Predicting the Best Hallmark Christmas Movies for 2016


Hallmark has 25 or so new Christmas movies premiering this year. They actually start playing reruns tonight at 10:00 PM on both of their channels. I have no idea why certain movies debut on the original channel and a handful show-up on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries but rest assured if you want to watch something with sleigh bells and candy canes before December you won’t have any issues.

Let’s be honest for a second, a lot of these films are not going to appeal to everyone. By no means do I like all of Hallmark’s movies. I also get a little annoyed that so many of them have really uninventive titles. It’s like they’re going for SEO instead of what the story is actually about, but every year they produce a few solid story lines with strong casting and particularly well done holiday decorations. I really only have the synopsis to go on for most of the new 2016 movies (I think a lot of them are actually still in post production) but below I’ll try to predict which ones I think are going to be your best bet for a feel good Christmas TV experience.

I think you may want to DVR:

The Mistletoe Promise
Premieres: Saturday, November 5th at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
I hesitate on this one a bit because I’m not a Richard Paul Evans kind of girl and this is based on one of his books. However, the set pics look like they have pretty sparkly decorations and Jamie King was adorable in Hart of Dixie so let’s give it a whirl.

Every Christmas Has a Story
Premiere: Saturday, November 12th at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
The plot doesn’t really excite me very much but I love Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin) and it also stars Colin Ferguson, from Eureka, who apparently is dressed like an elf at some point. Seems like a good enough reason to me.

My Christmas Dream
Premiere: Saturday, November 19th at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
Here’s a great example of one of those uninspired titles…My Christmas Dream...that’s all they’ve got? Anyway, Danica McKeller (The Wonder Years) stars and Danica also happens to be in one of my favorite made-for-tv movies, Love at the Christmas Table. I really admire the work she does outside of acting helping to educate and encourage little girls to love math so I’m watching this. Bonus: soap opera queen Deirdre Hall apparently plays her boss. Hopefully, a very glamorous, exacting, and slightly mean one.

A Nutcracker Christmas
Premiere: Saturday December 10th 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
This is the movie I’m the most excited for. Amy Acker is so good in everything she does, plus she’s part of the Whedonverse. We also have real ballet dancers, death, betrayal, and romance to look forward to. I kind of wish it was on Lifetime though so something really scandalous would happen, but I’m sure Hallmark will whip up a suitable happy ending instead. Many ballet dancers also sort of dislike dancing in The Nutcracker so let’s see if any of them betray their misery on screen.

A Heavenly Christmas 
Premiere: Saturday, November 26 at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
This is the Hallmark Hall of Fame film this year so it will undoubtedly have been graced with a larger budget and higher production values. It also stars Charlotte from Sex in the City, Eric McCormick (Will & Grace) and Shirley MacLaine. As those folks are all very well known and accomplished actors I think the whole Christmas-angel-helps-struggling-musician thing will work. We’ll see.

Journey Back to Christmas
Premiere: Sunday, November 27th at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
Here we have DJ Tanner in period costumes, everyones’ favorite dad, flight instructor, and/or sheriff, Tom Skerritt, Kate Hudson’s super hot brother (Oliver Hudson) and time travel. If you added in a Tardis this could totally be on the BBC. Candace Cameron is always a strong contender when picking Christmas movies so you have to watch this one whether you want to or not.

Broadcasting Christmas
Premiere: Wednesday November 23rd at 8/7c
Channel: Hallmark
You’ve probably realized at this point that my benchmark for deciding what to watch is based on total nonsense. Therefore, I have absolutely no problem telling you that I don’t have any other reason for you to check out this movie other than the fact that it stars Melissa Joan-Hart and I’ve watched Holiday in Handcuffs approximately 1000 times in my life. That should really be enough. Don’t you think?

The Sound of Christmas
Premiere:Sunday, December 11th
Channel: Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Do you watch The Librarians? If so, then you definitely know who Lindy Booth is and you’ll absolutely want to watch her play a piano teacher. Lindy is essentially what would happen if champagne bubbles came to life.

Jamie’s Christmas Cookbook

Jamie Oliver has been the king of stunning Christmas cooking specials for years. These episodes have made me wish that he and Jules would adopt me on an annual basis. They already have 5 kids, what’s one more? So I’m pretty much bursting with visions of sugar plums after learning that he’s released a gigantic Christmas cookbook today. According to the publisher’s website, Jamie’s even designed the recipes so that they can be cooked at the same oven temperature allowing you to easily mix and match the dishes to build your own perfect Christmas meal.

Recipes that cook at the same oven temp?! What tomfoolery is this? Seriously though, why don’t more people present menus in this manner? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up with a dinner timing nightmare that involves me running from stove to toaster oven and back again. Very clever, Jamie!

