One of the best things about the festive season is watching all the Christmas movies and television episodes available. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from watching Elf or A Christmas Story again to try something a little shorter.
Most television series have at least one holiday-themed episode so it can be hard to decide which ones to watch. Those short on time and trying to figure out what episodes to fit into a Christmas-watching schedule should check out the best Christmas episodes from some of the best shows of all time.
Updated on December 20th, 2022 by Colin McCormick: While there is endless Christmas content to enjoy this time of year, fans still love returning to their favorite TV shows to enjoy some of their past holiday episodes. From classic sitcoms like Seinfeld to more intense dramas like The West Wing, there are even more Christmas episodes that deliver some festive storytelling in unique ways. So fans of all kinds will have no shortage of options when looking for the best Christmas episodes from great TV shows.
“Christmas Eve” (Season 3, Episode 7)
Despite being ripe for holiday content, Superstore aired its first holiday special during season 3. After overhearing her coworkers call her boring, Amy decides to let loose and have some fun on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, Jonah and Garrett get roped into taking pictures with kids while dealing with their own roommate problems and Glenn tries to make a believer out of Mateo.
“Christmas Eve” is a hilarious episode from start to finish that taps into the holiday spirit every chance it gets. It also has an adorable romantic gesture at the end of the episode.
The West Wing (1999-2006)
“In Excelsis Deo” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Along with featuring Jed Bartlet, one of the greatest fiction presidents around, The West Wing makes great use of its amazing ensemble. The season 1 Christmas episode “In Excelsis Deo” shows this with a variety of stories surrounding the main characters.
From Toby becoming fixated on honoring a homeless veteran to C.J. becoming emotionally involved in a hate crime assault to President Bartlet trying to get some last-minute shopping done, the episode highlights the tragedy that can accompany the celebrations of the season.
Full House (1987-1995)
“Our Very First Christmas Show” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Surprisingly it took the Tanners until season 2 to have an official Christmas-themed episode but it did not disappoint. Danny has spent months planning a trip to Colorado to visit family for the holidays but his plans hit a snag when a blizzard hits part of the United States. The Tanners end up getting stuck at a small airport which leaves Stephanie stressed about Santa finding them.
“Our Very First Christmas Show” is an amazing episode because it has someone for everyone. The drama is heightened since it’s the holidays, the kids get into all sorts of shenanigans, and even romance fans will be thrilled to watch Jesse try to get Becky under the mistletoe.
This Is Us (2016-2022)
“Last Christmas” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Every episode of This Is Us is emotional and full of heart but their first-ever Christmas-themed episode really showed just how emotional the series was about to get. The past timeline follows the Pearsons as they race Kate to the hospital after she comes down with appendicitis. While there they run into Dr. K and help him out for once.
Meanwhile, in the present Kevin gets roped into pretending to be Sloane’s boyfriend at her family’s Hanukkah party, Randall talks a man off of a literal edge at the office work party, and Rebecca and Kate visit her gastric-bypass surgeon. With tons of laughs and tears, this episode is perfect for anyone missing their own dysfunctional family’s Christmas celebrations.
“Regional Holiday Music” (Season 3, Episode 10)
Throughout its run, Community has taken more than a few shots at rival show Glee and this Christmas episode really embraces that apparent disdain. When the bubbly glee club teacher Mr. Radison turns to the study group to put on the annual holiday show, the reluctant members are brainwashed one-by-one into embracing the Christmas spirit.
Community is known for its musical numbers and this episode has some of the best. It has the kind of yuletide fun people would expect as well as a fun sinister underbelly which leads to the hilarious dark revelation about the former glee club.
New Girl (2011-2018)
“Christmas Eve Eve” (Season 6, Episode 10)
New Girl has a handful of iconic Christmas-themed episodes but a fan favorite remains the season 6 episode “Christmas Eve Eve.” Since the gang usually doesn’t spend the holidays together, Jess has organized a secret Santa gift exchange for the day before Christmas Eve, but it’s a struggle to get everyone excited about it. Elsewhere, Winston and Schmidtt are forced to go to the mall for a last-minute gift and Reagan helps Nick give Jess the perfect Christmas.
Nothing is as fun and stressful as a secret Santa and with the residents of the loft, it’s bound to be hilarious which is why this is such a fun episode to watch over the holidays.
Family Matters (1989-1998)
“Christmas Is Where The Heart Is” (Season 5, Episode 11)
Family Matters is one of the most iconic sitcoms from the ’80s and ’90s that everyone should watch at least once in their life. A great episode to start within the season 5 Christmas episode.
“Christmas Is Where The Heart Is” centers on Urkel and Carl who get stuck on a crowded subway car on Christmas Eve. Getting stuck anywhere is rough but it’s exceptionally bad on Christmas Eve. In the hopes of boosting everyone’s spirits, Urkel commands the subway to remind everyone that Christmas can be celebrated anywhere. It’s a great episode to remember that the true spirit of Christmas is being kind to each other.
Hart Of Dixie (2011-2015)
“Blue Christmas” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Hart of Dixie is the perfect show to watch during the holiday season thanks to its heartwarming concept. For fans of cozy TV shows and movies about life in small towns, Hart of Dixie is the perfect series. “Blue Christmas” is one of several Christmas episodes and the best of them.
It follows Zoe as she tries to find a replacement Santa and Lemon and Lavon try to make a perfect gift for Ruby. Plus there is plenty of Christmas lights and decorations to add to the overall theme.
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
“Forgiveness and Stuff” (Season 1, Episode 10)
The season one episode of Gilmore Girls gave fans their first Christmas episode of the long-running television series about fast-talking Stars Hollow inhabitants. “Forgiveness and Stuff” was an important episode for the first season of Gilmore Girls.
