Christmas is a time for nostalgia and reminiscence while celebrating the festive season with family and friends. Sometimes our favorite characters from TV shows feel like family to us because of our familiarity with their lives and our fond memories watching them throughout the year. So there’s nothing quite like spending time curled up in front of the TV and sharing the holidays with these beloved characters.
1. Thought-Provoking & Creepy
Black Mirror – White Christmas (Season 2, Episode 4)
While many TV shows about Christmas often have a feel-good vibe, this one is more thought-provoking and will provide plenty to talk about at any holiday party. Although the episode is set in an idyllic cabin, the plotline is true to form with creepy twists and turns. Still, it will get you thinking about a variety of topics and have you wishing you had someone to discuss it all with.
2. Drama & Lavish Outfits
Gossip Girl – Roman Holiday (Season 1, Episode 11)
If you need a reason to splurge and watch some more Gossip Girl, then put on this holiday episode to get you in the Christmas mood. This episode is full of all the characters you love (and love to hate) along with a healthy dose of drama and scheming that will make your family’s Christmas seem tame in comparison. Watch for the beautifully festive New York City holiday settings including Central Park and an ice skating scene. Not to mention the lavish outfits that feature that Blair and Serena flair with an extra holiday twist.
3. Hilarious & Heartwarming
The Office – A Benihana Christmas (Season 3, Episode 10)
Episodes of The Office are so easy to watch because they’re short and full of plot, so they go by very fast. Not to mention they are downright hilarious! Although the characters often are in some kind of funny conflict with each other, there are many heartwarming moments throughout to counterbalance the humor. In this episode, Michael’s heartbreak over his breakup leads to spending time at a local Benihana restaurant, a less than ideal location to celebrate the holidays. Still, everyone ultimately comes together to make the holiday memorable and remind you that sometimes your co-workers become like family when it really matters.
4. Retro Fashion & Nostalgia
Mad Men – Christmas Waltz (Season 5, Episode 9)
For a full-on blast of 1950s nostalgia and holidays, immerse yourself in this episode of Mad Men which is sure to remind you of past days and your Grandmother’s holiday traditions. If you’re not in the mood for the holidays yet, transporting yourself back to a simpler time is sure to ignite your Christmas spirit. You can also get holiday party outfit ideas from the retro fashions and channel your inner femme fatale with inspiration from Christina Hendricks’ portrayal of Joan Holloway.
5. True Meaning of Christmas
Black-ish – Stuff (Season 2, Episode 10)
Want something to balance out your TV viewing palate that isn’t too sappy or nostalgic? Black-ish is the perfect antidote to contemplate deeper issues without getting too heavy. In the episode aptly named “Stuff,” the family examines the true meaning of Christmas and tackles the subject of commercialization. You’ve no doubt felt conflicted over having to buy so many presents as well as the toll the holidays can take on your wallet. Here you can re-examine this discussion while throwing in a few laughs to remind you not to take the holidays too seriously.
6. Bond Between Friends
Friends – The One With the Holiday Armadillo (Season 7, Episode 10)
There are so many great holiday episodes of Friends to choose from that starting with this one may just lead you on an end-of-the-year marathon. But would that be so bad? Providing plenty of laughs along with fond memories of your favorite characters, watch as Ross dresses as the holiday armadillo to connect with his son. While his intentions are good, his methods sometimes backfire in funny ways. Still, the bonds between the friends are what makes this show a classic that can be enjoyed any time of the year.
7. Die Hard Reference
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Yippie Kayak (Season 3, Episode 10)
You probably know someone who claims that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time whereas you always thought it was just an action flick from the ‘80s. If you want to see what all the fuss is about without investing in a full-length film, this short episode is for you. In the episode, Die Hard fans, and cops Jake and Charles get involved in a real-life “Die Hard” situation while they are off-duty shopping on Christmas Eve. It’s the perfect episode to watch with that Die Hard-loving someone because they will get all the references. Not only is it hilarious, but even if you’ve never seen the film referenced, you’ll be rooting for all the characters in no time.
8. Job Lost at Christmas
Parks and Recreation – Citizen Knope (Season 4, Episode 10)
Some people might have a hard time connecting with the type-A personality of Leslie Knope, but it’s hard not to love her in this heartwarming episode. Due to her relationship with Ben, Leslie finds herself suspended from work. It doesn’t help that it’s at Christmas time and she is unable to do what she really loves. But the best part of all is watching her colleagues come together to help make a special gift for her, once again reminding us that family isn’t always the one we’re born into.
9. Family Drama
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – My Mom, Greg’s Mom Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves! (Season 1, Episode 18)
This hilarious episode can be enjoyed by people on both ends of the musical spectrum, whether you love them or hate them. The musical aspect doesn’t overshadow the plot and is done in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not to mention the family drama that comes with parents visiting from out of town, something we can all relate to, makes it seem like the events could possibly take place in real life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and at the end, you just might be glad your family isn’t quite that crazy!
10. Single for the Holidays
New Girl – Santa (Season 2, Episode 11)
Single for the holidays? Then chances are you’ll be like the gang in New Girl who decides to spend the holidays together and attend as many parties as possible. Our lives feel like one-holiday party after another this December so we can totally relate! The ups and downs of the relationship between Jess and Sam will remind you of that ex who suddenly pops back into your life around Christmas. Live vicariously through the gang’s adventures without having any of the real world consequences yourself.
11. Sarcasm & Biting Humor
Veep – (Season 5, Episode 8)
You might not immediately think of Veep when it comes to holiday TV shows, but this episode, set at Camp David, might be the perfect contrast to all the romantic and lighter ones. With all the sarcasm and biting humor it is known for, this episode will keep you on your toes as you follow the plot and verbal jabs between Amy and Dan. Any warm moment in this show never lasts long so if you don’t want to drag out the tissues and ruin your makeup, you can opt for something a little more sobering.
12. Picture Perfect Christmas
Gilmore Girls – Women of Questionable Morals (Season 5, Episode 1)
Gilmore Girls does a great job of setting the scene for the holidays and making you want to jump through the screen and run away to Stars Hollow. Get lost in the seasonal celebrations and family dramas as the characters navigate the holidays. You’ll appreciate your family that much more after this episode and will realize every moment shared with them is special. Fall in love with the story of Luke and Lorelai while dreaming of your own skating pond and a white, postcard perfect Christmas.
Grey’s Anatomy – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Season 2, Episode 12)
Go back to the earlier episodes of the series when the original cast was all together and celebrating the holidays in their own unique way. The hospital patients bring up questions of faith and its various aspects as they affect the doctors in their personal lives. There are also some turning points in some of the romantic relationships which are highlighted in this episode, particularly between Burke and Cristina. You’ll also swoon at Derek’s confession that he fell in love with Meredith as you’re transported to the earlier, rocky days of their relationship.
There’s so much to love about the holidays yet still many of us get overwhelmed with stress at this time of the year. Whether there’s too much to do or you’re having an end-of-year existential crisis, there can be a lot of pressure during a time that should be joyful. Sometimes you need a reason to skip the holiday party and stay inside with a mug of hot chocolate for a little me-time. So go ahead and indulge yourself and reminisce over your favorite holiday TV memories or create some new ones to revisit again next year.