We Ranked All of Hallmark Channel's 2021 Christmas Movies—and You Might Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle

Hallmark Channel debuted 31 movies during its 2021 "Countdown to Christmas" programming and we ranked every single of one them.

By Tierney Bricker Dec 20, 2021 11:00 AMTags
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Two months. Thirty-one movies. Sixty-two hours. Endless flannel. Yep, sounds like all of the hallmarks of a "Countdown to Christmas" well-spent. 

In the immortal words of Buddy the Elf: Congratulations, you did it! We made it through another season of Hallmark Channels Christmas movies, with 2021 proving to be the most stacked and diverse lineup in the history of network's popular programming event.

This year, "Countdown to Christmas" kicked off on Oct. 24, before most of us could even carve our pumpkins, debuting a new movie every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (as well doubling up during Thanksgiving week, meaning no turkey for us to avoid an L-tryptophan-induced break from our viewings) up until Sunday, Dec. 20. So yeah, keeping up with all of the festive films was a full-time job. Literally. Not all heroes wear capes, but we do wear hot cocoa-stained Hallmark swag.

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Now that we've come to to the end of another season of cheesy and cheerful movies, the time has come for us to once again rank all 31. (Alas, we did not include Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' nine films as we do occasionally need to see our family and friends and pillows.) And we're happy to report some of our favorite Christmas movies ever aired this season, including Tyler Hynes' best performance yet and a competitive charmer from Candace Cameron Bure.

But that doesn't mean every offering lit up our tree, if you know what we mean. Actually, we don't even know what we mean. We're delirious, but can you blame us? We are 31 movies deep here, people!

First, let us preface this for longtime Hallmark fans by assuring you that this isn't personal and it's not business. Rather, it's personal business, so please know this comes from a place of love, a heart of snark and a DVR happy to have some space on it finally. And without further ado, here's our ranking:

Christmas CEO

Aired: Friday, Nov. 26
Not Hallmark making a successful woman give up her professional dreams out of nowhere because her childhood bestie negged her about selling out! We really thought we'd left that trope behind by now. Why isn't the issue ever that the man has become too complacent? Sigh, someone help us get down from this soapbox.

Nantucket Noel

Nantucket would like to be excluded from this narrative! Former president of Hallmark Bill Abbott called and he would like to order this movie for the 2018 slate. Talk about a throwback to Countdown to Christmases of yore—and not in a good way.

Christmas in Harmony

We wanted it to be better and there was perhaps too much focus on the singing and songwriting for a Hallmark movie. But good for Michelle Williams getting to ham it up as a diva!

Making Spirits Bright

Aired: Saturday, Nov. 27
Ironic title considering this one left us feeling very bored. There was just no wow factor and we are struggling to recall any major details about the plot aside from thinking the Christmas lights competition showdown was very much a letdown. Classic Hallmark filler.

A Christmas Treasure

Aired: Sunday, Nov. 7
Um, at least we were treated to the vocal delights of Jordin Sparks? Other than that, this one kind of dragged on a bit, with a plot thinner than the eggnog you made that one time with skim milk.

Coyote Creek Christmas

Aired: Saturday, Oct. 30
This feels like a Hallmark movie from 2018…and not in a good way. Despite the charm of leading lady Janel Parrish and the steady-as-ever Ryan Paevey, CCC just felt dated and slow.

Gingerbread Miracle

Aired: Friday, Nov. 5
Cute and forgettable with all the, well, hallmarks of a Hallmark movie. But literally don't ask us for any details about this one. OK, it had magical gingerbread cookies…we think?

Christmas at Castle Hart

Aired: Saturday, Nov. 27
So, this was the highest rated movie of the year for Hallmark, which proves that sometimes viewers just want a straightforward movie without any bells or whistles. Not our jam, but hey, what do we know?

Well, we do know that someone should give Lacey Chabert's agent a raise because, once again, she landed the Hallmark Christmas movie that filmed abroad. She previously went to Rome and this year's offering took her to Ireland with network newbie Stuart Townsend. But we can't and will not accept her character getting away with identity theft, using a Black woman's name and hard work to her advantage. Wild stuff!

Christmas in Tahoe

Aired: Sunday, Nov. 28
If someone would've told us a Train album would one day inspire Christmas movie…well, we actually would've believed them. They are, like, the Hallmark of rock bands! Frontman Pat Monahan co-stars in this one as the leading lady's best friend who is secretly amazing singer (duh!), but, unfortunately, this movie dragged on, kind of like a train ride, and the connection between leads Laura Osnes and Kyle Selig was lacking.

