Best Christmas Episodes From Your Favorite Sitcoms, Ranked
It’s the most bingeable time of the year. That’s right, Christmas TV episodes are now in full swing, and we’re living for every minute of it. Holiday TV specials are always better than every big, cheesy movie.
Why? Because they’re tailored to your interests. If you’re a huge “Friends” fan, chances are, you’ll also love its many Christmas specials. Holiday Armadillo, anyone? If you’re a Grinch during the holidays, “The Office” has your back. More interested in the meaning of the holiday season? Try one of “New Girl’s” wacky-yet-charming Christmas episodes.
Now that we’re well into the holiday season, we sat down and ranked the best Christmas specials of your favorite TV sitcoms to get everyone properly prepped for the holiday spirit. Grab the family, a steaming cup of hot cocoa and tune in for a laugh or two.
#15: “The Goldbergs” — “A Christmas Story”
You could probably count the amount of Hanukkah TV episodes on one hand. But this particular take on Hanukkah from “The Goldbergs” in season three does a hilarious job demonstrating the envy some Jewish families have growing up, unable to celebrate Christmas.
So, in true Goldberg fashion, Beverly introduces Super Hanukkah, which is essentially a silver-and-blue–themed Christmas. All presents are opened one morning under a Hanukkah bush, instead of eight nights of gifts. And, oddly enough, this Jewish family pays homage to “A Christmas Story” when Barry gets his tongue stuck to a tetherball pole.
#14: “The Mindy Project” — “Christmas Party Sex Trap”
Mindy’s love triangle sets afire in this season two episode because nothing says rom-com like Christmastime. In order to win Cliff over, Mindy tricks him into spending more time with her by throwing an office holiday party, free of both gluten and alcohol. She had good intentions with her sexy rendition of “Santa Baby,” but Cliff leaves before she even begins.
The biggest surprise is Danny’s secret Santa gift for Mindy: a dance routine to Aaliyah’s “Try Again,” which used to be Mindy’s favorite song. This episode brings about the holiday spirit because it sets the tone for Danny and Mindy’s relationship: Danny is willing to embrace something Mindy loves, even though it annoys him, just to make her smile. Talk about endgame potential.
#13: “Fresh Off the Boat” — “The Real Santa”
This episode in season two makes us feel all kinds of nostalgia; Jessica goes the extra mile (more like five) to keep Santa’s magic alive for her youngest son, Evan. This milestone moment when Evan questions the reality of Santa drives the whole episode, and Jessica herself ends up in an impressive Santa costume, to which Evan “stumbles” upon her delivering presents during the middle of the night.
Meanwhile, Jessica’s other children, Eddie and Emery, come together to figure out the perfect present for their mom, each learning the importance of preparing ahead of time.
#12: “Will & Grace” — “Jingle Balls”
Because Grace is Jewish and Will is Christian, “Will & Grace” was able to celebrate the holiday season in a variety of ways (and can do so again with its recent reboot). In the season four episode of “Jingle Balls,” Jack offers to design a display window at Barneys, stealing the opportunity from Grace. Meanwhile, we learn that Will is ashamed of the new guy he is seeing, Robert, a ballet dancer. After Will brings Robert to dinner with Grace, he becomes furious that Grace judges him, when in reality, it’s Will that’s embarrassed.
Will ultimately decides to break up with Robert, and Jack’s S&M-inspired window display is rejected by his boss, Dorleen — what, why? Grace comes through and designs Jack’s window for him, but leave it to Jack to be in total denial, believing it was actually Santa that helped him out.
#11: “New Girl” — “LAXmas”
All transplants living in Los Angeles, the “New Girl” gang never spends Christmas together. In this season four episode, Jess is headed to England to spend time with new-boyfriend Ryan and his family; Nick and Winston are off to Chicago; Coach embraces his lonely Christmas lifestyle with a trip to Hawaii (although he ends up visiting his family in Detroit); and Schmidt and Cece are off to New York.
Flights are delayed, and Jess worries she won’t be accepted by Ryan’s family — cue the madness. This is really Jess’ episode if anyone’s; she lands first-class seats for Nick and Winston and demonstrates why skeptical strangers always end up liking the quirky, loveable character that she is.
#10: “Modern Family” — “Express Christmas”
“Express Christmas” from season three of “Modern Family” takes a different approach to the annual holiday episode. The Pritchetts, Dunphys, Tuckers and Delgados all get together on the morning of Dec. 16, only to realize they’ve all miscommunicated their holiday plans — none of them are able to have a traditional family Christmas together.
So, Phil comes up with “Express Christmas” — everyone will finish present-shopping, they’ll get a tree and cook a family dinner, all in one afternoon, to at least spend some time together. The families split up in unexpected ways, which always leads to comedy gold.
#9: “The Office” — “Christmas Party”
It’s not Christmas without TV binge of “The Office.” In season two, Michael completely ignores the $20 Secret Santa rule and gets Ryan an iPod, only to be let down when he receives a homemade oven mitt, prompting him to create a gift-trading game.
This episode really highlights Michael’s edgy, ruthless character — hey, oven mitts can be cool — which comes out in the earlier seasons of the show. It’s also the beginning of Jim and Pam’s flirtation, and who doesn’t love those two?
#8: “Parks and Recreation” — “Citizen Knope”
“Parks and Rec” is an absolute gem, and those who aren’t fans will fall in love with it after this episode. Although Leslie is stripped of her government employee badge on a paid suspension, she still manages to give everyone in her office their holiday gifts, all thanks to Ann. This episode really highlights Leslie’s caring and thoughtful nature; it not only celebrates Christmas in Pawnee, but it celebrates all things Leslie.
