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8 Best Christmas TV Show Episodes, Ranked — Guaranteed to Make You Feel Extra Jolly!

A favorite part of the yuletide season is wrapping up in a fuzzy blanket on our couches and watching sweet holiday movies. It’s like apple cider and cookies for the soul! But, for a quicker block of entertainment — and guaranteed chuckles — we also love to rewatch Christmas episodes of classic television shows.

Most sitcoms and other television series from years past had at least one Christmas episode during their run, so we gathered our favorite half-hour gems that warm our hearts, amuse us and get us into the holiday spirit.

8 Best Christmas episodes on TV, Ranked

8: Frasier: “Frasier Grinch” (1995)

Frasier Grinch
Edward Hibbert, Kelsey Grammer, and Dan Butler in “Frasier” (1995)

It’s Christmas Eve, and Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) is stressed from waiting for his young son, Frederick, to arrive from out of town. At the studio, where Dr. Crane does his broadcast show reading his annual Christmas parable, his goofy colleagues dance around in Santa hats and tease him from the other side of the glass; two of these coworkers then come into the studio and decorate Frasier with tinsel and lights while he broadcasts.

An exotic dancer in Santa-style lingerie joins the mischievous celebration, and later, Frasier comes home to a whimsically decorated apartment with a happy North Pole vibe, reindeer and Santa included – the work of his father, Martin (John Mahoney), to reserved Frasier’s dismay. Frasier panics when he discovers that the gifts he ordered for Frederick didn’t arrive. It’s off to a crazy shopping mall on Christmas Eve!

The episode ends with Frasier in rare sentimental tears because his father gave him an Outlaw Laser Robo Geek – which Frederick asked Santa for. Great save, Dad!

Watch Frasier on Hulu now, and see the reboot of Frasier on Paramount +.

7: The Addams Family: “Christmas with the Addams Family” (1965)

Christmas with the Addams Family
The Addams Family cast in “The Addams Family” (1964) Getty

You know the inherent clash between the creepy, Halloweenish, kooky Addams Family and Christmas is bound to be a hoot. As Morticia (Carolyn Jones) and Gomez Addams (John Astin) gush over their macabre gifts, children Pugsley and Wednesday come home, confused because a neighbor told them Santa Claus wasn’t real.

The family doesn’t want to risk disappointing the children, so they decide to get a backup Santa – Uncle Fester! He goes up on the roof in costume and gets stuck in the chimney. Morticia sings “Deck the Halls” while butler Lurch plays the piano, and disembodied hand Thing jingles the bells. The kids write a letter to Santa telling him they still believe in him, and they ask him to come.

Gomez appears at their window in a Santa suit. He climbs in and gives the kids gifts, then he falls off the roof. What follows is a hilarious parade of backup Santas, with Grandmama (Blossom Rock), then Lurch (Theodore Crawford Cassidy), then Cousin Itt, then Morticia appearing in Santa suits, followed by Uncle Fester in a cloud of smoke. The kids start to figure the ruse out. While all the Santas are bickering, surprise! The real Santa mysteriously shows up and leaves a beautifully decorated – and normal – tree. The whole family then sings “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Watch The Addams Family on Amazon Prime now.

6: The Wonder Years: “Christmas” (1988)

The Wonder Years: Christmas
Josh Saviano, Fred Savage and Danica McKellar in “The Wonder Years” (1988) Black/Marlens Company

It’s 1968, and in an era-capturing storyline, Kevin (Fred Savage) and Wayne (Jason Hervey) are in a store watching a choir sing on a screen, and they fall in love with color TV. Mother Norma (Allison Mills) says they’d have to ask their father, Jack (Dan Lauria), but good luck with that: He is at a tree lot complaining about paying $8 for a Christmas tree. The kids pump their miserly father about the TV, but he groans that money doesn’t grow on trees – and drives home from the lot, still griping about the price of the tree.

Kevin and his Jewish friend, Paul (Josh Saviano), and compare notes about who has it better at Christmas or Hanukkah. And what does Kevin want? Cue the sweet music and slow-motion footage of his Winnie walking toward him – a vision that abruptly crashes when Kevin sees her with another dude holding her hand. (Thankfully, it was just a fantasy.)

