If you’re one of those people who likes to warm up the winter with a big, sugary mug of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows, a drizzle of maple syrup, a candy cane and just a splash of Baileys Irish Cream … and some cinnamon-sugar sprinkles, then you’re probably a prime candidate for the holiday rom-com wars that happen every year between the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime. It was confirmed years ago that—between the blizzard of films on Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries—the greeting card folks are the undisputed champs of Christmas-based rom-coms. That hasn’t stopped cross-channel rival Lifetime from making a damn good run of it, or preventing upstarts like Freeform, ION and UP from delivering their own brand of holiday romance.
So, if you’re into high-powered, overworked female executives (played either by Candice Cameron Bure or Lacy Chabert) forced to return to their rural hometowns for the holidays where they promptly reunite with their high school sweethearts (played either by Chad Michael Murray or some country music star) while saving the local bakery/parade/talent show/Christmas tree lot from destruction, then here’s your exhaustive guide to this year’s mistletoe-covered rom-coms.
Nov. 22—A professional ice skater, hired by the king of San Senova to coach the princess for a Christmas performance, falls in love in Christmas at the Palace (Hallmark). Also, there’s The Christmas Contract (Lifetime).
Nov. 23—Pride and Prejudice and Zombies seemed like it was pushing things, but Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe (Hallmark) adds even more sap to Jane Austen’s 1813 romance. Or you could try out Poinsettias For Christmas (Lifetime) or Every Other Holiday (Lifetime).
Nov. 24—Overworked, holiday-hating businesswoman? Return to small hometown? High school sweetheart? Check, check, check. Christmas Everlasting (Hallmark) has got all the chichés covered. Why even bother with Every Day is Christmas (Lifetime), Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane (Hallmark M&M) or Christmas Harmony (Lifetime)?
Nov. 25—Mere weeks after I warned them about the limitations of giving female romantic leads cute “holiday”-themed names (Joy, Noel, Grace, Eve), the bigwigs at Lifetime come up with Jingle Belle (Lifetime). Yup, her name is Belle. Also tonight: A Shoe Addict’s Christmas (Hallmark), Christmas Cupid’s Arrow (ION), A Stone Cold Christmas (Bounce TV), The Truth About Christmas (Freeform) and Christmas Perfection (Lifetime).
Nov. 30—A Very Nutty Christmas (Lifetime) casts Melissa Joan Hart as a baker who falls in love with the Nutcracker Prince (the dude from The Nutcracker). No, really. Or do the sequel thing with A Christmas Prince 2 (Netflix).
Dec. 1—In a wacky twist of fate, two single parents mix up their kids’ Christmas gifts at a toy store. I wonder how this will end. Catch A Twist of Christmas (Lifetime) to find out. Or watch Mingle All the Way (Hallmark) instead. What do I care?
Dec. 2—Tyra Banks returns as a magical doll come to life in Life-Size 2 (Freeform). That faces stiff romantic competition from The Christmas Pact (Lifetime) and Northern Lights of Christmas (Hallmark M&M).
Dec. 8—Businesswoman (Melissa Gilbert) returns home to rural Louisiana, reunites with high school sweetheart while trying to save the town’s traditional live nativity scene. Homegrown Christmas (Hallmark) is the platonic ideal of Holiday rom-coms.
Dec. 9—For some reason, holiday rom-com lovers love bakers. Here, a baker tries to save her small mountain town from a ski resort developer. Will they fall in love? Find out in A Christmas in Tennessee (Lifetime).
Dec. 14—NYC venture capitalist finds herself in small-town Vermont for the holidays where she must save a local bookstore from financial disaster. Sadly, the bookstore owner is not her high school sweetheart, which means Christmas Around the Corner (Lifetime) is disqualified.
Dec. 15—Entertaining Christmas (Lifetime), Christmas Pen Pals (Lifetime), Country Christmas Album (ION), Time For Me To Come Home For Christmas (Hallmark M&M) all sound the same to me. Just pick one.
Dec. 16—A Gingerbread Romance (Hallmark). Tia Mowry. A baker. Some kinda romance. Have at it. I’m done for the year.