There’s nothing like watching your favorite TV shows as they celebrate the holidays right along with you. Below are 10 worthwhile Christmas specials from some of the most popular TV series of the past few decades.
“Friends: The One with the Holiday Armadillo”
Season 7, Episode 10
When Ross’s son Ben comes to visit for the holidays, his dad takes the opportunity to familiarize him with their Jewish heritage. Ben is skeptical about a holiday season without Santa, but Ross remains determined to connect with his son. With no Santa suits available so close to Christmas, Ross is forced to improvise with hilarious results.
Editor’s Note: As of January 1, 2020, “Friends” is no longer available to stream on Netflix.
“The Office: Christmas Party”
Season 2, Episode 10
In this classic episode of one of the most-watched shows available on Netflix Michael decides to hold a gift swap at the office holiday party. After setting a spend-limit of $20, he proceeds to arrive to the swap with a $400 iPod Video (it was only a year or so earlier that a color display came to the iconic mp3 player), hoping to be the office hero.
“The Sopranos: To Save Us All From Satan’s Power”
Season 3, Episode 10
What does a mobster Christmas look like? For Tony Soprano it includes taking a moment to reflect on lost friends, when a gift he receives from Meadow reminds him of his betrayal by former friend Sal Bonpensiero. The gift, an animatronic fish plaque sings the words “take me to the river! Drop me in the water!” Even if you don’t watch the series, you can probably guess what happened to Sal.
“Parks and Recreation: Citizen Knope”
Season 4, Episode 10
Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope goes above and beyond in every aspect of her life, and getting holiday gifts for her co-workers is no exception. Hilarity ensues as she reveals her meticulously crafted, personalized presents as we’re reminded of her character’s genuine caring nature. Her co-workers notice too, as they surprise her with a thoughtful gift of their own.
“Grey’s Anatomy: Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”
Season 2, Episode 12
This perennial favorite’s first Christmas episode is full of all the romance and drama you’ve come to expect from the series. Soon-to-be-married Burke and Yang grapple with a patient who is resistant to accept a new heart and find themselves divided on how to handle the situation. Meanwhile, McDreamy (Derek) confides in his ex-wife, telling her that his involvement with Meredith was more than just a fling.
“Lizzie McGuire: Aaron Carter’s Coming to Town”
Season 1, Episode 7
Journey back to 2001, when then-teenage-heartthrob Aaron Carter was lighting up the “Billboard” charts and one of Disney’s most cherished TV character was a teenager we all remember named Lizzie McGuire. The episode features a duet performance of Carter’s “I Want Candy,” along with an on-screen kiss between the two (then-dating) stars. If you’re a fan of the series, keep your eyes peeled for the Disney+ revival!
“The Simpsons: Marge Be Not Proud”
Season 7, Episode 11
In a series known for cynical comedy, this Christmas episode takes a turn towards earnest and heartfelt. Marge steps out of her role as the nagging mother as we take a closer look at the mother-son relationship between her and Bart. The episode concludes with a touching and relatable gesture that displays the softer sensibilities of the show.
“Seinfeld: The Strike”
Season 9, Episode 10
If you’ve ever heard of Festivus, this episode is responsible for popularizing this alternative holiday focused on resisting the commercial pressures of Christmas. A public airing of gripes with their closest friends and a wrestling match cap off the festivities in this classic episode.
“A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special”
Season 44, Episode 400
All of the best holiday sketches from across the decades come together in the “Saturday Night Live” annual Christmas special. Relive the glory days of the long-running series with these iconic sketches from cast members of the past and present.
“The Big Bang Theory: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”
Season 2, Episode 11
In his typical fashion, Sheldon pontificates on the concept of giving Christmas gifts, suggesting that receiving a gift is just an obligation to return the favor to signal your perceived level of friendship. He’s shocked when Penny surprises him with an unexpected gift that means the world to him, and Sheldon returns the gesture with a rare hug.
Watch “The Big Bang Theory” on TBS. (This episode is only available for purchase from YouTube and Amazon and iTunes)