With every holiday comes a plethora of themed episodes from our favorite TV shows. Christmas is no exception, even if movies are what we tend to gravitate towards during the holiday season. (Thank you, Hallmark Channel!) However, there are plenty of wonderful Christmas episodes to watch with family or friends on Netflix, Disney+, and more. So get ready to curl up in front of the TV with a nice cup of hot chocolate, while wearing your favorite Christmas sweater and a Santa hat.
Whether you’ve already started your holiday festivities and have watched some of these episodes or are planning on binge-watching them once you finish finals and can finally relax, there’s no denying that these episodes will put you in the holiday spirit and have you ready to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you love small town Christmas vibes, are in need of a good laugh, love Christmas music, or would rather spend the season watching a mystery, there’s an episode here for everyone that you can watch on your favorite streaming service in 2022.
- Gilmore Girls (Season 2, Episode 10) “The Bracebridge Dinner”
There is no better show to watch at Christmas time than Gilmore Girls. While there are plenty of episodes that will put you in the holiday season, “The Bracebridge Dinner” will always have a special place in my heart. In the episode, Lorelai and Sookie bring the entire town to their inn for an iconic Elizabethan dinner. This episode is a classic for all fans of the show, but especially those that ship Jess and Rory (Literati) and Luke and Lorelai (JavaJunkie).The episode is like a mini Hallmark movie in 45 minutes. Whether or not you can smell snow like Lorelai, there is no better Gilmore Girls episode to watch this season on Netflix.
- Glee (Season 2, Episode 10) “A Very Glee Christmas”
For those whose favorite part of Christmas is the music, this episode of Glee is for you. Taking inspiration from a classic, this episode is similar to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Glee Club has a mission of caroling around the school to make money for the homeless shelter, but their attempts fail when they get harassed by students. There’s also a performance of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Blaine and Kurt that’s straight out of a rom-com, and Rachel gives a heartfelt performance of “Last Christmas” that will have you feeling like you just got your heart broken. You can watch this one on Disney+ and Hulu.
- Pretty Little Liars (Season 5, Episode 13) “How the ‘A’ Stole Christmas”
Pretty Little Liars may not be a show you associate with Christmas, but they certainly do know how to write a Christmas episode. Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily receive a package from the recently deceased Mona: a map of Alison’s house with all her hiding spots. In the spirit of A Christmas Carol, a “dead” Mona visits Alison in her dreams to show Alison her childhood and what made her into the liar that she is. All the couples spend their Christmases together, but Alison’s Christmas ball (and, naturally, A’s arrival) steals the spotlight. If you love a good mystery with lots of suspense, but still want to celebrate Christmas, you can watch this episode of Pretty Little Liars on HBO Max.
- Girl Meets World (Season 3, Episode 18) “Girl Meets A Christmas Maya”
This episode is inspired by two Christmas stories: A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi. The main storyline of the episode is Riley’s obsession with the holidays, more specifically her friend group’s yearly secret Santa gift exchange. She’s also determined for her best friend, Maya Hart, to drop the “ba humbug” act and enjoy her Christmas with her family. Riley’s mission is brought about with a play that is quite literally Maya’s Christmas past, present, and future. It allows Maya to see how much her mom has done for her and everything that her new family has to offer. This episode has a sweet message of how important friends and family are — a reminder we all need around the holidays. You can watch it on Disney+.
- 9-1-1 (Season 2, Episode 10) “Merry Ex-Mas”
If you’re a fan of procedural dramas and still want to get a dose of the holiday spirit, this is the episode for you! The 118 gets some wild and unexpected calls for the Christmas season, including a man being thrown off the roof from trying to outdo the neighbor’s Christmas decorations and and a drone that takes a waitress’s nose off in an attempt to get a kiss under the mistletoe. Despite the chaos of these calls, LA’s firefighters have their own eventful Christmases, including big steps for Bobby and Athena’s relationship as well as the romance between Chimney and Maddie. You can watch this episode on Hulu.
- Victorious (Season 2, Episode 12) “A Christmas Tori”
For all Gen Zers and Ariana Grande fans, this episode is a Christmas staple. Who doesn’t remember Tori, Jade, and Cat singing “It’s Not Christmas Without You” in those outfits? The Hollywood Arts students are assigned Secret Santa and must think deeply about their heartfelt gifts. Whoever gives the worst gifts must go Christmas yodeling with Sikowitz. Beck delivers Robbie his childhood bully so he can tell her off, and Andre captures the cricket that’s been keeping him up at night and gives it to Beck, but Tori’s gift from her Secret Santa may take the cake. If you’re going to be listening to Christmas and Chill this Christmas, you can also watch “A Christmas Tori” on Netflix.
