It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for Hallmark Channel executives! The annual Countdown to Christmas programming event has become a holiday destination for TV viewers, making Hallmark the most-watched entertainment cable network for five years in a row.
“We have a 24/7 news cycle — it’s a constant need to be fed — and we have a lot of dark, edgy programming out in the world that’s fantastic, but as in the human experience, it’s a huge spectrum, and where we live is with positivity and celebration and emotional connection, and that’s unique to what we do,” Michelle Vicary, then Crown Media’s EVP of programming and network publicity, explained to Variety in 2019. “If you choose to spend two hours of your time with us, you’re going to feel a little bit better about the world and yourself and your community.”
That said, fans can’t take Hallmark’s Christmas flicks too seriously, right? For a while, it seemed like each one featured a white, heterosexual couple, with the woman wearing red and the man wearing green. And it wasn’t just the marketing that seemed cookie-cutter: The storylines have felt a little familiar…like an old Christmas sweater, perhaps! (“What has 15 actors, 4 settings, 2 writers, and 1 plot line? 632 Hallmark Christmas movies,” one Twitter user quipped a few years ago.)
So we’re honoring Hallmark’s holiday programming and also roasting it like a chestnut on an open fire with this chronological list of the most Hallmark titles in Countdown to Christmas history. If our eyes happened to land on these titles in the pages of TV Guide Magazine, we’d know right away we were looking at a Hallmark Channel listing.
Jennifer Beals stars in this movie, playing one half of a workaholic couple who swing into action to save Christmas after Santa Claus crashes into their house. We’re still holding out for a sequel titled The Night Before the Night Before the Night Before Christmas.
The first Countdown to Christmas offering with a punny title — and certainly not the last — this film features holiday favorite Daniel Stern (of Home Alone fame), who defends his house’s luminous reputation from the competition across the street.
Featuring a pre-Outlander Sam Heughan and a pre-Supergirl Katie McGrath, this movie boasts the first of many “royal falls for commoner” Countdown to Christmas storylines. McGrath plays an antique store employee who gets swept off her feet and swept into the monarchy of Castlebury. (Of course the kingdom is called Castlebury!)
Remember what we said about the puns? In this tale inspired by A Christmas Carol, Carrie Fisher plays a Marley-type ghost who shows the ruthless book publisher Carol, played by Emmanuel Vaugier, what the holiday is all about. (Unfortunately, the 2018 Hallmark Channel movie It’s Christmas, Eve is unrelated.)
The “mix-up” in question? Whether shop owner Alice (Alicia Witt) — Hallmark loves those shop owners! — will stay true to her fiancé, Will (Scott Gibson), or follow her attraction to his brother, Matt (Mark Wiebe). “Sometimes fate has a funny way of mixing things up” is the wisdom dispensed in the promo above.
And speaking of shop owners finding love in unexpected places, this Hallmark Channel movie has bridal boutique entrepreneur Madeline (Rachel Skarsten) smitten with her client’s celebrity brother, Jonny (Trevor Donovan). Will her feelings go unrequited? Or, as Hallmark wonders, will the action star “be brave enough to take on the role of a lifetime”?
We can’t utter the title of this movie without laughing. How did they manage on set?! In any case, the romance follows a holiday decorator (Jill Wagner) working overtime to deck the halls of a mansion and de-curmudgeon her handsome client (Matthew Davis).
Starring Marisol Nichols and Kristoffer Polaha, this movie tracks a couple whose relationship has gone from “holly jolly” to “ho-humbug.” Can they get their spark back in Gracious, Vermont? Meanwhile, we’re wondering why it took decades for Hallmark to dream up a “Married Christmas” title.
When they’re not penning puns, Hallmark Channel is all about the alliteration. Case in point: A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe, with Rachel Boston as a cookie-company CEO mogul on the trail of a stolen family recipe and Victor Webster as a dashing baker caught up in her investigation.