There are a few Christmas films that are undeniably classics.
Think It’s a Wonderful Life. Think Elf. Don’t mention Love, Actually – we don’t have time to get into that just now.
But once you’ve watched the classics, there’s a whole new genre to get stuck into over your mulled wine.
A genre that’s perhaps best described with the word ‘cheesy’.
You can probably guess some of the plotlines.
Successful city girl goes back to her home town for Christmas and ends up rediscovering a) the true meaning of the season and b) her still-hot high school boyfriend.
Then there’s the one where girl meets boy who turns out to be a prince. Or the widowed man who learns to love again.
The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime in the US are the most famous for making these films.
But now that all the streaming services have added original and back catalogues, they are easier than ever for us to binge.
Whether you want to admit to being a fan is up to you, but we’ve picked out some of the best. And look, no one needs to know you read this article.
image captionIf Gwen Stefani can admit to being a fan, so can you. She told the Hallmark Channel, she gets “sucked” into the films while cooking
“About three years ago I watched ‘Christmas Presence’,” says self-confessed Christmas movie lover Leanne Creasey.
“And I thought, ‘Oh, this is really mind-numbingly good’ and then I went through a back catalogue of just awful Christmas films.
“It’s pure escapism and set in a world where nothing bad really ever happens.”
image captionThe Christmas Contract starring One Tree Hill’s Hilarie Burton and Tyler Hilton is a must-see
Leanne’s top recommendation is The Christmas Contract.
It stars One Tree Hill’s Hilarie Burton and Tyler Hilton, which was a big draw for Leanne.
“I really love that one because it made me think this is made for people who grew up with that show or why else have those two actors in it?
It tells the familiar story of a newly single woman who dreads the thought of going back to her home town for Christmas.
Of course her ex-boyfriend is there and he has a new girlfriend.
“The idea of going back to your hometown and seeing your ex is actually really awful when you think about it,” laughs Leanne.
“Can you think of anything worse? But for whatever reason it just works out so well.”
image captionCameron Candace Bure knows Santa better than most of us
We have to give a nod to the lady who is known as the Queen of Christmas TV movies.
Candace Cameron Bure’s ninth festive film came out this year for the Hallmark Channel – If I Only Had Christmas.
She plays a “cheerful” publicist who teams up with a cynical business owner to help a charity in need at Christmas time.
But she has also travelled back in time in ‘Journey Back to Christmas’ and swapped places with her twin sister in Switched For Christmas.
The one we are recommending though is A Shoe Addict’s Christmas – which is a take on A Christmas Carol but with lots of shoes.
To watch Hallmark films in the UK, you might catch them on Channel 5 or freeview channels but there is also a dedicated channel on Amazon Prime that you can subscribe to.
image captionYes, it is him from Mean Girls, Jonathan Bennett can now be found in many a Christmas movie
From the Queen of the Christmas movie to the reigning King, Jonathan Bennett.
He has also done his fair share of the cheesy Christmas movies from A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale to Christmas Made to Order.
But this year he is making history as the star of the first LGBTQ Christmas movie for the Hallmark Channel – The Christmas House.
It follows a gay couple’s trip home for the festive period while they wait to find out about the adoption of their first child.
“What I love about the characters in the movie is that we aren’t caricatures or stereotypes,” Jonathan Bennett told NBC news.
“We are two loving, stable, kind men who are in love and want to start a family of our own.”
Ok, lets get on to the big hitter, this one you must have heard of or at least scrolled past it on Netflix.
A Christmas Prince is part one of the streaming service’s epic Christmas trilogy.
Part One, she meets the Prince. (A Christmas Prince)
Part Two, they get married. (A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding)
Part Three, they have a baby. (A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby)
“I love a Christmas Prince with all my heart,” says TV critic Scott Bryan.
“It follows Amber and she is a hot mess of a journalist, if I did any of things she does in these films, I’d probably be arrested.”
image captionPart three sees the King and Queen of Aldovia have their first baby
Scott thinks the writers are just having fun with the plots and making it more ridiculous each time.
You have a ten-year-old hacking an encrypted security system and our heroine threatening to kill someone with a bow and arrow.
To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?
— Netflix (@netflix) December 11, 2017
“I think they are all revelled in the success of the first one, I think Netflix were taken aback by how popular it was.
“They know what they are doing, they know why people love it and they are seeing how far they can push it.”
And it looks like Netflix are trying to create a Christmas movie universe with some crossover seen between a few of their original films.
For example, the King and Queen of Aldovia from The Christmas Prince are spotted at the coronation of Queen Margaret in the Princess Switched Again.
Welcome to Netflix’s Holiday Movie Universe, an interconnected world of eight films (and counting) where anyone could become a princess and your soulmate may be hiding in plain sight — or the past!
Here’s actually how these holiday faves became so entwined… pic.twitter.com/5uNjEknHac
— Netflix (@netflix) December 6, 2019
As well as the predictable but comforting plotlines, they are all visually stunning, homes and towns decorated beautifully and of course there is always snow.
And that is something that appeals to fan Rebecca Adams.
“I love Christmas lights and wreaths, it’s so bright and it’s so happy and it’s so cheerful.” she explains.
image captionDermot Mulroney stars in The Christmas Train, named after the mode of transport he is taking to get home for Christmas
“And in the movies they just make it look so pretty. I know it’s fake but that snow is amazing.”
Rebecca is recommending the Christmas Train. Wonder where the train is going? You guessed it, back to the weary main character’s home town for Christmas.
It stars Dermot Mulroney, who Rebecca recognised from the TV show New Girl.
“He’s a famous actor, he was also in Friends,” she explains.
“So I thought if this famous guy is in it, it must be a good movie but it is so cheesy, however, I watched the whole film and I absolutely loved it.”
image caption12 Days of Christmas is one of the movies Disney+ have added to their collection. They know it is what the fans want
Scott Bryan thinks there area a number of reasons why fans really do love these movies.
“There is a quiet sense of superiority” he suggests.
“You know what the plot is going to be about, you know how it is going to end, you take the mick out of all the things that don’t make any sense.
“But also at a very anxiety inducing time, they are very steady, they are not there to shock or surprise you and that gives you sort of comfort blanket.”