In November, the Graham girls (Ellie, Harper, and myself) decided to dedicate ourselves to hours of movie watching for the sake of others. We are nothing if not givers, and we decided a great way to use our precious time would be to watch as many holiday movies as possible and then tell others about them. Think of it as our gift to the world during this challenging time.
Before we share our reviews, we need to set the stage: I don’t really watch much TV, but when colder weather comes and I can’t be outside as much, I have some free time to fill. Normally, I watched completely cringe-y holiday movies by myself while cooking or after the girls would go to bed. Surprisingly, Chris Graham wasn’t interested in joining me for these shows. Now as the girls get older, they’re joining in on the tradition. Saturday morning cartoons have been replaced with romantic holiday movies. Sunday night family movie night has turned into cheesy Christmas shows. Chris Graham is distraught. The Graham girls are ecstatic. I can’t tolerate the level of bad acting and predictable storylines ten months out of the year, but for November and December, I welcome all of it. The more horrible the better, please and thank you.
This is not a complete list. There are countless holiday movies across many streaming platforms to choose from. We’re still watching more as we speak. We’ll never get to all of them and, while we’ve resigned ourselves to this sad fact, we are not going down without a fight.
Home Sweet Home Alone (on Netflix)
The girls picked this as their first holiday movie. It’s a newer spin-off on the original Home Alone series with recognizable actors and some fun cameos. I thought another Home Alone movie was a bad idea, but this works and the girls recommend it.
Love Hard (on Netflix)
I liked this one. The main love interest is Asian and the movie pushes back on some stereotypes of love and relationships (but the main characters are both toxic in their own ways, how romantic!). I liked the diverse casting choices; there is one unimaginative storyline with the best friend who is supposed to be in AA but is often drinking in her scenes. It goes without saying that I’m just not a big fan of making light of the disease of addiction, so if that will be annoying to you, skip this one.
The Holiday (on Netflix)
Okay, this isn’t a new movie, obviously. But I’m including it on my list because it was the first Christmas movie I watched in November to kick off the holiday season, so I’m reminding you it’s great and you should watch it and it will never go out of style.
Holidate (on Netflix)
Completely predictable and definitely not for kids, but I loved it. This is the level of cheesy Christmas movie I want for everything I watch. Just fun to watch and makes a great background movie for wrapping presents or baking. (There is a lot of drinking—I mean, a LOT of drinking—in this one, just FYI.)
A California Christmas (on Netflix)
This one was actually pretty dumb, but that doesn’t disqualify it during the months of November and December. I half watched it while working on my gift guides last month, and it served its purpose perfectly. You can only pay attention to this movie half the time and know exactly what is going on.
A California Christmas: City Lights (on Netflix)
Oh look, I said A California Christmas was kinda dumb, yet I watched the sequel a few weeks later. Still kinda dumb, but—no shame—I like the escape of a really dumb movie right now. I highly recommend this coping mechanism to everyone reading this.
Jingle Jangle (on Netflix)
This one is super fun. Watch it with your whole family. This is our second year watching this one and it’s becoming part of our holiday traditions. Diverse cast AND a girl who loves science? Sold.
Holiday Calendar (on Netflix)
I really liked this one. Diverse cast, creative-yet-cheesy storyline, and fun to watch. I did my first round of holiday baking while watching, and this movie was a great companion while I mixed and baked and iced.
Ernest Saves Christmas (on Disney+)
As a child of the 80s, I take the responsibility of teaching my children about Ernest P. Worrell very seriously. So when they selected Ernest Saves Christmas as a movie one evening, I realized my job here was done. They are ready to go out into the world on their own. God speed, children. KnoWhutImean, Vern?
Let It Snow (on Netflix)
This is a movie based on the YA novel by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. It’s definitely for older teens; I didn’t watch this one with the girls, but as a life-long YA lover, this was delightful. It wasn’t super cheesy, which I always appreciate, and it had the feel of a classic 80’s high school movie. This is one of my favorites this year.
A Castle for Christmas (on Netflix)
This one is especially silly, but it has Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes so I was able to convince the girls to watch it with me when I said it was the guy from The Princess Bride. There are Scottish accents and local pubs wear people have a knitting club, so this was just delightful to watch. Silly, but delightful.
Single All The Way (on Netflix)
Best friends who aren’t in love with each other are madly in love with each other by the end of the movie. I did not see that coming. But I liked the shocking twist nonetheless.
Holiday in the Wild (on Netflix)
Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe? Yes, please. Full disclosure: this one has some pretty hard White savior vibes (it’s set in Africa) and that’s annoying, but it’s beautiful to watch and they fall in love! Who saw that coming?!
A Very Country Christmas (on Netflix)
I’m not even sure why I clicked on this one, I’m not a fan of country music, but I was making dinner one night and I was desperate. My favorite part was Deana Carter as the friend and orchestrator of love; while I’m not a big fan of country music, it’s against the law to not like “Strawberry Wine,” obviously.
Operation Christmas Drop (on Netflix)
Hawaii, Christmas, the US military, and another side of White savior complex. Merry Christmas, from the United States who will destroy local economies and natural resources, but then air-drop bags of rice and blankets so you can feel #blessed by our presence.
Holiday Rush (on Netflix)
The girls loved this one about a widowed father and his four children. Dad loses his job right before Christmas and things get stressful…until they learn the real meaning of the holidays. Good for kids and parents.
Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas (on Nexflix)
The girls and I binged 3 or 4 of these episodes one Saturday morning. If you like reality TV shows, makeover shows, or sad stories, this one is for you. Mr. Christmas is a professional holiday decorator and he travels around the country with his elves spreading good cheer for those who’ve experienced loss or tragedy. Christmas lights solve everything. Trust me.
A Christmas Prince + A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding + A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (on Netflix)
I watched A Christmas Prince last year, but didn’t feel the need to continue on with the series. My children, on the other hand, went all in. They followed the Prince and his lady into marriage and babies. By the third movie, Ellie was able to predict the cheesy lines before they were said, which is just a sign that she’s learning some valuable writing lessons this holiday season.
8-Bit Christmas (on HBOMax)
This wins as best new holiday movie for me. If you’re a kid from the 80s or early 90s, please watch this. I don’t care if you have kids or not. Or maybe you were raising kids during this time period? You’ll love this one too. Nintendo, Cabbage Patch dolls, and the fashion are like taking a trip back in time. This one is funny and heartwarming. 8-Bit Christmas for everyone.
I’m spending the weekend baking through this list, and I just started Dash & Lily. It’s a series with 8 episodes (30 minutes or less). I normally avoid holiday series because I don’t want to commit to something that long, but I’ve still got hours of baking to do, and not having to pick 2-3 movies out this weekend is enough for me to take the plunge.
I hope your weekend before Christmas is filled with cozy fires, warm ovens, and good company. I hope your Christmas shopping is done, and maybe you get snow. And I hope your TV is playing silly holiday movies that distract you from the outside world for just a little bit.
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