Christmas Movie Clichés

This year’s Hallmark holiday movie lineup.

What could be better than sitting on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket, with a cup of hot cocoa clutched in hand, watching a Hallmark holiday movie? That is practically maximum coziness right there. 

It is no secret that Hallmark is one of the biggest holiday-associated brands, mass producing festive movies every year. Just this year alone, there are forty new releases, with the first one being released on October 21st. With so many movies being produced in such a short time, it can be easy to think that there would be major similarities among the plots. I like to think of myself as a Hallmark movie connoisseur, so, based on personal experience, I found that each movie definitely has different elements that separate each one from the rest, but there are, in fact, universal similarities. 


Typically, the movie starts off by introducing the movie’s setting. The camera zooms in on various people and buildings, with snow gently falling and an upbeat Christmas song playing in the background. Directly after this introduction is when the audience meets the main character for the first time.  

Usually there are two setting clichés: a bustling big city, and a charming small town, where practically everyone is obsessed with Christmas. No matter the setting, characters tend to embody it. 


One of the most common character types is the “serious big city businessperson.” They make their job their whole personality and tell themselves that they are too busy to find love. Many times, they end up working on Christmas, trying to complete some sort of big project so that they get promoted and prove themselves to other big city corporate workers. 

Another common character is on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are from a small town and embody the Christmas spirit. In numerous cases, they own a charming small-town family business like a bakery or a Christmas tree farm. 

In addition to the main character, there is also the main character’s best friend, and the protagonist’s enemy. The best friend convinces their friend that they need to give love another chance and support them throughout the whole movie. The enemy, however, sometimes takes the form of a snarky big city businessperson who doubts the main character and feels the need to throw their unwanted two cents in. 


Incorporating the previously described elements, here is an example of a typical Hallmark movie plot: Big city businessperson travels back to their small hometown for Christmas and meets their small-town love interest. Then, a few days full of hot chocolate and playful banter later, they fall in love. However, some sort of disagreement or misunderstanding occurs between the two, causing them to question their relationship. After gaining words of wisdom, they then discover that they are meant for each other, and end up together at the end of the movie. 


Other Classic Clichés

Wise Old Mentor: When one of the main characters questions their budding romance with their love interest, they often receive some advice. This is usually from an older individual, who happens to be dripping with wisdom. They allow the main character to reach the realization that they belong with their love interest after all. 

Saving the Small Family Business: In some instances, there is some sort of small-town business that is in danger of shutting down, and the movie follows the protagonist’s attempts to save the store that they are so devoted to. The business is usually one that has been in the family for generations, making the potential closing even more devastating. 

Christmas Activities: Common Hallmark movie activities include baking cookies, making gingerbread houses, and ice skating. If at least one of these isn’t included in the movie, and the baking scene doesn’t end in a frosting fight, is it really a Hallmark movie? 

Familial Conflict: In these movies, the protagonist must overcome more than just the struggle of finding love. Often times they must overcome the death of a loved one, a divorce, or navigating being a single parent. This event is often a contributing factor to why they believe they can not find love. 

Endearing Child: Relating to a protagonist’s status as a single parent, a lot of the movies include a young child. They often are a symbol of the magic of Christmas themselves, as they are filled with wonder, and remind their parent about the joy that the holiday season brings. Sometimes, they are the ones that spew words of wisdom to the protagonist in order to get them back on the right track. 

Interrupted Kiss: Just when both the protagonist and their love interest are in love, their kiss always seems to get interrupted, either by an outside force, or one of the protagonists. By the end of the movie though, the pair will finally experience an uninterrupted kiss, usually underneath a festive Christmas tree. 

Perfect Decorations: Speaking of Christmas trees, in every Hallmark house, there seems to be perfectly placed decorations, that are “classy” and focused on sophisticated colors like red, green, and gold. The decorating gives the impression that it took hours, all the while looking effortless at the same time. There are also no oversized Christmas inflatables in sight, or ornaments that vary from the traditional bulbs. 

Winter Wear: Fashion over practicality is a recurring theme amongst the characters. Instead of practical insulated coats for the freezing cold and snowy weather, characters choose to wear button down coats, offering little to no warmth. They pair it with a pom-pom hat, leather gloves, and of course, a scarf. 

Big Holiday Festival: Christmas is not Christmas without holiday-themed activities! Many of the films incorporate some sort of big gathering, like a tree lighting, bake-off, or holiday festival to really get the Christmas-y vibes across. Everyone in town comes out to celebrate, and the main couple can be found attending as well. 

Work vs. Love: This is a type of conflict that the main character often has to overcome. They must decide if they want to take the promotion offer in the big city, or quit their job and enjoy life with their partner in the small town. 

These are just some of the many similarities I have noticed among Hallmark holiday movies. As said before, each one still has their own story, and is a delight to watch during the holiday season.