Here's what's hot in the 160-plus Yuletide flicks headed your way from Hallmark, Lifetime, Netflix, and more.
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Courtesy of Lifetime

The holiday season is sneaking up on you, and with it comes plenty of ugly-sweater weather, a steep rise of gingerbread-house construction, and too many Christmas movies. How many is too many? Festivologists may not agree on an exact number, but given that the 2022 slate contains more than 160 new Yuletide films — with Hallmark and Lifetime accounting for 66 of them, and even HGTV and QVC muscling in on the merriment — you are clearly in danger of a saccharine overdose.

As you know, these holiday flicks thrive on tinsel-tinged tropes (rekindling a romance with the ex! a grinch becomes gracious!) played out by familiar faces (Lacey Chabert and Tamera Mowry-Housley come bearing gifts once again). This year will bring romances for rival chefs and deli owners, reconnections at rollerskating rinks and class reunions, Lindsay Lohan as a spoiled hotel heiress-turned-amnesiac in Netflix's Falling for Christmas, a couple of sequels (including HBO Max's A Christmas Story Christmas and VH1's Hip Hop Family Christmas Wedding), and new leases on life for maple farms and candle companies. For those whose Christmas colors run, shall we say, blood red, there's a killer Santa on the loose in Shudder's Christmas Bloody Christmas, and Bruce Willis is in another kinda Christmas movie in Lionsgate's Detective Knight: Redemption (on demand Dec. 9). You'll also see more diversity on the schedule, including movies anchored by a gay couple (Lifetime's A Christmas to Treasure and Hallmark's The Holiday Sitter), a film that celebrates Kwanzaa (Hallmark Channel's Holiday Heritage), and movies that feature Hanukkah (Hulu's Menorah in the Middle and Hallmark's Hanukkah on Rye), as well as Chinese American culture (Hallmark's Christmas at the Golden Dragon and A Big Fat Family Christmas).

How will you make your way through this blizzard of programming that has already started to blanket the airwaves? EW's gallery of all the new Christmas movies is your North Star, providing photos, synopses, and premiere dates. But if you're also interested to discover the season's biggest trends — and to learn how the fate of a kingdom might hinge on the adventures of a royal corgi — hop on our sled and hold on tight.

The mourning after

Almost every Christmas movie is built around a love story, and hapless, hopeless widows and widowers are one of the oldest tricks you'll find under the mistletoe to tug on heartstrings. This year, more than 10 films will go where many have gone before: into the Dead Zone. No fewer than five Hallmark movies bask in mourning glory. We Need A Little Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Oct. 22) spotlights a single mom spending her first holiday season without her husband, Long Lost Christmas (Hallmark M&M, Nov. 19) follows an interior designer who is plotting a surprise for her newly widowed mother, The Gift of Peace (Hallmark M&M, Dec. 10) centers on a once-pious Christian who has lost faith after her spouse's tragic death, and Five More Minutes: Moments Like These (Hallmark M&M, Dec. 17) offers up a young widow (Ashley Williams) who has one wish for her son.

Meanwhile, a glum widow (Jane Seymour) who directs a Christmas pageant finds a second act with the show's leading man (Joe Lando, necessitating a Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman reunion alert) in A Christmas Spark (Lifetime, Nov. 27), a struggling music teacher sings a new tune with a wealthy widower in The Sound of Christmas (BET+, Nov. 24), a country-music-star-turned-widower connects with a horse trainer and reconnects with his daughter in Moonrise (PureFlix, Dec. 15), a food critic helps a tow truck driver who lost his wife reclaim his holly jolly in Holly & The Hot Chocolate (QVC, Nov. 24), and a widowed artist finds herself on a highly visible public date with a bartender in Merry Kiss Cam (Hulu, Nov. 24). And even when the main characters haven't lost their spouses, they help out their siblings who have, as the story goes in Candace Cameron Bure Presents: A Christmas… Present (Great American Family, Nov. 27) and In Merry Measure (Hallmark Channel, Nov. 11).

