‘Tis the season for Lifetime to roll out a new batch of Christmas movies; if they keep making them, we’ll keep ranking them.
While Netflix has come in strong on the Christmas movie game, Lifetime is still the OG, and this year they are stuffing your Christmas stocking with fourteen new holiday movies. Classics like Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever are making way for more young women to find the “true meaning of Christmas” while trying to save their bakery or town or inn from closing, and more busy executives to give up their careers after hooking up with their high-school crush under the mistletoe. This year, there are performances by Lifetime favorites like Melissa Joan Hart, Toni Braxton, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Tatyana Ali, as well as a reunion of the One Tree Hill cast.
Spike your eggnog, prop your feet up, and watch someone find new love under the mistletoe (or a little boy set up his mom with Santa, or a busy executive remember the true meaning of Christmas). Here’s our ranking of 58 of Lifetime’s finest Christmas movies.
Wish Upon a Christmas (2015)
Amelia is an efficient corporate shark who is tasked with whipping a failing Christmas ornament factory into shape. She’s happy to return to her hometown and see her dad (played by the late Alan Thicke), but her job gets complicated when she discovers her high school sweetheart runs the company. (Guess she’s not on Facebook?) Can you guess whether she will lay off all the workers at the ornament factory or find the true meaning of Christmas and love instead?
Deck the Halls (2005)
Lifetime managed to fit both its single-mom trope and Christmasy-named characters into this patently silly riff on Miracle on 34th Street. Holly (Gabrielle Carteris) returns to her hometown with eight-year-old son Ben to work for her father’s toy business. When Ben meets their new next-door neighbor, Nick (Steve Bacic), he becomes convinced Nick is actually Santa Claus. He does his best to set up his mom with Santa so they can live happily ever after in the North Pole.
Comfort and Joy (2003)
This film has pretty much the same plot as A Snow Globe Christmas (which ranked higher). Jane, a workaholic advertising executive played by Nancy McKeon, wakes up to find herself a happily married stay-at-home mom to two kids. While it’s nice that Lifetime is tackling the working woman vs. stay-at-home mother question that many women face, they don’t seem to realize that you can actually work and have children at the same time.
A Very Nutty Christmas (2018)
In case you were concerned that Melissa Joan Hart wasn’t getting enough Christmas-related TV roles, here she plays hard-working bakery owner Kate Holiday (drink for a Christmas name!). While Kate is knee-deep in Christmas cookie orders, she gets unceremoniously dumped by her jerk boyfriend days before Christmas. Thanks to a magic ornament and/or stress-induced psychosis, she awakes to find a handsome soldier in her living room. Turns out that Chip (Lifetime regular Barry Watson) may or may not be the Nutcracker Prince from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, which is reassuring enough that Kate considers falling in love or at least not calling the cops on him.
Becoming Santa (2015)
Lifetime remixed one of its own for this film, which is a genders-reversed version of the 2013 movie Merry In-Laws. The film features a soon-to-be married couple, one of whom happens to be the lone offspring of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. This time, it’s the daughter—and whoever marries her must be prepared to step into her father’s shoes. That’s right, he has to become Santa Claus. As with its predecessor, the best part of the movie is that it features a mini-reunion of a beloved sitcom cast. This time, Family Ties stars Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross play the Clauses.
Christmas Around the Corner (2018)
This time Claire (American Horror Story’s Alexandra Breckenridge) is the savvy venture capitalist from New York City who heads to an idyllic town in Vermont for the holidays. She quickly falls in love with the quaint Fortenbury Bookstore, but hates the owner, Andrew (Jamie Spilchuk), who mansplains over her ideas to save the store. Of course, in the Lifetime universe, it’s a slippery slope from burning hatred to making heart-eye emojis at each other. Soon enough Claire and Andrew start to fall for each other, until Claire finds out Andrew wants to sell the bookstore. How dare he sell his own business? Luckily, the spirit of Christmas just might change his mind, especially if Claire gives up her Wall Street career and moves to Vermont!
A Twist of Christmas (2018)
Why have just one single parent who discovers the true meaning of Christmas when you can have two single parents find the true meaning of Christmas together? Busy working mom Abby (Vanessa Lachey) and single dad lawyer Ryan (Brendon Zub) hate each other pretty much on sight, which is the surest recipe for love in the Lifetime Christmas kitchen. When a fateful mix-up at a toy store is poised to ruin Christmas for both families, they can’t help but team up to save Christmas—not realizing they’re falling for each other in the process.