Right now the book appears to only be available in the UK but I’ll keep an eye out to see when it hits the shelves in the US.

Obscure Christmas Episodes: A Year in the Life

I was listening to The Nerdist’s interview with Sarah Jessica Parker the other day (which is great) and I ended up checking out her IMDB page. While there I found a tv credit from the 80s for a miniseries called A Year in the Life and noticed that the word “Christmas” appeared in the title of 2 of the 3 parts for the show. I instantly wished I could check them out, but seriously doubted I would be able to find anything. I was really wrong. The entire movie is on YouTube.

It’s rather blurry and definitely was converted from someone’s old VHS but I watched it anyway. Surprisingly, I kind of loved it. Other people probably did too since it won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and eventually was given a full 22 episode season. The grandson in the film cracked me up and the clothes and hair are amazing. You can practically feel the aqua-net in the air. In addition to Sarah Jessica Parker, you’ll also find Adam Arkin (Chicago Hope), Amanda Peterson (Can’t Buy Me Love), and Eva Marie Saint (On The Waterfront). Grandpa Jo is played by Richard Kiley (if you look him up you’ll definitely know who he is). The series takes place in Seattle so there are shots of the public market and lots of rain. It’s also a drama so don’t blame me if you need a tissue. I’m just here for the Christmas.

Christmas Galore (OK Feast of the Winter Star but Whatever) in Stardew Valley

Christmas Year 4 Stardew Valley

I talked about my love for the video game Stardew Valley (and it’s inherent foodie friendliness) on my other blog back in April. It’s now almost August and I’m STILL playing. Not quite as much as when I first started but I did just celebrate my 4th Christmas in game. OK. It’s not actually called Christmas. The official title of the holiday is The Feast of the Winter Star, but as you’ll see, it bares a very strong resemblance to the most wonderful day of the year.


As I sit in my 80+ degrees office at 11:00 AM in July, I can’t help but be a little nostalgic for the threat of snow and the prospect of mittens. Stardew Valley doesn’t disappoint in this respect. As soon as I wake up in the game I check the forecast and always get a little excited when the weather man announces an upcoming storm.

The snowstorms in this game are absolutely mesmerizing! Twitter user @kirin87 made this animated gif of snowfall in the game and I think you’ll agree that it has a rather hypnotic effect. The winter season of Stardew Valley is by far my favorite. The music, the landscape, the lack of usual farm frenzy all combine to create a very quiet environment. It’s tremendously relaxing.


To really get in the spirit of the holiday season I like to sport a little red ensemble and a jaunty Santa hat. As you can see, I’ve also begun decorating my house. It’s not exactly up to Clark W. Griswold standards but it will do for now.


I hope that in the next game update the creator will add more decorative options because I have serious deck the halls envy when I walk around town and see all of the other houses sporting wreaths and lights and all manner of sparkly touches. Leah has candy canes.


Pierre’s store is festooned with garland.


Penny & Pam’s trailer has oodles of twinkly lights.


Grandma Evelyn’s rainbow theme is completely on point.


Then we have Robin’s house. I assume she’d win the decorating contest if there was one. What an overachiever. Hmm…maybe that activity should be added to the game! Dear Concerned Ape please take note.


During Stardew Valley’s winter there are two special events that take place. One is the Festival of Ice. The big moment of the day is a fishing contest which I usually win, now that I finally understand how to fish, go me!


The other takes place on Winter 25 (aka The Feast of the Winter Star). At some point in the month you’ll receive a letter from the mayor letting you know who your secret santa will be. Your job is to bring that particular townsperson their favorite thing. In return they usually give you complete garbage but I suppose it’s the thought that counts. My first year playing reigning mean girl, Haley, gave me a glow ring which is awesome and let’s you see in the dark so you don’t run into trees at night and get lost in overgrown forests. After that, various townspeople have given me shells, sticks of wood, and rocks. Umm…yay? Rumor has it there’s a slim chance you’ll get a tea set. I’m holding out a little hope that this will happen.


During Winter 25, the downtown area of Stardew Valley is extremely pixel pretty. There’s a huge, lovely tree and everyone gathers to share a feast.


However, just like real life holidays, Stardew Valley keeps it real. Moody Sebastian is annoyed with his family.


Someone drinks way too much.


Dad Demetrius already knows he’s just getting another tool from his unimaginative family (at least it isn’t a rock…) be grateful, dude!


People worry about eating too much. To which I say, chill out Jodi! You’ll be back at step class with all the ladies on Tuesday. Which also means that none of you will be in your respective shops and homes when I need something. I’m not bitter about that at all. Nope.


After all that holiday drama it’s no wonder I’m having an It’s a Wonderful Life moment on a bridge…I kid! I kid! I just like standing around in the snow.