And let’s face it, festive cheer is much-needed this December.
Of course, we all know that scrolling through the streaming service to find something everyone can agree on can sometimes take forever, so we’ve rounded up 18 Christmas films and TV specials made up of the good, the bad and – frankly – the very odd to help make choosing something a little easier...
Single All The Way (NEW)
Undoubtedly one of our most anticipated Christmas films of 2021, Single All The Way has taken the tried-and-tested “will they, won’t they... oh and by the way it’s Christmas” festive formula and run with it.
Single All The Way introduces us to Peter and Nick, two best friends who begin to question whether there could be more between them when they pretend to be in a relationship for the benefit of Peter’s family.
Yes, it’s great that Netflix is giving such a big push to a film centred around an LGBTQ romance, and we love that Single All The Way showcases queer characters with supportive families. But it also looks like a whole lot of fun, helped in no small part by the presence of all-round screen icon Jennifer Coolidge.
Love Hard (NEW)
Love Hard is very much a modern Christmas romance, telling the story of a woman who travels to her online crush’s hometown over the festive season, only to discover she’s been catfished.
Admittedly, the film didn’t exactly get glowing reviews when it came out, but it did prove popular with Netflix viewers upon its release in early November, so there’s obviously something about it that’s kept people entertained.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star (NEW)
Did you see Vanessa Hudgens’ Parent-Trap-meets-Princess-Diaries-at-Christmas shenanigans in The Princess Switch back in 2018? What about the 2020 sequel that threw a whole new third lookalike into the mix?
Well, no, us neither – but there’s a third film out now, and we absolutely can’t wait to binge-watch the whole lot and see how they managed to stretch this already paper-thin concept out into an entire trilogy.
Vanessa Hudgens has already proved herself to be the queen of Netflix’s thrown-together festive offerings, appearing not just in this trilogy but also 2019’s The Knight Before Christmas, which is probably the most obvious example of “a board meeting coming up with the film’s title and working backwards from there” we’ve ever come across.
Probably the quintessential British Christmas film, Love Actually is finally available to stream on Netflix again.
Love Actually pretty much has it all: laughs, tears, a star-studded cast, cute kids, a great soundtrack, iconic on-screen moments, annual off-screen discourse and, above all, Hugh Grant dancing around 10 Downing Street. Happy streaming, folks.
How many times have you carelessly flicked on The Holiday halfway through when they’re showing it on ITV2? And every single time, thought to yourself “oh, I love this film, I’d love to watch it from the beginning some time”?
Well, your Christmas wish has finally been answered, as it’s available to watch on Netflix from the beginning, with no adverts, in all its dancing-to-Mr-Brightside-on-the-bed, wonder-when-the-last-time-Jude-Law-did-Mr-Napkinhead, oh-yeah-I-forgot-Lindsay-Lohan-was-in-this glory.
Every single Friends Christmas special
Friends’ continued dominance on Netflix means we can still get a big dose of 90s nostalgia this Christmas, with the sitcom’s array of festive episodes.
The One With The Inappropriate Sister sees Phoebe becoming slowly more jaded while she collects for charity, while series three’s The One Where Rachel Quits sees Lisa Kudrow’s character trying to rehouse some unappealing brown trees after seeing them going into a chipper.
But the definitive Christmas special is unquestionably The One With The Holiday Armadillo, an episode with everything you want from a Friends episode: Ross embarrassing himself, some lovely scenes with Joey and Rachel, plus Monica’s apparent Santa fetish revelation.
What’s not to love?
Or, if 90s sitcom Christmas episodes aren’t your thing, how about *checks notes* a parody of 90s sitcom Christmas episodes?
This stand-alone episode of Bojack Horseman focuses mostly on the titular character’s former sitcom Horsin’ Around, with Bojack and Todd sitting down to watch the show’s Christmas special.
As a result, Sabrina’s Christmas Wish is part parody of the many family-based sitcoms of the 1990s, but also woven throughout are the dark elements that have made Bojack Horseman such a hit.
Probably not one to watch if you’re looking for a bit of thoughtless festive cheer (we know she’s not real, but we still get choked up every time we see childhood Sarah Lynn on screen), but definitely worth checking out if you’re a Bojack fan curious about how the show handled something like a festive episode.
Remember those halcyon days of winter 2019, when Last Christmas got released to cinemas and was absolutely pulled apart by critics? Well, for those put off by all of the reviews, we’ve got something to tell you that might come as a surprise… it really wasn’t all that bad.
