Christmas TV highlights: best shows to watch this holiday season

Carly Pearce singing on CMA Country Christmas
Carly Pearce, CMA Country Christmas (Image credit: ABC/Larry McCormack)

It's time to get in the Christmas spirit! And there is going to be plenty of TV shows and specials airing over the next month to do just that. We're here to help you get your holiday viewing schedule in order with this helpful guide of what Christmas-themed content is on from here to the big day itself.

The best Christmas TV traditions — like a stocking full of new original Christmas movies from Hallmark and the month-long Christmas-themed programming from Freeform — are back spreading festive sparkle again this year. But for everything else airing on TV and streaming platforms, check out our day-by-day guide directly below. We also are highlight our top pick for each day.

We'll update throughout the season as more TV shows and specials are announced.

December 20

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All CBS promo image

(Image credit: CBS)

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS
The self-proclaimed queen of Christmas gets her very own two-hour holiday special. This Mariah Carey holiday concert sees her perform from Madison Square Garden, with special guest appearances by Drew Barrymore, Jermaine Dupri, Billy Porter, Slick Rick and the Radio City Rockettes.

  • Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Celebrity LEGO Masters: Holiday Bricktacular, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox
  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970), 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Disney's Prep & Landing, 9 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Disney's Prep & Landing 2: Naughty & Nice, 9:30 pm ET/PT, ABC

December 21

  • Beebo Saves Christmas, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas (re-airing), 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Celebrity LEGO Masters: Holiday Bricktacular, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1945), 8 pm ET/PT, TCM
  • The Price Is Right At Night, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS

December 22

  • A Christmas Gift, BET Plus
  • A Saturday Night Live Christmas Special, 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • iHeart Radio Jingle Ball 2022, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), 8 pm ET/PT, AMC
  • A Holiday Chance, 9 pm ET/PT, BET

December 23

  • A Miracle Before Christmas, 6 pm ET/PT, BET
  • A Home for the Holidays at the Grove, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS and Paramount Plus
  • The Chosen: The Messengers, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Mickey Saves Christmas, 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • 5 More Sleeps Till Christmas, 8:30 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • Olaf's Frozen Adventure, 8:30 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Christmas Party Crashers, 9 pm ET/PT, BET
  • Christmas Takes Flight, 9 pm ET/PT, CBS

December 24

Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life

Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life (Image credit: World History Archive/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • The Santa Clauses (two episodes), 3:30 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • Love Actually (2003), 6 pm ET/PT & 9 pm ET/PT, BBC America
  • Celebrity LEGO Masters: Holiday Bricktacular, 8 pm ET/PT, Fox
  • Christmas Around the World, 8 pm ET/PT, The CW
  • Elf, 8 pm ET/PT, AMC
  • Home Alone (1990), 8 pm ET/PT, ABC
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946), 8 pm ET/PT, NBC
  • A Christmas Story marathon, 24 hours starting at 8 pm on TBS, 9 pm on TNT
  • Mary Berry's Ultimate Christmas, 8 pm ET/PT, PBS
  • O Holy Night: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir, 9 pm ET/PT, PBS
  • Tracking Santa: A Hulu/ABC Holiday Special live stream, Hulu
  • Best Christmas movie marathon, AMC

December 25

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).