How to watch the best Christmas movies and holiday specials

The holiday season is in full swing — and that means a plethora of TV specials, episodes and movies both new and old that will take us through Christmas Day (and beyond).

Here’s a snapshot look at some of the upcoming holiday programming.

Wednesday, Dec. 15

“Mr. Mayor’s Magical LA Christmas” (9 p.m. NBC)

Ted Danson’s sitcom returns for a one-off holiday episode in which Neil (Danson) shows his love for his staff by forcing them to work on Christmas Eve — as they wait for his “perfect gift” to arrive. Co-starring Holly Hunter, Vella Lovell, Mike Cabellon, Kyla Kenedy and Bobby Moynihan.

Mike Cabellon, Ted Danson and Holly Hunter in the “Mr. Mayor” holiday episode airing Wednesday night.
Colleen Hayes/NBC

Thursday, Dec. 16

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (5:30 p.m., Freeform)

Jim Carrey stars as the vengeful, green-hued grinch living on the outskirts of Whoville in the 2000 movie directed by Ron Howard and co-starring Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.

Jim Carrey as 'The Grinch.'
Jim Carrey as ‘The Grinch.’

“Grey’s Anatomy” holiday episode (9 p.m., ABC)

As the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial celebrate the holidays, Hamilton and Meredith (Peter Gallagher, Ellen Pompeo) prepare for a milestone on their project while Link (Chris Carmack) wants to spend the holiday with Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Scout as a family.

“A Royal Queens Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark)

A prince (Julian Morris) lands in Queens during Christmas when a local woman (Megan Park) enlists his help with a children’s Christmas show.

Julian Morris and Megan Good stand in front of a Christmas tree and gaze at each other in a scene from "A Royal Queens Christmas."
Julian Morris and Megan Park share a moment in “A Royal Queens Christmas,” airing on Hallmark Channel.

Friday, Dec. 17

“With Love” (Amazon)

Gloria Calderon Kellett (“One Day at a Time”) created and co-stars in this five-episode series — set during a different holiday throughout the year — in which siblings Lily and Jorge (Emeraude Toubia, Mark Indelicato) embark on a mission to find love and purpose. Featuring Constance Marie, Benito Martinez, Desmond Chiam, Rome Flynn, Isis King and Todd Grinnell.

Saturday, Dec. 18

“When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas, Parts 1 & 2” (IMDb TV)

The town of Brookfield gets into the holiday spirit after being named “America’s #1 Country Christmas Town” — but the locals aren’t feeling very festive. Morgan Kohan and Ryan-James Hatanaka co-star.

“Toying with the Holidays” (8 p.m., Lifetime)

Workaholic designer Danielle (Cindy Busby) returns to her hometown for the holidays with her young son to introduce him to the town’s North Pole Express train. The only problem? It’s been derailed — but hey, it’s a Lifetime movie, so Danielle’s high school flame, model train enthusiast Kevin (Chad Michael Murray), comes to the rescue. And, of course … sparks fly.

Cindy Busby and Chad Michael Murray as Danielle and Kevin sitting on the front steps of a house.
Cindy Busby and Chad Michael Murray as Danielle and Kevin in “Toying with the Holidays” on Lifetime.

Sunday, Dec. 19

“Christmas Takes Flight” (8 p.m., CBS)

A pilot (Katie Lowes) and a number-crunching CEO (Evan Williams) engage in a battle of wills after he buys her family-owned regional airline and stars cutting costs — threatening the airline’s annual Christmas charitable benefit for underserved children. Romance? You bet.