True, it was jam-packed with clichés, looked a little bit rough around the edges and included a twist you could see coming a mile off. But as far as Christmas films go, we actually rather enjoyed Last Christmas, so with the film now available to stream, it’s probably time we all give it some festive redemption.
A Christmas Prince
Let’s just call a spade a spade here… sometimes at Christmas you really do fancy watching a load of old rubbish while you tuck into the Quality Street, and unlike Last Christmas, A Christmas Prince really is as bad as everyone says.
Initially dreamed up as a Christmas cash-in on royal fever, the film proved popular enough that it spawned two more sequels. Prestige cinema this is definitely not, but pair it with a tasty mulled wine and smiles are guaranteed all-round.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Already hailed as a modern Christmas classic as soon as it was released, if you didn’t get the chance to watch Jingle Jangle in 2020 then now’s your moment.
Not only is the film a festive adventure with a stellar cast (including Forest Whittaker, Anika Noni Rose and Ricky Martin as the voice of a matador doll who comes to life), it’s also a heartwarming musical with songs by John Legend. Once you’ve blown through the usual suspects, this is definitely worth adding to your go-to Christmas films list.
Listen, we love what Pixar has managed to do with CGI over the years… but there’s just something about traditional animation, isn’t there? Klaus is proof that there’s still a place for this particular kind of visual today, and the film’s completely unique look mixed with the nostalgia brought about by traditional animation make it a perfect family watch for Christmas.
And clearly we weren’t the only ones who loved it – Klaus did that rare thing for a festive film of landing an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, though it ultimately lost to Toy Story 4.
The Christmas Chronicles
Another modern family Christmas story, this one sees two precocious children accidentally crashing Santa’s sleigh and having to team up with him to save the big day.
Young fans will enjoy the adventure, festive scenes and Kurt Russell’s take on Father Christmas. Personally, we’ll be tuning in for two reasons: Goldie Hawn… and all of the wigs.
Father Christmas Is Back (NEW)
We’re just going to be extremely candid here and say that Father Christmas Is Back looks like complete hogwash, but the exact sort of bizarre campery we wouldn’t miss for anything.
This British comedy actually tells the story of an extended family with the surname Christmas, featuring the acting talents of Elizabeth Hurley, Caroline Quentin and Kelsey Grammer. Tell us you’re not dying to see exactly how all this plays out, but we absolutely won’t believe you.
Long before it became one of the UK’s most unlikely omnipresent Christmas franchises, Nativity! made a modest debut in cinemas back in 2008 with little fanfare, but has since gone on to spawn two sequels and a spin-off theatre show.
While we can’t vouch for the quality of what came next, Nativity! is actually a pretty lovely watch, particularly for families, featuring the acting talents of Martin Freeman and Alan Carr.
Definitely in the running for the weirdest Christmas film ever made, this comedy horror centres around a traditional festive creature from European folklore, who (spoiler alert) comes to life and wreaks havoc.
If that doesn’t pique horror fans’ interest already, then we’ve got two words that might: Toni. Colette.
Happy (and hopefully not too terrifying) streaming, folks!
Christmas On The Square
We should begin by saying that Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good film. But watching is still such a wild ride – beginning with Dolly playing the least convincing homeless person ever committed to the screen, and later floating up on a cloud in Christine Baranski’s living room – that we feel everyone should do it at least once.
And if the mix of Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, Jenifer Lewis and a whole lot of fake snow doesn’t sound like an irresistible Christmas treat, we truly don’t know what would.
Black Mirror: White Christmas
Frankly, after the past couple of years, we can’t think of anything worse than ending 2021 by revisiting this one-off Black Mirror special, but it’s there for you if you feel differently.
Dystopian anthology show Black Mirror made its final outing on Channel 4 with this feature-length Christmas episode, featuring not one but three tales that’ll make you think twice before asking Santa for any new technology this year.
This episode tackles online voyeurism, social media blocking and artificial intelligence, while also boasting an appearance from Jon Hamm, and ending on a surprisingly chilling rendition of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday that will ensure you never hear that song in the same way again.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Holi-Slay Spectacular
Upon its debut in 2018, it quickly emerged that this supposed holiday special was essentially little more than a naff 40-minute advert for RuPaul’s Christmas album and the then-upcoming All Stars 4, complete with impromptu musical numbers and a totally ridiculous “lip sync” between Michelle Visage and RuPaul.
Still, we won’t pretend we didn’t love it, and if the sillier and more irreverent moments of Drag Race are what keeps you tuning in, then you probably will too.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.