Christmas Movies

There Are 40 New Hallmark Holiday Movies & Only 12 Hallmark Holiday Movie Plots

You know the 12 Days of Christmas, but we're here to talk about its cousin, the 12 Plots of Hallmark Christmas. Hallmark and its sister network Hallmark Movies & Mysteries produced a whopping 40 new original holiday movies for this Christmas season. But as you might expect, the plots aren't all that original. In fact, all 40 new 2020 Hallmark holiday movies can be sorted into just 12 categories.

We can give them one thing, which is that at least these categories are mixing things up a little. A little. While this year introduces us to a few new tricks, we have a lot of old standbys in the mix, from ol' reliables like opposites attract and heading home for the holidays, to recent obsessions like the inclusion of vaguely royal characters and journalists as romantic heroines.


And while it sounds impossible, each of these 12 categories have more than one movie that matches, and some have several. I checked my list twice. Some movies are even overachievers and weave their plots through multiple categories. There's even one that features a single dad (check!) who comes home for Christmas (check check!) and reconnects with a childhood sweetheart (check check check!).

No one is surprised that Hallmark has figured out what works and that they're driving it home for the holidays. But it's somehow shocking to see just how strikingly similar all these movies really are. I guess it's as the old saying goes: if you've seen 12, you've seen them all.

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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

1. Hallmark Movies About Rediscovering A Passion For Music

This may sound like an extremely specific genre, but three of this year's holiday movies are about about a woman (either a pianist or violinist) who needs inspiration to keep her love of music alive. Good thing they're about to meet some handsome men, which in the Hallmark-verse is the same as divine inspiration!

Chateau Christmas
Merritt Patterson (from E!'s The Royals) plays world-renowned pianist Margot who runs into an ex (Luke Macfarlane) for the holidays. Soon, he helps her discover love and rediscover her love of piano.

Christmas in Vienna
Grey's Anatomy's Sarah Drew stars in this film as a violin player who travels to Vienna for a performance, even though she's lost her passion for playing the instrument. While abroad, she meets a charming man (Brennan Elliott) and gains some newfound musical inspiration. 

The Christmas Bow
This movie follows what happens when a gifted violinist (Lucia Micarelli) has to put her dreams on hold. But when an old friend (Michael Rady) shows up who supports those dreams, she may just find love as well. This one airs on Hallmark's sister network, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

2. Hallmark Movies About A Royal Christmas

For fans of Netflix's Christmas Prince franchise, this Hallmark category is for you. Two films this year center around royal families, and in both a commoner finds love with a prince at Christmastime.

One Royal Holiday
Kind-hearted Anna (Laura Osnes) helps shelter a mother and her son (Victoria Clark and Aaron Tveit) during a storm only to learn that she's housing members of the royal family of Galwick (that's a made up country, if you were wondering). It isn't long before she and the prince start to fall for one another.

A Christmas Carousel 
Lila (Rachel Boston) is hired by the royal family in Marcadia (also a fictional country) to fix their carousel. But soon she may find herself fixed up… with the prince (Neal Bledsoe).
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

3. Hallmark Movies About Holiday Time Travel

There is an intersection between Christmas rom-com and science fiction, and it exists in these two movies where protagonists either travel back or forward in time to find love during the holidays.

A Timeless Christmas
Charles (Ryan Paevey) unexpectedly travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan (Erin Cahill), the tour guide at what used to be his mansion. As they fall in love, viewers will be reminded of what 2020 could have been in an alternate pandemic-free timeline.

Christmas Comes Twice
Tamera Mowry-Housley stars in this movie as a woman who regrets letting the love of her life (Michael Xavier) get away five years ago. Good thing a magical carousel is about to give her a second chance to do it all over. And before you even ask, this is a different carousel than the one fixed in A Christmas Carousel. I feel like it's important to make that distinction.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

4. Hallmark Movies About Opposites Attracting

No list of Hallmark movies would be complete with old this age-old standby, beloved by made-for-tv movies and big screen rom-coms alike. There's no more obvious tale of conflict and resolution than one in which two people who should hate each other start to fall in love.

