Over the last decade, made-for-TV Christmas movies have gotten absolutely out of control, and American television programming is now awash in an annual eggnog flood.
Hallmark, of course, maintains an iron grip on the category through their Countdown to Christmas programming, which is rolled out with downright martial precision, but Lifetime also mounts an aggressive seasonal campaign for eyeballs. Netflix gets points for the most cheerfully self-aware and bananas slate—how many more times can the princess switch, truly?—as well as ease of access for those without basic cable. But there are so many more players in the game this year! The NBC streaming service Peacock has a woman from the Real Housewives franchise appearing in Housewives of the North Pole, about feuding Christmas decorators. In fact, this roundup includes offerings from: “BET+, Bounce, CBS, Comedy Central, The CW, Discovery+, Disney Channel, GAC Family (fka Great American Country), Hallmark Channel (and its various sister networks), ION, Lifetime, Netflix, Nickelodeon, OWN, Peacock, Paramount+, The Roku Channel, UPtv and VH1.”
In short, there’s an overwhelming array of options for your friend who was already way, way, way into Christmas movies. You know who I’m talking about. She’s got a drawerful of cozy socks, and the minute the clock strikes October, she’s ready. Every year she invites you over for Hallmark movies and cookie decorating with a distinctly intense gleam in her eye. She most likely loves to make fun of these movies, but she’s seen so many that it genuinely alarms you. And so you are here, looking for something to purchase her that will support her habit. Read on!
Did you know that Hallmark has an official merch store? The landing page for their Christmas movie swag very clearly announces that it is selling “Hallmark Channel Authentic Product,” presumably in contrast to the bootleg unofficial stuff that is all over Etsy. At any rate, your friend probably has a bottomless thirst for throw blankets—who doesn’t, really?—and this one ($29.99) is billed as having a “super-plush Sherpa fleece” back with a cute seasonal design declaring it The Coziest Time of the Year, with “Hallmark Channel” stamped on there as well. Nor do the offerings stop there: They also have OFFICIAL Hallmark Christmas movie popcorn bowls ($29.99), although maybe skip that one if your friend lives in an apartment with limited kitchen storage space; an OFFICIAL insulated wine tumbler ($19.99) for your friend who goes so over the top that she also makes mulled wine; and an OFFICIAL Hallmark movie bingo tear-off game pad ($14.99)., so you can enjoy the aggressiveness of all the various tropes properly, together.
Speaking of aggressive Christmas movie tropes, let’s talk about hot cocoa—a drink that is consumed by the stomach-turning bucketful in these movies. Warm, cozy beverages are therefore essential to the “melting into your couch while beginning your third straight basic-cable Christmas movie” lifestyle. Hence, thematically appropriate mugs. This one ($5.00) from Target is shaped like a gingerbread house and it’s so cute I can’t stand it. This Rifle Paper Company mug has a lovely mistletoe pattern with pretty gold details ($20.00). You could go Santa, or you could go reindeer ($14.00). Here’s a set of two matching mugs, with lids, designed to look vintage ceramic Christmas trees ($27.00). For an instant gift basket, stuff in some instant hot chocolate packets or even some OFFICIAL Hallmark seasonal tea ($12.99).
I bet you thought I was going to put a candle on here, didn’t you? Well, I can’t have Christmas candles, after the year I bought several and consequently thought I was going to have to stop off at an urgent care clinic before the company Christmas party, because my asthma was acting up so bad. Instead, allow me to introduce you to “Crackling Firewood” variety incense ($3.50) by Maine-based business Paine Products, Inc. It genuinely smells like a cozy wood fire and beautifully accompanies the Yule Log program of your choice (Hallmark has one, of course).
Okay, you could just wrap the mug with hot chocolate packets and microwavable popcorn, and no doubt that would be very appreciated. But if you want to go a little harder, you could send a huge festive tin of popcorn. Here’s one from the Popcorn Factory covered in nutcrackers ($49.99), in honor of A Very Nutty Christmas, starring Melissa Joan Hart as a woman who learns to love again from a nutcracker who comes to life. Your pal can shake her head at that movie premise while shoving one hand halfway into the cheddar popcorn compartment and hitting “play” with the other.
Is there anyone on Earth who loves Christmas cookies as much as your average Christmas movie character? Refusing one is a sure sign that somebody needs to quit their big-city corporate job and move back home to marry their old flame from high school, preferably while taking over the family business, which is of course Christmas-related rather than, say, running the town mortuary. While it stretches the bounds of credulity that taste in cookies would say quite so much about a person’s character or emotional journey, their omnipresence will certainly make the viewer want a plate of their own. Hence, this King Arthur Flour Cookie Decorating Set ($50.75), complete with two cookie mixes, icing mix, cookie cutters, and food coloring. For an upgrade gift, add a platte. In a shocking oversight, the Hallmark Channel Authentic Product store does not have an OFFICIAL cookie platter, but you can’t go wrong with Spode ($19.99).
Speaking of Christmas baking and its absolutely towering place of importance in the universe of these movies, everyone in these movies appears to be issued a Christmas apron of their own at birth. And, hey, they are fairly useful! Go fully kitsch with this gingham apron ($40.00) complete with gingerbread man appliqué; this pretty pink pattern ($10.00) from Target has a vintage vibe; here’s a quilted look from none other than Dolly Parton ($39.95); here’s a classic, cheerful plaid ($37.00).
Cookies are straightforward; candy making requires both technique and experience, and you can’t do it with one eye on the Christmas romantic antics of two people you vaguely recognize a TV show in the late 1990s. Your friend is not gonna fool with it, so just give her a tin of the good stuff ($29.95 to, um, $359.40). And I’ve tried all the off-brand varieties, and they’re just not as good. (If you are the Christmas movie fan in question, know that Williams-Sonoma always marks the stuff down for the after-Christmas sales.)
Eventually—the threshold is somewhere around the eighth movie in a single year—basic-cable Christmas movies make it seem like a good idea to buy a Christmas sweater. Here’s a bright, beautiful Fair Isle sweater from Boden ($140.00) covered in snowmen and gingerbread men. Here’s a slightly more subtle (though significantly lower-cut!) Modcloth number ($75.00), embellished with sequin stars in a way that triggers some circa 1992 nostalgia. You could also go classic tacky Christmas sweater ($36.99), or embrace the fact that these movies are best enjoyed in a downright slovenly wardrobe and give her a giant Christmas sweatshirt, for which I direct you to Etsy and its numerous offerings (various).
The grand finale here is obvious: Your friend needs a miniature Christmas tree, preferably the most over-the-top one you can find. Here’s a three-foot pink tinsel tree that’s currently on sale at half price for Black Friday ($23.99). You could go ceramic tree for the retro factor, or wooden tree if she’s more of a minimalist at heart (various). Or you could just do a classic tabletop fake ($45.00). Don’t forget the lights!