The Very Best Christmas TV Specials Airing in 2022 That You Should Record Rn

macy's thanksgiving day parade    2021    pictured radio city rockettes    photo by eric liebowitznbcnbcu photo bank via getty images
*All* the Best Christmas TV Specials in 2022NBC - Getty Images

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December is truly the best time to binge extra-special Christmas movie content: From Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas to Freeform's truly impressive lineup of classic movies, you can really take this moment to record some old films and find some new faves. Luckily for you, we've highlighted the best ones to check out this year so you don't have to pore through TV Guide for hours.

If you wanna watch these live, it might depend on your area (in other words, check your local listings to make sure these are on at the same days and times). If you want a *truly* comprehensive list of every single special around, there are a few places you can go—and expect updates as we get farther into ~festive season~. But if you're desperate to see a particular special or film that gets you in the holiday mood, start here, and hit your streaming services to see what your options are there, too. We've already tackled a few of the big Christmas movies, like Elf—including where to watch it for free online, because we love you.

There are also some streaming deals on Christmas movies and specials, as well as some Black Friday-and-beyond subscription deals you prob wanna check out if you feel like investing this year—you are a fancy grown-up, after all. In the meantime, isolate the Christmas and holiday films you're most interested in and see if you can nab 'em on TV instead of having to pay a bunch of money for each one. All times EST.

November 23

Countdown to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

8 p.m., NBC

Do you looooove the Macy's parade? Well, great news, because this is a behind-the-scenes look at the floats, bands, acts, and other features of the special event. Hosted by Amber Ruffin, you'll also get special celeb guests including Paula Abdul, Darren Criss, Jimmy Fallon, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker, Gene Simmons, and Jordin Sparks.

Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving Special

9 p.m., NBC

You prob know the drill, but if not: SNL isn't live this week, but they've got a compilation of all their best holiday sketches. So if you're in the mood for nostalgia cuz your family turned on the program every Saturday night, this is absolutely the one to watch/record.

November 24

Thanksgiving Day Parade

9 a.m.-12 p.m., NBC, CBS

The main event is always a good time—beyond your classic floats and Broadway songs, the parade usually boasts an impressive lineup. From Jordin Sparks to Betty Who to Sarah Hyland and Jameela Jamil, you're guaranteed to say "Oh yea, I know them!" at least a couple times. Plus, Hoda, Al, and Savannah remain a treat.

National Dog Show

12 p.m., NBC

If you don't love sipping a hot bev and trading commentary with your family about which cute dog is your favorite and absolutely deserves to win the whole show, dammit, then you're doing it wrong. John O’Hurley and David Frei give expert commentary on just how cute each breed is and why. Standing ovation for all the good bois and girls.

November 25

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

12 p.m., TNT

If you're unfamiliar with the Griswolds and why their holiday ends up being so wacky, it's worth familiarizing yourself with this classic. If you grew up with this movie, well, then you can rewatch knowing your Christmas probably won't be quite as bad. Also, starting at 6 a.m. on 11/28, TNT is playing the movie allll day.


2 p.m., TNT

Will Ferrell is at his absolute goofy best: Buddy is looking to connect with his biological dad and live like a human after literally being raised by Santa and his elves. It's a piping hot mug filled with the sweetest holiday cheer ever, no biggie. This'll be available November 26 at 2 p.m. EST on Lifetime, too.

The Polar Express

7:13 p.m., TBS

That book you read growing up is an actual (animated) movie! ICYMI: A train conductor takes a little boy to the North Pole. Even though this movie is primarily known for its weeeiiiiiird almost-lifelike CGI, it's still a nice trip down memory lane.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

8 p.m., NBC

This 1966 Boris Karloff classic has been around for...what feels like a million years, sure, and has spawned a bunch of spinoff movies. But it's kinda hard to beat the original thing, TBH. Also, it's very short, so you can whip through it in a single sitting. This'll also be on NBC on December 23.

Frosty the Snowman

8 p.m., CBS

Similar vibes! This 1969 cartoon is narrated by Jimmy Durante and blesses us with the tale of a sentient snowman who's kind of a troublemaker but also incredibly sweet. I wanted Frosty to be my BFF, so this one's a must-watch basically every year. It's available on a bunch of channels and days, including Freeform (December 3, 4, 21, 22, 24) and on BET on December 25.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special


Our favorite mismatched criminals head to Earth for this thing called "Christmas" and try to steal Kevin Bacon as a present for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Sign me up today and then every day after that until February.

November 26

Haul Out the Holly

8 p.m., Hallmark

Per ushe, Hallmark's breaking out a bunch of holiday movies this year, but a couple of them look extra-fun: This one, starring Mean Girl's Lacey Chabert, follows a singleton forced to participate in mandatory Christmas festivities. Even though that sounds miserable IRL, you just know she's gonna find love! It's Hallmark!

