We Have Made Up the List, So Watch Them All Twice: Top 10 Festive TV Episodes

Wishing for an alternative to the list of traditional Christmas flicks to get you in the winter-mood? Look no further… Here are 10 classic Christmas episodes of your favourite shows to get you in the spirit!

The Simpsons, ‘Miracle on Evergreen Terrace’ (S9, E10)

Easily one of the best adult-themed cartoons of the last 20 years, The Simpsons has a plethora of Christmas episodes to choose from this holiday season. Our personal favourite is season 10’s ‘Miracle on Evergreen Terrace’. The Simpson family are prepped for their most picturesque holiday season yet: the perfect tree, bountiful presents, and a white flurry of snow. Bart wakes up early to open presents and, after a series of unfortunate mishaps, ends up burning the tree and all of the presents to the ground, blaming it on a mystery ‘robber’. A perfect hodgepodge of comedic relief and a sentimental moral, this episode is perfect for those who prefer something short and sweet to get you in the holiday mood.

The West Wing, ‘In Excelsis Deo’ (S1, E10)

A beautiful episode that won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing and which, to this day, is still considered one of the best from The West Wing. Toby is called to identify a dead homeless veteran who happens to be wearing a coat he donated to Goodwill. Affected by such a strange coincidence, Toby sets out to arrange a proper military funeral at Arlington, using the influence of the president’s office. Poignant and touching, this episode embodies the beauty of a selfless act and the spirit of Christmas. It is a tearjerker but it leaves you feeling whole.

Arrested Development, ‘Afternoon Delight’ (S2, E6)

This episode of Arrested Development couldn’t get less festive if it tried. G.O.B., appointed as the new boss of the family company, decides to throw the most uncomfortable Christmas party in the history of Christmas parties, resulting in everyone getting fired. Perhaps the epitome of awkwardness, Michael and his niece Maeby infamously sing ‘Afternoon Delight’ as their karaoke song of choice, not realising the raunchy meaning of the lyrics, and then flee the stage. Drugs, banana suits and the Blue Man Group are just a few of the antics that are the icing on the cake – or, more appropriately, the star on the tree – in this episode.

Veronica Mars, ‘An Echolls Family Christmas’ (S1, E10)

This standalone episode offers a fantastic self-contained mini-mystery within the Christmas setting. After an eventful poker game at Logan’s house, the winnings are stolen and it’s up to our favourite teenage detective to solve the case. This episode has a true noir feel, with the poker game told from multiple perspectives as Veronica uses her perceptive sleuthing skills to deduce the culprit. The whodunit has a gratifying resolution but it all comes crashing down at the Echolls’ Christmas party, leaving us on a tantalising cliffhanger. An excellent piece of TV with some Christmas mixed in.

Friends, ‘The One With The Holiday Armadillo’ (S7, E10)

We promise the episode lives up to the hilarity of its title. Ross has his son Ben for the holidays, and he decides to teach him about Hanukkah. However, he agrees to dress up as Santa. Two days before Christmas, every Santa costume in New York City seems to have mysteriously evaporated and disappeared. Ross has “no choice” but to get an Armadillo costume: Santa’s Texan mate. Santa also makes a cameo, as does Superman (a.k.a Joey). Full of typical Friends-related shenanigans and canned laughter, this is an easy watch to get you in the mood.

The O.C., ‘The Best Chrismukkah Ever’ (S1, E13)

What do you get when you combine Christmas and Hanukkah? Chrismukkah! This festive episode had to make the list simply for Seth’s unwavering positivity and his adorable belief in the miracle of Chrismukkah. Heartwarming and funny, this is an episode packed with drama including Seth’s love triangle, Marissa’s alcoholic tendencies, and Kirsten jeopardising her job. Yet it focuses on the ever pessimistic Ryan experiencing his first joyful holidays with the Cohens, a stark contrast to previous years. It reminds us that, despite Christmas being a crazy, stressful time for most of us, the true miracle is being with the ones you love.

Saturday Night Live, Best of the Christmas Skits

Saturday Night Live’s Christmas-themed sketches are something comedy-lovers look forward to every year. While all of their annual seasonal sketches are giggle-worthy, there are a few that stand out from the crowd. NPR’s ‘Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls’ is number one on our list of favourites, featuring Alec Baldwin playing Pete Schweddy, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon try Pete’s infamous holiday treat ‘Schweddy balls’. Hilarious in the best of ways, this should be a top priority on your YouTube binge this weekend. Also noteworthy is any Drunk Uncle appearance on ‘Weekend Update’. Bobby Moynihan’s portrayal of everyone’s inappropriate, borderline racist uncle is a riot.

Parks and Recreation, ‘Citizen Knope’ (S4, E10)

Leslie Knope is the most thoughtful gift giver. This year she outdoes herself by getting Ron a self-closing door to his office and thus Ron is looking to erase “the enormous emotional debt that has built up of years of this gift giving imbalance”. Blind optimism and merriment are tropes of Knope, but after Leslie is suspended and told to take a break, it’s through the help of her friends that she is reinvigorated to start again. With fun appearances from Jean-Ralphio and Dennis Feinstein, this is a Parks and Rec must-watch!

Downton Abbey, ‘Christmas at Downton Abbey’ (S2, E9)

For all you romantics out there, don’t worry, because we have got something for you too! Downton Abbey’s Christmas special was awe-inspiring and sent us all into a flurry of tears and heart palpitations. Sybil’s pregnancy, Mr Bates in Jail… this episode leaves little to be desired in the likes of drama. However, the real reason to watch this episode is the proposal of all proposals: Matthew down on one knee in the snow in front of the abbey. This episode is sure to inspire a winter romance or two!

Community, ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ (S2, E11)

Community always offers something eccentric and this fantastic Christmas episode is no exception. Filmed entirely in stop-motion animation, Abed wakes up to find himself in a completely animated world and concludes that the only solution is to go on a bizarre journey to ‘Wonderland’ in search of the meaning of Christmas. The study group tag along and a medley of odd and hilarious events ensue including Chang the snowman, ‘The Cave of Frozen Memories’, and a Christmas Pterodactyl. If you are looking for something a little different this Christmas then this is the episode for you.

Image: Laura Spence

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