For me Christmas always begins when Rankin Bass holiday specials begin airing on television. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy and of course The Year Without a Santa Claus (Snow Miser and Heat Miser!), they are Christmas. I love the magic of the cartoons and stop motion animation. I used to think it could only be used at Christmas time, that was it’s magic.
I’m of the age where you anxiously waited for holiday specials to come on TV. Or when there were VCR’s it felt weird to record Christmas specials but if you did you taped over them with Days of Our Lives after the holidays.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas if I don’t see at least one of these beauties.
I love introducing my friend’s kids, my munchkins, to these shows now. I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes as Rudolph’s nose glows so bright, or Frosty runs here and there and everywhere, or Kris Kringle becoming Santa.
The smile on my face was from ear to ear when I first saw Rankin Bass ornaments and costumes and hat and lights at Retro Festive. I know that bringing in these iconic images into your home is just as special as being 8 years old sitting on the floor in front of the TV with a mug of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.
December is a wonderful time of year because that’s when we can all gather around the TV to watch classic Christmas specials and movies like Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Home Alone, or The Year Without a Santa Claus.
Movie and TV studios hope for a Christmas miracle when they produce new specials around the holidays. Sometimes they are smashing successes like Elf, and sometimes they are a little forgettable like Frosty Returns.
We have been trying to keep up the new Christmas specials that have been released this year. Before you watch them, here are our reviews!
Warning: Spoiler Alerts, probably
Reviews by Damien Nelson and Danielle LaSage
A Very Murray Christmas
Netflix has been creating amazing original work for years, so it was inevitable that they would make a new Christmas special too. But who knew they would recruit the likes of Bill Murray?
This Christmas special follows Bill Murray as he is about to begin a holiday show at The Carlyle, on live television, during the biggest snowstorm of the season. When the weather keeps Bill’s celebrity friends away, Bill is forced to cancel his show and create a party with the other guests trapped in the hotel.
This is where the storyline ends. Although A Very Murray Christmas begins like a movie, it is essentially a classic celebrity variety show. It features comedy sketches, dozens of surprise cameos, and lots of lovely songs.
It is a hilarious Christmas special, and I think it will age well in the coming years because Bill Murray’s humour is timeless and much loved. The cameos alone are worth the watch! Honestly, do not stop watching until you see Clooney.
I give it 10 Celebrity Cameos out of 12.
The bottom line: Miley Cyrus cannot lip sync. This is actually a good thing!
The Peanuts Movie
I have to admit I was nervous about The Peanuts Movie. After all these years, why mess with a good thing? But I was pleasantly surprised.
The Peanuts Movie is not technically a Christmas special. The film actually follows the Peanuts gang over the course of a school year, so it features many holidays including Christmas.
The script is simple and sweet, and revisits many classic characters without being tedious. The animation is pleasing to the eye, and the voice work is lovely. The only bone I have to pick with this film is that it relied on old one-liners and storylines from other Peanuts specials, instead of creating new adventures for the Gang.
I give it 6 Red Barons out of 10. The bottom line: It is a joyful little film that die-hard Peanuts fans will enjoy no matter what.
For those in search of a new type of Christmas story…look no further! It seems that the once obscure holiday knowledge of Krampus is becoming more and more commonplace.
When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.
Well, if that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will.
Krampus was co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, which fits perfectly, as he is probably best known for the film Trick R Treat. Dougherty accomplishes a film that is effectively frightening, and comically amusing when it needs to be. And with a cast featuring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman and David Koechner, you’re bound for nothing short of entertaining. The whole cast dances the line of comedy and drama so gracefully; it makes for a very enjoyable flick.
I would not recommend this movie for children … unless you really want to keep them in line; in which case, make it a family holiday tradition!
I give it 5 Candy Canes out of 8. The bottom line:This is a seriously fun flick. If you enjoy horror and enjoy the holiday season – this is not one to miss!
In December of 2013, parts of Canada and the United States experienced a brutal ice storm that caused a massive power outage. My house was without power from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning, which is lucky because some Torontonians were without power for up to two weeks.
