Every good sitcom has a few episodes per season that are dedicated to a holiday. Friends is notorious for its Thanksgiving episodes, #HowIMetYourMother has some great moments in their #Halloween episodes, and #Blackish has a field day explaining what each holiday means to black families. Of all the holiday-themed episodes though, #Christmas episodes are the most important. That's because they're usually the last episode before the show's winter hiatus, and have to end the year on a good note.
#TheOffice had a Christmas episode for seven seasons out of nine, and although their quality could be argued, they regularly put a smile on my face. So with the holidays upon us, here's my ranking of The Office's Christmas episodes!
7. "Christmas Wishes" (Season 8, Episode 10)
- Director: Ed Helms
- Writer: Mindy Kaling
- Original Air Date: December 8th, 2011
- Most Joyful Moment: Dwight and Jim pranking themselves and blaming each other
- Most Awkward Moment: Andy and a drunk Meredith following Erin, who was going home with Robert California
It's common knowledge that the eighth season of The Office was weak, so it shouldn't surprise you to see Season 8's Christmas episode at the bottom of this list. Like most episodes of the season, the writers struggled to fill the Michael Scott-shaped hole left after his departure. Andy was never charismatic enough to be the lead, and Jim was always the audience's gateway into the twisted world of Dunder Mifflin, not the twisted world itself.
Outside of the recurring problems, the plot was only half good. The better storyline centered on a prank war between Jim and Dwight, except they were pranking themselves and blaming each other (because that's what you do when your Christmas bonus is at stake). The less interesting side of things focused on bland Andy and his bland girlfriend, who was in a passive-aggressive relationship with Erin. Throw in creepy Robert California, and you're left waiting for the scenes with Jim and Dwight, like this scene of Dwight rocking out to "Christmas" music:
Bottom Line: "Christmas Wishes" carries the same problems that plagued most of the season, and the characters in the main storyline were never charismatic or funny enough to engage the viewer. It left us wishing Michael would come back (see what I did there?).
6. "Dwight Christmas" (Season 9, Episode 9)
- Director: Charles McDougall
- Writer: Robert Padnick
- Original Air Date: December 6th, 2012
- Most Joyful Moment: Belshnikel breaking character to call out his colleagues for only believing in Belshnikel when "some Democrat looks it up on Wikipedia"
- Most Awkward Moment: Dwight/Belshnikel getting Nate to dress up in blackface and colorful pantaloons to portray Black Peter, a "slave boy and Belshnikel's companion"
Much like its predecessor, Season 9 didn't know how to replace Michael. That said, it did get much better at rotating characters so that we were too busy to remember he was gone (like sticking Andy on a boat for majority of the season). This episode relied heavily on the Jim/Dwight/Pam dynamic, and played up the brotherly relationship between Jim and Dwight. Basically, the Party Planning Committee failed to organize a Christmas party, leaving the theme of the celebration to a last-minute vote.
As Jim prepared to leave for Philadelphia, he hoped to get Dwight's Pennsylvania-Dutch Christmas (with a dirty, mean version of Santa named Belshnikel). He got his wish, but had to leave early, resulting in an angry Dwight. The two subplots focused on Jim not keeping his promise to Darryl (which he eventually did), and Erin's will they/won't they relationship with Pete.
Bottom Line: The episode had some funny moments (basically anytime Belshnickel was on the screen), but he wasn't enough to raise the episode higher on this list. Sorry "Dwight Christmas," looks like you were more impish than admirable.
5. Classy Christmas (Season 7, Episodes 11 & 12)
- Director: Rainn Wilson
- Writer: Mindy Kaling
- Original Air Date: December 9th, 2010
- Most Joyful Moment: Michael wrecking Holly's gift from her boyfriend, and then poorly denying it
- Most Awkward Moment: Jim having a violent nervous breakdown when he sees (and attacks) dozens of snowmen
"Classy Christmas" is one of two double-length Christmas episodes in the show's run. That said, it's the inferior one — but not by much. The main storyline was initiated by the impending return of Holly Flax, which drove Michael to revamp the office's Christmas party. Gone were the sugar cookies and cheap Santa costume, replaced with a fitted suit and decor that looks like it came straight out of a holiday catalog.
The episode was actually a very big step for Michael and Holly, but the Christmas aspect had very little to do with that. It was, however, played up heavily in the three subplots: Pam's homemade gift for Jim, Dwight and Jim's ongoing snowball fight, and Darryl's quest to please his daughter, which was both hilarious and touching.
Bottom Line: The episode balanced humor and heart perfectly, a good chunk of the episode didn't even require a Christmas theme. With a few adjustments, all three plots could've been functioned as a normal episode. And why would that top a Christmas episode list?