- The Vampire Diaries (Season 6, Episode 10) “Christmas Through Your Eyes”
When The Vampire Diaries was taken off of Netflix and moved to HBO Max in October, there was a resurgence of fans of love triangle vampire shows. Unlike most episodes in the show, this episode allows the audience to see what the lives of Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline were like before the supernatural entered their lives. Though I’m a lover of the romantic relationships (Stelena forever!), I absolutely adore the friendship between the girls. However, I also sob whenever I watch the scenes where Bonnie’s celebrating Christmas alone in the Prison World as she attempts to feel the Christmas spirit. Whether you’re watching The Vampire Diaries for the first time or are an avid fan that will defend your shipping preferences to the death, this episode is a perfect mix of Christmas and supernatural.
- The Fosters (Season 2, Episode 11) “Christmas Past”
Unlike the others on this list, this episode is completely written as a flashback, detailing Jude and Callie’s first Christmas with the Adams-Foster family. Stef and Lena give Callie and Jude “Baby’s first Christmas ornaments,” but the mood is quickly broken when Callie is given a donated Christmas gift for foster kids, reminding Callie that she’s not really adopted. Stef and Lena are also going through their own family troubles during the holiday season. The family dinner featured in this episode is the most realistic I’ve ever seen on TV. If you want a Christmas episode that shows that families come in all different sizes, you can watch this episode on Hulu.
- Riverdale (Season 2, Episode 9) “Silent Night, Deadly Night”
With its mysterious vibes, you may think that Riverdale is a better fit for Halloween, but they still aired a Christmas episode, borrowing the title from the 1984 horror movie. So much happens here: Betty is plagued by murderous nightmares of the Black Hood dressed in a Santa suit. Cheryl and Archie have no money this Christmas. Kevin does his yearly Secret Santa gift exchanges that results in an awkward gift for Veronica from Josie. Our favorite couples are dealing with Christmas after a recent breakup. Betty and Archie go on a hunt to find the identity of the Black Hood and deal with a near-death experience. If you want to be kept on your toes this Christmas with a mystery that has a lot of twists and turns, you can watch this episode on Netflix.
- New Girl (Season 1, Episode 9) “The 23rd”
This episode may be the first Christmas episode in New Girl history, but it’s my favorite. Jess is conflicted because she doesn’t know what to get Paul since they’ve been dating for a month. While on her way to buy him a gift, she stumbles upon Candycane Lane and immediately falls in love with it, so she wants to visit it at night when it’s all lit up. No spoilers, but Nick Miller in the final scene really raised my expectations in a significant other and I don’t want a relationship unless someone does for me what he did for Jess. You can watch this found family celebrate their first Christmas together on Netflix.
- Lizzie McGuire (Season 1, Episode 7) “Here Comes Aaron Carter”
Given that Aaron Carter recently passed away, I feel like this episode is a requirement to watch for this holiday season. Lizzie and Miranda are absolutely ecstatic when they find out that Aaron is going to be filming a music video in their town and make it their mission to meet him. Things become more complicated when Matt gets mistaken for Aaron’s stand in and is let on the set. After being chased off by security, they finally find a way in when Aaron’s manager says that only one can go in. Lizzie lets Miranda go in and on her way to grab her video camera, she runs into Aaron, who kisses her. He then lets all three of them in and they get to be extras in the video. Whether you’re missing Aaron and your childhood, or want to live vicariously through Lizzie’s once in a lifetime experience, you can watch this episode on Disney+.
- Modern Family (Season 7, Episode 9) “White Christmas”
As an avid shipper of Haley and Andy, I knew that I had to include this episode. Gloria decides to go all out and rent a cabin for the family. However, it’s too hot and the woman they rented the cabin from is still there. To Alex’s delight, she turns out to be a world-famous scientist. Things get awkward since Andy is there and he and Haley are still having an affair, which gets revealed to the family. Meanwhile, Jay announces on their vacation that he’s retiring and wants Chuck Finney to take over the company, which upsets Claire. Whether you’re a lover of Haley and Andy like I am or love the family dynamic, you can watch this episode of Modern Family on Hulu.
- Merry Happy Whatever (Season 1, Episode 6) “Merry Ex-Mas”
While the entire show takes place around Christmas time, this episode actually takes place on Christmas. It also features Bridget Mendler and Ashley Tisdale, two Disney Channel alums that defined our childhood. Don invites Nancy to spend Christmas with his family, but she gets uncomfortable and leaves. More drama ensues when Alan returns and reneges on wanting to get a divorce with Kayla. Emmy and Matt are exchanging their Christmas gifts and Matt decides to serenade her because he no longer feels like he can propose due to Emmy’s job offer. If you’re a fan of TV shows that feature the same amount of Christmas drama that you may experience IRL, you can watch this episode on Netflix.