Christmas Movies 101: What Are They & How Do You Watch Them?

Christmas Movies 101: What Are They & How Do You Watch Them?

by Esme Addison

What is a Christmas Movie?

For all intents and purposes, I’m referring to Christmas romcoms. Holiday romances.

They are 2-hour made-for-television movie that follows a 9-act structure. Each movie is romance set against the Christmas season. There is no profanity or violence. One or two kisses are the extent of the romance, but there may be alcohol drinking. I would give Christmas movies a G-rating.

However, not all Christmas movies are created equal. They are not the same! If you search for Christmas movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime, all sorts of movies set around Christmas will pop up. Heists at Christmas. Kidnapping at Christmas. Raunchy comedies at Christmas… you have to specifically look for the Christmas movies that set the bar for clean, contemporary, wholesome Christmas movies with a sweet romance heat level.

These movies are traditionally produced for the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Channel, Great American Channel and Up. Netflix has thrown their hat into the Christmas movie arena, however, their movies are a little more edgy. Depending on your disposition, you may prefer the Netflix Christmas romances that have been produced recently. (Their older movies were more inline with Hallmark and Lifetime). Here are a few of our Netflix movie reccs.

Each channel has their own spin on the similar genre. This is just my take, but with Hallmark being the baseline, I think Lifetime Christmas movies are a little punchier and fast paced. There movies have been culturally diverse for awhile and you can find a lot of racially diverse romance duos going several years back. Up is a little slower pace and GAC is somewhere between Hallmark and GAC.

What’s Up With Those Titles?

Christmas movies are titled so that the plot is easily understood at one glance. For example, if the movie is set in a pet grooming business, it will be named something like Bark If You Love Christmas. ( I made that up, I think.) If it deals with a chef, it might be called Cooking Up Christmas. You get it, right?

So, all you have to do is find those key words that appeal to you when you’re reviewing channel Christmas movie schedules. The second way to find Christmas movie that may appeal to you, is to simply find the actor and actress you want to watch. The longer you watch these movies, the more likely it is you’ll have favorite actors and actresses. You may even start watching all the movies starring one particular actor. It can happen! I have my favorites too.

What Are Christmas Movies About, Really?

Lastly, read the three or four sentence plot synopsis to see if the concept sounds enjoyable or mildly interesting. Be aware that cliches and tropes abound, but that’s one of the elements that Christmas movie fans like. The familiarity. There are several that are reworked in various ways: Small town girl leaves home, makes it big or not in the big city, comes home for some reason – to a Christmas farm, family toy shop, candy cane store, coffee shop, et cetera et cetera. And she meets her high school sweet heart/the one who got away or it could be a new guy who loves or hates Christmas. He might be a veteran if it’s a military themed Christmas movies or maybe he’s the real estate developer that wants to tear down her family Christmas tree farm, and through conflict they find love.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that movie across channels, and with different actors and actresses. And it’s always enjoyable. Ultimately, a Christmas movie is about finding love. And along the way, the characters will resolve family problems, change careers, find forgiveness and sometimes discover the true magic of Christmas.

There’s also a little bias! In the world of seasonal romcoms, small towns always trump big cities. It’s frowned upon to stay in a “good” well-paying job you hate when you can do what you love! Even if it’s irrational and probably wouldn’t make money in the real world. That’s the fun of these movies. They’re aspirational. You can watch characters open up stationary shops and artisanal meaderies that are successful and they find love. Win. Win.

But Aren’t They Cheesy?

Some might say this is the ultimate cheesiness. Well, good thing I love cheese.

Because it’s a thing. A cozy warm happy thing. And if you’re new to it it can seem odd. Especially if you’ve been watching a lot of dark mature tv shows and movies on Amazon and Netflix. Music is light, colors are bright and the biggest problem in the movie is going to be something like… there’s a fire in the bakery and all the cupcakes meant for the Christmas festival are destroyed – what to do! Before long you’ll be singing Christmas songs and have a hankering for sugar cookies.

It might seem like this is not enough action and conflict for a movie. But once you get into the rhythm and pace of the movies, it’s just fine. Lean into the high vibration, positive, happy vibes of the movies! These moves are opportunities to be happy, relaxed and think about fun Christmases past. Or times with family. Or imagine new Christmas memories you want to share. It’s a reason to cuddle under a warm blanket on the couch with your sweetie and drink hot chocolate and cookies. It’s good for the soul. Good for your inner child.

Or it can be a family thing. I watch these with my mom and dad. It’s one of the few things that doesn’t have bad stuff, inappropriate stuff in it that I can watch with my parents without feeling awkward.

Are Christmas Movies Family-friendly?

These are not movies for children. I don’t mean children can’t watch them but it’s about a romance between two adults. Sometimes my kids do watch them with me. And if there’s a child or teenaged character featured in the storyline, that can interest the kiddos. Or if there’s Christmas Magic, or Santas or elves or if they go to the North Pole, they might be interested. But if it’s about two adults trying to find love while making wine at their family vineyard, they’ll just get bored. Read the plot and see if it sounds like something your children might want to see

But great thing about these movies, is that you can put it on in the background and not have to worry about your kids seeing anything offensive.

I prefer to use an app to watch movies, like Hallmark Now, so I can watch on demand and not see commercials. But going straight to the channel works too – especially if you want to see new movies as they premier. Go to the channel website, click on schedule and learn about the upcoming movies. (I’ve provided links to schedules and previews in the image above.)

Decide on the ones you want to see then let your movie pal watching buddy know it’s a Christmas movie night. Make it a cozy Christmas event. Light Christmas-scented candles, make cookies for a snack, serve Christmas-themed coffee drinks, wear holiday socks, ugly sweaters, fuzzy pants – and why not bring some wine or boozy eggnog too.

And then… Enjoy.

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