Steppin' Into the Holidays

8 p.m., Lifetime

I'm just gonna leave the logline here: "Will Sparks Fly Between Former Broadway Star Billy and Dance Studio Owner Rae?" Yes, yes they will. Mario Lopez and Jana Kramer are gonna have awesome chemistry, I can already tell.

November 27

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration

8 p.m., ABC

Everyone knows Disney during the holiday season is *especially* magical. This new special will be an inside look at Disneyland and Disney World with celebs including Ciara, Darius Rucker, Fifth Harmony, Fitz and the Tantrums, Hanson, In Real Life, Jason Derulo, and Lea Michele.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Apple TV+

You know Charlie Brown, and if you don't—seriously, what are you waiting for? The irritated kid and his adorable dog are a holiday staple! FYI, this is free to stream, but November 27 is the last day—so get on it.

November 29

Love Actually: 20 Years Later - A Diane Sawyer/ABC News Special

8 p.m., ABC

If you're a fan of the movie and want an hour-long special on how it became such a global phenomenon, boom: This special's for you. NBD, but there will be interviews with cast members including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, and Laura Linney.

Michael Bublé's Christmas in the City

9 p.m., NBC

This 2021 special celebrated the 10th anniversary of Michael's epic Christmas soundtrack and had a bunch of performances of songs off the album. Literally the only question you need to answer is, "Do I like Michael Bublé?" If the answer is yes (and it should be), this is at least worth putting on in the background while you decorate your place.

November 30

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

8 p.m., NBC

From Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani to the Radio City Rockettes, and Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph to Alicia Keys, this two hour telecast counts down to the yearly lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This year, we've got hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Mario Lopez.

Kelly Clarkson Presents When Christmas Comes Around

10 p.m., NBC

This 2021 special (timed to her album of the same name) included special guests Ariana Grande, Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, and—my particular fave—Leslie Odom Jr. Good music and silly banter, coming right up!

December 1

The Santa Clause

11:30 a.m., Freeform

Despite the deep, unsettling weirdness of this movie (the protagonist kills Santa! And then he's doomed to be Santa forever!!), it was a '90s classic that many people still love. FYI, this'll usually be followed by The Santa Clause 2, in case you wanna roll right into the second movie. And it'll replay on December 3, 7, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19, 24, and 25.

Home Alone

6 p.m., Freeform

The child hellion who tries to kill two burglars (speaking of '90s Christmas movies that aged weirdly) is another holiday classic you'll either be rewatching or catching for the first time—be prepared to be totally mystified, if that's the case. This'll be followed by Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and will replay on December 2, 4-10, 12, 13, 15-21, 23, 25, as well as December 24 on ABC.

Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas

8 p.m., NBC

This is a making-of story centered around an on-air special, and features (duh) Dolly hits alongside her trademark sweetness. Cameos include Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Miley Cyrus, and it's gonna be corny but real sweet. This will re-air on December 21.

A Hollywood Christmas


A Hollywood filmmaker makes your typical Hallmark-esque holiday movies, until (gasp) a hot network exec threatens to halt production. You guessed it, her life literally becomes a romantic Christmas movie.

A Sesame Street Christmas Carol
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas
Sesame Street's The Nutcracker


Starting December 1, all these classic Sesame Street movies will be available for kids and everyone who grew up on these (which, honestly, feels like a lot of people). Christmas Carol is probably the best, but Christmas Eve will always have my heart.

December 2

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol


This boasts an absolutely stellar UK voice cast (Olivia Colman, Johnny Flynn, Luke Evans, Jonathan Pryce, Jessie Buckley, just to name a few) and retells the classic Scrooge story in animated form. This is the premiere date, and the film should be available all season long.

The Preacher's Wife

7 a.m., Freeform

Bring Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, and Denzel Washington into your home with a snowy, holiday-centric, love triangle-heavy Christmas movie about an angel who comes down to Earth to save a couple's marriage. This will re-air on December 14.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

9:30 p.m., Freeform

You may not be as familiar with this version as the classic '60s film, but Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the green grouch in this retelling. It's actually...pretty underrated? Give it a watch if you love the story and were less of a fan of the Jim Carrey version. This replays on December 3, 17, 18, 22, and 23.

The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

1:30 a.m., Freeform

The stop motion classic may not be *quite* as well-known as Rudolph but still entranced several generations of kids. Also, get ready to have that song stuck in your head for a week. This will replay on December 3, 13, 16, and 17.

December 3

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

9:15 p.m., Freeform

The deeply strange but still sweetly nostalgic stop motion hit really gave us *the* definitive take on the red-nosed reindeer (and, if you think about it, a really wild story about the perils of bullying??). This will re-air on December 4, 21, 22, and 24, as well as December 25 on BET.

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

10:50 p.m., Freeform

Ever since the Santa-centric special originally came out in 1970, ABC has broadcast it every year (this year it's on December 1). Now Freeform can also broadcast the stop motion film, and they're really leaning in: This will re-air on December 4, 21, 22, and 24 (as well as on December 25 on BET).