We tried to make the most of our time without heat, hydro and Netflix by playing Christmas board games by candlelight. My husband and I play A Christmas Story Yahtzee every Sunday, while listening to CBC Music’s Country Classics stream, so it was an easy transition. We invited friends over to play games too, not just for the company, but for the extra body heat.
If your family is a bit more competitive, you might want to play card games like euchre, poker, or rummy. You can still add of a dash of Christmas with playing cards featuring Peanuts, Christmas Vacation, Elf and Coca-Cola Santa.
Sometimes there are family members who are too young to play a full Christmas board game, but they can help trim the tree with Hasbro ornaments with Candy Land, Twister, Operation, and Monopoly.
So let the Christmas board games begin! May the best family man win!
After a long day of Christmas shopping and gift wrapping, sometimes the best thing is a freshly baked treat like cookies, cake, or a little something savoury. But it’s already 9 o’clock, and the kitchen is a mess, so there is no chance of traditional baking.
Good news! Why not throw some simple ingredients into a mug, zap them in the microwave and enjoy? We have complied some awesome and easy mug recipes to match our most festive mugs this season.
Have a very Beary, or uh, Berry Christmas with this recipe for a Mixed Berry Crisp from the Food Network, in our Beary X-Mas mug. With just seven ingredients, and two minutes in the microwave, it’s like a bear hug for your taste buds.
The Grinch has garlic in his soul, but Garlic Biscuits are good soul food. These biscuits are gluten free, low on carbs and take less than ten minutes to make. Fair warning: there will only be crumbs left in the house, crumbs even too small for a mouse!
Microwave Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie
We were inspired to put this Peanut Butter recipe in this Rudolph mug by one of our favourite moments in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
Yukon Cornelius: This fog’s as thick as peanut butter! Hermey: You mean pea soup. Yukon Cornelius: You eat what you like, and I’ll eat what I like!
For anyone who loves Christmas and has a television – Christmas movies and TV specials are a must! It was a tradition with my family to decorate the tree and watch a whole slew of holiday specials. My favourites were Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone; as I got a bit older, The Santa Clause and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; and in recent years, I added Elf to that list. However, Frosty the Snowman was not a part of the catalog.
Don’t get me wrong; I’d still watch it. Frosty was often in the middle of a Christmas Special marathon, sandwiched between Rudolph and the Grinch. But as I got older, I’d start leaving the living room for a half hour to help in the kitchen, or quite literally, just sit in my room doing nothing until it was over.
Sounds terrible, right? It was! I was a kid – I didn’t know any better!
It was only in the past few years that I decided to revisit this Christmas classic . . . and what was little me thinking?! It’s great! That’s why I decided to pull together my new favourite quotes from Frosty the Snowman!
Here are my Top Five quotes (that I should have appreciated more 20 years ago) from Frosty the Snowman:
Professor Hinkle: I must get that hat back! Think nasty, think nasty, think nasty!
Frosty: Are you coming to the North Pole, too? Karen: I’m sure my mother won’t mind, as long as I’m home in time for supper.
Frosty: I mean – I can make words. I can move… I can juggle… I can sweep… and I can count to ten. One, two, three, four, five, nine, six, eight… Well, I can count to five.
Professor Hinkle: We evil magicians have to make a living, too.
Frosty: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
So there you have it! My Top Five (new) favourite quotes from Frosty the Snowman. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to Retro Festive and show my love for all things Frosty!
Holiday Fair in the Square Vendor
Nathan Phillips Square Kiosk*
100 Queen St W,
Our Toronto City Hall Hours
Dec 8 - Dec 23 Only
Mon - Fri: 11am - 11pm
Sat - Sun: 11am - 11pm
*Note: Only select items available at our Toronto kiosk locations. Distillery District kiosk carries NO Ugly Sweaters, while the City Hall kiosk carries MOSTLY Ugly Sweaters. Full range of products available online and at our Oakville store.