Better yet, the team comes together and makes Leslie a gingerbread replica of the office — basically Leslie’s dream present — and they all promise to support her in the city council campaign, the first step in launching Leslie’s political career. Cue the emotions!
#7: “Black-ish” — “Stuff”
Fed up with his kids only caring about gifts at Christmas, Dre cancels the holiday entirely in this season two episode. Because of this, Dre’s mom, Ruby, swoops in and presents her own version, all religious figures and aspects included. She also gives us the classic line, “Black people can’t be racist,” along with a dozen other Ruby-isms. Dre’s dad, Earl “Pops” Johnson, tries to revive the Christmas of his youth, when all he could afford was a bucket of fried chicken from a fast-food restaurant.
In the end, Rainbow and Dre cave and have “secret Christmas” in their walk-in closet, but nothing actually works out until the family starts to see the holiday from each other’s perspectives. Dre’s dramatic actions and Bow’s quirky personality really shine in this episode — enough to watch it over and over again.
#6: “Friends” — “The One With the Routine”
Ross and Monica’s dream has always been to appear on a taping of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” and in this season six episode, it finally comes true — all thanks to Joey’s dancer girlfriend, Janine. When Ross and Monica bring back the infamous routine, a series of iconic dance moves from their childhood, the magic unfolds. They even earn a spot on the platform just in time for the countdown to New Year’s.
As for the rest of the gang, Rachel and Phoebe go hunting for Christmas presents in Monica’s apartment, despite Chandler’s best attempts to keep them a secret. After searching and ultimately getting Chandler involved, he stumbles upon a note that reads “Chandler, I knew they’d break you.” This episode is full of laughs, easily landing it in this list's top 10 Christmas episodes.
#5: “Seinfeld” — “The Strike”
This ninth season episode gave us all Festivus — a fake holiday created by George’s father, Frank. This holiday, celebrated on Dec. 23, is perfect for those tired of the commercialized aspects of Christmas, and it includes “feats of strengths” and “airing of the grievances” for its annual traditions.
The main episode focuses on Kramer’s return back to work at H&H Bagels after 12 years on strike, and the discovery of Frank’s Festivus. After learning he can’t have time off for this new holiday, Kramer goes back on strike. This episode features some of George’s best antics at Kruger Industrial Smoothing, and one of our favorite quotes — “Hey, I work for Kruger Industrial Smoothing. We don’t care, and it shows,” — just one of the many reasons this episode is at the top.
#4: “New Girl” — “Christmas Eve Eve”
Major fans of “New Girl” and its glorious one-liners, we had to include this episode in the top five. “Christmas Eve Eve” reminds us that sometimes, it’s not just the thought that counts; it’s also the effort and attention to detail that matter. This episode is full of affection as a result of Jess’ demand to celebrate Christmas with a secret Santa gift exchange.
All of the gifts reveal the relationships and memories built between the roommates, but with a sad realization: Jess’ name was left out of the drawing; she forgot to add it. The gang comes together and recreates Jess’ childhood Christmas memories with hot cocoa, Darlene Love, falling snow and all. This heartwarming surprise is definitely a tear-jerker.
#3: “30 Rock” — “Ludachristmas”
Easing out of the awkward growing pains of the first season, “30 Rock” embraced its weird, quirky self with season two’s “Ludachristmas” (and quite frankly, the best Christmas episode of the entire series). Liz’s nurturing parents come into town, and Jack instantly attaches to them, embracing the love and support he never got from his own family.
The rest of the “TGS” cast members prepare for their rowdy holiday party, Ludachristmas, but are instantly disappointed when Kenneth changes their plans last minute to focus on the real meaning of Christmas. From the PS-575 Photo Shredder to Liz Lemon’s memory-challenged brother stuck in 1985, this one sits high on the list of top Christmas episodes.
#2: “The Office” — “A Benihana Christmas”
Arguably one of the best episodes produced during the holidays, “A Benihana Christmas” in season three is full of classic Michael lines, heated Jim and Pam tension, and wild Dwight pranks. Can it get any better than that? (The answer is no.)
Following a sudden breakup, Michael is heartbroken and distraught, to which Andy takes him, Dwight and Jim out to Scranton’s Benihana to try and lift the mood. “Nog-a-sake” shots are taken, and then naturally, the chaos occurs, especially when Andy encourages Michael to ask out their waitress. Meanwhile, back at Dunder Mifflin, the office is divided into two separate holiday parties, as Phyliss, Hannah and Kevin attend Angela’s, while the rest of the staff are at Pam and Karen’s. Although “The Office” has a handful of Christmas episodes to choose from, this one steals the spotlight.
#1: “Friends” — “The One With the Holiday Armadillo”
Thanks to “Friends,” we can all rejoice during the annual visit from the Holiday Armadillo. This classic holiday episode from season seven sits at the top of this list with the help of Ross’ wacky antics and Chandler’s sarcastic one-liners. Initially, Ross tries to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah, and when Ben learns there would be no Santa that year, he instantly freaks out.
Trying to cheer his son up, Ross heads out to purchase a Santa costume. But the costume shop is entirely out of Santa suits — so enters the Holiday Armadillo (Santa’s part-Jewish friend). From there, the silliness ensues, especially when Chandler walks into the apartment dressed up as Santa, stealing the limelight from the “weird turtle man.” No matter what you celebrate, the Holiday Armadillo is the perfect addition to any seasonal tradition.