A Holiday in Harlem

Aired: Sunday, Nov. 14
Fine. It was just fine. A perfectly fine and ultimately forgettable mid-November offering.

A Royal Queens Christmas

Aired: Saturday, Dec. 11
Did you hear a loud shriek at approximately 8:02 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 11? Yes, that was us upon first hearing the Queens accents in this movie. We just can't fuhgeddaboudit. But, while this movie was ridiculous, it did not commit the cardinal sin of being boring, making it an entertaining watch, even though it pulled the much-used secret-royal-falls-for-a-commoner storyline.

A Very Merry Bridesmaid

Aired: Saturday, Dec. 4
Listen, having two Countdown to Christmas newcomers front a movie is no easy feat and Emily Osment did her very best, but this one just didn't live up to its full potential. Also, her character's family was kind of the absolute worst! She deserved better than their leftover airline miles!

Sugar Plum Twist

Aired: Friday, Dec. 17
TBH, we had no expectations going into this one, which may be why we were so pleasantly surprised. Jamie Gray Hyder and Ektor Rivera had such an easy chemistry, but the relationship we really cared about was the one between Hyder's Natalia and Laura Rosguer as her dance mentee Viv. Hot take: The love interests were not needed, especially one as underwhelming as Justin. (Sorry, dude.) However, we loved seeing a twist on the Sugar Plum Fairy dance and on The Nutcracker in general, with the network actually adapting a classic to represent more than one culture. 

The Nine Kittens of Christmas

Aired: Thursday, Nov. 25
The sequel six years in the making! So it pains us to say we we were just kind of whelmed. Not a lot going on—and the advent calendar B-plot felt very B-plot!—but hey, there were cute kittens and the welcome return of the easy breezy chemistry between Brandon Routh and Kimberly Sustad.

Christmas Sail

A little snoozy and not the most electric chemistry between the leads to put it mildly, but Lost star Terry O'Quinn elevated the material, turning in one of the mot nuanced and heartbreaking performances of the season. Don't tell him what he can't do!

Sister Swap Series

Aired: Sunday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 12
OK, we LOVE that the network is taking bigger swings, like inter-connecting movies with real-life sisters and Hallmark queens Ashley Williams and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, though they didn't share the screen nearly enough for our liking. Their close relationship adds such a cozy vibe to the affair, though we found Christmas in the City a bit more compelling than A Hometown Holiday. Still, it was fun to see where the two films would stitch together. More of these team-ups, please!

Open By Christmas

Aired: Friday, Nov. 12
TBH, we are just disappointed the main romantic relationship here was not between Alison Sweeney and Erica Durance. It would've made for a vastly more interesting and engaging watch. Give us that lesbian romance, ya cowards!

You, Me and the Christmas Trees

Aired: Friday, Oct. 22
Little did we know that this could be Danica McKellar's final movie for Hallmark ever as signing a new deal with GAC Family. Sigh. At least she went out on a high note, delivering one of her best performances as a tree doctor out to save a Christmas tree farm from ruin. And she got quite an assist from underrated Benjamin Ayres.

A Christmas Together With You

Aired: Saturday, Nov. 20
Two love stories for the price of one, with an unexpected friendship between Smallville alum Laura Vandervoort and Man of Steel and Justice League star Harry Lennix? We love to watch it! Seriously, it was more refreshing than the first snowfall of the season to see a romance between an older couple who were both widowed. Hallmark acknowledging it is okay to have more than one great love? PROGRESS!

A Kiss Before Christmas

Aired: Sunday, Nov. 21
Oh what fun it was to see Desperate Housewives' Teri Hatcher and James Denton reunited! we had missed this duo on-screen together and their chemistry was as palpable as ever. Everything else around them was just fine, but they really did shine like the candle you leave in the window to light Santa's way.

The Christmas Contest

Aired: Sunday, Nov. 28
Dare we say this was Candace Cameron Bure's cutest and most charming outing in years? No gimmicks, no hooks, just the irresistible allure of bantering exes battling it out. And the Queen of Christmas recruiting her Fuller House co-star John Brotherton to be her lovable jerk of a leading man proved to be a great casting decision. You got it right, dudes! However, we will say the plot fell a little flat at the end, almost as if they couldn't figure out the right way to stick the landing.

