All the best holiday movies (or so, I think)

The Christmas season is nowhere near complete without rewatching your favorite holiday films. As a kid, I had my go-tos — “Miracle On 34th Street,” “The Santa Clause” — but as time went on (and more movies came out), my list grew and grew and then grew some more. I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark and Lifetime lately and I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every holiday movie they’ve released in the past 5+ years … they’re so incredibly cheesy, but what can I say, I like cheese! (This list is Hallmark and Lifetime-free, by the way. Also, no “Love Actually,” “Diehard,” or “Home Alone 2” … sorry, folks).

Grab some hot cocoa, a warm blanket and snuggle up on the couch with one of these holiday classics. And let me know your favorites in the comments below!

1. “Miracle On 34th Street” (1994)

When I think of my favorite holiday flick, this classic (ahem, remake) is the first to come to mind. I grew up watching it with my mom and it’s my favorite to come back to every December. As a kid, I saw myself in six-year-old Susan Walker’s life and character (apart from the whole not believing in Santa thing). I think that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much.

Plot: Young Susan Walker and her mother, Dorey, don’t believe in Santa Claus. Dorey hires a man named Kris Kringle to play Santa for Cole’s department store … and he just so happens to believe he’s the real-life Mr. Claus. When Kris Kringle is set up and arrested, Dorey’s boyfriend, Bryan Bedford, rallies support for the white-bearded, self-proclaimed St. Nick.

Starring: Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Richard Attenborough


2. “The Santa Clause” (1994)

If you’re a ‘90s kid, there’s no way you haven’t seen this Tim Allen-classic. Every year, I’d slide the VHS tape out of the white box and press play on the VCR. (Did I just age myself?) The movie had 2 sequels, but none compare to the original. Twenty-four years later and I still wonder how good that hot chocolate was that little elf Judy handed Scott — didn’t it look incredible!?

Plot: Divorced dad and businessman Scott Calvin has custody of his son, Charlie, on Christmas Eve. When they find a man dressed as Santa on their roof and he’s accidentally killed, the father and son duo are transported to the North Pole. Upon arrival, the head elf informs Scott that he must take on the role of Santa in time for Christmas. Say what!?

Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold


3. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)

I first watched this movie just a few years ago (I know, I know, where have I been?), but the minute I did, it jumped way up on my list. Starring the iconic James Stewart as George Bailey, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is considered one of the best films ever created. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must!

Plot: When George Bailey is about to jump from a bridge on Christmas, his guardian angel, Clarence, intercedes and shows him what his town would’ve been like if it hadn’t have been for George’s help through the years. With the help of Clarence, George soon realizes all he has to be grateful for … and that it’s a wonderful life, after all.

Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers


4. “The Holiday” (2006)

Can you believe this movie is 12 years old already? I’m usually not a fan of movies with an all-star lineup, but this one is pretty dang incredible (also, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You,’ but that’s not Christmas-y so … ok, back to ‘The Holiday.’) But seriously: Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and the incredibly attractive Jude Law (I think it’s the glasses. No offense, Jude.) … what more could you ask for! Every time I listen to “Mr. Brightside,” I see Cameron Diaz dancing around frantically in my head thanks to this movie. Grab some hot chocolate, your Mr. Napkin Head and snuggle up for this holiday flick.

Plot: When English Iris finds herself unlucky in love, she decides to swap homes with Californian Amanda for the holiday. While cottage-living Iris finds herself in a Hollywood mansion, Amanda embraces life in a quaint English village. Through their vacations, both ladies meet love interests that make them believe in love again.

Starring: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black


5. “Elf” (2003)

How could this not make this list? Will Ferrell’s Buddy the elf has become an iconic Christmas character. I’m not usually a comedy person, but ‘Elf’ does it tastefully. Literally. Did you see just how much sugar he doused his spaghetti with? I feel like I consumed 2,000 calories just watching the movie.

Plot: Will Ferrell plays Buddy, an elf who was raised by Santa’s elves after being sent to the North Pole by accident in infancy. When he learns of his true origins, Buddy travels to New York in search of his father — a disgruntled businessman who is the polar opposite of jolly. His father reluctantly welcomes Buddy into his life and Christmas chaos ensues.

