft, but Jess and the gang had their fair share of Christmas excitement too. When canceled flights left them stranded at LAX in season 4, they made the best of it.
It doesn't get much more "classic Christmas" than the very first holiday episode of The Brady Bunch, in which Carol comes down with laryngitis and becomes afraid she won't be able to sing at the family's holiday church service.
Mary must find a way to brighten up her holiday when she's forced to work on not only Christmas, but Christmas Eve too.
Queue up the very first Modern Family Christmas episode to watch the shenanigans that unfold when Phil and Claire threaten to "cancel" Christmas ... and to marvel at how much the Dunphy kids have grown since season 1.
Professional boxer Evander Holyfield guest-starred as himself in the very first Christmas episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Scott Calvin (a.k.a. the star of The Santa Clause) isn't Tim Allen's only Christmas-y role worth watching this holiday season.
The gang's all here! On Christmas Eve, Rebecca asks all of the Cheers bartenders to stay and work — and Sam ends up scrounging up quite the last-minute gift for her.
Longtime Downton Abbey fans know that this holiday episode, which is one part Christmas special and one part season 2 finale, is worth rewatching — if only for the last five minutes. (Swoon.)