Your guide to this week’s holiday TV specials
We’re back with our 2018 guide to the most wonderful (TV) time of the year.
Several programs already have aired, but December is just getting started. Now is the time when holiday specials are in heavy rotation.
We’ll be updating this guide at newsobserver.com throughout the month as more specials populate the schedule. We’re sticking mostly to prime-time programming on broadcast networks and basic cable. We’ll alert you to the airings of “Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer” and “Grinch,” and movie classics like “Elf,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Also note that the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel are showing Christmas movies pretty much 24/7 now, and we’re also getting original Christmas movies from Lifetime, BET and ION. We’ll list new ones here, but not the repeats.
If you miss a broadcast network airing of something like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” don’t worry, because those will likely air multiple times in December. Check back with us often.
SUNDAY, DEC. 2 “The Christmas Pact” (8 p.m., Lifetime) - In this original new movie, Ben and Sadie have made a pact since childhood to always keep the spirit of Christmas alive in their hearts. “A Majestic Christmas” (8 p.m.,
Hallmark) - In this new Hallmark movie, Nell’s bracelet slips into a Salvation Army pot and when she tries to retrieve it, Connor accuses her of stealing. Later, Nell, an architect, learns he’s the client who wants to turn her hometown’s Majestic Theater into a multiplex. Though Nell and the town want to preserve The Majestic, she and Connor still develop an attraction. “National Lampoon’s Christmas
Vacation” (8:15 p.m., AMC) - The Griswolds spend the holiday with relatives in this 1999 holiday comedy, including a country cousin who arrives in an RV. It stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and Diane Ladd. “Once Upon a Christmas Miracle” (9
p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) In this new movie, a woman is told she has a few months to live without a new liver, and a kind stranger hears of her plight and finds he is a perfect match. The two meet and their friendship turns into a romance. “Christmas Cupid’s Arrow” (9 p.m.,
ION) - In this new ION movie, an English lit professor has a long history of picking the wrong men. After her younger sister announces she’s pregnant, the professor decides she’s going to make a real effort to find Mr. Right on a dating website. “Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve” (9 p.m., Freeform) - The young toy company CEO is in the middle of a quarterlife crisis, until her old doll comes to life help her get back on track. “Holiday Gingerbread Showdown” (9 p.m., Food) - Three bakers must create a gingerbread scene inspired by the classic holiday movie “Elf.”
“A Star For Christmas” (10 p.m., Lifetime) - Another new original film. In this one, a recent breakup throws a baker’s life into chaos. But things start looking up with a handsome but trou-
bled actor comes into the store and the two fall in love. “Jingle All the Way” (10:30
p.m., AMC) - A crazed postman (Sinbad), a tough policeman and a shady Santa impede a workaholic (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seeking a coveted toy for his son.
MONDAY, DEC. 3 “The Great Christmas Light Fight” (8 p.m., ABC) - Tonight’s show features homes in Kokomo, Indiana; Weirsdale, Florida; Grand Rivers, Kentucky; Clifton, Ohio; Rockaway Beach, New York; Fox River Grover, Illinois; and San Francisco, California. “The Santa Clause 2” (8 p.m., AMC) - An ad man (Tim Allen) has to marry by Christmas Eve or he will stop being Santa Claus forever. “Holiday Baking Championship” (9 p.m., Food) - The five bakers have to update traditional rugelach with unexpected flavors like cardamom, grapefruit, guava paste, peanut butter or chai. “Pop Up Santa Holiday Special” (9:30 p.m., Freeform) A special celebrating the spirit of the holiday season through heartwarming moments like a home giveaway, a baby shower at a military base and a celebration for kids at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. “Christmas Cookie Challenge” (10 p.m., Food) - The cookie makers use traditional nesting dolls as inspiration to make six cookies of the same design that get progressively smaller.
