‘Tis the season to binge-watch every remotely holiday-themed episode of TV while you hastily wrap gifts at the last minute. Grab a mug of spiked cocoa and some extra tape, because you’re about to be set, thanks to this list of the best holiday TV episodes you can stream now on Netflix and Hulu.
The Office, “Christmas Party” (Netflix)
There are many Christmas episodes of The Office (the U.S. version), but this is the quintessential one. Season two’s Christmas Party episode features some crucial lore pertaining to the will-they-or-won’t-they Pam and Jim dynamic, but it also showcases some of the best character-developing moments with folks like Phyllis, Dwight, and Angela. Michael is at peak Michael in this one, reminding us all not to break the budget rule of your office’s gift exchange or else everyone will hate you. Get ready for some Yankee Swap!
(Image credit: Warner Bros)
Gilmore Girls, “The Bracebridge Dinner” (Netflix)
Gilmore Girls didn’t really *do* Christmas episodes, but this winter-specific one will get you there, thanks to a snow storm that leads to a dinner party at the inn, attended by all of Star Hallow’s best townies. Plus, there’s snowmen (and women), horse-drawn carriages, and romantic tension between Rory Gilmore and Jess Mariano. What more could you possibly need?
Parks And Recreation, “Citizen Knope” (Netflix)
In this season four episode, Leslie gives all of her coworkers perfect gifts as usual, including a custom-designed leopard print robe for Donna and a painted portrait of April murdering members of the Black Eyed Peas. Sadly, Leslie is also suspended from work. To cheer her up (and to make up for the emotional debt built by years of gift-giving imbalance), the gang builds her a replica of the Parks Department out of gingerbread. Watch it just to see the marshmallow version of Ron Swanson, complete with a fudge mustache.
30 Rock, “Christmas Special” (Hulu)
In this season three episode, Jack makes the whole writers room stay late to work on a live Christmas Eve special, just so he doesn’t have to spend time at home with his mother. Liz goes overboard shopping for an underprivileged family and maybe ruins Christmas for two adorable little boys. Any episode with Jack’s mom, Colleen (expertly played by Elaine Stritch), is a delight and this one ends on a uncharacteristically sentimental note.
The West Wing: “In Excelsis Deo” (Netflix)
A lot of bad things happen in this season one Christmas episode, from a serious discussion of hate crimes in America to a homeless Vietnam vet freezing to death on a D.C. park bench. Plus, you find out the backstory of Mrs. Landingham’s family, and learn why the holidays bum her out. But on the lighter side, Donna really wants some skis for Christmas and the President just wants to shop for some rare books in peace without the press buzzing around. Presidents, they’re just like us! It’s a mixed bag, but overall, an emotional holiday tribute.
The Office [U.K.] Christmas special, parts 1 and 2 (Netflix)
You know how there was the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, but also the super tragic Hans Christian Andersen *original* version? Here’s the HCA-esque original, to NBC’s lighter American remake. The emotional payoff of this two-part Christmas special is best granted after watching the entirety of the previous 12 episodes, but nobody’s got time for that when there’s so much holiday TV to watch. That said, this squirm-inducing Christmas special is still amazing as a standalone, thanks to its final 10 minutes.
Keep the holiday spirit going with these honorable mentions:
- Frasier, “Merry Christmas Mrs. Moskowitz” (Netflix)
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II” (Hulu)
- Difficult People, “Difficult Christmas” (Hulu)
- Seinfeld, “The Strike” (Hulu)
- My So-Called Life, “So-Called Angels” (Hulu)
- Friends, “The One With The Holiday Armadillo” (Netflix)
- BoJack Horseman Christmas Special, “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish” (Netflix)
- The OC, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (Hulu)