It gave fans some fantastic Luke and Lorelai moments and even some touching moments between Lorelai and her estranged parents after Richard ends up in the hospital. Plus, this is the episode that gives fans Emily’s infamous line about demanding she go first in a touching scene between husband and wife.
30 Rock (2006-2013)
“Ludachristmas (Season 2, Episode 9)
Among the shows about making TV shows, 30 Rock is one of the wildest, so it is guaranteed there is going to be plenty of fun when they embrace the tradition of the holiday episode. “Ludachristmas” marks the first Christmas episode for the series and it remains its best.
After being stuck with his judgemental mother for the holidays, Jack turns to Liz’s more nurturing family. Meanwhile, Kenneth tries to teach everyone the true meaning of Christmas that goes predictably awry. It is a hilarious ride with these wacky characters while featuring some surprisingly touching moments.
“The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)
Friends always excelled with its holiday-themed episodes. There’s a reason that lists ranking the sitcom’s best Thanksgiving episodes makes the rounds every year. However, the show also has several great Christmas episodes too and even some great holiday episodes that aren’t about Christmas.
The season seven episode “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” features Ross tries to give his son a taste of the Chanukah spirit with a Santa Claus costume, only for things to not go quite as planned. There are some hilarious moments as this kind gesture gradually spins out into absurdity.
The O.C. (2003-2007)
“The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (Season 1, Episode 13)
Sometimes people forget how beloved the early seasons of Fox’s teen drama, The O.C. truly were in the beginning. The series gave fans Chrismukkah and for that, they will always be thankful. Seth tries to consolidate the greatness of Hanukkah with the merriment of Christmas to create the ultimate holiday celebration.
Chrismukkah is still discussed in pop culture, even all these years after the original episode debuted. Chrismukkah was revisited on the series more than once after the initial episode proved to be popular.
The Office (2005-2013)
“Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)
“Christmas Party” is one of several fantastic Christmas-themed episodes of the beloved NBC sitcom The Office. The episode involves Michael Scott doing something inappropriate yet again when he purchases an iPod in the hopes he can impress Ryan.
Since the gift is given during a swap game, everyone begins to fight over the item and argue over the fact Michael bought it, to begin with. Fans of Jim and Pam also got some great scenes too when Jim struggled to figure out what to get Pam as a gift.
Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
“Christmas at Downton Abbey” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Downton Abbey is an extremely popular series, to the point the show got its own film on the big-screen just this past year. The Christmas episode became an instant classic.
The show features a proposal in the snow and an elegant Christmas party with plenty of drama to boot. Christmas episodes are often packed with drama amidst the celebration and Downton Abbey‘s season two special is no different. There’s even a surprise pregnancy announcement, which is a classic move for holiday-themed specials.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005-)
“A Very Sunny Christmas” (Season 6, Episode 13)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans got to watch the gang contend with the holidays in this hilarious special episode of the long-running FXX series. The episode follows the gang at the mall as they get into tons of mischief and trouble.
One of the best scenes occurs when Charlie gets to meet the mall Santa and accuses him of sleeping with his mother before attacking him. The gang then has to escape while fighting off children, elves, and Santa himself.
“The Strike” (Season 9, Episode 10)
Though Seinfeld has never been a show to get too into the holiday episodes, the final season memorably attempted the tradition in their own way. After Christmas nears, it is revealed that George’s father invented his own holiday called Festivus which he has decided to bring back.
Some of the funniest Seinfeld quotes come from Frank Constanza and he gets much of the spotlight in this episode. The traditions of Festivus are obviously outrageous and decidedly unpleasant, but it has inspired many fans to taker up celebrating the holiday themselves.
Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
“Arnold’s Christmas” (Season 1, Episode 20)
Hey Arnold! was an exceptional animated comedy that aired on Nickelodeon in the late 1990s until the early 2000s. The show was notable for its thought-provoking and sometimes mature episodes. It was intelligently written and had a great many adult fans along with child ones.
The episode “Arnold’s Christmas” was an extremely touching holiday special about a boarder at Arnold’s home who desperately wants to see his daughter again. Arnold goes above and beyond to reunite Mr. Hyunh with Mai, with a little help from Helga.
Black Mirror (2011-)
“White Christmas” (Season 2, Episode 4)
This is one of the darkest selections on this list but “White Christmas” is a terrific episode of Black Mirror. Jon Hamm stars in the holiday special of the Netflix Original series. He plays a cruel and ruthless businessman who finds a way to capture the consciousness of people and preserve them inside of technology to be used as consumers see fit.
It’s a concept that fans would see recreated numerous times on the series after its original introduction. “White Christmas” is definitely for people who enjoy A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The Simpsons (1989-)
“Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire” (Season 1, Episode 1)
With its historic run on television, The Simpsons have delivers many Christmas episodes over the years, but it is hard to beat the one that started it all. The very first episode of the show finds the family in a financially constrained situation before Christmas leading Homer to take a job as a mall Santa Claus.
There are many ways The Simpsons changed since season 1, but there is still a lot of big laughs and fun in this episode. It all builds to a surprisingly sweet conclusion that helps kick off the show in a memorable way.
“The Constant” (Season 4, Episode 5)
“The Constant” is not exactly a typical merry Christmas-themed episode, but it is one of the best of the entire series of Lost. It features a desperate Desmond Hume trying to contact Penny, a.k.a the love of his life.
Most people couldn’t help but dissolve into tears after watching this heart-wrenching hour of television in which Desmond and Penny finally manage to reconnect after years apart. Their phone call to each other is one of the best scenes of the entire show and particularly devastating to watch.