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel


6. “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)

I know a new version is in theaters, but I can’t help putting the live-adaptation I grew up with on my list. When I think of the Grinch, Jim Carrey’s face comes to mind. (Not like his normal face … his green, Grinchy face … ). Also, how did I not have nightmares after watching this as a kid? Looking for Grinch gifs at 12:20 a.m. was a bad idea.

Plot: In this retelling of Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch whose sole mission is to ruin Christmas for everyone in Whoville. When the green grouch meets charming six-year-old Cindy Lou Who, his view of the holiday begins to change.

Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen


7. “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)

Put Tim Allen in a Christmas movie and BAM, it’s a hoot. Jamie Lee Curtis and Allen make the perfect holiday pair in this festive comedy about two empty-nesters who decide to forgo the holiday festivities for a cruise … until they hear their daughter will be home for Christmas after all. Check this one out for your dose of Christmas chuckles.

Plot: When their daughter announces she won’t be home for the holidays, Luther and Nora Krank ditch their Christmas traditions for a Caribbean cruise. Their Christmas-obsessed neighbors are less than thrilled with the Krank’s boycott, but once their daughter decides to come home after all, they all must rally together to give her a Christmas to remember.

Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, M. Emmet Walsh


8. “Jack Frost” (1998)

This one is definitely underrated. I haven’t watched it in years, but it’s a winter classic that shouldn’t be missed. Also, Michael Keaton! Kelly Preston! Grab a box of tissues — you’re going to need it. (My eyes are weeping just writing all of this).

Plot: Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, an aging musician who never had much time for his wife, Gabby, and son, Charlie. When Jack tries to make it back for Christmas one night, he tragically passes away in a car accident. A year later, his spirit is brought to life as snowman on his family’s lawn.

Starring: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross

We interrupt your regularly scheduled gif-viewing for the “Jack Frost” trailer because
no gifs from the 1998 movie have been found in the deep, deep depths of the world wide web.


The one where I rank every 'Friends' Thanksgiving episode

It’s officially that time of year.

Newly fallen leaves scatter across lawns and leftover Halloween candy is a thing of the past.

You sip a warm mug of spiced cider and grab a slice of freshly baked pumpkin pie.

… and then you binge every single ‘Friends’ Thanksgiving episode.

No? Just me?

Every year, I rewatch these beloved episodes from one of my favorite shows, cackle like a hyena and wish I was their 7th best ‘friend.’ But alas, they haven’t returned my calls. I even offered Joey some meatball subs … could I BE any more desperate. I’ll let you know if I hear anything, but in the meantime, dust off your DVD boxed sets or head to your nearest Netflix browser.

Here’s my definitive ranking of every ‘Friends’ Thanksgiving episode:

*** press play below to properly set the scene ***


1. “The One with the Football” (season 3)

This is one of my all-time favorite episodes so it’s fitting I put it at No. 1. I’m not a football fan by any means, but the jabs and hilarity in this one get me every time.

Summary: The episode centers on the gang playing what you would assume to be a friendly game of football before Thanksgiving dinner. Before taking the ‘field,’ Monica and Ross inform the crew behind their reluctance to play: The two competed for the Geller Cup (“a troll doll nailed to a 2x4”) growing up, but when Monica broke Ross’ nose one year, the Cup was thrown into the lake. (The horror!) The episode proves their sibling rivalry is alive and well as the gang fumbles their way through the sport. (Pun intended).

Memorable quotes:

“Okay, we have to pick captains.” — Monica
“And then Tennilles.” — Chandler

“Okay guys, I have exactly 28 minutes before I have to baste again.” — Monica


2. “The One Where Ross Got High” (season 6)

Largely regarded as a Thanksgiving favorite, this comes in at a close second for me. Also, TRIFLE!

Summary: Monica and Ross’ parents join the group for Thanksgiving dinner in this holiday classic. Chandler struggles to prove himself to his future in-laws, Ross comes clean about getting high while home from college and blaming Chandler, Joey and Ross rush through dinner to go to Janine’s dancer friend’s party, Rachel makes her infamous English trifle … among many other highlights. Definitely a Thanksgiving must-see if you can only watch a few.

Memorable quote: "What's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!" — Joey


3. “The One Where the Underdog Gets Away” (season 1)

Summary: In the inaugural Thanksgiving episode, Monica cooks her first Thanksgiving dinner for the group and tries to appease everyone’s family traditions when all their plans fall through. Underneath it all, the episode’s feeling of togetherness and the little family the group has formed helps set the tone for the rest of the series.