My Family Christmas Tree

Aired: Saturday, Nov. 13
So, this was basically the plot of last year's except not Jewish? But lather, rinse, repeat is nothing really new for Hallmark and we always love to see Aimee Teegarden on our screens and her chemistry with James Tupper as her biological father was effortless. Plus, we always love to see the Friday Night Lights alum on our screens—as, it turns out, , as it turns out, so do many people, as this ended up being one of the network's highest rated movies of the entire year. Plus, we loved the quick tongue-in-cheek cameo from network mainstay Tyler Hynes. Our only nit to pick? Not enough Andrew Walker! But then again, is there ever truly enough? 

Next Stop, Christmas

Aired: Saturday, Nov. 6
Okay, this was so cute, so charming and it had two Back to the Future stars in Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd, though they sadly didn't share any scenes, which is just blasphemous. The time travel element was fun and pulled off better than in Love Strikes Twice, whichaired during Fall Harvest and had a very similar plot. Also, Nikita's Lyndsy Fonseca gets the award for Hallmark Rookie of the Year.

Boyfriends of Christmas Past

Aired: Saturday, Oct. 23
Raymond Ablack, welcome to our list of favorite Hallmark Channel Christmas movie leading men, you charming, charismatic Canadian man. Our eyes thank you for your service. The cutesy play on A Christmas Carol wasn't executed perfectly, but it was an entertaining watch and this easily could've made it to Netflix.

The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls

Aired: Saturday, Dec. 18
We love a sequel, especially when it stars Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett as brothers battling it out for Christmas supremacy. And guess what? This sequel was actually—gasp!—better than the original. More laughs, more emotion, more fun. So, of course, we are demanding a third outing next year. 

The Santa Stakeout

Aired: Sunday, Oct. 24
Dare we say this was one of the most fun outings of the 2021 season?! Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith-style fake-relationship trope with Tia Mowry-Housley and Paul Campbell, the network's most sarcastic (and underrated) leading man, delightfully playing off each other as a festive rookie detective and a Scroogey veteran. We love it when we can tell the leads had a blast making the movie, which is exactly what's going on here. Also: Joe Pantoliano is freaking in it! Forget NBD, that is A BFD.

A Dickens of a Holiday!

Aired: Friday, Dec. 10
No bah, humbugs from us, this was just delightful. Kris Polaha was a wonder, delivering a top-notch performance as an A-list action star playing Scrooge in his hometown's annual performance of A Christmas Carol. Meeting him at his level was a never-better Brooke D'Orsay, his director who happened to be his high school crush. So many feels, including some frustration over not getting any real resolution about the characters' respective careers by movie's end. 

Tis the Season to Be Merry

Aired: Sunday, Dec. 19
We have three words for you: Rachael. Leigh Cook. To us, she is pure magic. So, while the movie wasn't reinventing the wheel, watching her banter with Travis Van Winkle, straight off his ab-baring run on season three of You, was just delightful, elevated the material and was just a merry way to close out the 2021 season. She really is all that and this outing charmed the heck out of us!

Eight Gifts of Hanukkah

Aired: Friday, Dec. 3
IT'S CRAIG MANNING, YALL! Sorry, but you must indulge our inner Degrassi fan girl for a second as it was such a breath of fresh to see Jake Epstein as the leading man in this. And man, does the guy still have that effortless charm and charisma. Sure, the plot device is as old as time—girl receives anonymous gifts from a secret admirer who turns out to be her best friend—but still,'twas super refreshing to have the reveal happen before the halfway mark! Also, it was just cute AF. Plus, this movie serves as a reminder, as always, that when in doubt, kiss Craig!

An Unexpected Christmas

Aired: Friday, Nov. 26
Even though, at its core, it was a traditional Hallmark movie, it was a perfectly executed one. There was such a fresh and fun energy to this one and we think it's for a few reasons: Paul Campbell, another one of the network's leading men, wrote the playful script, there was an unexpected cameo from another Hallmark hunk, Andrew Walker, and the chemistry between a (gasp!) clean-shaven Tyler Hynes and One Tree Hill's one true gem Bethany Joy Lenz, two of our favorites, as exes pretending to still be together was pitch-perfect. We LOVE this movie. Play it in the Louvre!