Cozy, Campy, and Cheesy: The Wonderful World of Christmas Movies

Somehow, it seems like the holiday season gets busier every year — and that’s no different this time around. But despite all the running around and buying of far too many items (and trying not to get so caught up in the hullabaloo that I miss the whole point of it all), I still seem to find time to sit back and enjoy what this season has to offer. One of my favorite ways to do this is to watch Christmas movies — both old favorites and new discoveries.

Because of this, I’ve seen a lot of Christmas movies in my day — enough, you might say, for me to start noticing some patterns. There are three types of Christmas movie, as I see it: old stand-by, cheesy Hallmark-style, and contemporary classic. What follows is my (by no means comprehensive) list of what each type needs in order to be truly great.

Image Credit: TV Tropes

Old Stand-by

  • More elaborate song and dance numbers than is advisable within 90 minutes
  • Ladies who have perfect hourglass figures, impeccably coiffed hair, and pristine makeup at all times (even at bedtime)
  • Bing Crosby
  • Costumes that anyone who has even the slightest interest in clothes will be dying to wear
  • Red lipstick. ALL THE RED LIPSTICK.
  • A suspiciously thin plot
  • The most Santa-y Santa that ever was
  • An unfortunate misunderstanding
  • Sparkles and spangles for days
  • Old-timey slang that makes you go “Say whaaaa?”
  • Pratfalls
Image Credit: Yahoo TV

Cheesy Hallmark-style

  • An uptight businesswoman who visits a tiny town (her hometown or otherwise) to “recapture the Christmas spirit”
  • A struggling town/small business/Christmas tree farm just waiting for someone to rescue it
  • An improbably cute single man who is the proprietor of said establishment
  • Snow that just happens to fall at exactly the right moment
  • Winter clothing that is far too stylish to actually keep our heroine warm
  • An old man dressed as Santa who may or may not actually be Santa (he’s definitely Santa, though)
  • A boss with not an ounce of Christmas spirit or plain old sympathy
  • So many festive sweaters. And flannel. Flannel all around!
  • A romance that happens so quickly it’d make a Disney princess blush
  • Getting a boyfriend or getting proposed to just in time for Christmas
  • The tastiest-looking hot cocoa you could hope to imagine
  • A scene where the protagonists get snowed in together
  • “Wait…is that really [insert name of semi-popular actor whom you haven’t seen in anything for the last five years]??
Image Credit:

Contemporary Classic

  • Compelling yet morally questionable romantic relationships
  • A crotchety old man who comes around in the end
  • Big-name actors (starring in roles that may or may not be a total departure from literally everything else they’ve done)
  • The most jaded adults and most adorable kids you have ever seen in your life
  • Someone being forced to wear an elf costume/sing Christmas carols/otherwise begrudgingly engage in Christmassy activities
  • An old flame and/or unrequited love
  • Christmas traditions that you have definitely never heard of
  • A somewhat blase soundtrack that somehow manages to be charming
  • An abundance of comfy-looking yet stylish sweaters
  • Elements that are somehow already dated (they let that kid just run right through security at the airport?? Inconceivable!)
  • A reminder that, no matter how uptight, jaded, or tired out you are, Christmas will always come through for you

So there you have it, folks! The necessary components of any bona-fide Christmas film. Based on my criteria (and, okay, sure, the images), you can probably tell which movies I’m talking about — but what are your favorites? Would you add anything to my lists? Share the merriment in the comments!

For extra fun: I have to admit, I co-opted a few of my items for the Cheesy Hallmark-style list from Addie Zierman, one of my favorite bloggers, who cooked up a Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo game last year. Check it out here! Be sure to take a gander at her blog as well, as it is utterly fantastic (albeit vastly different from this one!).


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