Memorable quotes:

“Set another place for Thanksgiving. My entire family thinks I have VD.” — Joey

“I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m very thankful that all of your Thanksgivings sucked.” — Chandler
“And here’s to a lousy Christmas …” — Ross
“And a crappy New Year!” — Rachel


4. “The One with the Late Thanksgiving” (season 10)

This holiday episode doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. While it may deviate from the Thanksgiving festivities to feature the gang’s whereabouts throughout the day, the hilarity of it all wins it over for me.

Summary: The minute Monica decides she doesn’t want to make Thanksgiving dinner, Phoebe cleverly convinces her otherwise. But after Monica creates a feast, the rest of the gang (sans Chandler, obviously) arrives late to dinner (Ross and Joey attend a Rangers game prior to dinner; Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma into a beauty pageant).

Memorable quote: “Don't you put words in people's mouths. You put turkey in people's mouths!” — Joey


5. “The One with all the Thanksgivings” (season 5)

Que the flashback episode!

Summary: The group reflects on their worst Thanksgivings: Ross’ divorce and eviction; Chandler’s parent’s divorce announcement; Phoebe’s time in the Civil War; Joey getting his head stuck in a turkey; and Monica … well, for that you’ll just have to watch.

Memorable quotes:

“You know what we should do? We should play that game where everybody says what they're thankful for.” — Rachel
Oh. I should be thankful for the wonderful fall we've been having.” — Joey
YEAH. – everyone
"I remember one day I was at the bus stop and this cool fall breeze came blowing out of nowhere and totally lifted this chick's skirt. Oh. And I'm also thankful for thongs.” — Joey


6. “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” (season 9)

Cue the cat fight.

Summary: Rachel’s sister, Amy (Christina Applegate), joins the festivities — but not without offending everyone in sight. The episode heavily relies on Rachel and Amy’s dynamic and while it delivers on holiday drama, it feels like a damper on the whole Thanksgiving vibe.

Memorable quote: “It’s Thanksgiving and we should not want to be together, together!” — Rachel


7. “The One with the Rumor” (season 8)

Summary: In this Thanksgiving episode, Brad Pitt cameos as Will, a formerly obese classmate of Monica, Ross and Rachel, who joins them for dinner. The entire episode centers on his hatred for Rachel, something he’s sustained after all these years.

Memorable quote: “"My two greatest enemies, Ross: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates." — Will"


8. “The One with Chandler in a Box” (season 4)

Summary: After kissing Kathy, Chandler attempts to prove his loyalty to Joey by locking himself in a box throughout the feast. While prepping dinner, Monica gets injured and reluctantly heads to the optometrist, expecting to run into her ex, Richard Burke. To her surprise, Richard’s son, Tim, is filling in for him that day and Monica ends up inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner (AWKWARD) … and then they kiss (GASP AWKWARD OMG EW).

Memorable quote: "Fine. Judge all you want to, but [to Ross] married a lesbian, [to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [to Joey] threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire, and [to Chandler] live in a box!" — Monica


9. “The One with the List” (season 2)

Summary: After Ross and Rachel’s much-anticipated kiss, Ross must decide between his girlfriend, Julie, and his lobster, Rachel. He’s then led to create a pro/con list for both women, hurting Rachel in the process. This episode throws your heart in the blender. Also, it isn’t very Thanksgiving-y apart from Monica’s mockolate storyline … which doesn’t really count in my opinion, but here we are.

Memorable quotes:

“It’s always been you, Rach.” — Ross

"This must be so hard. 'Two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my $50s and my diamond shoes are too tight!'" — Chandler


10. “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs” (season 7)

Summary: Phoebe dog sits for a friend despite Chandler claiming he’s allergic (spoiler alert: he’s not). Ross becomes obsessed with naming all 50 states (spoiler alert: he can’t). And finally, we’re deprived of anything Thanksgiving-y apart from Rachel’s assistant, Tag, tagging (haha. tagging.) along for Thanksgiving dinner — much to Rachel’s delight.

Memorable quote: “This is all a moo point … It’s like a cow’s opinion. You know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” — Joey


Bonus episode (and therefore, unrated):

“The One with Ross’s Sandwich” (season 5)

Who could forget the moist-maker episode! If you’re in a ‘Friends’ coma but need another helping, check out this episode from season 5.