9 Christmas Movie Cliches to Retire

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xmasmovieIt’s the Most Repetitive Time of the Year…

So yeah, let’s talk about Christmas movies.

For every classic, there are twenty “new” Christmas movies put out every year with the same ideas repackaged to “speak to a new generation.” In other words, it’s the same thing over and over.

Come to think of it, that’s Hollywood’s Modus Operandi for all of the year, but don’t get me off my point. There are many inescapable clichés that have emerged (especially in the TV movie genre) so I thought it might be fun to examine some of them.

Years ago, I found this great list on the subject from a site called uberfluff.com in a section called The Lazy Screenwriter’s Guide to Formulaic Magic. Apparently since then, uberfluff has folded. And I’m still here. Who woulda thunk?

So here you are, 9 Christmas clichés I believe we could probably dial back:

  1. Fun movies about Santa should always feature nice, middle class families in single-family homes. Little boys and girls who live in the ghetto have an unfortunate tendency to ask Santa for things like food and heat, which test audiences find to be a real downer.
  2. Poor little boys and girls are permitted to be part of movies where someone needs to learn, “the real meaning of Christmas.” Of course, once the protaganist has learned that Christmas is all about love/giving/family/etc., it is best if the unfortunate child who taught that lesson gets adopted by someone rich, dies, turns out to have been an angel, or otherwise disappears so that the main character can enjoy a nice Christmas dinner without any lingering classist guilt.
  3. Get a new take on the Santa story by focusing on a member of Santa’s family or someone close to him. Doesn’t really matter who–son, daughter, brother, uncle, cousin, his best friend’s neighbor’s dog. You’re guaranteed something “fresh” and plenty of heartwarming bonding.
  4. It is impossible to put up Christmas lights without experiencing a hilarious physical injury.
  5. People who deny the existence of Santa are mean and nasty souls (who usually wear cheap gray suits), and will inevitably get their comeuppance.
  6. The world can always use a new twist on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The 40,000,000 different versions currently in existence have only scratched the surface of that classic. Hey, what about a Rastafarian Scrooge? Imagine the possibilities with the Marley character.
  7. Big family gatherings are always full of colorful and eccentric characters who do witty and entertaining things, even when they’re supposed to be “annoying.” Even the arguments are funny. No one has arguments over whether the curtains in grandma’s old house were brown or tan, nor are there any extended conversations about how long it took everyone to drive there.
  8. In the sad but true category… Unless the movie is the actual story of Jesus, you must avoid mentioning Jesus in a regular Christmas movie, since you don’t want to come off too “religious.” However, you may use angels, unspecified miracles, and Santa to suggest the presence of divine intervention.
  9. When everything looks like it’s crashing and burning, the snow begins to fall which makes everyone love each other again–somehow–magically. Snow is apparently like nature’s Prozac. Years of counseling couldn’t bring a family together, but by golly, get some white flakes falling and all is forgiven and dandy! This could be very useful if we could just get it to snow in Iran. Nuclear crisis… averted!

How about you? Any Christmas movie clichés you want to give a lump of coal to (i.e., ban for the future)? Or do you like a little cheese with your beef log in regard to your holiday entertainment?

Reworked from a 2009 post


  1. Martha Orlando

    Thanks for the chuckle today, Jason! My favorite Christmas show is A Charlie Brown Christmas -- what a joy it is to hear Linus tell Charlie Brown about the real meaning of Christmas. As you said here, though, don’t think current film makers would touch that with a ten foot pole.
    Blessings and Merry Christmas!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Clay in His HandsMy Profile

    Posted on December 8, 2015
    • jasonS

      It’s such a touching moment! Love that special too. I’ve heard there was even some controversy in the time it originally aired due to the reading of scripture. Crazy! Blessings to you too and thanks so much, Martha. Merry Christmas!

      December 9, 2015
  2. Sharon

    Oh my goodness!! I really am literally LOL’ing!! Hysterical. Perhaps my favorite line was that snow is nature’s Prozac!

    One Christmas movie that we do like in our family is “Christmas Story.” There are plenty of *real* family moments, and the relationships seem pretty real. And even though it ends on a happy note, it’s in a Chinese restaurant because the family dinner was a bust!!

    One thing that I cannot stand, not just in movies either, is most secular Christmas songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas carols and hymns. But the other stuff, not so much. Call me naughty, but if I have to hear the snow crunch, or the bells jingle, or look at a particular shiny nose, ONE MORE TIME, I will NOT be having a holly, jolly Christmas!!

    Bah humbug…


    Posted on December 8, 2015
    • jasonS

      Ha! There are certain modern Christmas songs I can tolerate, but some I just can’t stand. For some reason, the worst one to me is “Jingle Bell Rock.” It drives me crazy! And I love “A Christmas Story” as well! I have to watch it at least once every year. Thanks Scrooge--uh I mean--Sharon! Merry Christmas!

      December 9, 2015
  3. Sharon

    My feed didn’t print in the last comment. Seems to be OK now.

    Maybe it was my *Scrooge* attitude…
    Sharon recently posted..THE FROZEN PLACESMy Profile

    Posted on December 8, 2015
    • jasonS

      Wonderful! 🙂

      December 9, 2015
  4. Ed

    The Hallmark Channel really does overwork the Christmas angle in terms of cliches, and even movies.
    Ed recently posted..Are You God’s Trumpet?My Profile

    Posted on December 8, 2015
    • jasonS

      Yeah, I wasn’t going to call them out specifically but since you did it for me, they are probably the worst offenders! 🙂 Thanks Ed. Merry Christmas.

      December 9, 2015
  5. floyd

    Sad that no one wants the Truth. If any of the stations had the guts to air the real Christmas Story they’d make a fortune in advertising! I don’t watch anymore…

    Posted on December 9, 2015
    • jasonS

      Too many are afraid to offend, but it puts the impetus back on us to live the light and truth of the Gospel. We let His light shine! Thanks Floyd!

      December 13, 2015

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