At Hallmark, Christmas never really ends. Long before The Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies and Mysteries were their own separate cable channels, Hallmark produced original movies for broadcast networks. Heartwarming family content is always the order of the day, but Hallmark has embraced Christmas films to an astounding degree. Not even Netflix can match the number of Christmas tales produced by Hallmark over the last two decades.
There is definitely a formula in most of these movies: Lost souls find redemption and love, lonely hearts meet their soul mates at last, and everyone comes together just in time for the holidays. The predictability is a feature, not a bug. There’s something comforting about the knowledge that no matter how dire things may seem, it’s almost always going to work out in the end. Hope triumphs, and love wins.
To celebrate this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the best Hallmark Christmas movies. These are the flicks that are beloved in our families, and we hope you can share them with your families as well.
A Christmas Visitor (2002)
Unlike many of the films on this list, there isn’t a romance at the heart of A Christmas Visitor. Instead, it’s about the Boyajian family working through their grief on one special Christmas. A decade earlier, John Boyajian (Aaron Ashmore) was killed while fighting in a war, and the family hasn’t celebrated the holiday since. However, the arrival of a young veteran, Matthew (Dean McDermott), helps John’s parents, George (William Devane) and Carol (Meredith Baxter), rediscover their holiday spirit. Matthew also comforts John’s sister, Jean (Reagan Pasternak), in her moment of need.
Is Matthew too good to be true? Sure, he’s got his secrets. But his heart is definitely in the right place.
Stars: William Devane, Meredith Baxter, Dean McDermott
Director: Christopher Leitch
Runtime: 100 minutes
Silent Night (2002)
One of the most amazing aspects of Silent Night is that it is based on a real event from World War II. During the last days of the war, Elisabeth Vincken (Linda Hamilton) and her son, Fritz (Matthew Harbour), attempt to survive in a remote cabin. However, their peace is broken by the arrival of three American soldiers and three German soldiers. Despite the tension between the two sides, Elizabeth convinces them all to share a Christmas meal with her family. The danger remains, but the friendships forged in that night left an indelible impression on all involved.
Stars: Linda Hamilton, Matthew Harbour, Romano Orzari
Director: Rodney Gibbons
Runtime: 100 minutes
A Gingerbread Romance (2018)
Hallmark’s Christmas movies tend to lean into romance. For example, A Gingerbread Romance proudly displays its genre in the title. Tia Mowry-Hadrict stars as Taylor Scott, an architect whose career is on the rise … if she can successfully create a life-sized gingerbread house. Enter Adam Dale (Duane Henry), a single father and a struggling baker. Taylor suggests an unlikely team-up that can help both of them achieve their dreams. But what they really need is the love and emotional support that they find in each other.
Stars: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Duane Henry, Jordana Lajoie
Director: Richard Gabai
Runtime: 100 minutes
Memories of Christmas (2018)
The lead heroine of Memories of Christmas, Noelle (Christina Milian), doesn’t exactly love the holiday season. That was her mother’s specialty, and she was “the Queen of Christmas” in their small town. Upon returning home to put her late mother’s affairs in order, Noelle meets Dave (Mark Taylor), the man who had been hired to decorate her family home. During the town’s annual Christmas celebration, Noelle’s opens her heart to both Dave and the Christmas spirit that she had denied herself for years.
Stars: Christina Milian, Mark Taylor, Jaime M. Callica
Director: Tibor Takács
Runtime: 120 minutes
The Christmas Note (2015)
The Christmas Note bucks the trend of Christmas romance movies. Instead, this adaptation of Donna VanLiere’s novel focuses on the friendship between Gretchen (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and Melissa (Leah Gibson). While Gretchen and her son await word on her husband’s return from an overseas military hospital, she finds and delivers a message to Melissa that may change her life. But more importantly, the two women have each other in their hour of need.
Stars: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Leah Gibson, Lynda Boyd
Director: Terry Ingram
Runtime: 85 minutes
The Christmas Card (2006)
Ed Asner has a very strong performance in The Christmas Card as Luke Spelman. However, the movie belongs to Luke’s daughter, Faith (Alice Evans), and Cody Cullen (John Newton), a U.S. Army Sergeant who has come home from war. While stationed in Afghanistan, Cody is emotionally affected by a Christmas Card written by Faith as part of her Church’s outreach program. When they meet in her hometown, Cody becomes close to both Faith and her father, just in time for the holiday season.
Stars: Edward Asner, John Newton, and Alice Evans
Director: Stephen W. Bridgewater
Runtime: 84 minutes
The Christmas Ornament (2013)
The Christmas Ornament has a wonderfully understated romance between Kathy Howard (Kellie Martin) and Tim Pierce (Cameron Mathison). For years, Kathy and her late husband celebrated Christmas by trading ornaments as gifts. As a widow, it’s a practice that Kathy has abandoned out of heartache. But when Tim gives Kathy an ornament as a gift, it helps her process her grief and find a way to potentially accept a new future with Tim.
Stars: Kellie Martin, Cameron Mathison, Jewel Staite
Director: Mark Jean
Runtime: 83 minutes
Crown For Christmas (2015)
Who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story? Crown For Christmas stars Danica McKellar as Allie Evans, a former maid who suddenly finds herself in a foreign country called Winshire, as the new governess for Princess Theodora (Ellie Botterill). While Allie adores her new charge, she also has eyes for King Maximillian (Rupert Penry-Jones), Theodora’s father. Their attraction is mutual, but Maximillian’s betrothal to Countess Celia (Alexandra Evans) may thwart the romance with Allie before it even begun.
Stars: Danica McKellar, Rupert Penry-Jones, Ellie Botterill
Director: Alex Zamm
Runtime: 86 minutes
The Christmas House (2020)
The most recent entrée on this list, The Christmas House, is also the first time a Hallmark Christmas movie has prominently featured a same-sex couple. Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and his husband, Jake (Brad Harder), are invited to the home of Brandon’s parents, Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence), for an annual Christmas tradition. Brandon’s brother, Mike (Robert Buckley), also comes home for the holidays, as he gets closer to his former neighbor, Andi (Ana Ayora). All three couples face emotional crises leading up to Christmas, but they overcome their trials together as a family.
Stars: Robert Buckley, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence
Director: Michael Grossman
Runtime: 84 minutes
A Grandpa For Christmas (2007)
While Hallmark Christmas films typically focus on romance, A Grandpa For Christmas follows a family as it comes back together after a long period of estrangement. For years, Bert (Ernest Borgnine) and his daughter, Marie (Tracy Nelson), have avoided speaking to each other. However, Bert steps up to take care of Marie’s young daughter, Becca (Juliette Goglia), when Marie is injured in an accident. The growing bond between Bert and his granddaughter helps him reconnect with Marie as they face the uncomfortable secrets that kept them apart for too long.
Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Juliette Goglia, Tracy Nelson
Director: Harvey Frost
Runtime: 84 minutes
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