Updating Carol like the Dickens

In need of a classic Yuletide story of transformation? Several networks and streamers definitely believe that you do, and they're borrowing from the most iconic one — Charles Dickens' classic novella A Christmas Carol — because, well, it's as good as gold. Apple TV+ presents the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with not only a musical twist but from the ghosts' perspective via Spirited (Nov. 18), which stars Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer. Netflix is getting animated with Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (Dec. 2), featuring the voices of Olivia Colman, Luke Evans, and Jonathan Pryce.

If your go-to phrase around the holidays is "Bah, humbug!" you also might wish to be visited by: Ghosts of Christmas Always (Hallmark, Oct. 30), A Show-Stopping Christmas (Lifetime, Nov. 20), and A New Diva's Christmas Carol (VH1, Dec. 14), which stars Ashanti and Vivica A. Fox. In addition, the Sarah Drew-Justin Bruening Grey's Anatomy reunion vehicle Reindeer Games Homecoming (Lifetime, Nov. 12) features a series of Christmas Carol-themed challenges. But you might want to brace yourself for the true nightmare: FilmRise's A Christmas Karen (on demand Nov. 18), in which an entitled, privilege-wielding woman named Karen receives a very necessary intervention. God bless us, every one, that can make it through all the Carols that will haunt your screen this year.

A hitmaker's holiday homecoming

Famous singers: They're just like us! Well, except that they have more social media followers and fatter offshore accounts. But they're sort of like us in that they also head home for the holidays. Hallmark is belting out three Christmas flicks that feature a pop or R&B star looking to reacquaint with their roots: All Saints Christmas (Nov. 6), In Merry Measure, and Undercover Holiday (Dec. 4). Is country your preferred music genre? We've got just the twang for you. A now-struggling country star is encouraged by her manager to perform a live Yuletide concert to goose record sales in A Country Christmas Harmony (Lifetime, Nov. 18, starring Brooke Elliott). Also, Tanya Tucker plays a fed-up country superstar who seeks refuge at grandmother's house in A Nashville Country Christmas (Paramount, December TBD).

A recipe for intrigue

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Is it love? Family? Charity? Forgiveness? Lol, it's food. And lots of it. There are more than a dozen movies delving into the tastiest time of the year, and a spoonful of them deal specifically with the mystery or intrigue around a recipe. In Baking All the Way (Lifetime, Nov. 24), a pastry chef working on a Christmas cookbook is having a rough time getting the owner of a small-town bakery to give up the recipe for his beloved gingerbread. That food critic in Holly & the Hot Chocolate has all sorts of questions about a special hot cocoa recipe that has captivated the town. A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe (Hallmark, Nov. 27) follows a granddaughter who takes over as CEO of her late grandmother's cookie company, and it's a job that only gets trickier when someone steals the secret recipe during the Christmas party. Meanwhile, Hallmark stays in granny gear for Our Italian Christmas Memories (Nov. 12), which involves siblings trying to recreate their nonna's famous pasta sauce to help their dementia-added grandfather remember the past.

A starry, starry Christmas night

You just learned about a bunch of singers who are heading home, but now it's time to focus on a different type of artist. Think of them like a sandwich artist, but instead of bread, meats, and veggies, they use a paintbrush and canvas. Great American Family is classing up the joint with Crafting Christmas (Dec. 17), which sees a struggling painter throw out her latest work, only to discover that it has been entered into the Christmas art festival, and The Art of Christmas (Dec. 18), which centers on an artist who becomes an elementary school teacher to pay the bills after her gallery exhibition goes up in literal smoke. More tangentially tied to the genre, the aforementioned Merry Kiss Cam features a widowed artist and Christmas Lucky Charm (UPtv, Nov. 20) showcases an unlucky-in-love woman who swore she wouldn't date during the holidays decide to admit one gallery owner into her life.