TUESDAY, DEC. 4 “The Polar Express” (8 p.m., AMC) - The conductor of a train (Tom Hanks) to the North Pole guides a boy who questions the existence of Santa Claus. “Saturday Night Live Christmas” (9 p.m., NBC) - A twohour special featuring some of the most memorable “SNL” Christmas sketches.
“Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” (9 p.m., Freeform) Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), aka Santa, contends with visiting in-laws (Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin) and a scheme by mischievous Jack Frost (Martin Short) to freeze him out of Christmas.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5
“Elf” (8 p.m., AMC) - Will Ferrell plays a grown man raised as one of Santa’s elves, who leaves the workshop to search for his real father in New York. It also stars Bob Newhart, James Caan, Edward Asner, Zooey Deschanel and Mary Steenburgen. “Christmas with the Kranks” (9 p.m., Freeform) - A Chicago couple (Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis) scramble to put together a holiday celebration after their daughter decides to come home for Christmas.
THURSDAY, DEC. 6 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC) - Linus helps Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas in this 1965 Charles M. Schulz “Peanuts” classic. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (8
p.m., USA) - In this Frank Capra classic, a suicidal man ruined by a miser on Christmas Eve sees his life in a new light thanks to his guardian angel. It stars James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (8 p.m., AMC) The Griswolds spend the holiday with relatives in this 1999 holiday comedy, including a country cousin who arrives in an RV. It stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and Diane Ladd. “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition” (9 p.m., ABC) - In the first episode of the season, contestants prepare cakes and sweet and savory pastries.
FRIDAY, DEC. 7 “Christmas Lost and Found”
(8 p.m., Lifetime) - In this new original film, a New York City event planner goes to Chicago to spend Christmas with Grandma Frances, after years of missing family gatherings. While there, she mistakenly throws out a box of precious family ornaments. “A Christmas Story” (9 p.m., TBS) - Little Ralphie tries to convince his parents in the 1940s to get him a Red Ryder range-model BB gun for Christmas.
“Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You” (8 p.m., AMC) - In this 2017 animated special, a little girl who desperately wants a puppy for Christmas agrees to take care of her uncle’s dog to prove she’s responsible.
“Bad Santa” (9 p.m., WGN) Two criminals (Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox) disguise themselves as St. Nick and an elf to rob stores at Christmastime. I’m sure this gets a heavy TVedit, but still definitely definitely definitely not for the kids. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” (9:50 p.m., Freeform) - Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) faces uncomfortable truths when three Christmas ghosts take him a journey through his past, present and future. “The Year Without A Santa Claus” (10 p.m., AMC) -A depressing animated special in which Santa feels sad and unwanted, so he takes the day off before Christmas. Voiced by Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth.
SATURDAY, DEC. 8 “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (8 p.m., CBS) - The reindeer with the shiny nose guides Santa’s sleigh through a bad storm on Christmas Eve in this beloved 1964 classic. Narrated by Burl Ives. “Santa’s Boots” (8 p.m.,
Lifetime) - In this new original movie, Holly returns home for Christmas and is put to work as Santa’s elf at her family’s store, where she meets Nick and falls in love. When Nick disappears days before Christmas, Holly looks for him but all she can find is his misplaced black boot. “Homegrown Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark) - In this new Hallmark movie, former sweethearts are forced to work together to organize a high school dance and rediscover what made them fall in love years ago.
“Holiday Inn” (8 p.m., TCM) At his New England inn, which is open only during the holidays, a singer (Bing Crosby) competes with a dancer (Fred Astaire) for the affections of a beautiful woman (Marjorie Reynolds). Irving Berlin won an an Oscar for his song “White Christmas,” featured in this 1942 film.
“Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic” (8 p.m., Freeform) - Romantic holiday weddings at Walt Disney World Resort.
“The Santa Clause 2” (8:30 p.m., AMC) - An ad man (Tim Allen) has to marry by Christmas Eve or he will stop being Santa Claus forever. “Frosty the Snowman” (9 p.m., CBS) - The 1969 animated adaptation of Romeo Muller’s story of a snowman who comes to life, narrated by Jimmy Durante.
