While the Hallmark Channel has been widely regarded as the leader in holiday-themed entertainment for many years now, Lifetime is quickly coming for that title with its own impressive annual slate of Christmas movies. Often more diverse and more unique than their counterparts on Hallmark, the Lifetime Christmas movies have developed quite a following of their own.
They may not yet have the name brand recognition associated with the Hallmark branding, but Lifetime has been proving for over a decade that they’re not just known for salacious true crime and steamy romance movies. They can produce their fair share of sweet and comforting movies, too, when there’s a real reason for the season. Here, we take a look back at the ten best Christmas movies Lifetime has produced so far.
10 A Snow Globe Christmas
Released in 2013, A Snow Globe Christmas follows a familiar trope found in many Christmas television movies. Thanks to the intervention of some supernatural power, a hard-working woman wakes up in another life where she is happily married and gets to see what her life could have been if she’d made a different choice.
In the case of this movie, our story focuses on Alicia Witt’s Meg, who wakes up in another life where she is married to and has children with Donald Faison’s Ted, an old boyfriend. Meg spends the movie trying to figure out how to get back to her real life, only to realize how much happier she is in this world of “what if?”
9 All About Christmas Eve
Starring Haylie Duff, All About Christmas Eve first aired on Lifetime in 2012. In this movie, Duff stars as Eve Wright, a party planner who finds herself presented with two amazing opportunities. She can either continue on in her romance with her boyfriend, Darren, or agree to work on a major project for her firm across the country in Los Angeles.
The movie plays out in a vein similar to Sliding Doors, as we get to see both “what if?” scenarios play out in real-time, as Eve is forced to navigate the seemingly conflicting waters of professional success and personal happiness.
8 Always and Forever Christmas
Always and Forever Christmas premiered as part of Lifetime’s 2019 Christmas movie lineup. The film finds Lucy (Lexi Lawson) learning that she has inherited her recently deceased grandfather’s toy store in her old hometown. There’s something magical about the toy store, and the town itself, that captures Lucy’s heart the moment she sets foot back in it.
It also doesn’t hurt that Lucy quickly clashes, then clicks with the town’s handsome diner owner, Scott (Mark Ghanime), who gives her more of a reason to stick around. There’s also the matter of a woman who may or may not be Mrs. Claus, Carol (Beth Broderick), who gives the store its extra magic touch during the holiday season.
7 My Christmas Inn
The trend of big city businesswomen learning that they’ve inherited something significant from a dearly departed relative continues with the 2018 film My Christmas Inn. In this movie, Tia Mowry-Hardrict stars as an advertising expert named Jen who finds out that she’s been left an inn located in Alaska.
Jen is determined to sell the inn off to the best buyer as soon as possible, but when she arrives in Alaska and realizes the love and town color that comes with the inn and its neighborhood, she begins to change her mind about selling it at all. Of course, there’s also the matter of the romance she strikes up with her aunt’s attorney Brian (Rob Mayes).
6 The Road to Christmas
This next movie has an extra special sweetness, given the fact that its lead actors have been married for almost 20 years. Premiering in 2006, The Road to Christmas is a sweet movie that finds Clark Gregg’s quaint single father Tom Pullman unexpectedly meeting and falling for the trendy photographer Claire Jameson, as played by Gregg’s real-life wife, Jennifer Grey.
Claire is trying to travel to Aspen in order to marry her handsome but ultimately untrustworthy fiance Lorenzo, while Tom and his daughter Hilly are traveling across the country in his worn down old truck. Their paths inevitably cross, due to bad weather and many other conveniently inconvenient circumstances, and of course, love blossoms in the most unexpected of places.
5 A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride
One of the more unconventional movies on this list, A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride first aired on Lifetime in 2008. Starring JoAnna Garcia and Helen Shaver as a mother-daughter duo, the film follows the lives of wedding planners Roxanne (Garcia) and Rose (Shaver) when mother Rose impulsively decides to marry Jack, a man she had only just met a few days before in France.
Daughter Roxanne is decidedly against this idea, and does everything within her power at first to try and prevent the marriage from happening, even teaming up with her mother’s fiance’s son, Charlie (the late Luke Perry). In time, Roxanne realizes just how truly Jack and Rose love one another, and of course, Roxanne gets her own happy ending, too, when she reunites with her ex, Dylan.
4 Jingle Belle
Starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s Tatyana Ali, the 2018 film Jingle Belle finds songwriter Belle returning to her small hometown. As soon as she arrives there, she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Michael (Cornelius Smith Jr.), and finds herself caught up in preparing music performances for the town’s annual Christmas Eve Pageant.
Despite their differences that led them apart following graduation, Belle and Michael reconnect through their love of music and realize just how much they still love one another, too. In addition to Fresh Prince’s Ali, the movie also features major supporting roles from The Cosby Show’s Keshia Knight Pulliam and Tempestt Bledsoe.
3 Wrapped Up In Christmas
The 2017 film Wrapped Up In Christmas stars Tatyana Ali as Heather, a successful manager of a local mall. As Christmas approaches, Heather is tasked by her boss, Arlene (Jackée Harry), to terminate the leases of under-performing stores. Of course, unbeknownst to her, she soon falls in love with Ryan (Brendan Fehr), the nephew of one of the store owners’ whose store faces closure.
Also unbeknownst to her, Ryan had been playing Mall Santa when her young niece had asked Santa for a boyfriend for her hardworking aunt Heather. Miscommunications ensue, but in the end, Ryan and Heather find their way back to each other. Other standouts in the casts include fellow Fresh Prince alum Joseph Marcell, A Different World‘s Jasmine Guy, The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields, and The Wonder Years‘ Dan Lauria.
2 Snowed-Inn Christmas
One Tree Hill alum Bethany Joy Lenz has made the transition to starring in Christmas movies in recent years, both for Hallmark and Lifetime, and one of her best finds her starring in a Lifetime movie opposite Hallmark Channel favorite Andrew Walker. Released in 2017, Snowed-Inn Christmas finds Lenz’s Jenna and Walker’s Kevin getting stranded in the same small town: Santa Claus, Indiana.
Rival digital writers, Kevin and Jenna at first clash at pretty much every time they interact. But thanks to the intervention of possibly magical innkeeper couple, Chris and Carol Winters, these two soon come to realize that the real reason for the season can be found in each other – and in saving the inn from being torn down.
1 Dear Secret Santa
The best Lifetime Christmas movie of all time has two things in common with many of the other movies on this list: there’s a magical, mystical, and even supernatural component to it, and it just so happens to star Tatyana Ali. The 2013 film Dear Secret Santa finds Jennifer (Ali) returning home to care for her elderly father, Ted.
As she’s home for the holidays, Jennifer begins to receive letters from a secret admirer, whose identity remains a true mystery until Jennifer has a shocking realization. The romantic notes are coming via magic and time travel from her lifelong best friend and unrequited love, her neighbor Jack (Lamorne Morris), who had passed away three years prior. In the end, through the magic of love and Christmas, Jennifer and Jack are given a second chance.