Unsurprisingly, Hallmark's got seven of these stories this year.

On the 12th Date of Christmas 
Two incompatible game designers (Mallory Jansen and Tyler Hynes) have to work together to make a romantic, Christmas scavenger hunt — but the real prize at the end of the search? Love. Duh.

Good Morning Christmas!
Rival TV hosts (Alison Sweeney and Marc Blucas) have to pretend they like each other while covering news in their small Christmas-obsessed town. But all that pretending may give way to real feelings. Basically they just fake it 'til they make it — and then they make out.

If I Only Had Christmas
This year's Candace Cameron Bure flick (she does one of these every year) features the Fuller House star playing an upbeat PR rep. She partners with a cynical CEO (Warren Christie) to give back during the holidays, and it's only a matter of time before her cheery ways worm their way into his heart.

Christmas She Wrote
Danica McKellar plays a romance writer whose contract is unceremoniously cancelled right before Christmas. But even as she's thrown in the towel, the man who terminated her column (Dylan Neal) returns to win the rights back to her work — and her heart in the process.

Love, Lights, Hanukkah!
The singular Hallmark movie about Hanukkah stars Ben Savage and The L Word's Mia Kirshner. Her character discovers right before the holidays that she's Jewish thanks to a DNA test, and it leads her on a path to find a new family and an "unlikely romance."

Cranberry Christmas
This Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film follows a legally separated couple (Nikki DeLoach Benjamin Ayres) who decide to pretend their relationship is fine to keep their business afloat. But as is the case in Good Morning Christmas!, the couple is kidding themselves if they think this isn't going to end in romance.

Swept Up By Christmas
Also airing on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is this movie about a cleaner and an antique collector (Justin Bruening and Lindy Booth) who can't agree about what to do with an old estate. The more they explore the house together, the closer they get to falling in love. Nothing like building a foundation for romance while standing on an actual foundation. No? Just them?
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

5. Hallmark Movies About Single Parent Finding Love... At Christmas

This plot presents an extra challenge to the woo-er: Not only does he or she need to win over the single parent, but they also need to win over the kid. 

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater
I vehemently disagree with this title, but it sounds like single mom Maggie (Ashley Williams) will also break her rule, because she's awfully cozy with a man in a Christmas sweater in the movie poster. This story follows what happens when Maggie takes in an unexpected houseguest (Niall Matter) for Christmas who could be the answer to her holiday loneliness. 

Christmas With the Darlings
Jessica (Katrina Law) agrees to help her former boss' younger brother (Carlo Marks) as he takes in his recently orphaned niece and nephew for the holidays. That seems extremely outside her job description, but I see a forever family in the cards for all four of them.

Deliver By Christmas
Bakery owner Molly (Alvina August) is falling for one of her patrons she's never met, but she also has feelings for the hot widowed man who recently moved to town with his son. But what if, in true You've Got Mail style, they're the same person? This movie airs on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Holly & Ivy
This Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film is packed with stars. Pretty Little Liars star Janel Parrish plays Melody, who has pledged to her dying neighbor (Riverdale's Marisol Nichols) that her kids Holly and Ivy won't be separated after her death. Good thing Supergirl's Jeremy Jordan plays a contractor who helps Melody fix up a home to raise the children in.

Project Christmas Wish
The final Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film in this category follows Lucy (Amanda Schull), who channels the spirit of Christmas to make the wishes of her neighbors come true each holiday season. This year, she's got a tough task — giving a young girl a Christmas like she used to have when her mom was around. And we all know Lucy will end up becoming a second mother to the little girl and falling in love with the girl's dad. Those are just the rules. 
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

6. Hallmark Movies About Heading Home For The Holidays

For some people, journeying home for the holidays comes with the anxiety of dealing with relatives with different political views, being asked about their relationship status, and confronting childhood stressors and traumas — but not in Hallmark World. Here, going home for Christmas almost always coincides with finding true love and sometimes even upending someone's entire life (to move back home for good, obviously).

