'Tis the season to spend every night watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. With thirty-seven new holiday movies coming out in 2018 alone, it's not surprising that there are nearly two hundred Christmas movies in Hallmark's arsenal of cheer — there are so many new movies released yearly that an exact cumulative number is hard to pin down. Over 85 million people watched a Hallmark Christmas movie in 2017 and that number has only grown over time. It wouldn't be Christmas without Lacey Chabert or Candace Cameron Bure falling in love with a prince (or a movie star, or an inn-keeper, or a ghost) on our television screens surrounded by fake snow and tinsel. If there was ever a time of year to suspend your disbelief and embrace cheesy made-for-tv love stories, it's Christmastime.
Hallmark's Christmas movies only get better each year, and next year, the company is even developing a Hannukah movie for the 2019 holiday season. If you're new to the Hallmark Christmas craze, it can be hard to differentiate between the truly bad and the so-bad-it's-good. All the movies seem to star the same rotating cast of five or six actors, they all have roughly the same plot, and the surplus of snow makes all of the sets indistinguishable. Luckily for holiday film lovers everywhere, we've got you covered. Here are Hallmark's best bad Christmas flicks, so you don't have to waste your time.
Did you know that in addition to iconic Christmas films, Hallmark is also known for its mysteries? Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas is the perfect marriage of their whodunit detective films and their candy cane-sweet holiday love stories. This film centers around four post office detectives (see, it's already amazing) who redirect Santa's mail. When they accidentally receive a heartfelt wish that wasn't meant for Santa, but actually for God, they try to make a little girl's Christmas wish come true in time for the holidays while facing their own demons. There's also a love story involving a Sunday school teacher crammed in there somewhere.
If it's about New Year's Eve, does it still count as a Christmas movie? Since they never seem to take down the Christmas decorations in this fictional town, yes! Royal New Year's Eve follows a magazine assistant with big dreams as she creates a wedding gown for a royal wedding because they definitely wouldn't have hired a professional for that or anything. When our young heroine Caitlyn and the Prince begin to fall for each other, Prince Jeffrey has to choose between love and his royal commitment to marry his fiance. Scandalous! Come to watch that guy from The Bold Type, stay for the A Christmas Prince knock-off plot.
This movie is on our list because of Chad Michael Murray, let's just be upfront about that. We still would have watched it if he wasn't the romantic lead, but everyone was too distracted by his gorgeous face to fully absorb the love story about — take a deep breath for this one — a Los Angeles television producer falling in love with a former television producer while creating a live Christmas special for a Martha Stewart knock-off, who also happens to be Chad Michael Murray's television mother. Also, it is set in Vermont, which doesn't hurt its charm. But once again, watch this movie for Chad.
Starring Hallmark mainstay Lacey Chabert, this is another movie where an unassuming woman becomes a princess by the end (spoilers!). In this Princess Diaries-esque take on the trope, blue-collar worker Emily Corrigan's boyfriend of a year reveals that he is actually a prince who is first in line for the throne of Genovia Cordinia. This also might be the plot of Crazy Rich Asians, but there's a reason we're willing to see the same rags-to-riches story over and over again. Because it's completely delightful. Watch the queen disapprove of Emily as her plucky spirit proves that love conquers all.
A bridal boutique owner with big dreams of becoming a wedding planner falls in love with the famous action star who's financing his sister's small town nuptials — a classic Christmas tale. The romantic lead's name is Johnny Blaze — not kidding — and the town is called Fool's Gold — also not kidding — and it's an amazing hour and a half journey of love and maintaining a moral high ground. Slip into this wish-fulfillment dream of blonde people falling in love while being unreasonably successful at Christmastime.
In a movie with essentially the same plot as Marry Me At Christmas, a female movie star comes to a Christmas-obsessed small town to film at an inn owned by a single dad who is also the curmudgeonly mayor of the town. See, it's kind of different! The pair overcomes mounting odds (hot ex-boyfriends! paparazzi! conflicting priorities!) to find love and the true meaning of Christmas. There are snowman-building competitions, sleigh rides, and easily solvable arguments that will make you want to move to a tiny town, but also be the most famous movie star in the world.
We love Jaime King. The mother of Taylor Swift's goddaughter and star of The CW's underrated gem Hart of Dixie falls in love with the hot guy from Brothers and Sisters as they bond over their shared love of hating Christmas. Their fake relationship becomes real as they "experience the magic of Christmas" (as the Hallmark website puts it), and they cuddle in the snow a lot. This film is also apparently based on a bestselling novel, which will probably see a spike in Amazon orders very soon. Move over, Nicholas Sparks.
Christmas Getaway stars a man whose actual last name is Van Winkle, so you know it has to be good. Have you ever had a nightmare where your AirBnB gets double booked and you have to share your vacation rental with a stranger that might be a murderer? Or that daydream where the empty seat next to you on a plane is filled by the hot guy from Arrow and you two fall in love? This movie basically combines those two situations but includes strong family values and a weirdly believable amount of chemistry between two beautiful actors.
We stan Mariah Carey. If you don't know her, you will after this Christmas film where she, surprisingly, is not the romantic lead. Mariah plots to take down Lacey Chabert, a divorcée who leaves Manhattan for her hometown and falls in love with a music teacher with the help of a coffee shop owner, much to Mariah's chagrin. I was rooting for Mariah this whole film, probably because I have trouble rooting for Lacey after the miraculous disaster that was Christian Mingle: The Movie, in which Lacey saves Mexico. This is not to be confused with Love on Safari, where Lacey saves Africa. Meanwhile, Mariah is the third best-selling female artist in the U.S. of all time.
