Holiday TV: 88 Specials, Series and Movies to Watch and Stream

From classics like 'Rudolph' to more than 40 original films, the Christmas season brings a host of viewing options.
Classic Media/Photofest; Fox; Hallmark Channel
From left: 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' 'The Moodys,' 'Christmas in Rome'

Peak TV has come for the holidays.

With a Christmas movie arms race between Hallmark and Lifetime (and, to a degree, Netflix), a host of new and annual specials and several original series, the formerly dead spot on the TV calendar between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve will be awash with new programming.

It's either a bounty (the cheerful, hang-more-mistletoe view) or too much to take (the miserly, Grinchian view). But it's here — and has been for some time. Like retailers that put up Christmas decorations before Halloween, Hallmark and Lifetime have been airing Christmas movies since October, but the output will go to new levels in the coming weeks.

Below is The Hollywood Reporter's rundown of holiday programming between now and Dec. 31. Aside from the "Classics" section below, all programs are original. Holiday episodes of regular series aren't included. All times are ET/PT unless noted.

Classics and Perennials

Some of the shows on this list have been airing for more than half a century. Of note this year: Animated staples Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman will have their first-ever cable airings on Freeform on Dec. 6, a few days after their initial runs on CBS.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, ABC
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 9 a.m. (in all time zones) Nov. 28, NBC
The National Dog Show, noon (in all time zones) Nov. 28, NBC
Frosty the Snowman, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, CBS
Frosty Returns,  8:30 p.m. Nov. 29 CBS
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, The CW
It's a Wonderful Life, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, NBC (encores Dec. 14 and 24 on USA and Dec. 25 on NBC)
Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire and Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost Tribe, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, CBS
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, ABC
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, CBS
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 3, NBC
Christmas in Rockefeller Center, 8 p.m. Dec. 4, NBC
A Charlie Brown Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, ABC
Olaf's Frozen Adventure, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC
Toy Story That Time Forgot, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC
The 88th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, The CW
Kennedy Center Honors, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, CBS
Shrek the Halls, 8 p.m. Dec. 17, ABC
Disney Prep & Landing, 8 p.m. Dec. 19, ABC
A Home for the Holidays, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS

Series

A pair of scripted comedies — Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever and Fox's The Moodys — join several holiday-themed competitions on the list.

Wrap Battle, 9 p.m. Nov. 25, Freeform
Merry Happy Whatever, Nov. 28, Netflix
Top Elf, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Nickelodeon
The Great Christmas Light Fight, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, ABC
Making It, 10 p.m. Dec. 2-5 and 9-10, 9 p.m. Dec. 11, NBC
The Moodys, 9 p.m. Dec. 4, 9 and 10, Fox
Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways, 8 p.m. Dec. 10-12, NBC

Specials

Lots of carols, a host of celebrity guests, some fake snow and a sizable helping of cheese are key ingredients to a good holiday special.

Wonderful World of Disney Magical Holiday Celebration, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, ABC
Outrageous Holiday Houses, 11 p.m. Nov. 28, HGTV
The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, Nov. 29, Amazon
How to Train Your Dragon Homecoming, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3, NBC
CMA Country Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 3, ABC
Disney Channel Holiday Party, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, ABC
Trolls Holiday, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14, NBC
Holidays With the Houghs, 10 p.m. Dec. 16, NBC
The Year: 2019, 9 p.m. Dec. 22, ABC
Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. in other time zones, Dec. 25, ABC

Holiday Food Shows

The Food Network already has several holiday-themed competition shows on air. Several others, both there and on other outlets, join the fray in the coming weeks.

Santa's Baking Blizzard, 9 p.m. Nov. 28, Food Network
Sugar Rush Christmas, Nov. 29, Netflix
Holiday Wars, 9 p.m. Dec 1, Food Network
Holiday Gingerbread Showdown, 10 p.m. Dec. 1, Food Network
The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition, 9 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC

Movies

This list of 42 films only includes movies that are premiering this season. Christmas-movie behemoths Hallmark and Lifetime have built up libraries large enough that at any point over the next several weeks, a viewer could watch between 20 and 22 hours of holiday movies per day on either channel. Lifetime is even running double features on Saturdays in December.

Check Inn to Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 26, Hallmark
The Christmas Club, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, Hallmark
A Very Vintage Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, Lifetime
Holiday Rush, Nov. 28, Netflix
Christmas at the Plaza, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, Hallmark
A Christmas Wish, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, Lifetime
Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Hallmark
Staging Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Lifetime
Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen, 9 p.m. Nov. 29, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Christmas in Rome, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Hallmark
Merry Liddle Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Lifetime
Christmas Chalet, 7 p.m. Dec. 1, UP TV
Christmas Town, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Hallmark
You Light Up My Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Lifetime
Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 4, Freeform
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, Dec. 5, Netflix
Same Time, Next Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 5, ABC (encore Dec. 11 on Freeform)
A Storybook Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Lifetime
Mistletoe & Menorahs, 6 p.m. Dec. 7, Lifetime
A Christmas Love Story, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Hallmark (Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation)
Christmas Unleashed, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Lifetime
Christmas in Paris, 7 p.m. Dec. 8, UP TV
Christmas at Dollywood, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Hallmark
Grounded for Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Lifetime
Christmas Stars, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Lifetime
Matchmaker Christmas, 6 p.m. Dec. 14, Lifetime
Holiday Date, 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Hallmark
A Christmas Winter Song, 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Lifetime
Snowbound for Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, UP TV
• A Cheerful Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, Hallmark
Rediscovering Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, Lifetime
A Christmas Carol, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, FX
The Christmas Temp, 8 p.m. Dec. 20, Lifetime
Christmas Love Letter, 6 p.m. Dec. 21, Lifetime
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Hallmark
Christmas Hotel, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Lifetime
Christmas Wedding Runaway, 7 p.m. Dec. 22, UP TV
Double Holiday, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Hallmark
A Date by Christmas Eve, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Lifetime
Baby in a Manger, 7 p.m. Dec. 24, UP TV
When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 25, Hallmark
A New Year's Resolution, 8 p.m. Dec. 28, Hallmark

Sports

Thanksgiving features an NFL tripleheader, and five NBA games are scheduled for Christmas Day. College football's bowl season also kicks into gear in the second half of December.

• Thanksgiving NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, Fox; Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 PT, CBS; New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 8:15 p.m. ET/5:15 PT, NBC.

• Christmas NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors, noon ET/9 a.m. PT, ESPN; Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers, 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT, ABC; Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 5 p.m. ET/2 PT, ABC; Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT, ABC/ESPN; New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 PT, ESPN.

• College football: Between Dec. 20 and Dec. 31, 31 bowl games will be contested, including the two semifinal matchups in the College Football Playoff on Dec. 28. 

New Year's Eve

The final night of the year is one of the bigger TV-viewing nights, with specials marking the turn of the calendar on multiple networks.

• ABC gives over the whole night (save for late local news) to its annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, starting at 8 p.m. and continuing till well past midnight.

• Anderson Cooper has hosted CNN's New Year's Eve coverage since the early 2000s. It, too, runs for several hours straight.

• Fox will once again have Steve Harvey hosting from New York's Times Square for two hours in primetime and 90 more minutes starting at 11 p.m.

• NBC will offer up its year-end special A Toast to 2019 at 8 p.m., followed by the NBC New Year's Eve Special at 10 and 11:30 p.m.