Katie Lowes and Evan Williams in a scene from "Christmas Takes Flight." Their characters are looking at each other and are in a bar.
Katie Lowes and Evan Williams star in the feelgood romantic comedy “Christmas Takes Flight” on CBS.
CBS

“The Sound of Music” (7 p.m., ABC)

Julie Andrews and Christoper Plummer star in the Oscar-winning 1965 musical (and holiday favorite) set in Austria, about the free-spirited governess (Andrews) to Capt. Von Trapp’s (Plummer) seven children as World War II looms on the horizon. Catchy songs (including “Do-Re-Mi”) courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Monday, Dec. 20

“Miracles Across 125th Street” (VH1)

Nick Cannon stars as a Harlem rapper who, just out of rehab for drug addiction, confronts his past on Christmas Eve by returning to his family’s church.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Freeform)

The holiday stop-motion animated chestnut, which first premiered on NBC in 1964, never get old as bashful, love-struck Rudolph, he of the shiny red nose, misfit elf and wannabe dentist Hermey and Yukon Cornelius embark on an adventure and encounter the Abominable Snow Monster along the way. It’s all in good fun. Burl Ives (as Sam the Snowman) narrates the action.

Hermey and Rudolph in the snow in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." They're looking at each other and laughing.
Rudolph and Hermey take a magical journey in the 1964 classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Classic Media

Tuesday, Dec. 21

“The Christmas Ball” (Lifetime)

What happens when a lead ballerina (Deidre Mullins) is let go before the Christmas season’s Nutcracker — and visits her aunt in England, where she meets a local professor and historian (Nick Hendrix) who’s helping her aunt preserve the family manor. Cue the dancing and romance. Caroline Langrishe co-stars.

Thursday, Dec. 23

“Christmas for Sale” (BET+)

Nadine Ellis, Aaron Spears and Shanti Lowry star in this tale about a young real estate agent who pretends to be a billionaire’s yoga instructor while on a holiday ski trip in order to gain a lucrative real estate listing — but ends up falling in love.

“Yearly Departed” (Amazon Prime)

The comedy special returns with host Yvonne Orji and stars including Jane Fonda, Megan Stalter, Chelsea Peretti, Dulce Sloan and X Mayo who reflect on the past tumultuous year with a look at the headlines. It includes a special performance from Grammy-winning pop star Alessia Cara.

Friday, Dec. 24

“A Christmas Story” 24-hour marathon (8 p.m., TNT/TBS)

Join young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) in his eternal quest for that elusive perfect Christmas present — a Red Ryder BB Gun — as he dodges yellow-eyed bully Scut Farkas (Zack Ward) and his “toadie,” Grover Dill (Yano Anaya).

“A Holly Dolly Christmas” (8 p.m., CBS)

Dolly Parton performs faith-filled hymns and lighthearted holiday classics from an intimate, candlelit set, including tracks from her new holiday album, “A Holly Dolly Christmas.”

Photo showing Dolly Parton, who's wearing a white gown, singing a song with her arms up in the air at her side.
Dolly Parton sings hymns and holiday favorites in “A Holly Dolly Christmas,” airing 8 p.m. Friday on CBS.
CBS

Christmas Day

“Call the Midwife Holiday Special” (9 p.m., PBS)

It’s now December 1966 at Nonnatus House as Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding — while the maternity home is filled with expectant mothers-to-be, each with their own challenging case. Co-starring Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Linda Bassett and Miriam Margolyes.

Sunday, Dec. 26

Home Town: Ben’s Holiday Workshop” (8 p.m., HGTV)

HGTV star Ben Napier (“Home Town”) welcomes “Deadliest Catch” father-daughter duo Captain Sig and Mandy Hansen to make special wood creations in time for Christmas. He also teams up with Stephen “tWitch” Boss and his wife, Allison Holker Boss (“Design Star: Next Gen”) to build an interactive wall display for a local children’s play center space.

Honorable Mention

“Rugrats: Traditions” (Paramount +)

When Tommy’s first Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve, the Pickles family has to juggle their family traditions to make sure each feels important, while also celebrating Las Posadas with Betty and her family. 

Tommy Pickles and the other "Rugrats" characters gaze at a Christmas tree.
Tommy and the gang celebrate Hanukkah on Christmas Eve in “Rugrats: Traditions.”


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