Christmas Lost and Found (2018)
New York City event planner Whitney Kennison (The Good Place’s Tiya Sircar) goes on a literal guilt trip to Chicago to spend Christmas with her Grandma Frances (Diane Ladd). To reward her, Frances decides to give her granddaughter the family ornaments (not a euphemism), but Whitney accidentally throws the box away. Instead of never talking to her again, Grandma Frances devises a Christmas scavenger hunt to remind Whitney about the true meaning of Christmas—and if she happens to find love along the way and move to Chicago and give up her job, even better.
Love at the Christmas Table (2012)
Sam and Kat met at the children’s table one Christmas, kick-starting a lifelong friendship that just might turn into romance. The film earns points for sheer quantity of festivities, with the action unfolding over the course of more than a dozen Christmas Eve parties. As for casting highlights, this film includes Gilmore Girls‘ Luke (Scott Patterson) and not one, but two Dancing With the Stars contestants—Back to the Future‘s Lea Thompson and Danica McKellar.
Christmas in Paradise (2007)
We found it—the only Lifetime Christmas movie that takes place on a cruise ship. Two families, led by Colin Ferguson (Eureka) and Charlotte Ross (NYPD Blue), want to escape the ghosts of their Christmases past, so they hop on a giant boat to Puerto Rico to spend their holidays in the sun. The two families bond, but it’s complicated, especially when his ex-wife shows up.
The Christmas Gift (2015)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gossip Girl‘s Michelle Trachtenberg plays a reporter seeking the boy who sent her a memorable Secret Santa gift when they were kids. With the blessing of her editor, she uses all her journalistic skills (e.g., wearing a cocktail dress) to track him down so she can thank him in person for the gift. Then, in a very unprofessional—yet not particularly surprising—move, she falls in love with him. If you want to feel extra good about this movie, it was based on a real-life heartwarming story.
The Real St. Nick (2012)
This film, set in a psychiatric hospital, clearly owes a debt to Miracle on 34th Street. Kate, a psychiatrist, is rescued by a mysterious man named Nick Claus. She brings him to her hospital, where he sets about filling the patients with Christmas spirit, infuriating the Scrooge-like hospital administrator, and, of course, winning Kate’s heart.
Santa’s Boots (2018)
It’s easy to imagine this as a Christmas-themed retelling of Kinky Boots, since it involves a family business on the brink of demise, but instead of turning to the world of erotic footwear, the business looks to Santa Claus for a miracle. In the movie, Megan Hilty (better known as Glinda the Good Witch from Wicked) plays Holly (drink for a Christmas name!) who is filling in as a Santa’s Helper at her parents’ struggling department store when she commits the ultimate no-no—she falls for her Santa. Then, jolly old Nick turns into the ghost of boyfriends past and disappears, leaving only a boot behind as a clue. Apparently unaware of ghosting as a modern dating phenomenon, Holly goes on the hunt for him, random boot in hand, turning this from Kinky Boots to Cinderella.
A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride (2008)
The title of this one doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’ll slot right into your comfort viewing schedule. Starring JoAnna Garcia as Roxanne, a wedding planner who sees red flags when her mom gets engaged to a man she hasn’t known for very long, it’s really two love stories for the price of one. 90210 and Riverdale fans will be excited to see Luke Perry pop up here, as Roxanne’s confusingly hot potential new brother-in-law, but honestly, there’s not enough of him in the movie (and that’s why it didn’t rank higher).
Hometown Christmas (2018)
Not to be confused with Christmas in the Bayou or The Christmas Contract, in this movie, Beverley Mitchell plays Noelle (drink for a Christmas name!) who returns to Louisiana for Christmas with big plans to resurrect her late mom’s favorite Christmas tradition—the town’s live nativity. She would also like to avoid her ex, Nick (One Tree Hill’s Stephen Colletti), while she’s in town, but what kind of Lifetime movie would it be if she didn’t run into him? The former high school sweethearts are forced to hang out because their parents are hanging out, too, and this just might turn into an episode of Dr. Phil, where a mom and her guy get married, while the step-kids are dating each other. Keep an eye out for Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert!