“Memories of Christmas” (9 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) - Noelle inherits her mother’s house and finds that for the past two years, her aging mother had been hiring professionals to decorate it for Christmas. Noelle tells the decorator that the deal is off, but he won’t take “no” for an answer. “The Santa Clause” (9 p.m., Freeform) - From 1994, an adman (Tim Allen) takes over for Santa after a rooftop mishap on Christmas Eve. “Frosty Returns” (9:30 p.m., CBS) - John Goodman is the voice of Frosty in this sequel in which Frosty is threatened by a snow-removal spray. Narrated by Jonathan Winters.
SUNDAY, DEC. 9 “Welcome to Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark) - In this new Hallmark movie, a real estate developer finds romance with a charming sheriff in a small town during the holidays. “Christmas in Tennessee” (8
p.m., Lifetime) - In this new movie, a baker unites the people of her small mountain town to resist a real estate developer’s plan to build a ski resort. “The Polar Express” (8:30 p.m., AMC) - The conductor of a train (Tom Hanks) to the North
Pole guides a boy who questions the existence of Santa Claus.
“Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas” (9 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) -In this new movie, two strangers — a businesswoman and a country music star — are both booked on a flight to Tulsa before the holidays but the flight is canceled because of a snowstorm. They decide to try to get to Tulsa together, and share secrets along the way. “A Snow White Christmas” (9
p.m., ION) - In this new movie, Blanca must spend Christmas with her dastardly stepmother, who is trying to cheat her out of her father’s inheritance. Jealous that a handsome designer has eyes for Blanca, the stepmother has Blanca hypnotized so that she’ll forget everything about her life. When Blanca wakes up in a quaint motor lodge out of town with severe amnesia, she receives the help of seven quirky friends, the Holly Jollies, to help her figure out her life. “Holiday Gingerbread Showdown” (9 p.m., Food) - Three bakers race to create their take on a gingerbread North Pole.
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (9 p.m., Freeform) - Jim Carrey stars as the big green grinch in this live action adaptation that also stars Jeffrey Tambor and Christine Baranski. Narrated by Anthony Hopkins.
MONDAY, DEC. 10 “CMA Country Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC) - Country music stars perform Christmas classics and festive collaborations. Reba McEntire hosts and performs. “No Sleep ‘Till Christmas” (9
p.m., Freeform) - In this new movie, an engaged woman meets a bartender and they discover they can only fall asleep when they are next to each other. It stars Dave Annable and his real-life wife Odette.
“Holiday Baking Championship” (9 p.m., Food) - In the pre-heat, bakers have to combine common pantry ingredients like balsamic vinegar, potato chips, oatmeal, red wine and olive oil in a new version of a classic holiday dessert. Later, the bakers must use two key fruitcake components in a new dessert. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (9:15 p.m., AMC)
- The Griswolds spend the holiday with relatives in this 1999 holiday comedy, including a country cousin who arrives in an RV. It stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and Diane Ladd. “Pentatonix: A Not So Silent Night” (10 p.m., NBC) -A one-hour holiday special featuring a variety of heartwarming a cappella performances with celebrity guests. “The Great Christmas Light Fight” (10 p.m., ABC) -Anew episode featuring over-the-top Christmas displays.
“Christmas Cookie Challenge” (10 p.m., Food) - The five cookie makers must imagine what Christmas Eve looks like for Mrs. Claus.
Note: Some programming descriptions are provided by networks.
Discover the true meaning of Christmas with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which debuted in 1964, is TV’s longest-running holiday special.
Little Ralphie tries to convince his parents in the 1940s to get him a Red Ryder range-model BB gun for Christmas.
Will Ferrell (right) stars as Buddy the Elf in New Line Cinemas “Elf. “
“Frosty The Snowman,” the popular animated musical special narrated by Jimmy Durante.