In another movie starring Lacey Chabert (there are seventeen), Lacey falls in love with the assistant and best friend to her CEO boyfriend, Justin, while she's in Justin's hometown for the holidays to meet his mother. Sketchy, but we support it! This movie is enjoyable, though, and you'll (hopefully) never root harder for adultery during the holiday season than you will during this movie. Also, Lacey Chabert runs a bakery in this movie because of course she does.
Another classic, this time starring Candace Cameron Bure, is just the "a hot guy sits next to you on an airplane" daydream but longer. Two city folk are on a plane that gets rerouted to Buffalo instead of New York City, a true tragedy, and are stranded at an airport hotel together. Dylan doesn't believe in love after having his heart aggressively broken. Paige needs to get home to her wedding. The pair struggles to get back to the city, along with a cute older couple trying to get to Connecticut, and possibly fall in love.
Speaking of Candace Cameron Bure, the true queen of Hallmark (sorry, Lacey), this movie follows Candace as a doctor who is supposed to have the same prestigious surgical fellowship her father had but instead finds herself waitlisted and forced to be the head doctor in a small Alaskan town. This is, in fact, the same plot as Hart of Dixie, just not in the South. Candace falls in love with the town and with one of its residents, but she has to figure out the mystery of the town's top-secret shipping warehouse.
This movie is amazing because it's actually about an ice sculpting competition, but also about cooking. Two childhood friends reconnect as one gets a job cooking at a country club and the other is a member. David enters Callie into the country club's ice sculpting competition without her permission. Honestly, Hallmark puts it the best on their website: "Even though ice sculpting is cold work, sparks are ignited between Callie and David." Couldn't have said it better myself. Callie loves cooking and ice sculpting, and eventually also David, probably, as they compete in the competition as a team.
This film stars neither Candace nor Lacey, and the whole plot revolves around a man who cannot buy his own Christmas gifts and has to hire someone else to do it, showing real truth in storytelling. Katrina Law plays the free-spirited, unemployed artist that falls for an uptight corporate executive in a classic "opposites attract" plotline, complete with cute children and Christmas lights. Learn about the joy of giving and of receiving in this classic film where Hallmark proves it doesn't need Lacey or Candace to make a movie that will warm hearts and ease minds.
This movie has everything: a fireman, a cat person, a recurring side-character from The Flash, a hot commitment-phobic man, Christmas cheer. This movie is what the inside of my head looks like. When fireman, confirmed bachelor, and new cat owner Zachary meets veterinary student Marilee, chemistry blooms despite opposing forces keeping them apart (aka the fact that he's a dude who refuses to commit). Marliee teaches him how to care for his new stray cat, which apparently isn't something that's just obvious, and also how to love. At some point, there is also a formal event.
A regular fixture of "Best Of Hallmark" lists, this is yet another princess movie that isn't A Christmas Prince, but it doesn't star Candace or Lacey, so it's different than 80% of the other Hallmark Christmas princess movies. A recently-unemployed woman named Allie takes a temp job as the governess to a young princess who hates all authority figures (exactly like A Christmas Prince). But for some reason, the princess takes a liking to Allie, who falls in love with the princess's father, King Maximillian of Winshire. King Max is supposed to marry Countess Celia, continuing the trend of slightly sketchy love stories. Will true love prevail? Clearly, yes. This is Hallmark.
We're now back to our regularly scheduled programming: Christmas movies starring Candace Cameron Bure. This Hallmark movie actually has a plot that is different from basically all of the other ones, as a World War II-era nurse travels forward in time to 2016. The nurse, Hanna Norris, begins to fall for the police officer who finds her in a barn, but his longtime partner Sarah is also in love with him. While Officer Jake tries to convince the townspeople that Hanna isn't a grifter, she learns that she might be able to return home to her husband, who she learns was not killed in the war. Hanna has to make some tough choices as Christmas approaches, and the ending isn't totally obvious just from the synopsis, setting this movie leagues above the rest already.
Movies about bougie sports like ice skating are always fun, and this one goes against all convention when a former figure skating champion, long-retired at the age of twenty-seven, gets a second chance at glory when a young coach decides she's the one skater on Earth who can actually get back into figure skating top-form after years of retirement far past her physical prime. This movie is less about love and more about strong female athletes, which is awesome, and it's still filled with Christmas spirit. It's also, apparently, eerily similar to a queer ice skating anime called Yuri On Ice which Hallmark executives conveniently have never heard of.
In this truly adorable film, a pair of coworkers get to know each other through Secret Santa gifts. Melanie knows she's Donovan's Secret Santa, but Donovan is none the wiser. While Melanie knows exactly who she's falling in love with during their Secret Santa correspondence, she's too afraid to tell Donovan who she really is. When he accidentally assumes a different co-worker is his Secret Santa, Melanie has to work through her insecurity to show Donovan her true identity before he falls for someone else (who he thinks is her). It's like Twelfth Night, but with only two people and moderately less chaos.
In what might be one of the only actually high-quality films on this list, a fledgling writer goes on a writer's retreat where she falls in love with a famous author who is hiding his identity from the group, and from her. The writing and acting are actually good, the characters bicker before falling in love, and there's an evil ex-boyfriend named Garth. This is also based on a book. Full of Christmas-in-Vermont vibes, The Mistletoe Inn is peak holiday magic.
Crown Media United States
This movie is legitimately better than Netflix's A Christmas Switch, and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me. Candace plays twins: one is a school art teacher who loves party planning, the other is a corporate stooge who detests her new assignment to put together the office Christmas party. The estranged sisters step into each other's lives, find a new appreciation for each other, and fall in love with handsome rich men. It's endearing, full of Christmas charm, and surprisingly well-acted. Even though it only came out in 2017, it's become a fast fan-favorite during the Hallmark holiday season.