I’ve been watching the season’s new Christmas rom-coms almost non-stop since November. There were plenty of mediocre movies (unfortunately, the Long Grove-set “Reporting for Christmas,” which debuted on Hulu, wasn’t a hit), but there were also a few that struck the right balance between cheesy, cringeworthy and Christmas charm.
A nightmare for Christmas haters: the annual Santa Claus Summit. What started as a bar’s seasonal promotion for discounted drinks turned into a wild bar-hop gathering of hundreds of people dressed as jolly old St. Nicholas. Teacher Jordin (Hunter King) takes his two friends out for holiday fun.
At the beginning of the event, Jordin loses her wallet and comes across Liam (Benjamin Hollingsworth) in her hunt. They start a conversation and somehow within minutes they are telling each other their life stories. They discover that they both love “Casablanca” and tacos! It is instant love.
However, when they enter the bar to get drinks, they are separated by the crowd of red suits and bearded people. Of course, they did not exchange names or numbers. They don’t even know what the other one looks like. Will they get back together?
You’ll be screaming in all the close encounters, but this movie has a sweet heart. Jordin’s best friends Ava and Stella also have their own cute crushes.
Available on Hallmark Channel; www.hallmarkchannel.com/the-santa-summit
This is the classic story of a love rekindled after many years. Juniper (Jessy Schram) and Sawyer (Chandler Massey) had a whirlwind romantic weekend, but their love story went nowhere when Sawyer failed to respond to Juniper’s emotional email about what a great time she had (even though she claimed she wrote back).
Now 10 years later they are reunited in the small town of Mystic. Even though they are fundamentally different people, the sparks spark again almost immediately. Juniper is famous for moving from city to city, whereas Sawyer has never left home.
It’s fun because the chemistry between the two leads is good. They’re both very awkward, but also heartfelt, and they end up calling each other out on their problems. Plus, a few of our main characters work at an aquarium, so there’s penguins, seals, and lots of cuteness!
Available on Hallmark Channel; www.hallmarkchannel.com/mystic-christmas
Kenzie (Ansley Gordon) is the exclusive producer of “Breakfast with Brooke,” a morning radio show where Brooke (Denise Richards) gives relationship advice to listeners. The problem is that the show has been terrible ever since Brooke and her husband decided to separate.
After the suits in charge reveal that their schedule is in jeopardy, Kenzie comes up with the idea of setting Brooke up on a series of on-air blind dates to find her a friend at their company Christmas party. Kenzie begins perusing potential dates, and we encounter a series of strange friends, like the guy who collects old Mason jars or the guy who’s really into sound baths.
In the midst of all this, Kenzie sees the beginnings of a romance with Ben (Jonathan Stoddard), a food writer who works in the same building. But things get complicated when Ben’s application to go on a date with his boss is discovered.
Available on Hulu; www.hulu.com
This combines two of my guilty pleasures: home renovation shows and Christmas romantic comedies. Abigail (Ashley Newbrough) agrees to help her sister and brother-in-law renovate a house they’ve just inherited. But things get complicated when it turns out that Bo (Marcus Rosner) is the co-beneficiary and Bo doesn’t want to sell the place. Instead, he’s determined to turn the house into a bed-and-breakfast and keep it an important community fixture in the small town of Brenbury.
Abigail and Bo decide to just start the renovations, although they haven’t decided what the end goal is. What could go wrong? They immediately argue with each other, but then a flirty paint fight begins to turn the tide as they argue over the right color for the walls. There’s also a cute snowball fight at a Christmas tree farm; The most intense romantic comedy material of the holiday.
The big bad in this story is the threat of gentrification, which puts both Brenbury’s small-town charm and our budding love at risk.
Available on Hallmark Channel; www.hallmarkchannel.com/flipping-for-christmas
Time travel? A movie within a movie? Count me in too! Screenwriter Lucy (Bethany Joy Lenz of “One Tree Hill” fame) is hired to pen the script for a remake of the hit 1940s holiday movie “His Merry Wife!”, set at Biltmore House in North Carolina.
But the studio head is unhappy with the change to the film’s happy ending, so Lucy is sent to the historic house for some inspiration a few days before Christmas.
Lucy takes a tour of the property and comes across an old, broken hourglass on the set. She turns it over and—bam! – was sent back to when the movie was first shot. The time travel doesn’t last very long, but he finds himself trying to find the perfect ending to the movie.
Of course, it attracts the attention of Jack (Kristoffer Polaha), one of the leading actors of the film. But like all wobbly, out-of-time things, things are complicated, and Lucy knows she can’t stay in the past forever.
Available on Hallmark Channel; www.hallmarkchannel.com/a-biltmore-christmas