They all know I want it. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime… They can see the desire in my eyes. Or maybe it’s the stressed-out, “Hanukkah-started-right-after-Thanksgiving-this-year-and-it-will-NOT-let-up” look on my face. In any case…
The time of year for festivities, family, lots of work, and one of my favorite guilty pleasures.* Not wine, chocolate or online shopping (well, okay, those too), but another vice. It’s stress relief, predictable comfort and a rush of warm fuzzies all rolled in to a single 1.5 hour package: holiday romance movies. More specifically: cheesy, made-for-TV holiday romance movies. The cheesier, the made for TV-ier, the better.
Bring on the cringe-laughs and the stolen kisses and uncomfortable family situations. Give me familiar tropes and problematic premises, aging 1980s TV stars and fake snow falling on fake small towns. On Dasher, on Dancer, on absurd situations: a case of mistaken identity that can only be resolved in front of everyone at the Christmas party, parents who make irrational demands on their adult children at the holidays, entire towns where no one really works in December.
Give me a pretend fiancé, an old flame and a weird legal document that requires magic to happen before midnight on New Year’s. Wait – is that a thing? Did I just make up a new one? **scribbles in writing idea journal**
Time to fall in love. Or laugh at other people trying.
Some people call them predictable or brain candy (brain cocoa?), and those people are… not wrong. Fine. But to those of us who love them, holiday romance movies done well (and done badly, tbh) are way more than that. It’s all about love, the triumph of hope and new possibilities in the season of social pressure and Vitamin D deficiency.
In Holiday Romancelandia, Santa can become cupid, Joey Lawrence can light a menorah, and all it takes is a pair of ice skates or an out-of-control sled to make anyone irresistible. They are escapism at its absolute best, which is why there are 10,000 new titles** released every year. Because, listen. If I have to choose between crushing existential dread in a reality fraught with societal alienation, and watching Melissa Joan Hart kidnap Mario Lopez to be her fake Christmas boyfriend… I’m going with Option B.
At some point I’d love to review this year’s new additions to the holiday streaming roster, as well as share some of my perennial favorites (cheesy and less cheesy movies alike). But I’ve been a bit snowed under this year — pun definitely, apologetically intended.
So in the meantime, since we’re all watching anyway, I thought it would be fun to play a little Holiday Romance Movie Bingo!
I’ve compiled Bingo cards with some of my favorite holiday romance movie elements: everything from Santa and holiday baking, to a hero on a horse, Christmas tree disasters, relegation to the kids’ table and… the always-popular bit with a dog.
I love it when part of a character’s arc is to learn or discover a charitable part of themselves by doing something kind for others at the holidays. Or, barring that, just singing in public. And if there’s an elegant party, tacky pageant or multi-cultural community celebration at the center of things — so much the better.
Lots of holiday romances feature uptight urban heroes and heroines, signaled by their rigorous gym workouts and stodgy business attire, who are forced to learn the true meaning of the holidays in a rural setting–or at least a quaint small town. Winter sports are a big feature: sledding at break-neck speeds, skating into one another’s arms on a rink, displaying athletic prowess (or endearing lack thereof) on a set of skis.
How to Play Holiday Romance Bingo
Join me, won’t you? Let’s play Holiday Romance Bingo together and give renewed purpose to our holiday TV binges.
- Download this PDF file of 30 Bingo sheets (2 per page), and select 2 or 3 pages at random to print. (Or keep scrolling and use the cards below if you don’t want the hassle of printing).
- Pick your favorite holiday romance movie(s), put the kettle on for hot chocolate, and cuddle up with a warm blanket, dog or partner. Text your bestie. Have a watch party. Make it a thing.
- When you see an element appear in the film, mark it off (or cover it with a piece of holiday candy if you want to get fancy and you’re not too hungry). The middle space is FREE – my gift to you.
- When you get BINGO, scream like it’s 1997 and you just won tickets to the Shania Twain concert.
- Repeat STEPS 1 – 4 as needed, until life feels amazing or your family threatens to cancel the internet.
BONUS: Take a picture of your completed Bingo card and share it in the comments with the name of the movie you watched — or tag me on Facebook (@MJPullenBooks). I would also love to hear what your favorite Holiday rom-coms are, why you love them, and which elements should be included in future iterations…
Happy Holidays, y’all!
PS – Want to make your own Holiday Bingo cards? Visit myfreebingocards.com!
*For the record (wherever such records might be kept and for whomever might be interested), I don’t refer to watching these movies as “guilty pleasures” because they are Romance, or any less valid or redeeming in any way than other movie genre. (Maybe a blog for another day about all that nonsense). In this case, it’s because I am always swamped with work and other important obligations in December and the time I spend watching romance movies sometimes could be spent doing more productive things like working out or preparing those end-of-year expense reports my accountant is so fond of.
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