The Christmas House
This one is a big deal, as it's the network's first Christmas movie that puts an LGBTQ+ couple at the forefront. Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett plays Brandon, who heads back to his hometown with his husband Jake (Brad Harder). They eagerly await news about their pending adoption, which is almost sure to come through just in time for them to be one big happy family for the holidays. 

Five Star Christmas
One Tree Hill's Bethany Joy Lenz stars in this movie as Lisa. She moved home for Christmas to help out at her dad's bed and breakfast, which she's hoping to get a five star review from a tough travel critic (Victor Webster). Whether the critic loves the B&B or not, he's sure to love Lisa.

Cross Country Christmas
Former schoolmates Lina (Rachael Leigh Cook) and Max (Greyston Holt) are carpooling home for Christmas, but a storm threatens their holiday plans. As they figure out an alternate route home, they may find themselves growing even closer.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

7. Hallmark Movies About Childhood Sweetheart

What happens when the one who got away returns? Love, of course! At least, in Hallmark's world. In the real world, running into an ex is very rarely romantic and almost never magical.

A Nashville Christmas Carol
A super busy TV producer (Jessy Schram) learns to slow down and appreciate the little things — which in this universe, almost always means love. That's all thanks to three ghosts who show her what her life will look like if she doesn't reunite with her ex (Wes Brown), who turns out to be the manager for her musical show's biggest performer.

Heart of the Holidays
Sam (Vanessa Lengies) is all work, all the time until she heads home for Christmas and runs into her high school boyfriend Noah (Corey Sevier). He helps show her what's really important in life — cue the aggressive career change subplot! It's really shocking that it took this long to arrive at Hallmark's patented anti-high-powered-career-woman-from-a-big-city storyline. Most of this network's movies end with a female protagonist forgoing her city life and career to move back home to the simpler small town where she'll work at a candy cane store/Christmas tree farm/apple orchard instead for a giant, soulless corporation.

The Angel Tree
The mystery in this Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film is who is secretly granting people's wishes all over town? When a local writer (Jill Wagner) tracks him down, she may be surprised to learn that he's a childhood friend (Lucas Bryant) turned perfect romantic partner.

A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love
This movie combines multiple popular tropes, including coming home for the holidays and being a single parent, but it stands out in the childhood crush column the most. Pat (The Bold Type's Sam Page) moves home with his young sons and soon runs into his high school sweetheart, Margie (Brooke D'Orsay). Will he, as the title bluntly hints, get a second chance with his first love? Come on, you know the answer by now.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

8. Hallmark Movies About Traveling Out Of Town For The Holidays

It's not quite as popular of a trope as going home for Christmas, but there's also a category for characters who leave town for Christmas. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has two films that fit into this trope this year.

Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas
Produced by Blake Shelton, this movie stars Lacey Chabert from Mean Girls. (I'll give you a moment to recover from that sentence.) Lacey's Sarah and four other people get a mysterious invite to a Christmas inn. It's not long before Sarah cozies up to the inn owner (Stephen Huszar) during the chilly winter getaway. 

The Christmas Doctor
Holly Robinson Peete plays Dr. Alicia Wright, who sets off on an assignment out of town which brings her face-to-face with a mysterious man from her past (Adrian Holmes). He's certain to be her love interest in the film, so it's a good thing she decided to work over the holidays, huh? You did it, Hallmark! You made a pro-career woman movie! I knew you had it in you.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

9. Hallmark Movies About Falling For A Handsome Local — Usually A Fireman

Hallmark's male protagonists often have jobs like contractor, fireman, farmhand, or other similarly outdoorsy careers that practically scream "He works with his hands!" These hardworking locals are also always hot, which makes falling for them all the more inevitable. 

A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado
Erin (Rochelle Aytes) wants the best and biggest Christmas tree for the town's holiday celebrations, but she must convince local firefighter Kevin (Mark Taylor) to spare a spruce from his land. While they argue over trees, they're almost destined to fall in love.

Jingle Bell Bride
A wedding planner (Julie Gonzalo) heads to Alaska to find a rare flower for an upcoming ceremony. Good thing a handsome local (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) is on hand to help her in her hunt. He's not a fireman, but, like, he could be.