The stuck stop here

"It's not the destination, it's the journey" is a well-worn adage that will be on display all holiday season. That journey will come to a standstill early and often, with many movies whipping up a blizzard or car trouble and trapping their protagonists in a small town (or airport or building), where they will miraculously find everything they didn't realize they needed to have the best Christmas ever. An estranged mother and daughter are stranded in a church in Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas (Lifetime, Dec. 10). Different churchgoers are stuck with a bunch of thieves in a mall in Faith Heist: A Christmas Caper (Bounce). Two strangers ring up a connection during a power outage at a department store on Black Friday in Destined for Christmas (Great American Family, Oct. 22), and two execs wind up stuck in a superstore during a blizzard in Aisle Be Home for Christmas (Great American Family, Dec. 9).

A snowstorm also ensnares corporate Christmas partygoers in a ski lodge in Christmas on the Rocks (UPtv, Dec. 4), a romance novelist in a town called Cranberry Falls in Must Love Christmas (CBS, Dec. 11), and dissatisfied spouses in We Wish You a Married Christmas (Hallmark, Oct. 22). Car trouble plagues a woman passing through a small town in Sappy Holiday (UPtv, Dec. 17) and, yes, that food critic in Holly & The Hot Chocolate, while a "tempestuous rainstorm" strands a former country music duo in A Country Christmas Harmony (Lifetime, Nov. 18). And sometimes you just run out of money on your cross-country trek and wind up stuck in Oklahoma, as an aspiring musician finds out in Holiday Harmony (HBO Max, Nov. 24).

Meteor(ologist) shower

With so many people stranded by inclement weather, perhaps it was only a matter of time before the following occupation finally got its time in the sun. Nope, we're not talking about snowplow drivers (shout-out to Lifetime's 2019 movie Sweet Mountain Christmas) or tow truck drivers (you know who) but rather: weather forecasters. The Snowball Effect (UPtv, Dec. 24) features two rival meteorologists unexpectedly finding love while they track a snowstorm in the town of Mistletoe. Then there's Cloudy With a Chance of Christmas (Lifetime, Dec. 2) — points for that title — which centers on a weather forecaster who is set to announce a "snowcast" at the Christmas Eve festival, only to discover that she's been paired on screen with the talk show host who previously damaged her career. You don't need to be in the forecasting business to know where the heat index is headed.

Fake it till you make it to Christmas

Apparently the hardest gift to deliver at the holidays is the truth, given that plenty of Yuletide films feature characters hiding their real identity or a secret. In addition to the aforementioned The Royal Nanny, A Prince for the Holidays, and A Prince and Pauper's Christmas, My Southern Family Christmas (Hallmark, Nov. 24) centers on a journalist (Jaicy Elliot) who learns more about her biological father (Bruce Campbell) by interviewing him for a story without revealing their connection. (Almost fun fact: The one character in the film named Campbell is not played by Bruce Campbell, and this movie is not in the same Yuletide universe as AMC+'s Christmas With the Campbells.) Family and falsehoods also factor into Christmas on the Farm (Hulu, Nov. 1), where a New York socialite who passed off her dead mother's book as her own must now pretend to be Mom for the holidays, and A Big Fat Family Christmas (Hallmark, Dec. 2), where a photojournalist gets a plum assignment of shooting the Changs' annual holiday party without revealing to her bosses that she's actually a member of the Chang family.

Speaking of family, in Christmas at Pine Valley (Great American Family, Nov. 19), a journalist is deceived when he sets out to profile the owner of what he believes is a family-run farm. Elsewhere, fake significant others populate My Christmas Fiancé (Hulu, Nov. 4) and the aforementioned A Prince for the Holidays. A woman poses as a family influencer to try to win a design contest in #Xmas (Hallmark, Nov. 25), and a man with a crush on his department store executive best friend disguises himself as "the Santa of her dreams" when she needs a fashionable St. Nick in Santa's Got Style (UPtv, Dec. 11). Or if you'd rather just watch a traditional case of mistaken identity spiral out of control, UPtv provides two options: Christmas Masquerade (Nov. 6) and Christmas on the Slopes (Dec. 3).