Kevin then finds himself in a common awkward Christmas situation: Winnie (Danica McKellar) gives him a gift, but he doesn’t have one for her. He claims he does have one, just not there with him. (As the adult voiceover says: “A lie, but a good lie.”)

Kevin goes to Winnie’s with a box of perfume and a melodramatic fantasy of her answering the door in a red tutu and tiara. An older woman answers the door and says the family went to spend Christmas elsewhere. Kevin is reminded of Winnie’s brother getting killed in Vietnam last year. Feeling sad, he walks home by decorated houses and finds his family and some neighbors outside singing “Silent Night.” They go inside and have a warm, fuzzy family Christmas. And they did get the color TV… but two years later.

Watch The Wonder Years on Hulu now.

5: Friends: “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” (2000)

Friends: The One with the Holiday Armadillo
Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer in “Friends” (2000) Christmas Bros. Television

This episode covers two major December holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, with amusing results. While Chandler and Monica (Courteney Cox) celebrate their engagement, Ross (David Schwimmer) prepares to spend the holidays with his son, Ben (Cole Sprouse). Being Jewish, Ross really wants to get young Ben excited about Hanukkah, but Ben isn’t biting and he’s all about Santa Claus and Christmas. Ross reluctantly goes out to get a Santa suit to entertain his son, but it’s a few days before Christmas and the costume shop is sold out.

So, as an emergency backup, Ross gets one costume that is available: an armadillo. He comes to see his son in costume and explains that he is the “Holiday Armadillo” and a friend of Santa’s. He is also, a costumed Ross tells his son, part Jewish and a Hanukkah fan. Then, Chandler – played by Matthew Perry, who sadly died in October – shows up in a Santa suit and confuses Ben. Armadillo asks Santa to leave, but Ben prefers Santa. Santa asks Ben to just with him and listen to the story of Hanukkah. As Armadillo gives the history lesson, Joey shows up dressed as Superman.

After the story, Santa throws in this zinger: “My favorite part was when Superman flew all the Jews out of Egypt.” You made us laugh, Matthew.

Watch Friends on Max now.

4: Diff’rent Strokes: “Santa’s Helper” (1982)

Diff’rent Strokes: Santa’s Helper
Gary Coleman in “Diff’rent Strokes” (1979) Christmas episodesGetty

A naïve Arnold (Gary Coleman) starts complaining to a New York City sidewalk Santa collecting donations for charity in front of a store. The Santa – who, like Arnold, is Black – asks the young boy whether he lives in Harlem, where he and brother Willis (Todd Bridges) used to live. No, Park Avenue! And then, Arnold gripes about having spent all his Christmas cash and having nothing left over to buy his chauffeur or housekeeper a gift. (Well, life is tough, kid!)

Arnold dresses up as a mini-Santa and starts working with the man to earn the extra cash, but he doesn’t know that this Santa is dishonest and an aspiring thief who sees an easy target. On Christmas Eve, Mr. Jones, the bad Santa, delivers Mr. Drummond’s (Conrad Bain) gifts to his family – then, on his way out, he discreetly rubs putty on the door latch.

Then, overnight, Jones comes and pulls a Grinch-style cleanout of the Drummond Park Avenue penthouse. But then, when a clueless Arnold vents to Jones the next day about the massive theft and gives him a gift, the convicting spirit of Christmas descends upon the thief. As the Drummond family eats Christmas dinner, the doorbell rings: And there, at the doorstep, is the family’s decorated tree and wrapped gifts. All that’s missing from this happy ending is the Grinch carving the roast beast.

Watch Diff’rent Strokes on Tubi now.

