The 15 Best Christmas TV Episodes Streaming Right Now

christmas tv episodes

With presents nestled under the Christmas tree and family members to avoid, what better time to pop in an episode of your favorite show? While holiday-themed episodes are often hit-or-miss, they’ve also churned out some of the best hours and half-hours of television that you can throw on in the background while you wrap your presents.

Christmas-themed TV episodes offer a wonderful alternative to the myriad of saccharine Christmas movies, with stories ranging from profoundly uplifting to hopelessly bleak. A good chaser after watching The Holiday for the umpteenth time.

Here is a list of the best holiday-themed episodes that you can find streaming online now.

15. “The Best Chrismukkah Ever,” The O.C.

You can’t start off Christmas without a side of melodrama. The teen soap was a defining show of the early 2000s, introducing to us a whole new holiday coined by Seth Cohen: Chrismukkah. Though the episode threatens to get weighed down by Marissa’s (Mischa Barton) shoplifting subplot and Ryan’s (Ben McKenzie) struggle with accepting the Cohens’ cheery approach to the holidays, Seth’s belief in the power of Chrismukkah gives the hour just the right amount of festive spirit. Seth may have been typical of the hyper-verbal sensitive geek who dominated the pop culture landscape at the time (he mentioned The Shins, take a swig of egg nogg!), but Adam Brody plays him with such irresistible charm that it’s easy to see how this episode launched Seth to fan-favorite territory.

Where to Find It: Hulu

14. “Christmas Party,” The Office

The first of many office holiday parties on this list, “Christmas Party” is the episode that is the most authentic to the uncomfortable experience of celebrating a holiday with people whom you’re forced to spend countless hours with. An office Secret Santa gets thrown into turmoil when Michael (Steve Carrell) becomes offended by everyone’s cheap presents, turning the event into a Yankee Swap free-for-all. Feelings get hurt and shenanigans ensue, but Christmas spirit and the blossoming love between Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) win in the end.

Where to Find It: Netflix

13. “In Excelsis Deo,” The West Wing

Humanity and The West Wing go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that Christmas folds in nicely to the themes of Aaron Sorkin’s beloved series. “In Excelsis Deo” follows the White House staff as they navigate the tricky publicity surrounding a hate crime against a homeless Korean War veteran. One of the quieter holiday episodes, no Christmas miracle or emotional revelation take place — just Toby (Richard Schiff) silently wrestling with the ethics of using the President’s (Martin Sheen) clout to do a good deed. The 1999 episode would go on to win an Emmy and become one of the most memorable episodes of the series.

Where to Find It: Netflix

12. “The Strike,” Seinfeld

This classic 1997 Seinfeld episode coined a fake holiday, and started a very real tradition that will last as long as ironic TV-themed parties exist. Festivus, the secular holiday celebration which began as George’s (Jason Alexander) dad protesting the commercialization of Christmas, descends into a celebration of small personal disasters: Jerry’s girlfriend storming out on him, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) losing her sub card, and Kramer (Michael Richards) getting hired and fired at a bagel shop. “The Strike” gifts us with words that will dominate the pop culture lexicon (“two-face,” “airing of grievances”) but most importantly it has Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza declaring a “Festivus for the rest of us!”

Where to Find It: Hulu

11. “A Christmas Carol,” Doctor Who

We’ve seen countless iterations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic, but Doctor Who manages to give the old tale a fresh, wibbly-wobbly twist. With Amy and Rory stuck on a crashing space ship hurdling down toward a Christmas planet (yes, it’s all Christmas, all the time), the Doctor (Matt Smith) must convince the Scrooge-like millionaire Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon) to help save their lives. There are no ghosts here — except for perhaps the beautiful, dying woman (Katherine Jenkins) with whom Kazran is enamored — as the time-traveling Doctor takes it upon himself to show Kazran his past and future. Michael Gambon lends the episode a sad gravitas that balances out Matt Smith’s manic Doctor, making for one of the best modern iterations of A Christmas Carol yet — aside from maybe the flying sharks.

Where to Find It: Amazon Prime

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