Christmas movie clichés we love to hate and hate to love

Is it even Christmas without Christmas movies?

Alexandra Denisa Neagoe
5 min readDec 5, 2020
Photo by Samira Rahi on Unsplash

If you know me you know how much I love Christmas and everything related to it, including Christmas movies.

This year my Christmas season fever started early (like the end of October early), but it’s 2020 and everything goes, right? Anyway, since I started watching Christmas movies quite early this year, I started noticing different clichés and tropes reemerging from one movie to another. I’m sure you already know this, but if not, here are a few things I noticed divided into a few categories.

The Green and Red ‘we-wear-this-so-you-know-it’s-Christmas’ Couples on Hallmark movie posters

You know what I’m talking about. There isn’t a Hallmark movie where the two main characters don’t wear red and green on the poster of the movie.

Here’s proof:

The ‘we-tell-the-same-story-over-and-over-again-and-you-still-watch-them’ Hallmark movies

This might be my favorite category. It’s so obvious and so cliché that I can’t help but love it. You know what I’m talking about. You know every damn movie is the same story over and over again. Well, maybe not the same story since there are actually two (very similar) plotlines.

Plot 1

It opens with a few shots of New York City (or another big American city), then we get to know the main characters. We have this small-town-big-dreams-girl that is now a workaholic in the big city and has no time for anything else but her work and has a boyfriend that is even more work-driven than she is. Then all of a sudden, right before Christmas, she has to go home for whatever reason. She goes back to her hometown where she has a Christmas-obsessed family that has either a diner or an inn. There, she has to help her family save Christmas, where she comes across her highschool sweetheart that she left to pursue her big-city dreams. Obviously, they fall in love, they save Christmas and she moves back into this small town, but not before breaking up with her boyfriend. The end.

P. S. My favorite thing is this line that I keep hearing in every movie in one form or another:

Parents: “Oh, we’ve missed you so much!”

Girl: “We’ve just seen each other. You visited me in the city.”

Parents: “ But it’s not the same. Now it’s Christmas and you’re home.”

Plot 2

It opens with a few shots of New York City (or another big American city). Shocker. We have this girl that is either an artist, designer, or owns a coffee shop that absolutely loves Christmas. On the opposite side, we have this workaholic hot guy that doesn’t have time for Christmas. For whatever reason, they cross paths, she melts his cold heart and makes him fall in love with Christmas and with her. And they live happily ever after. The end. Oh, and let’s not forget about his family being so thankful to her that she made him love Christmas again and brought him home. It’s a Christmas miracle.

The ‘it’s-not-Christmas-if-someone-doesn’t-turns-into-a-princess’

You know this one, you love this one, you’d like to live (in) one.

We have your common girl that is either a nanny or has a coffee shop/restaurant. (What’s with Christmas and coffee shops anyway?) From here on out the story can go in two ways. Either she tries to hide who she really is or he tries to hide who he really is and she has no idea. They manage to fall in love even though his family doesn’t want him to marry a commoner and his ex-girlfriend who is also royalty does everything she can to break them up and almost succeeds. But at the last moment, he runs after her and they live happily ever after. The end.

The ‘Santa-Claus-really-exists-and-i-will prove-it-to-you’

Santa is real and you can’t tell me otherwise! I’ve seen it in countless movies so it must be real, right?

We have this one person that doesn’t believe in Christmas, Santa Claus, or any of his magic. Bah humbug! Then they just have to help this old man accomplish something (probably fix his sleigh) and although the old man keeps telling them they’re the real Santa they don’t believe him and think he’s insane yet they just go along with it only to see him flying his sleigh at the end of the movie and finally believe he’s real and they suddenly start loving Christmas again.

The ‘I-am-going-to ruin-Christmas-in-a-small-town-with-my-real-estate-deal’

This kind of goes well with the Hallmark classic Christmas movie since most of the time the two main characters either have to fight together against an evil corporation that plans to run small businesses from their hometown into the ground right before Christmas, or they have to fight against each other because one of them works for the evil corporation that plans to ruin Christmas and he/she has to seal the deal before then. However, they fall in love and Christmas is saved. It’s a Christmas miracle!

The ‘it’s-not-Christmas-without-a-musical-number-or-more’

I mean, would it really be Christmas without someone singing Jingle Bells or Santa Claus is Coming to Town? No, it wouldn't! You need it to lift people's spirits up and bring Christmas magic back! There’s no way around it!

The ‘Santa’s-sleigh-is-broken-and-it-only-runs-on-Christmas-spirit’

Now, this one is not always the center of the movie but it goes hand in hand with other clichés and tropes. Santa needs help and the only way he can get the sleigh off the ground is with people singing Christmas songs or by them starting believing in the Christmas spirit again. And lo’ and behold people start singing and they start believing. Simple as that.

The ‘it’s-snowing-on-Christmas-morning’

It always and I mean ALWAYS starts snowing on Christmas morning. This one makes me the most upset. Do you know how many Christmas mornings I woke up as a child thinking it’ll be snowing outside? DO YOU? Do you know what it was snowing with? DISAPPOINTMENT! Cause there was no snow!

This is why I have trust issues!

And there you have it. Some of my favorite clichés in Christmas movies. Do you have a favorite? Maybe one that is not on this list? One that you’d like to see cut altogether from Christmas movies?



Alexandra Denisa Neagoe

Content Specialist. Passionate about everything digital, traveling, books, and movies.