Hallmark Christmas Movies: A Complete Guide

Hallmark Christmas Movies: They are easy to love and easy to hate. I fall into that first category. Surprising, I know.

For me, the holiday season truly begins when Hallmark starts playing their Christmas movies on a continuous loop for two months straight. When I get home from work, a Christmas movie is on. When I wake up randomly at 3:30 AM and can’t fall back asleep, a Christmas movie is on. It’s glorious.

I even leave it turned to the channel for the dogs when I’m gone. They’ve never admitted it, but I think they secretly enjoy it too.

So what’s the allure, anyway? What makes them simply irresistible (to some of us)? It’s not like anybody watches Hallmark Christmas Movies [HCMs] to be surprised. We don’t settle down with our popcorn and wine and think, “Gee, I wonder how THIS one is going to end?”

I’ll be the first to admit they flirt with that line between this could happen and not in a million years. Afterall, I’ve probably watched most at least once (some many, many times) and am a self-proclaimed expert.

But for those of you who are not, for those who are an HCM virgin, I’m going to give you the complete guide to (nearly) every Hallmark Christmas Movie:

5-minute marker:

  • We’re either in New York City or some super-small, adorably named town like “Santa Claus”, “Hollyvale”, or “Fool’s Gold.”
  • Meet the main character. She has shiny hair and very straight teeth. There’s a 75% chance she’s being played by Lacey Chabert or Candace Cameron Bure. 
  • We’ve also identified the jerk boyfriend/fiance. Or the hurdle our young heroine has to overcome. (Joblessness, singleness, indecisiveness, etc.)
  • Oh, she’s a third-grade school teacher and living in a McMansion? Seems totally believable.

15-minute marker:

  • We’ve identified which knight in shining armor is going to sweep her off her feet and help her along the way, even though the lady doth protest.
  • He might secretly be a prince because it seems like a lot of royalty from countries that don’t exist spend a good amount of time in the States around Christmas and end up marrying “the American.” (They aren’t hanging around my neck of the woods, I can tell you that much. Bah Humbug.)
  • We’re also meeting the other characters in the story…usually faces we’ve seen in lesser roles over the past few years…and ones we will probably see starring in their own movie next year. I sort of imagine all of the Hallmark actors and actresses living in a giant Santa Claus bag, just waiting to be plucked at random each year and thrown together.
  • Sometimes Hallmark has managed to snag an “A-list” celebrity in which case they would have been reminding us 15 times a day since July. They get really excited about it. Even if that celebrity is Mariah Carey looking unrecognizable in size-appropriate clothing.
  • Hi, Folgers. Your not-so-subtle promos have been noticed. I get it. You are a sponsor. But your slogan isn’t “The best part of waking up is Folgers in the shot” and frankly, it’s ruining the mood.

60-minute marker:

  • Now we’ve seen some bickering. Some veiled flirting. Some grudging acceptance of the inevitable.
  • You’ll have noticed that our main characters are always dressed to the nines. And wearing stilettos. Because nothing is more believable or relatable than women wearing five-inch heels to walk their dogs or put up Christmas decorations or navigate the cold, snowy sidewalks.

75-minute marker:

  • Adorable snowball fights.
  • Maybe a carriage ride.
  • Definitely some will-they-won’t-they moments under gigantic balls of mistletoe. Ah, love. It’s only been 24 hours but I think we are soulmates.

95-minute marker:

  • A (wrongly) perceived betrayal!
  • A misunderstood conversation!
  • The return of the ex-girlfriend! THIS WAS ALL JUST A GAME TO YOU, WASN’T IT?! It’s basically the G-rated version of every Bachelor episode.

105-minute marker:

  • Tears. Resignation.
  • Lousy pep talks from best friends.
  • Mournful music in the background, probably Wham’s “Last Christmas” or anything by the Carpenters performed by a lousy cover band. I can do this on my own. I am the captain of my own happiness. I will gaze upon my Christmas tree in sadness with attractive tears glistening in my eyes.

115-minute marker:

  • A declaration.
  • A grand gesture.
  • The misunderstanding is cleared up. He DOES love me! I DO love him! I got the job and made the decision and won the cookie contest and so on and so forth. It’s snowing!

120-minute marker:

  • Music swells in the background.
  • A final kiss under the mistletoe.
  • A lot of movie set extras look on awkwardly clapping and cheering because that’s what they’re getting paid to do.
  • Final credits. Happy sighs. A preview of the next movie. Rinse and Repeat.

Happy sighs indeed.

So why do we continue watching them?

We watch them because they’re beautifully predictable.
We watch them because they’re warm and comforting.
We watch them because sometimes the real world is sad and we need a happy ending.

Watching a Hallmark Christmas Movie is like being in one of those giant ball pits. But instead of plastic balls, it’s filled with super soft clouds of pine-scented cotton and you just sink into its Christmasy happiness for two blissful hours before re-emerging with a joyful heart and contented soul.

And we don’t care HOW cheesy it is because cheese is good and goes really well with that wine we’re drinking, thank you very much.

So are you an HCM Lover or Hater? Do you tune in every night or steer clear? There’s no wrong answer.

Just kidding. There is.


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