Many holiday activities require planning ahead. And once we pencil in family time, parties, special meals, school events and celebrations, our calendars are scheduled down to the minute. Know what we don’t have to plan? Watching Christmas movies. Thanks to streaming services, we can tune in to one—or more than one, or many more than one—anytime, anywhere, with anybody we choose.
What’s the best way to watch Christmas movies? However you want to. It could be a spontaneous family movie night or invitation-only watch party…but honestly? It may just be a me-time marathon of Hallmark Christmas movies and wrapping presents and eating cookies in your pajamas.
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First, though: Why does it feel so good to watch Hallmark Christmas Movies?
We watch knowing what’s coming—romantic connections, holiday traditions, happy endings—and as the credits roll, we feel great, whether we’ve finished a film for our first time or our fifth.
But why is that? According to one behavioral scientist, the emotional journey of a Christmas movie is comfortable and satisfying for us because of its reliability.
As Pamela Rutledge of Fielding Graduate University told NBC, Christmas movie storylines tend to follow the classic structures of fairy tales. We draw comfort from narrative patterns we easily recognize: As we watch, we are easily able to escape into each movie while putting our everyday lives on pause.
And the result of our connecting with the characters in a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, she says, is that we are emotionally rewarded with feelings of hope and optimism. We feel more capable and connected and validated. All this counters the stress, anxiety and even depression that we can feel from everyday life and particularly during the holidays.
The short answer: Watching Hallmark Christmas movies is good for our emotional well-being. It’s just science.
Now some people might think kicking back and watching a few Christmas movies (or, like a dozen) would feel either indulgent or frivolous in the face of to-do lists that aren’t becoming ta-da lists.
But is taking some “me time” to watch a few movies really that indulgent?
Consider this: Any activity you undertake to promote your own mental, physical and emotional well-being is an act of self-care. It doesn’t have to be yoga or a hike or an art class—only you get to determine what steps you can take that best help reduce stressors in your life.
And just like putting on oxygen masks on an airplane, you’ve got to take care of yourself before you take care of the people around you.
So if watching a Christmas movie (or a dozen) makes you feel relaxed, renewed and refueled with the holiday spirit, you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to do just that.
We’ve consulted with experts about creating the mood for Christmas movies. (Us. The experts are us.) Here’s where we landed.
Create a Christmas movie watchlist
Sometimes relaxing in front of the TV means turning it on and letting fate and the wisdom of the Hallmark Channel programmers decide what you’ll be enjoying.
Other times, you might want a themed or curated experience, which is easy to create with a little help from the internet and your favorite streaming service (cough Hallmark Movies Now cough). On-demand holiday movie marathons may be the best invention in the history of television.
- Search “best Hallmark Christmas movies.” Fill in the blank with your favorite channel (ahem), description (romantic, religious, funny, family, animated, musical, classic, etc.), stars or screenwriters.
- Countdown to Christmas. Make a must-watch list to get you through the holiday season. (Download the Hallmark Movie Checklist app for a little help.)
- Pick a series or trilogy. Start and finish in one night or over a weekend.
“With snacks” may be the best way to watch Christmas movies. And you get to decide if your me time includes making a grocery store run or baking cookies—or letting your favorite delivery service do the work.
Again, our experts have suggestions:
- Try mashing up your favorite treats for movies and Christmas. Mix your movie candy of choice into your Christmas cookie recipe or a bucket of popcorn. (Or try one of our taste-tested popcorn recipes.)
- Stir up a Christmas-themed cocktail. These tasty beverages were created especially for your holiday relaxation needs.
- Make an epic snack board. Get thee to Pinterest and search “grazing board” for the latest trend in professional snacking. Inspired by the perfect pairing of meat and cheese on a charcuterie board, “grazing boards” are plates, trays, cutting boards or whole tables of carefully themed, selected, sliced and stacked foods.
You want to feel as warm and comfortable as the ending of a Christmas movie, right? It’s time to claim your corner of the couch or close the door to the TV room and make it your own—whether it’s for an hour or an evening.
- Put everything within reach. On-demand, me-time movie marathons are not for getting up and down. Gather your remote, snacks, beverages (three words: insulated drink container), phone or tablet, Christmas-related project (see above), space heater or personal fan and snuggly pet and settle in for the long winter’s night.
- Snuggle up in your favorite blankets, pillows, sweaters and socks. Perhaps we can interest you in home décor and apparel created specifically for Hallmark Channel Christmas movie watching?
- Set the stage. Complete the sensory experience. Turn the lights down low…or add twinkle lights…or light a candle or reed diffuser with a seasonal scent.
We’re not suggesting you make a production of every Hallmark holiday movie you watch.
But every so often, you deserve a little time to treat yourself. During the holiday season, you’re likely to find yourself making special moments and creating Christmas memories for family and friends.
You’ve got to refuel that caring energy somehow. Escaping for a little me time with a Christmas movie marathon may be just what you need to keep your holiday spirit shining bright.