Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit quite like a rom-com marathon. While we love the romantic comedy genre all year round, there’s just something *extra* swoon-worthy about a couple falling in love amid softly falling snow, mistletoe, and all the magic of the season. And we're not the only ones who think so: Holiday romance has become so popular in recent years that Hallmark and Lifetime have all but devoted their entire programming lineups to the sub-genre—not that we’re complaining!
With December drawing near, we’re tipping our hats to these feel-good favorites with a list of the very best holiday rom-coms Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more have to offer. Fair warning, however—in the words of the holiday classic Scrooged, one viewing, and it’s sure to be “Niagara Falls.”
Arguably the greatest holiday rom-com of them all, The Holiday has everything you could ever hope for in a Yuletide film. Star power? Check—Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black play the leads. A quaint Christmas cottage set against the backdrop of idyllic Surrey, England? Indeed. A kooky cast of characters that are wholesome and pure? You betcha. Beyond that, however, this feel-good flick has not one, but two love stories at its center, both of which begin when a pair of strangers decide to escape their relationship woes with Christmas vacations in each other’s homes. What could ever go wrong? Or more importantly…what could go right?
Following a Los Angeles writer who finds out she’s been catfished after seemingly finding her perfect mate online, Love Hard is tailor-made for those navigating love in the modern age (bonus points for that epic modern-day spin on Love Actually’s most iconic moment). As the film's heroine Natalie (played by Nina Dobrev) soon finds out, however, sometimes the greatest connections are still made in person—face to face and heart to heart.
The Holiday Calendar
Forget chocolates—photographer Abby Reilly’s Advent calendar is filled with magic. What else could have possibly brought that handsome new guy into her life? Believing she can find clues about her future behind each door of the antique Advent calendar she inherited, Abby uncovers a lot, but somehow misses the feelings her friend Josh has been harboring for her in the background. It's a must-watch.
A reigning champ in the Christmas rom-com department since its release in 2003, Love Actually chronicles the titillating holiday romances of a slew of couples and individuals, all of whom are linked to each other in some way or another (even if it’s unbeknownst to them). While not all of the narratives have happy endings—some, in fact, are downright heartbreaking—they’re certainly memorable. Even those who haven’t seen the film have likely seen references to its most famous moment, in which Juliet (Keira Knightley) receives a special Christmas message on a series of oversized cardboard cards.
What would you do if you knew this Christmas would be your last? That’s the premise of this rom-com, in which Queen Latifah plays a woman who has been diagnosed with several brain tumors and now has just weeks left to live. She decides to make the most of her time, however, whooping it up in a swanky hotel and following her heart’s desires with regard to her coworker/crush (LL Cool J).
With so many funny moments to speak of (“Smiling is my favorite!”), it can be easy to forget that at its heart, Elf is really a story about an overgrown elf (Will Ferrell) falling in love with a mortal girl, albeit one with angelic pipes (naturally—it’s Zooey Deschanel). Buddy and Jovie’s relationship may be unconventional—Buddy’s part of Santa’s family, after all—but the sweet affection they share for each other is the good old-fashioned kind, through and through.
This film explores the theory of “the one that got away” through main character Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds), who returns home over the holidays from his high-powered executive job in Los Angeles and reconnects with his high school crush Jamie (Amy Smart). The only problem? They never quite made it out of the friend zone. There's also the ultra-quirky, unwittingly hysterical popstar (Anna Faris) that already has sights set on him.
The Perfect Holiday
Finding love again after divorce requires an open heart—but what if your child's heart is closed off to your new love? That’s just one of the challenges facing Nancy (Gabrielle Union) and Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) as they embark on a new relationship over the holidays—and each one seems to be more entertaining than the last.
The Princess Switch
Everyone loves a good identity switch (cough, cough, The Parent Trap), and this fairytale starring Vanessa Hudgens is no exception. In it, we see a young baker named Stacy taking the place of the fictional Duchess of Montenaro after a chance meeting in which the two women are struck by their own resemblance. Naturally, they find themselves involved in some romantic entanglements that could lead to wacky complications for their lookalikes—and a bit of Christmas magic.
The Family Stone
Love works in mysterious ways—even during the holidays. The Family Stone may not give you the warm fuzzies right away as Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) struggles to connect with her fiancé Everett's (Dermot Mulroney) family members over Christmas (those with unrelenting in-laws will relate). Still, it has its fair share of heartfelt—and hilarious—moments as provided by their interactions with the rest of the cast, including Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, and Luke Wilson (just to name a few).
When Harry Met Sally
This late ‘80s classic explores the age-old question of whether men and women can actually be platonic pals through the eyes of its title characters: Harry, as played by Billy Crystal, and Sally, or Meg Ryan. It takes them exactly 12 years and three months to come up with the answer, but it’s a whole lot of fun watching them figure things out along the way.
A Christmas Prince
With a plot that loosely resembles the real-life romance that played out between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (a scandalized royal is quickly charmed by an eager young American professional), this Christmas classic offers plenty of imperial intrigue. So much so, in fact, that it even has two sequels!
Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) have cooked up the perfect Christmastime ruse by agreeing to go on a series of mutually beneficial holiday dates—or so they think. Sure, hanging out with Jackson means that Sloane can ward off any nosy relatives, while Jackson can avoid any serious attachments—but can he *really*?
Between Elsa’s snowy disposition (as she learns to use her powers of cold), Olaf's jovial jokes (he is a talking snowman, after all), and the affection that quickly blossoms before our eyes between Anna and Kristoff, Frozen has all the makings of a holiday rom-com—and then some.
Navigating a relationship is hard enough without inadvertently introducing your current partner to your now-famous ex—just ask Melvin (Ami Ameen), who has returned to his native London after many years away. While this film has yet to be released (December 3), the trailer proves that it's set to become an instant classic with plenty of high jinks and heart to be had.
This musical about two veterans-turned-theater stars who work with a pair of sisters to try and save a failing inn in Vermont is chock-full of enough familiar Christmas tunes to make you feel merry and bright, indeed—especially the ones about love.