4. "A Benihana Christmas" (Season 3, Episodes 10 & 11)
- Director: Harold Ramis
- Writer: Jennifer Celotta
- Original Air Date: December 14th, 2006
- Most Joyful Moment: Michael's rant about bros and hoes
- Most Awkward Moment: Michael using a Sharpie to mark his "girlfriend," not being able to tell her apart from her friend
"A Benihana Christmas" was an absolutely hilarious episode of The Office, but it wasn't a completely cohesive storyline. By that I mean the jokes and line deliveries were perfectly executed, but they were one-off jokes. The actual storyline, in which Michael was dumped by his girlfriend and initiated a relationship with a Benihana restaurant waitress, was never as interesting as the jokes that came from it.
For example, Michael getting dumped by Carol was unimportant, but I found myself laughing really, really hard at what he did to deserve it: He cropped himself on to a photo of Carol and her ex with their kids, and sent it out as her Christmas card. Meanwhile, Angela and Karen were organizing rival parties and Pam was elaborately pranking Dwight.
Again, the jokes that came out of these storylines were much funnier than the storylines themselves. Despite that, the episode is home to one of my favorite scenes from The Office (the rant of a heartbroken Michael Scott):
Bottom Line: "A Benihana Christmas" proves that having the perfect jokes doesn't equate the perfect episode, even if those jokes were highlights of the season.
3. "Secret Santa" (Season 6, Episode 13)
- Director: Randall Einhorn
- Writer: Mindy Kaling
- Original Air Date: December 10th, 2009
- Most Joyful Moment: Michael dressing up as Jesus and spoiling the party for everyone
- Most Awkward Moment: Kevin sitting on Michael-Santa's lap, who found himself struggling to breath (much like everyone else in the scene)
Much like "A Benihana Christmas," "Secret Santa" has tons of funny moments. The reason this ranks above it, however, is because the jokes tie into the plot. Michael, outraged that Jim allowed Phyllis to be Santa, decided to crash the party by dressing as Jesus (after unsuccessfully rivaling Phyllis). While this is going on, Pam tries to play matchmaker between Oscar and a warehouse worker, and Andy is giving Erin the Twelve Days of Christmas for Secret Santa (which was slightly disastrous).
The overarching narrative of Dunder Mifflin's bankruptcy also found a conclusion, where it was revealed the company would be sold and everyone in Scranton would keep their job. There's a scene where Kevin sits on Michael's lap, much to the amusement and discomfort of everyone on and off the screen. In the meantime, here's Phyllis' heartwarming story on her path to become Jolly Old Saint Nick:
Bottom Line: "Secret Santa" is a perfectly fine episode of The Office, but aside from the main plot, the storyline is too boring. That said, the Christmas theme and conclusion to the multi-episode arc fit in seamlessly.
2. "Moroccan Christmas" (Season 5, Episode 11)
- Director: Paul Feig
- Writer: Justin Spitzer
- Original Air Date: December 11th, 2008
- Most Joyful Moment: Meredith's intervention (and subsequent rehab visit)
- Most Awkward Moment: Meredith admitting her addiction... to porn.
"Moroccan Christmas" is a top-tier episode of The Office. The storyline brings many supporting characters to the forefront, and lets the main cast play off of them for a change. The main plot involves a drunken Meredith lighting her hair on fair, which leads to a terrible-executed intervention and equally terrible rehab visit (led by one Michael Scott).
At the same time, Dwight is profiting from the reselling of a popular toy, and Phyllis has Angela under her thumb (right up until the end, where Phyllis exposed Angela and Dwight's ongoing affair to everyone — except Andy).
Bottom Line: A Moroccan Christmas party was the perfect stage to bring up mounting conflicts like Meredith's drinking and Angela's infidelity, and gave the supporting cast a chance to prove themselves. It also let us dive deeper into each character's psyche, like Phyllis' blackmailing, Dwight's unethical toy sales, and Michael well-intended but terribly-executed desire to help.
1. "Christmas Party" (Season 2, Episode 10)
- Director: Charlous McDougall
- Writer: Michael Schur
- Original Air Date: December 6th, 2005
- Most Joyful Moment: Pam opening Jim's gift to her (even though Jim took out the letter)
- Most Awkward Moment: Meredith flashing herself to Michael... who proceeded to take a photo
The first Christmas-themed episode for the show, Christmas Party is a perfect example of how to celebrate a holiday the Michael Scott way. The plot is fairly simple, the employees and Michael have a Secret Santa gift exchange set up with a budget of $20. But Michael (being Michael) bought Ryan a $400 iPod. Upon receiving a homemade oven mitt from Phyllis, he decides it's the perfect time to play Yankee Swap, where everyone begins chasing the iPod.
Gifts that were bought specifically for their recipient were rendered pointless (ie Pam's teapot), so everyone who didn't have the iPod was pissed off. Luckily, Michael bought a disgusting amount of alcohol and everyone was back to normal.
Bottom Line: "Christmas Party" is as simple an episode as it is a title: Generic, to-the-point, and relatable. The Office was founded on unique characters responding to completely normal situations (in this case, an office Secret Santa), and that was shown perfectly in the episode. The reason it tops this list is because it stays true to the core of the show, while also giving each character a chance to shine.