Her majesty's Secret Santa

Hollywood's desire to fulfill the ultimate Christmas wish turned into a noble pursuit in the 2010s (see: Hallmark's A Royal Christmas and Netflix's A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch). This year, though, the regality comes with an added layer of intrigue, courtesy of a domestic intelligence agency. A MI5 operative goes undercover by caring for the children of a prince in The Royal Nanny (Hallmark, Nov. 12), while A Prince and Pauper Christmas (ION TV, Dec. 11) follows an FBI agent who recruits a lookalike to replace her confidential informant who has suddenly gone missing. (Said doppelgänger is a European prince visiting the U.S. over Christmas.)

Prefer fewer spy games in your game of thrones? A daughter is convinced that her mother's Scrooge-esque boss is actually a prince in Inventing the Christmas Prince (Hallmark, Nov. 18), a prince heads to upstate New York to start a business and finds romance with an ex-Olympic ice skater in A Royal Christmas on Ice (Great American Family, Nov. 5), and a princess gets an education in love on a cross-cultural college exchange program in A Royal Christmas Match (UPtv, Dec. 10). A fake-dating premise with a regal twist awaits you in A Prince for the Holidays (Great American Family, Dec. 10) and perhaps you'll be charmed by a "sophisticated ex-prince" in Hotel for the Holidays (Amazon Freevee, December TBD). But a king's ransom awaits you with A Royal Corgi Christmas (Hallmark, Nov. 25), where a prince who's about to assume the throne gifts his mother a rambunctious corgi named Mistletoe, who's in desperate need of a trainer. (And for those who come to Christmas for the pooches not the princes, sniff around Lifetime's Dog Days of Christmas, premiering Nov. 11, and ION TV's Dognapped: Hound for the Holidays, which debuts Nov. 27.)

Sleigh the competition

The spirit of Christmas can turn rather feisty, according to holiday-movie tradition. And not to turn this into a, well, competition, but this year's crop is shaping to be one of the biggest yet, with a dozen or so films building drama around a winner-take-all contest of some sort. Let's see who's lining up at the starting gate:

* Tree-decorating contest (Love at the Christmas Contest, Great American Family, Nov. 6)
* Tuxedo design competition (Well Suited for Christmas, Lifetime, Nov. 6)
* Christmas bakeoff (A Gingerbread Christmas, Discovery+, Nov. 11)
* Choir competition (In Merry Measure, Hallmark)
* The Kris Kringle Cup (Reindeer Games Homecoming, Lifetime)
* Christmas church cookoff (The Christmas Clapback, BET+, Nov. 24)
* Brand design contest (#Xmas, Hallmark, Nov. 25)
* TV baking competition (The Great Holiday Bake War, OWN, Dec. 3)
* Break multiple holiday world records (Record Breaking Christmas, Lifetime, Dec. 15)
* Holiday treasure hunt (A Christmas to Treasure, Lifetime, Dec. 16)
* Christmas art festival (Crafting Christmas, Great American Family)
* Sweater competition (Wrapped Up In Love, Lifetime)
* Mall Santa competition (Santa Games, Hulu, Nov. 24)

(There is also a corgi derby in A Royal Corgi Christmas.)

Meta Christmas!

We're not so great at math, but it seems that the easiest way to double your Christmas spirit this year would be to watch a Christmas movie about the making of a Christmas movie. In Lights, Camera, Christmas! (Hallmark, Nov. 5, and not to be confused with this promising pitch from 2021), the lead actor falls for a costume designer on the set of a Christmas movie, while a director tries to rescue her flailing Christmas movie while falling for her nemesis in A Hollywood Christmas (HBO Max, Dec. 1). And then we move in the dolly for Dolly: Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas (NBC, Dec. 1) is a movie musical that takes you behind the scenes of a TV Christmas special. Which Cyrus pops up as a musical guest with Dolly: Miley or Billy Ray? It's Christmas miracle — you get them both!

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