The 18 Best New Christmas Movies of 2021

'Tis the season...for a truly unruly amount of new holiday movies.

christmas movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you’re someone who starts pulling out the Christmas tree lights as soon as the temperature dip below 60 degrees, then you're about to have a great six weeks. This year will see a record 146 new Christmas movies air before Santa even parks his sleigh on our roofs, and that alone is reason to celebrate the spirit of the season. 

Now, if you multiply 146 movies by the average, 90-minute runtime of a holiday flick, that means we're looking at a total 219 hours of movie time premiering this year—a little over nine days, straight through—making it not impossible but highly improbable that most of us will be able to catch every single one, at least if we’re trying to view them before Christmas. Will my household try to do it anyway? Almost certainly. We’re popping some corn as we speak. But to make it a little easier, I've pulled out the 12 new Christmas movies I'm most excited to watch this holiday season. 

So hang your stockings by the chimney with care, roast some chestnuts on an open fire, and settle in for movie time, because these are the best Christmas movies of 2021. 

On the first day of Christmas, my true loves (Netflix, Hallmark, Lifetime) gave to me…

You, Me and the Christmas Trees

This one premiered in October, because you know Hallmark's got the right idea (the idea being that Christmas technically starts before Halloween). Danica McKellar from The Wonder Years (fun fact: Did you know she discovered a mathematical theorem that is now named after her?) stars as a tree scientist who specializes in evergreens and is tasked with saving a generational family Christmas tree farm from a mysterious disease that is threatening to ruin Christmas/their livelihoods. Will there be love, ideally with a rugged-but-traditional Christmas tree farmer who reminds her about the spirit of giving? I sure hope so! 

Premiere date: October 22.

How to watch: Hallmark Movies Now

Christmas in Harmony

Before you ask about the title: Yes, this is a Christmas movie about a choir. But don't worry, because Harmony is also the name of the main character. Specifically, person-named-Harmony is chided into auditioning for a Christmas choir that turns out to be directed by her ex-boyfriend. I predict that there will be many meanings of "harmony" by the time this one is done. And Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child is in it! How harmonious.  

Premiere date: October 29.

How to watch: Hallmark Movies Now

Love Hard

The writing in this movie is refreshingly quippy for the genre, plus it has your new favorite male rom-com protagonist, Jimmy O. Yang. Love Hard follows Natalie (played by Nina Dobrev), who chronicles her crappy online dating life in L.A. for a website, but who thinks she's broken the unlucky streak by matching with total Tinder smokeshow Josh. But when she flies to New York to surprise him, turns out she was being catfished by the childhood friend of the guy in the profile photos. He agrees to set Natalie up with Photo Man—a dude realistically named Tag—if she agrees to pretend to be Josh's girlfriend in front of his family. I think you can guess what happens next, but it's truly a delight to watch it unfold. Bonus: Dream boyfriend and spectacular ab-haver Harry Shum Jr. also stars.

Premiere date: November 5

How to watch: Netflix

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star

The first two installments of The Princess Switch franchise followed Vanessa Hudgens as Stacy the Princess of Belgravia, Vanessa Hudgens as Margaret the Queen of Montenaro, and Vanessa Hudgens as Lady Fiona Pembroke as they get into various Christmas doppelgänger hijinks. The Princess Switch 3, however, completely diverts this narrative by having no look alikes at all, just one lone Vanessa Hudgens taking on Christmas-related romps all by herself. 

Just kidding, it's doppelgänger stuff again, this time involving a handsome thief. Vanessa Hudgens is the hardest working woman in Christmas movies. 

Premiere date: November 18.

How to watch: Netflix

Christmas With a Crown

This Lifetime movie is going to check off a lot of Christmas movie bingo cards: A big city business girl returns home to her small, sleepy town to revive its holiday festival, where she meets a dashing stranger who just wants to learn what Christmas is all about. Oh, and it turns out he's royalty. The smart money is also on "one of her parents loved Christmas and is now deceased, so the holiday brings back bittersweet memories for her." We've seen it a thousand times, yet will gladly watch it a thousand more.

Premiere date: December 8.

How to watch: My Lifetime

Reba McEntire's Christmas in Tune

This year was hard, but an unexpected bright spot was that Reba McEntire had a whole Rebassaince (if you've been on TikTok in the last few months, you know). End the year of Reba right with this country-fied Christmas movie about a mom who gets the band with her ex-husband back together for one special Christmas show. 

