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The Best Christmas Episodes From Your Favorite California TV Shows

The Best Christmas Episodes From Your Favorite California TV Shows

Here are the best Christmas episodes from your favorite California TV shows to enjoy with your family and friends this holiday season.


6 min read

December 08, 2021

Every once in a while, watching a good holiday episode from your favorite TV show is better than a full-fledged movie—it’s a lot more tailored to you anyway, because if you’re a fan of Happy Days for instance, then you’re probably going to be down for their Christmas special. And we’ve picked a few across the board so that no preference feels left out in the cold. Best Christmas episodes: California edition, let's go.

The Best Christmas TV Episodes 

Ah, the televised holiday special! A venerated yearly tradition that has gone through more changes than Scrooge himself.

1. Miracle on Third or Fourth Street (Frasier, Season 1, Episode 12)

As he’s looking forward to a visit from Frederick (Trevor Einhorn) just in time for Christmas, saying that Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) is a bit on edge would be an understatement. When the visit is canceled, however, Frasier takes out his disappointment on his family. Frasier decides to spend Christmas Day at the station rather than at home after having a heated argument with Martin (John Mahoney). Trudging to get a seedy dinner, he gets an unexpected boost of Christmas spirit from the station’s regulars.

2. An Echolls Family Christmas (Veronica Mars, Season 1, Episode 10)

A holiday poker game gets nasty when Weevil’s (Francis Capra) winnings disappear, leaving Veronica (Kristen Bell) to determine the guilty party. Though not your typical festive watch, Veronica Mars’ antics thrill regardless, making for one of the best Christmas specials in the mystery and crime genre.

3. Christmas Party (The Office, Season 2, Episode 10)

Choosing just one episode of The Office is a tough feat, but ‘Christmas Party’ is the messy, at-times problematic choice that we ]all turn to during the holiday season. A game of Dirty Santa goes wrong after Michael (Steve Carell) overshoots the price limit—by a long shot—and everything goes downhill when a pair of oven mitts fails to please the boss. Several poor decisions later, there are flying gifts, flashing cameras, and more. It’s a lot, but it’s also one of the best Christmas TV episodes, so we comply.

What's your pick? Is it a song and dance spectacular? A heartwarming fable? A retelling of Dickens’ Christmas Carol?

4. The Chrismukk-huh? (The OC, Season 4, Episode 7)

When Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Taylor (Autumn Reeser) have an argument over where they stand with whatever relationship they have (we don’t know either), they both fall off a ladder while Ryan is putting up Christmas lights. The next thing they know, they’re awoken in an alternate reality of what life would have been like if Ryan had never come to Newport Beach

5. Together for Christmas (The Lucy Show, Season 1, Episode 13)

Lucy (Lucy Carmichael), Viv (Vivian Vance), and the kids are spending their first Christmas together and they do nothing but argue over their family’s special traditions. But the kids show Lucy and Viv the true meaning of Christmas. This is one of the best Christmas specials of all time if you’re with your family—matching ugly sweaters are not a must, but they certainly are preferable.

6. How Cruel the Frost, How Bright the Stars (Kojak, Season 3, Episode 15)

Christmas Eve is anything but jolly for Kojak (Aristotelis Savalas) and his men. A woman is convinced her boyfriend is going to commit a sort of crime, but she doesn't know exactly what. Simultaneously, a jealous husband is looking to kill his cheating wife; stream this nail-biter if you’re looking for a spook-tastic way to spend the holidays.

The holiday special occupies a singular space in pop culture, inviting collective nostalgia and repeat viewings.

7. No-Ho-Ho (Happy Endings, Season 3, Episode 7)

Happy Endings never got its due, and if any episode really points that out, it’s ‘No Ho Ho’. After it comes out that Jane (Eliza Coupe) has been hiding that her birthday is on Christmas, her friends do their best to organize a no-Christmas birthday celebration for her. However, the festive nature of the season proves to be quite the obstacle.

8. Christmas Time (Happy Days, Season 6, Episode 16)

A cold, snowy Christmas finds Howard Cunningham (Thomas Edward Bosley) trying to convince his family to put up a new-fangled, artificial tree. A mysterious sailor delivers a gift from Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) father, forcing the Fonz to deal with his long-suppressed feelings of abandonment.

The Best Christmas Specials Of All Time

As time and television schedules seem to move at an ever-increasing clip, the holiday special is a welcome respite.

9. The One With the Routine (Friends, Season 6, Episode 10)

While notoriously New York-centric, a lot of Friends’ episodes were actually filmed in the Golden State. This also applies to The One With the Routine, where Joey (Matt LeBlanc) tries to kiss Janine (Elle Macpherson) at midnight on the set of ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.’ While that is happening, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Ross (David Schwimmer) resurrect their dance routine from high school. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Chandler (Matthew Perry) search for Monica’s hidden Christmas presents.

10. Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas (Community, Season 2, Episode 11) 

Honestly, Community is a bit of a fever dream all on its own, but when the series leaned into that fully and got lost in the mind of its most complex character, Abed (Danny Pudi), everything they made was nothing short of genius. Their stop-motion animation is one of the best Christmas TV episodes of all time, mixing in the fast-wit comedy the show’s renowned for with an empathetic story about why Abed shifted into the animated world in the first place. So cozy up with your beaux and watch this Abed-centric delight, shining a bittersweet light on what Christmas is for a lot of people.

11. Last Christmas (This Is Us, Season 1, Episode 10)

Word to the wise—do not watch this holiday episode of your favorite NBC drama without a box of tissues nearby. But you wouldn’t expect anything less than a whole bunch of feely twists and turns from This Is Us, would you?

Even new holiday specials have the sweetly musty air of something from another time that make us all warm and fuzzy inside.

12. Afternoon Delight (Arrested Development, Season 2, Episode 6)

While Buster (Tony Hale) looks for ways to get out of serving in Iraq, Lindsay’s quest to score a date at the Bluth Company Christmas party backfires after Gob’s (Will Arnett) speech. Michael (Jason Bateman) and Maeby (Alia Shawkat) get in trouble singing Afternoon Delight, but are quickly overshadowed by Oscar (Jeffrey Tambor) and Lucille’s (Jessica Walters) afternoon delight.

13. Stuff (Black-ish, Season 2, Episode 10)

In this one-part-heartwarming, one-part hilarious episode of ABC comedy Black-ish, the Johnsons try to help their kids rediscover the true meaning of Christmas—and spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with ‘stuff’.

14. LAXmas (New Girl, Season 4, Episode 11)

Thanksgiving might be the most highly anticipated holiday in the New Girl loft, but Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and the gang had their fair share of Christmas excitement too. When canceled flights left them stranded at LAX in season four, they made the best of it in one of the greatest Christmas episodes in sitcom history. 

Christmas episodes tend to demonstrate the strengths of our favorite series, allowing us to share traditions from our world with the fictional ones.

15. Citizen Knope (Parks and Recreation, Season 4, Episode 10)

When Leslie (Amy Poehler) is put on a two-week suspension from her job, she still tries to sneak in and get work done. But more importantly, the crew around her comes together to help put together a special Christmas gift for their leader. The result is the best gingerbread city hall that a Deputy Director could ever ask for.

16. My Mom, Greg's Mom, and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves! (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season 1, Episode 8)

If you like music but are also kind of cynical about musicals, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend might be for you. Their installment into the holiday canon finds Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) mom, played by Tovah Feldshuh visiting for a California Christmas that does not feel like the Christmas she knows. The back and forth captures a loving yet patronizing vibe that may feel familiar for, well, a lot of people.

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