December 4

Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic

7 a.m., Freeform

Continuing the vibe of "Disney is really magical this time of year," this 2017 special pulls back the mouse-eared curtain on the work to make the parks merry and bright. Hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, you can also watch this on YouTube if you prefer. This will re-air on December 13.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

2:20 p.m., Freeform

Is it a Christmas movie? Is it a Halloween movie? YES. Tim Burton's got a weird way of looking at the holidays, but a whole lot of people found his vision relatable. So if you wanna get your melancholy on, coupled with gorgeous stop animation and good songs, hit record on this immediately. This will re-air on December 17 and 23.

December 5

Holiday in Handcuffs

11:30 a.m., Freeform

This movie is so, so deeply strange that it begs to be seen (seriously, How Did This Get Made? did a whole podcast episode on it). Melissa Joan Hart's character kidnaps Mario Lopez's character and then he...falls in love with her??


8:55 p.m., Freeform

This is probably one of the best modern-day remakes of The Christmas Carol, mostly because Bill Murray is having a blast as an evil TV exec. It's also one of those underrated classics that's way more popular now than when it was released. This will re-air on December 6, 18, and 19 too.

December 10


6:20 p.m., Freeform

The classic film isn't exactly *Christmas*, per se, but it is all about wintry weather and family bonds and cool magic sh*t, so it totally counts. This'll be followed by Frozen II and Olaf's Frozen Adventure (which will re-air on December 21), in case you're going all in.

December 11

National Christmas Tree Lighting: Celebrating 100 Years

8 p.m., CBS

LL Cool J hosts this long-standing special (taking place in D.C.), which will include celeb guests like Gloria Estefan, Andy Grammer, Joss Stone, Shania Twain, and the U.S. Marine Band. (This'll also be available on Paramount+.)

The Holiday Sitter

8 p.m., Hallmark

Remember Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls? Well, actor Jonathan Bennett stars in an adorable queer holiday romance in which he has to babysit his niece and nephew and "recruits help from their handsome neighbor Jason." Yesssss.

Last Christmas

11:30 p.m., Freeform

Is it the best holiday film? Eh! Does it star two adorable actors, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding? You betcha! Is the ending weird? Yes!! But it's still a fun, fluffy watch you might enjoy. This will re-air on December 12, 20, and 21.

December 12

Baking It: Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler's Celebrity Holiday Special

10 p.m., NBC

Fred Armisen, Kristen Bell, Nicole Richie, and JB Smoove are just some of the celebs joining Maya and Amy on the festive episode of this series. Learn how well (or badly) your favorite celebrities cook, and root for your faves!

A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special

8 p.m., NBC

Same deal as with Thanksgiving: a bunch of holiday-themed skits throughout the years. Take a walk down memory lane, but also realize a lot of good recent SNL content is centered around the Christmas holiday. This will replay on December 22.

December 16

It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie

7 a.m., Freeform

The first made-for-TV muppets movie is also a direct homage to It's a Wonderful Life, with an angel showing Kermit what life would be like if (sniff) he'd never been born. It's also a fun time capsule with about a million celebrities in it.

December 17

iHeartRadio Jingle Ball

8 p.m., CW

With tour stops around the U.S. and performers including Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Jack Harlow, Pitbull, Sam Smith, Khalid, and Charlie Puth, the Jingle Ball TV special is pretty reliably a fun concert experience—even when you're watching from your couch instead of the stands.

December 18

Hanukkah on Rye

8 p.m., Hallmark

The only Hanukkah film in Hallmark's holiday offering this year also features Jane the Virgin's Yael Grobglas!! Ahem: "A matchmaker connects Molly and Jacob, but their new romance is put to the test when they realize that they are competing deli owners. Will a Hanukkah miracle keep them together?" Into it.

December 20

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All!

8 p.m., CBS

Mariah's latest Christmas revue will perform ~a bunch~ of her classic songs (grabs popcorn, waits for "All I Want for Christmas") while recording live in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Virtual Mariah tix = yes please.

December 23

Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love

9 p.m., NBC

This 2016 drama, based on Dolly's life, is all about the Parton family banding together to treat their mom to a special piece of jewelry and a direction for the future. Family shenanigans ensue!

December 24

It's a Wonderful Life

8 p.m., NBC

I know this movie. You know this movie. It's the definition of holiday classic, and it's usually on every Christmas Eve—so, this year is no exception. Settle in under a blanket, grab the popcorn and tissues, and let Jimmy Stewart teach you about the true meaning of Christmas. Sniffle.

December 25

Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade

1o p.m., ABC

The parade will also stream live on Hulu, and feature performances from Ne-Yo, Derek and Julianne Hough, Meghan Trainor, and the Black Eyed Peas. In addition to the Disney characters and performers going down Main Street, you also get glimpses of Disneyland and Disney World, which just dials up the nostalgia factor about a million percent.

Call the Midwife: Holiday Special

9 p.m., PBS

This special originally aired in 2021, and features—you guessed it—a busy Christmas for Nonnatus House, with lots of pregnant ladies. If you like the show, this is exactly the Christmas watch you need.

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