8 Best Christmas TV Episodes
Don’t have time for Christmas movies? Here are some of the best Christmas TV episodes you can watch in under an hour.
TV Christmas episodes are better than Christmas movies in at least one aspect: They’re shorter—do you have time to watch a two-hour film during the holiday season? Ho-ho-nope.
Here are eight great modern-classic TV Christmas episodes to squeeze in this yuletide season, including a couple that may spike your familial anxiety. (You’ve been warned.)
The best Christmas TV episodes of all time
8. Frasier, “Miracle on 3rd or 4th Street” (S1 E12, 1993)
Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), thoroughly disappointed that his young son won’t be visiting him over the holidays, decides to work the Christmas Eve shift at his radio station. After he endures many a depressing call from lonely listeners, a shabbily dressed Frasier hits a diner where he’s assumed to be a homeless man, and the other patrons generously buy him dinner. Faith in humanity (mostly) restored!
Where to watch Frasier:
7. Seinfeld, “The Strike” (S9 E10, 1997)
You guessed it—this is the “Festivus” episode. George (Jason Alexander) is determined to get out of buying Christmas gifts for his coworkers, so he tells them that he donated money in their names to a fake charity, “The Human Fund.” To cover for that, George tells his boss that he only observes the Christmas alternative Festivus, which includes the hilarious, and timeless, Airing of Grievances.
Where to watch Seinfeld:
6. The O.C., “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (S1 E13, 2003)
Speaking of Christmas alternatives, The O.C. adopted another one just six years after Seinfeld’s: Chrismukkah, an interfaith mashup of Christmas and Hanukkah (as you probably guessed from the name). Since Seth’s (Adam Brody) parents are Jewish and Presbyterian, he claims to have invented Chrismukkah, which consists of eight days of presents, followed by one day of many presents. A legit rival to Festivus.
Where to watch The O.C.:
5. The Office, “Christmas Party” (S2 E10, 2005)
An employee Christmas party at Dunder-Mifflin begins to go south when a good-natured Secret Santa gift exchange turns into a viciously competitive game of “Yankee Swap” (also known as “White Elephant”). Then things go completely off the rails when Michael (Steve Carell) brings in “15 bottles of vodka to get 20 people plastered.” A cautionary, but funny as hell, warning against in-office parties.
Where to watch The Office:
4. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, “A Very Sunny Christmas” (S5 E13, 2010)
As he always does, Frank (Danny DeVito) ruins Christmas for Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) by gifting the lavish presents they want (a designer handbag and a Lamborghini, respectively) for himself. Meanwhile, Mac (Rob McElhenney) learns his favorite childhood toy was stolen from another kid, and Charlie (Charlie Day) beats up a mall Santa. All this and a classic claymation scene.
Where to watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia:
3. New Girl, “The 23rd” (S1 E9, 2011)
Jess (Zooey Deschanel) breaks up with her boyfriend just in time for Christmas, which is so Jess. Then, the gang attends Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) office Christmas party, where he cosplays as a scantily dressed Sexy Santa (office Christmas parties, still a bad idea). Also, Nick (Jake Johnson) gives Winston (Lamorne Morris) the best gift he can: a frozen burrito in a plastic bucket. (Nick sucks at Christmas.)
Where to watch New Girl:
2. Black Mirror, “White Christmas” (S2 E4, 2014)
On Christmas Day, Matt (Jon Hamm) and Joe (Rafe Spall) exchange stories in a remote, snowbound cabin. Matt recalls how he was part of an online pickup-artist support group that inadvertently caused a murder–suicide. Then, he reveals his former job was training digital clones to be personal slaves. Joe counters with a tale wherein he killed his ex’s father and a little girl on Christmas Eve. Fun holiday fare!
Where to watch Black Mirror:
1. The Bear, “Fishes” (S2 E6, 2023)
Hoo-boy. The Bear is rarely a relaxing ride, but the flashback episode “Fishes” (referring to a traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes) amps up all the emotions to 11. It’s Christmas Eve 2015 at Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White) family home, and Mom is guzzling wine and cooking in a whirlwind of chaos. What follows is the most dysfunctional (and surprise-guest-star-filled) holiday get-together ever ripped open like a wound on TV. If your own family drama pales in comparison to this, Merry Christmas.