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2018 Holiday Movie Season Preview: Second Weekend in December 

2018 Holiday Movie Season Preview: Second Weekend in December
Photo Credit: ION
Photo Credit: ION

We’re in the Ho Ho Ho Home stretch (sorry not sorry) of the holiday movie season with new arrivals this weekend on Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, ION. and Lifetime. Here’s a rundown of your viewing options. Also, for your listening pleasure, Hallmark Channel now has its very own podcast series.

Photo Credit: Lifetime

Christmas Around the Corner — Friday, December 7th at 8 pm/7c (Lifetime)

Claire (Alexandra Breckenridge of This Is Us), a savvy venture capitalist from New York City, escapes to a quaint town in Vermont for the holidays for a working vacation of sorts at the Fortenbury Bookstore. When Claire arrives in town, she’s disappointed to find the usually picturesque town dark and Christmas celebrations canceled in the aftermath of a flood and the bookstore in a dire state of disrepair. She immediately takes on the challenge to revitalize the store, but clashes with the owner, Andrew (Hard Rock Medical‘s Jamie Spilchuk), who initially rejects all her proposed improvements.

Eventually, sparks fly as the two begin a budding romance, and Claire’s infectious optimism inspires Andrew to join her in reviving the yuletide spirit. Everything comes to a screeching halt when Claire discovers that Andrew is planning to sell the bookstore. Will the spirit of Christmas be enough to change Andrew’s mind and encourage him to follow his heart? Jane Alexander also stars as Andrew’s aunt, Mrs. T.

Megan Follows directs a script by Michael Murray. This one is super sweet and Breckenridge and Spilchuk are aces together. I’ve loved Alexander for years and she’s an added treat here.

I appreciated the throughline about a small town coming back from a devastating flood and facing its first holiday season afterward. Houston is my home, and I still see Hurricane Harvey’s devastating impact on my neighbors and their homes and businesses, so that resonated for me.

Photo Credit: Lifetime

Christmas Pen Pals — Saturday, December 15th at 8 pm/7c (Lifetime)

ICYMI last month, I chatted with Niall Matter about this film here. Following an unexpected breakup weeks before Christmas, Hannah (Sarah Drew), tech wiz and creator of the dating app, Perfect One, heads home for the holidays, challenged to save her failing business by re-conceiving a new romantic dating model. Upon her return she runs into her high school boyfriend, Sam (Matter) who she has carefully avoided for years and reluctantly makes a deal with her dad, Ted (Michael Gross) to sign up for the town’s Christmas Cupid, an anonymous holiday pen pal service.

As the season progresses, Hannah is smitten by each beautifully written letter she receives and starts to believe that her Christmas pen pal could be her soul mate. It’s not until Christmas Eve that everyone must reveal their true identities to their pen pals, even if it means coming face to face with the last person they ever expected.

Photo Credit: Iden Ford/Crown Media United States LLC

Entertaining Christmas — Saturday, December 15th at 8 pm/7c (Hallmark Channel)

Candace Livingstone (Jodie Sweetin), daughter of famous lifestyle mogul Liz Livingstone and heir to the family empire, has never lived up to her mother’s perfectionist standards. When a young girl posts a video online begging Liz to help arrange a special Christmas party, a reluctant Candace is sent in her place. As she struggles to prove herself worthy of running her mom’s empire, Candace meets and begins falling for the young girl’s uncle (Brendan Fehr in his first Hallmark film), a local news reporter who, unbeknownst to her, has been asked to write a less-than-flattering expose.

Photo Credit: Iden Ford/Crown Media United States LLC

Northern Lights of Christmas — Saturday, December 15th at 9 pm/8c (HMM)

When pilot Zoey Hathaway (Ashley Williams) inherits her uncle’s ranch in Alaska, her plans to sell the place and buy her own plane go out the window after she meets the resident ranch hand, Alec Wynn (Corey Sevier, who I’ve watched for over 15 years, since The WB’s Black Sash, in his first, long-overdue Hallmark leading role–he did Four Christmases and a Wedding last year for Lifetime), along with the place’s resident reindeer, Holly and Palmer. Based on the book Sleigh Bell Sweethearts by Teri Wilson.

Photo Credit: Lifetime

Hometown Christmas — Sunday, December 16th at 8 pm/7c (Lifetime)

Back in Louisiana for Christmas, Noelle Collins (Beverley Mitchell) has big plans to resurrect the town’s live nativity, a beloved tradition that her late mother used to put on. Things become complicated, however, when Noelle runs into her high school sweetheart, Nick Russell (Stephen Colletti), a rising baseball star also back home due to a recent injury.

Still feeling the burn from their senior year break-up, their lives are pushed together even further when they learn their parents share an attraction and want to be more than just friends. When things begin to fall apart with the live nativity, Nick and Noelle reluctantly team up to pull off the show and find themselves growing close.

Donny Boaz (The Beach House) and Erin Cahill (Last Vermont Christmas) co-star. Emily Moss Wilson directs a script she co-wrote with Marcy Holland (who also wrote Entertaining Christmas above). Moss and Holland did last year’s Christmas in Mississippi together for Lifetime. Fun fact: Melissa Gilbert and Brian McNamara play Noelle’s Dad and Nick’s Mom, reuniting 20 years after they co-starred together in 1997’s Seduction in a Small Town.

Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Crown Media United States LLC

A Gingerbread Romance — Sunday, December 16th at 8 pm/7c (Hallmark Channel)

Successful architect Taylor Scott (Tia Mowry-Hardrict who also did My Christmas Inn this season on Lifetime) is poised for a promotion and a move to Paris but before that’s decided, her boss tasks her with creating a life-sized gingerbread house for a holiday competition. She partners with pastry chef Adam Dale (Duane Henry), and though their styles are different, they form a deep connection working together.

Taylor starts to feel a sense of home with Adam and his daughter for the first time in her life, and inspires Adam to follow his own career dreams. With a job opportunity awaiting her, Taylor must choose between that big move and the life she’s created with Adam.

Photo Credit: ION Television

A Christmas in Royal Fashion — Sunday, December 15th at 9 pm/8c (ION)

Kristin Cooper (Hallmark regular Cindy Busby, who was also on ION last Christmas in Runaway Christmas Bride), a talented assistant for a global PR firm, is put in charge of the annual Christmas fashion show and auction for clothing entrepreneur, Mr. Carson. A handsome young royal, Prince Patrick (Diarmaid Murtagh), is dispatched by his father, the King of Edgemoor, to be the face of the family co-sponsored event.

Once he arrives in Beverly Hills, Patrick meets Kristin and is instantly smitten with her, mistakenly thinking she is actually her boss, Melanie. While Patrick and Kristin spend the Christmas season together in California, she wonders if Patrick would have still fallen for her if he knew she was an assistant.

Photo Credit: Ryan Plummer/Crown Media United States LLC

Small Town Christmas — Sunday, December 16th at 9 pm/8c (HMM)

Nell (Ashley Newbrough) isn’t thrilled about reading Small Town Christmas at a bookstore owned by Emmett (Kristoffer Polaha), who once stood her up on their first date with no explanation. After seeing Nell in town with Brad, a developer, Emmett assumes they’re together, and later refers to her as merely a “former acquaintance.” Nell discovers from Emmett’s niece that he’d sent a letter she never received. She starts to see him in a new light until he makes a surprising business decision.

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