Christmas in the City (2013)
Wendy (Ashley Williams) is a single mom who is going to lose her candy shop if she doesn’t raise some fast cash. Instead of turning to Kickstarter, she takes a job in the toy section of a big-city department store at Christmas. While the owner’s son takes a shine to her, she must face off against Teanna, a tough-as-nails marketer played by Ashanti. Will Wendy find love and the riches she needs? Well, it is Christmas on Lifetime.
Last Chance for Christmas (2015)
Hilarie Burton got into Christmas movies on a dare from Paul Rudd, and she has turned that one-off into a career with roles in Christmas on the Bayou, Naughty or Nice, and many more. In this go-round she plays a spunky Alaskan reindeer trainer charged with finding a substitute for Prancer when he injures his hoof. Her character, Annie, is a single mother (of course) who isn’t sure she wants her daughter’s pet reindeer to go to the North Pole. It’s up to Santa’s hunky stablehand to convince her otherwise.
A Gift Wrapped Christmas (2015)
Gwen (Meredith Hagner) is a personal shopper with a new client—Charlie (Travis Milne), a workaholic single dad. If you think they might fall in love by the end of the movie, then you have finally watched enough Lifetime movies to know what you’re in for. Gwen has no understanding of boundaries, and when she meets Charlie’s adorable son, she decides to make it her Christmas mission to bring a little cheer to the family. She not only gets them in the festive spirit, but she also realizes that all she wants for Christmas is them.
Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (2005)
If you have ever wanted to see Christine Baranski reveal her up-to-the-minute tech skills by revealing that she’s “just bought a book on Amazon dot com,” then you’re in luck. Baranski plays Lee, who arrives on her restaurant-critic daughter JJ’s doorstep after losing her job. Perennial hottie Bobby Cannavale stars as a chef JJ asks to help manage her OTT mom and, voilà! Christmas magic happens.
Christmas Pen Pals (2018)
Sarah Drew may not be on Grey’s Anatomy anymore, but she already has a new line on her resumé—playing Hannah, a tech genius/dating-app creator who is, funnily enough, bad at love. After getting dumped, she heads home for the holidays, where she runs into her high school boyfriend, as you do in Lifetime movies. Meanwhile, her dad (played by Michael Gross) convinces her to sign up for the anonymous holiday pen pal service (is that a thing?) where the writers’ identities will be revealed on Christmas Eve. If you’ve ever seen You’ve Got Mail you can probably guess where this is going.
Twelve Trees of Christmas (2013)
This movie stars a Spice Girl, so it’s mandatory viewing. Cheri (Lindy Booth) plays a librarian desperate to save her local branch from an evil yet handsome real-estate developer, Tony (Robin Dunne). To raise funds to save the library, she throws a tree-decorating contest and Tony enters with the help of his decorator—Mel B, aka Scary Spice. Will Mel B “Let Love Lead the Way” for Cheri and Tony, or does she “Wannabe” his “Love Thing”?
The Christmas Pact (2018)
Not to be confused with The Christmas Contract,this film asks the eternal question: Can best friends fall in love? As anyone who binge-watches Lifetime movies can tell you, the resounding answer is yes! Still, next door neighbors Sadie (Kyla Pratt) and Ben (Jarod Joseph) have to stumble on that realization for themselves. They must decide whether to keep the pact they made over a Christmas tree when they were eight years old or make like Fleetwood Mac and go their own ways. Life may have interfered with their friendship, but it’s nothing that a little Christmas magic can’t cure. Brace yourself for tree metaphors! And A Different World’s Jasmine Guy as a mom!
Holiday Spin (2012)
Opening with a car accident that leaves a young boy motherless, Holiday Spin is designed to be a real tearjerker. The boy, Blake, is forced to go live with his dad, Ruben, played by Ralph Macchio, aka the Karate Kid himself, who is barely keeping his dance studio afloat. The only hope for the studio’s survival is the star dancer (and Ruben’s soon-to-be stepdaughter), Pia, winning big at the annual dance called, you guessed it, the Holiday Spin. When Pia’s partner bails on the competition, guess who has to step in? This movie has everything you could want in a Lifetime flick, including holiday magic, Baywatch‘s Erika Eleniak, and some slightly creepy stepbrother/stepsister crush action.