A Glenbrooke Christmas
This Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film follows heiress Jessica (Autumn Reeser), who just wants a quaint Christmas for once. She heads to the tiny town of Glenbrooke, and it's there that she rediscovers her love for the holidays while also discovering love with a local fireman (Antonio Cupo). Naturally.

Unlocking Christmas
Another Hallmark Movies & Mysteries entry, this movie follows Kate (Taylor Cole) as she teams up with handsome local Kevin (Steve Lund). The two try to solve a holiday riddle after she receives a mysterious key on her doorstep. Will the key unlock her heart? You know the answer to all these questions is "yes" at this point, right?
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10. Hallmark Movies About Evil Corporations Threatening Small Businesses

Following in the footsteps of You've Got Mail, these films focus on small shops threatened by big corporations. The heads of the two businesses very often end up falling in love despite the career peril that the big business person is inflicting upon the other. In real life, if someone tried to put me out of business, I would probably hate them forever, but this is Hallmark World, and here, those rules do not apply.

Christmas by Starlight 
Annie's (Kimberly Sustad) family restaurant is going to be torn down to make way for a big development firm. Annie's only chance to save the café is to pose as the legal council for the development firm, where she finds herself falling for the business' handsome heir (Paul Campbell).

Christmas Tree Lane
Meg (Alicia Witt) owns a music store in this Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie, and you can probably guess where the story is going. She wants to save the beloved local shopping district from demolition. But she is also flirting with a new man in town (Andrew Walker)... who turns out to be connected to the developer tearing the district down. 
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

11. Hallmark Movies About Christmas Weddings

Holiday weddings are pretty popular in real life, so a Christmas wedding movie is the perfect way to indulge everyone's romantic fantasies for the holidays. But Hallmark keeps it a little interesting: not all of these weddings go off without a hitch.

Christmas Waltz
Lacey Chabert stars in this movie as a jilted Christmas bride who finds comfort in her dance instructor (Will Kemp). He helps her heal during the holidays after she has her storybook wedding cancelled.

Christmas in Evergreen: Bells are Ringing
This is the fourth installment in the Christmas in Evergreen franchise. This time, Holly Robinson Peete's character Michelle is getting ready for her big day while her friend Hannah (Rukiya Bernard) begins to question her own romance with Elliot (Antonio Cayonne). The synopsis wants viewers to think that Hannah might end things with Elliot, but as an avid-Hallmark watcher, I'd wager that this movie ends with a double wedding.

Meet Me at Christmas
Joan's (Catherine Belle) son is getting married on Christmas Eve, but when his wedding planner unexpectedly quits, Joan teams up with the bride's uncle (Mark Deklin) to finish the ceremony. And the new planning duo may create some romantic sparks of their own. This one is on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
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Photo: Courtesy of ©2020 Crown Media United States.

12. Hallmark Movies About Journalism, But During Christmas

Journalists and writers are frequent rom-com leads — look at How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or The Holiday — so naturally Hallmark also has a bunch of movies about reporters. All three of this year's come from the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries network, because having journalists explore a mystery and also probably (definitely) find love is what the holidays are all about. I think. Or maybe I've been Hallmark World for too long.

USS Christmas
Norfolk reporter Maddie (Jen Lilley) takes a Christmastime cruise (remember cruises?) and meets a hunky naval officer (Trevor Donovan) who helps her investigate the folklore surrounding the ship.

A Little Christmas Charm
Ashley Greene stars in this movie as Holly, a jewelry maker who's on the hunt for the owner of a lost bracelet. Soon, reporter Greg (Brendan Penny) joins her search, and he uses his investigative skills to track down the bracelet owner and to get to know Holly better.

The Christmas Ring
When a family engagement ring gets passed down to Michael (David Alpay), he teams up with reporter Kendra (Nazneen Contractor) to learn the original love story behind the gem. I'll bet you anything he ends up proposing to Kendra with the very same ring by the end of this thing.
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