Premiere date: November 26

How to watch: My Lifetime

The Great Christmas Switch

Hope you're not sick of Christmas twins-switching-places movies yet, because we got another one comin' in hot! This one, on the new-ish GAC Family channel, features two very different twins who get a chance to spend a holiday in each other's shoes, only to find that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. 

Premiere date: November 6.

How to watch: If you don't have cable (or don't have GAC Family), it's streaming on Peacock.

A Castle for Christmas

Brooke Shields plays a successful writer whose last book was a disaster. But! She becomes inspired again after a visit to Scotland and a for-sale castle that comes with a hot Duke with a 'tude, played by Cary Elwes. The twist is that he refuses to move out before Christmas, so they have to cohabitate for 90 days. It's Christmas! It's romance! It's more royalty! It's all great, but be honest: This movie had you at "Brooke Shields," didn't it?

Premiere date: November 26.

How to Watch: Netflix

A Boy Called Christmas

A magical, fantastical and rather big-budget Christmas movie about a boy who teaches the world to believe. It looks very Narnia-esque. Plus, Dame Maggie Smith and a bunch of other very famous British actors all make appearances.

Premiere date: November 24

How to watch: Netflix

Single All the Way

Queer Christmas movies can be really hit-or-miss, especially when, even in the 2020s, so many of them insist on being ultimately about how straight people can overcome their own homophobia. It just feels like a retro idea to keep harping on, when there are so many other great stories yet to be told about LGBTQ holiday hijinks. That's what makes this one seem so fun: It's about a guy whose family is always bummed about him being single at Christmas, so he brings his best friend home to pretend he's actually his boyfriend. The family isn't fooled, but surprise! His mom (Kathy Najimy) set him up on a blind date with a super hot guy! Nevertheless, sparks do end up flying for the first time between him and his best friend, and a sweet Christmas love triangle is formed. And as a special gift to viewers, Jennifer Coolidge is there doing literally whatever she likes. 

Premiere date: December 2.

How to watch: Netflix

Blending Christmas

One of the most anticipated new releases this holiday season, Blending Christmas hits the exact notes you want to hear when you think "made-for-TV Christmas movie." That's largely due to its truly weird stunt casting, featuring several members of the original and film adaptations of The Brady Bunch, starring as Haylie Duff's family who surprise her at a resort where her boyfriend intends to propose. 

Premiere date: December 12

How to watch: My Lifetime

Home Sweet Home Alone

Local, open mic comedy nights of the past decade have seen many a tight-10 predicated on the simple question, "What if Home Alone, but present day?" Generally, everyone agrees that, due to the ubiquity of cell phones, all misunderstandings about left-behind children would have been cleared up before anyone got on a plane, no elaborate booby traps necessary, crisis averted, and to all a good night. But this year, Disney+ decided to take their own whack at that question with Home Sweet Home Alone. And their answer? No, not cell phones, but "pathos for the burglars." These robbers aren't greedy criminals, they're parents! Who just want to give their kids a nice Christmas after one of them lost their job! It's all just a big misunderstanding from a loving couple who's down on their luck. And you know what? Fine. Yes. I accept.

Premiere date: November 12.

How to watch: Disney+

Zoey's Extraordinary Christmas

Everyone loves a good holiday special for their favorite TV show. Though NBC's musical comedy Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist was cancelled this year, the show is getting a second life through...a holiday movie! The flick will pick up where the end of Season 2 (with all those cliffhangers) left off, as Zoey (spoiler alert) goes through her first holiday season without her father. The entire original cast is returning—including Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, and Bernadette Peters—so musical fans, be sure to check this out.

Premiere Date: December 1.

How to Watch: The Roku Channel

Under the Christmas Tree

Continuing its streak of firsts with LGBTQ Christmas content, Lifetime is airing its first Lesbian holiday romance this year. A small town local and slight workaholic discovers that her favorite Christmas tree has been selected to get cut down and moved for the governor's holiday celebration. While she initially butts heads with the tree expert, sparks can't help but fly as the women fall in love (with some encouragement from a pastry chef, played by Ricki Lake).

Premiere date: December 19.

How to watch: My Lifetime

A Naija Christmas

This Nigerian movie has three Christmas romances for the price of one. After their mother experiences a health scare, three brothers rush out to find wives before the Christmas holiday to honor what may be her final wish. The film is sure to be as hilarious—Nollywood movies almost always are—and it's filled with star actors, including the late Rachael Oniga as the mom.

Premiere date: December 16.

How to watch: Netflix

Cady Drell
Cady Drell

Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.