3: Bewitched: “A Vision of Sugar Plums” (1964)

Bewitched: A Vision of Sugar Plums
Dick York, Erin Murphy and Elizabeth Montgomery in “Bewitched” (1967) Christmas Productions

Despite her grumpy mortal husband’s aversion to witchcraft, Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) just can’t resist using her magic to restore a little boy’s faith in Christmas and Santa Claus. She and Darrin (Dick York) go to an orphanage to pick a child to bring home with them just for Christmas. The nosey neighbors, the Kravitzes, do the same thing. The Kravitzes (Alice Pearce) take home a nice boy named Tommy, whom a boy named Michael was bullying about his belief in Santa. The Stephenses take home the stinker in hopes of improving him.

On Christmas Eve, Samantha and Michael go downstairs and see Santa putting presents under the tree, but cynical Michael busts Santa as being just Mr. Stephens in costume. Upstairs in Michael’s bedroom, Samantha says: “Suppose I told you there really is a Santa, because I’ve talked to him?” Samantha then magically changes into her witch costume and invites Michael for a broomstick ride to the snowy North Pole, where Santa indeed knows her by name. Gladys Kravitz witnesses the flying broomsticks outside her window and freaks out as usual. Darrin actually joins the journey to the North Pole, but the next morning, he thinks it was a dream and Sam, wanting to avoid drama, doesn’t correct him.

This episode captures the Christmas magic of the North Pole and ends with this heartwarming lesson from Santa: “The real happiness of Christmas isn’t found in what we get, but what we give.”

Watch Bewitched on Tubi now.

2: The Jeffersons: “984 W. 124th Street, Apt. 5C” (1977)

The Jeffersons: 984 W. 124th Street, Apt. 5C
The cast of “The Jeffersons” (1977) Christmas episodesGetty

In this gem of a episode, George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) is in wife Weezy’s (Isabel Sanford) doghouse when she thinks she has discovered an affair – but at the end, we learn of a huge misunderstanding brimming with a heartwarming holiday spirit. It’s one of those Christmas episodes that starts with the typical, funny bickering between George and maid Florence (Marla Gibbs), when the mailman arrives with packages and picks up an envelope. Weezy discovers that the mailman has been taking a cash-filled envelope monthly from her place to the same address for years.

Then, she discovers that George has secretly sent Christmas trees to this Harlem address, too, and she cries when she discovers a wrapped gift for this mysterious recipient under the tree and George leaves to deliver it. Weezy storms out to track down her husband and finds him at this shabby apartment building. She angrily demands to know who lives there, and he claims he doesn’t know and that the tenants don’t know who he is. Weezy calls bull-honky!

But then, a young boy answers the door, and the family invites the Jeffersons inside. The family explains that they have had a secret Santa for several years whose financial help has been a godsend. George comes clean and confesses that he grew up in that apartment in the poor neighborhood, and pledged that there would never be a bad Christmas there.

“That was the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve never been prouder of you!” Weezy says as they share a Christmas embrace. Aaawww.

Watch The Jeffersons on Tubi now.

1: The Brady Bunch: “The Voice of Christmas” (1969)

The Brady Bunch: The Voice of Christmas
The cast of “The Brady Bunch” (1969) Christmas Television

This episode gets our top vote for one of the sweetest Christmas episodes ever, as it captures the magic of Christmas miracles and the pure heart of a little girl. Mother Carol Brady is crushed when she comes down with laryngitis right before she is scheduled to sing in church on Christmas. Throughout most of the episode, Florence Henderson mimes rather than speaks – including when she playfully directs the Brady boys to relocate the giant Christmas tree a few times.

Housekeeper Alice, desperate to help, makes a concoction that smells terrible. Meanwhile, Mike Brady (Robert Reed) takes Cindy (Susan Olsen) to a department-store Santa Claus, who gets this impossible request from a girl who says she wants no toys: “I want my mommy to get her voice back!” In an awkward spot, Santa tells Cindy he is sure that will happen. Upon hearing this misleading pledge that no elf can fulfill, Mike angrily confronts Santa. But, on Christmas Eve, Carol wakes up in the middle of the night and starts singing in bed, to her glee. The next day, she sings “O Come All Ye Faithful” to her adoring family surrounded by poinsettias at church.

As Cindy put it: “He’s better than a doctor. He’s Santa Claus!”

Watch The Brady Bunch on Amazon Prime now.

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