Holiday TV 2018: Where and when to catch your favorites

Chuck Barney
East Bay Times

Deck the halls and rev up your DVR. The blizzard of holiday-themed TV fare is about to begin.

As usual, programmers are making merry with a lineup full of specials, gooey movies and animated treats that mark the so-called most wonderful time of the year.

To help you keep up, we’ve made a list – and checked it twice – of the notable shows airing through New Year’s Eve. With a few exceptions, we have listed only the initial telecasts.

If you don’t spot a favorite here, consult your listings.

Music and good cheer

These are parades, celebrations, countdowns and specials:


“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” – The big tree in the Big Apple gets lit, with performances by Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, John Legend, Martina McBride, Pentatonix, Kellie Pickler and more. (8 p.m., NBC).

“A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy” – John Legend and Chrissy Teigen celebrate the season. (10 p.m., NBC).


“The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration” – Hosts Jordan Fisher, Sarah Hyland and Jesse Palmer usher viewers through a festive celebration in the Disney theme parks. (9 p.m., ABC).

Dec. 2

“National Christmas Tree Lighting”–The White House spruce gets the merry-and-bright treatment, with musical performances. (10 p.m., Ovation and Reelz).

Dec. 3

“Pop Up Santa Holiday Special” – Santa, along with celebrity helpers, brings surprises and holiday cheer (including a home giveaway) to those who need it. (9:30 p.m., Freeform).

Dec. 4

“Saturday Night Live Best of Christmas” – Two hours of holiday-themed sketches from “SNL.” (9 p.m., NBC).

Dec. 10

“CMA Country Christmas” – Reba McEntire hosts a special featuring performances. (8 p.m., ABC).

“Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas” – The pop star gets festive with her husband, Vince Gill. (8 p.m., Hallmark).

Dec. 11

“Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas” – The 2017 winner of “America’s Got Talent” celebrates the holidays with her puppets and guests. (9 p.m., NBC).

Dec. 14

“The 87th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade” – Procession down Hollywood Boulevard. (8 p.m., The CW).

Dec. 16

“iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2018” – with musical performances. (8 p.m., The CW).

Dec. 17

“Christmas at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir”– Sutton Foster joins the choir. (9 p.m., PBS).

Dec. 18

“Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown 2018” – Kevin Frazier hosts. (8 p.m., The CW).

“Greatest Holiday Video Countdown” – (9 p.m., The CW).

Dec. 23

“Masters of Illusion: Christmas Magic” – (8 p.m., The CW)

Dec. 25

“Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade” – (10 a.m., ABC).

Festive flicks

We can’t list every holiday TV movie. But a few caught our eye:

Nov. 30

“A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding”–A sequel to last year’s “A Christmas Prince” starring Rose McIver and Ben Lamb. (Netflix).

“A Very Nutty Christmas” – A bakery owner (Melissa Joan Hart) gets help from a guy (Barry Watson) who just might be the Nutcracker Prince. (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Dec. 2

“Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve” – In this sequel to “Life-Size,” Tyra Banks plays a doll that comes to life to help guide a toy company CEO. (9 p.m., Freeform).

Dec. 15

“A Gingerbread Romance” – Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Duane Henry get all sweet on each other. (8 p.m., Hallmark).

It’s a wonderful lifestyle

Programs centered on food and home decor:


The Great Christmas Light Fight” – An over-the-top contest. (8 p.m., ABC).

Dec. 6

“The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition” – Ten amateur bakers compete. (9 p.m., ABC).

Dec. 7

“Nailed It Holiday”– Described as “part competition, part hot mess.” (Netflix).

Dec. 18

“A Heartland Holiday Feast” – Chef Lidia Bastianich journeys to small-town America. (9 p.m., PBS).

Especially for the youngsters

Specials aimed at kids 1 to 92:

Nov. 22

“The Christmas Chronicles” – Kurt Russell plays Santa Claus in this movie about two kids who crash his sleigh. (Netflix).

Nov. 25

“SpaceBob MerryPants”–SpongeBob and pals take a trip to the moon. (11 a.m., Nickelodeon).

Dec. 2

“The Doc McStuffins Christmas Special”– Doc and the toys travel back in time to the North Pole. (7 p.m., Disney Junior).

Looking back–and ahead

Recall the year that was and celebrate the one to come:

Dec. 23

“The Year: 2018” – Robin Roberts and others review the year. (9 p.m., ABC).

Dec. 31

“A Toast to 2018!” – A rundown of the year’s highlights and newsmakers. (8 p.m., NBC).

“Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” (8 p.m., ABC).

“NBC’s New Year’s Eve” – The party is on from Times Square in New York. (10 p.m., NBC)

Holiday evergreens

Returning specials:


“Elf” (7 and 9 p.m., AMC)


“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (8 p.m., CBS)


“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (7, AMC)


“The Polar Express” (7 and 9 p.m., AMC)

“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” (8 p.m., ABC)

Dec. 2

“A Christmas Carol,” 1938 version (8:30 a.m.,TCM)

Dec. 3

“The Santa Claus” (7:25 p.m., Freeform)

Dec. 6

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (8 p.m., ABC)

“Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf” (8:30 p.m., TBS)

Dec. 7

“Disney’s Christmas Carol,” 2009 (9:50 p.m., Freeform.)

Dec. 8

“Holiday Inn” (8 p.m., TCM)

Dec. 13

“Disney Prep & Landing” (8 p.m., ABC)

Dec. 14

“I Love Lucy Christmas Special” (8 p.m., CBS)

Dec. 23

“A Christmas Carol,” 1951 version (9 p.m., TCM)

Dec. 24

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (8 p.m., NBC)

“A Christmas Story” marathon (Begins at 8 p.m., TBS)

Dec. 25

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the 2000 movie (8:30 p.m., NBC)

Dec. 27

“Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (9 p.m., ABC)