Once Thanksgiving is over and December officially begins, many of the channels on everyone’s televisions change almost instantly, bringing in a storm of Christmas specials. In addition to the movies, it’s out with the regular television programming and in with the holiday television episodes. As many college students enter finals week and look for ways to procrastinate studying, there are so many incredible television episodes to choose from.
So, grab a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and a candy cane and get ready for some of the best holiday episodes that television (including Netflix and Hulu) has to offer.
1. “The Office,” “Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Although there are many Christmas episodes that aired during the nine-season run of the U.S. version of “The Office,” the second season episode “Christmas Party” is arguably the best of them all.
The central point of the episode is the office’s gift exchange in which Jim gets Pam as his Secret Santa and puts together the most thoughtfully crafted gift ever, tailoring it specifically to Pam. Jim took everything he knew about the girl that he loved, who just so happened to still be engaged to Roy at the time, and fills a blue teapot with some of their inside jokes.
Of course, being an episode of “The Office,” things go awry when Michael doesn’t like the gift he receives from Phyllis and turns the Secret Santa exchange into a “Yankee Swap,” leaving Pam with an iPod and Dwight with her teapot. Eventually, Pam ends up trading for the teapot, opening it at the end of the episode, revealing a high school picture of Jim, a cassette, two hot sauce packets, a Boggle timer and a pencil from mini golf. However, when Pam turns away after opening the teapot, Jim takes away a note revealing his true feelings, which he ends up giving back to Pam during the final season.
While this episode had all the humor that kept fans loving and laughing at “The Office” for eight years, it is Jim and Pam’s storyline that makes this one of the best Christmas episodes the show produced. This is the episode when many, myself included, realized just how thoughtful Jim was, even given Pam’s situation at the time with Roy. I mean what kind of a guy puts that much thought into a gift that’s being given to an engaged woman?
Jim and Pam’s storyline mixed with the hilarity of an office Christmas party spiraled out of control, with the help of Michael of course, is what makes this one of the best Christmas episodes of “The Office” to watch this holiday season.
2. “Friends,” “The One With The Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)
It’s almost impossible to create a list of holiday episodes without including the seventh season of “Friends” episode with the “Holiday Armadillo.” After being raised celebrating Christmas, Ben comes to spend the holidays with Ross, who intends to teach him all about Hanukkah.
Although Ross tries to teach his son all about Hanukkah traditions and how much fun they are, Ben only sees it as some sort of punishment not having Santa Claus visit that year. So, what makes almost everything more interesting for kids? Costumes. Unfortunately, by the time Ross gets to the costume store, there’s only an armadillo costume left, thus the “Holiday Armadillo” is born. While Ross is telling Ben the story of Hanukkah, Chandler dressed as Santa Claus steals his thunder, taking all of Ben’s attention.
In a world of television where Christmas episodes are ever-present, it’s always nice to stumble upon one that commemorates Hanukkah. This is an episode for those who grew up Jewish in a world filled with an abundance of Christmas decorations and not too many Hanukkah ones. For many, the explanation of Hanukkah was a welcome change, and the hilarious concept of the “Holiday Armadillo” didn’t hurt either.
3. “Parks and Recreation,” “Ron and Diane” (Season 5, Episode 9)
Another fan-favorite television show, “Parks and Recreation” has never disappointed its viewers with one of its many holiday episodes. After finding out that Ron has been nominated for an award by the Indiana Fine Woodworking Association, Leslie decides to attend the reception with him and Diane, not taking no for an answer. Unfortunately, Tammy 2 also shows up at the reception, so Leslie spends the night keeping Ron’s crazy ex-wife away from him and Diane, though Diane admits that it is Leslie she’s worried about ruining her relationship with Ron.
While all of this is happening, Donna, Tom, April and Andy go out to their annual “Jerry Dinner,” using the money they put in a jar every time Jerry did something stupid or embarrassing throughout the year to pay for it. They decide, after some shaming from Ann, to actually invite Jerry to the dinner only to find that he is having an incredible Christmas party that they were (seemingly) not invited to. Jerry, thrilled that everyone actually showed up this year, invites the gang into one of the most elaborate and incredible Christmas parties they’d ever seen.
Fans love this Christmas episode for many reasons. The first deals with the Ron and Diane storyline, who happens to be one of the most underrated couples of the entire series. Every time Tammy 2 gets involved the show gets funnier and crazier, with this one being no exception. Leslie’s move to abduct Tammy 2, ensuring there’s no way of her ruining Ron’s night, proves to Diane that he has no plans of getting in between hers and Ron’s relationship. If that hadn’t solidified Leslie wanting Ron and Diane’s relationship to work out, then finding her locked in Tammy 2’s trunk the next day definitely did.
This episode also teaches an important lesson when it comes to the rest of the “Parks and Rec” gang. Tom, Donna, Andy and April learn not to be so hard on Jerry and not make fun of every little quirk that he has. Although that last lesson didn’t stick with them for too long, it embodies the goodhearted and loving nature of the holiday season.
These are just a few of the many holiday-themed television episodes that this time of year has to offer, they are some of the best. If these aren’t what you’re looking for, however, be sure to hop on your TV Guide, look On Demand, or peruse the Christmas sections of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video to fill your December with some holiday cheer and good laughs.