It’s time to get into the holiday spirit! Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping everyone in quarantine, it’s difficult to go out and experience the usual festive energy of shopping malls, restaurants and bustling city streets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday cheer from within your house. If you’re looking for holiday fun, pop onto Netflix and check out these three holiday baking shows: “Sugar Rush Christmas,” “Nailed It! Holiday!” and “The Great British Baking Show: Holiday.” Hopefully, the reviews below will help you decide which show will put the jingle in your bell.
1. “Sugar Rush Christmas”
This delightful series has the exact same format as the original “Sugar Rush.” In each 50-minute episode, four pairs of contestants compete in three rounds — Cupcakes, Confections and Cakes — for a $10,000 prize. One team is eliminated in each of the first two rounds, leading to a show-down in round three between the final two teams. The catch is that all three rounds are timed together, so the contestants must strategize on how to budget their time. Netflix has two seasons of the holiday baking bonanza, each with six episodes.
The two permanent judges, Candace Nelson and Adriano Zumbo, are knowledgeable, but not particularly entertaining. The various guest judges, including celebrities like Tiffani Thiessen, Chris Bosh and Jordan Sparks, bring a bit more excitement to the show. Host Hunter March is energetic and engaging. The contestants are generally fun to watch, but with eight people in each short episode and two teams getting eliminated early on, you don’t really get to know them.
When it comes to food quality, the dishes are both gorgeous and delicious. Most of the bakers on this show are professionals and it shows.
The show makes a mediocre effort to incorporate humor into their episodes. March’s school-boy crush on Nelson is a recurring theme, and the guest judges usually offer some witty remarks throughout the episode. But the “Sugar Rush” hilarity is nothing to write home about. Watch this show for the cakes, not for the jokes.
The show does a great job of incorporating the Christmas theme into their episodes; all of the judges and contestants wear holiday outfits, and the kitchen decorations are very festive. One episode even features a live a cappella group singing Christmas carols.
Overall, “Sugar Rush Christmas” checks all the necessary boxes for a successful holiday baking show. It doesn’t go above and beyond in terms of unique entertainment elements, but it is put together well, and it’s satisfying to watch. For those who want a nice, normal holiday baking program, “Sugar Rush Christmas” is the show for you.
2. “Nailed It! Holiday!”
Each half-hour episode of “Nailed ! Holiday!” features three amateur bakers competing in two baking challenges, just like in the original “Nailed It!” The winner of the first challenge gets a small, baking-related prize, and the winner of the second challenge receives $10,000. The contestants, however, are abysmal bakers, and the show’s entertainment value comes from watching them fail miserably. Season 1 on Netflix contains six episodes, and Season 2 contains seven.
Judges Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres are certainly energetic, but their over-the-top antics might make you cringe. It’s especially difficult to watch Byer, who sings half of her lines and doesn’t take anything seriously, including her judging duties. The guest judges and contestants also tend to be a bit bizarre, but a fair few are lovable just the same.
The food quality is disastrous. The point of the show, of course, is to throw impossibly difficult challenges at terrible bakers, so it makes sense that their desserts don’t turn out very well. Sometimes, though, the results are so disgusting that it’s hard to watch without getting a stomach-ache.
As far as humor goes, if you’re a fan of cringe-worthy comedy, this is the show for you. Otherwise, steer clear of “Nailed It!” all together.
The show does a great job getting you into the December spirit. Several episodes begin with a holiday skit, and of course, everyone is dressed in Christmas-themed garb. The show also embraces other holidays, with challenges modeled after Hanukkah and New Year’s.
Overall, “Nailed It! Holiday!” is a wacky, out-there show. If you’re not afraid to cringe, you should give it a try; there are true laugh-out-loud moments hidden within the silliness. I, however, was not a huge fan.
3. “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays”
While the original “The Great British Baking Show” has 12 contestants and 10 episodes per season, “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” is much more condensed, with only four contestants in each episode. The bakers compete in three rounds — the Signature, the Technical (which is judged blind) and the Showstopper. The winner is decided based on their holistic performance over the course of the episode. Like the original show, no money is awarded to the winner; bakers simply participate for the experience. Netflix has three seasons of the show, but each season only has two 60-minute episodes.
The two judges — Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith — have distinct, intriguing personalities that keep both the audience and the bakers engaged. Hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding are wonderfully quirky and entertaining. The contestants are popular returning bakers from the original show, which is certainly a high point for fans. In one special episode, the cast of the sitcom “Derry Girls” comes to compete. All in all, the fun personalities, superb baking skills and melodious British accents make the cast delightful to watch.
The contestants are all amateur bakers, but their masterful dishes seem to be at a professional level. It’s also interesting to learn about popular dishes from Great Britain, which people from the U.S. may not be as familiar with.
The show gets off to a questionable start with a contrived skit at the beginning of the first season, but the humor only goes uphill from there. Toksvig and Fielding are hilarious hosts, and the show hits a great balance of being funny while still being genuine.
As with the previous two holiday baking shows, the festive theme is displayed quite well. Everyone is dressed up in holiday garb, and the tent — yes, they bake in a tent — is decorated beautifully. If you’re looking for a traditional holiday vibe with nothing too flashy, this is the show for you.
Overall, the “Great British Baking Show: Holidays” is my favorite of these three holiday baking shows. With a calming energy and no high stakes prize, this show isn’t quite as intense as the other two holiday baking shows. But what it lacks in suspense, it makes up for in authenticity and great casting. If festive energy is not a necessity for you, I would highly advise watching the original version of the show as well.