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They even apparently had a Pulp Fiction Christmas and a Muslim Christmas according to Stanley’s rant in Season 8’s episode on wanting a classic, baby-Jesus-laying-in-a-manger Christmas.
The Office Christmas episodes are truly some of its best so it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to rank them! But after watching them many, many times over the years (and re-watching them all just one more time recently – for research, of course) I feel confident with this list.
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Don’t get me wrong – even though this is at the bottom of the list, it’s still a pretty great ep – mostly because of drunk Erin.
Erin is arguably the best addition to the cast for the later seasons, and the way she acts toward Andy’s new girlfriend is so Erin – so weird and so adorably concerning. When Andy asks her how many drinks she’s had and she looks him dead in the eyes and says “a thousand” I LOSE it.
On the other hand, I think we can all agree that Robert California (James Spader) was an interesting addition to the show… he’s an incredible actor but his creepiness definitely changes the overall tone of any episode he’s in. So alas, Season 8’s episode is last on this list for me.
I also can never decide if I like confident/mean Phyllis or if it makes me uncomfortable.
That being said, Michael is still around so it gets a bump up above the very last place position. “My hooooorn can pierce the sky.” Meredith’s hair catching on fire. All amazing.
I love how far The Office delves into Schrute family culture. I often compare Rainn Wilson’s performance as Dwight to Will Ferrell’s as Buddy in Elf because they are both just so believable playing these ridiculous characters and making you fully believe this person actually exists and steadfastly adheres to his respective traditions.
Dwight playing this woodland creature who determines if you are “impish or admirable” is for sure the highlight of this episode, but it’s also great in its tenderness. We see Pete and Erin start slowly growing their romance, and I love how they’re a foil of Jim and Pam. I love that Dwight is secretly sad about Jim leaving, but even sadder that Pam’s sad.
And I truly do love the subtle humor most on this show but DRUNK DARRYL FALLING INTO THE TABLE OF FOOD.
This is a super underrated episode to me.
I had kind of forgotten about this one and I think I like it so much because it’s such a classic Office episode – Michael being such a baby about something stupid and then being sweet and making you fall for him again. And the overall tone and humor just feels like the good ole days.
This is the Jim and Michael co-pilot era of the show, and Phyllis asks Jim way far in advance if she can be Santa this year. Her saying through tears: “it’s been a long journey but I’m finally Santa” is just SO Phyllis. Michael still dresses up as Santa of course (because he’s a child) and let’s Kevin sit on his lap, drawing a comparison from Kevin’s weight to Rudolph’s uniqueness in a weird Santa voice that kills me, and then tries to make Ryan sit on his lap prompting Jim to tell him: “you can’t yell out ‘I need this’ while you pin an employee down on your lap.” Hilarious.
Michael then dresses up as Jesus and calls Toby the antichrist (classic). And then as he attempts to smooth things over in the conference room (prompted by thinking the office is going under) he describes them all as his family members – and when he gets to Stanley, he hesitates, and then says “and Stanley is our mailman.” I’m crying.
And bonus: Dwight is back in his elf costume from Season 2!
Everything is going smoothly for Christmas this year. The Party Planning Committee isn’t over budget (and getting along!) and everyone seems to be in a jolly mood. And then Michael finds out that Holly will be coming back while Toby’s on jury duty, and Michael (so sweetly) freaks the h out and proceeds to clear everything off the tables saying they need to start from scratch — everything has to be perfect for Holly.
Michael decides to throw a cool, classy Christmas party, naming himself “Santa Bond.” There are funny moments throughout, the Dwight and Jim snowball debacle is hilarious and terrifying, but the tenderness of this episode is really what makes it. Andy and Pam attempting to cheer up Darryl when his daughter doesn’t want to spend Christmas with him is so sweet, and when you see Darryl’s and his daughter’s faces perk up when they decide to buy every snack in the vending machines and pass them out makes me cry.
Pam illustrates Jim a cartoon book and seeks validation from her co-workers (who just make her feel insecure about it). When she finally gives it to Jim, defeated, his reaction is of utter joy and this moment between them is so sweet because we see how much they understand each other and how to make the other feel loved and appreciated (so…more tears). And then when Michael tells Holly “what’s the matter with him” which is ultimately that he still wants to be with her is just the cherry on top of this sweet tears fest.
It’s always humorous to watch Michael be oh so dramatic about work, his relationships, or something not related to him at all. When Carol breaks up with him for photoshopping himself into her family’s old Christmas card (over the face of her ex-husband…), Michael drowns his sorrows at Benihana’s with Jim Dwight and Andy, and eventually brings the waitress back to the Christmas party.
Meanwhile Pam and Karen are randomly bonding (which is fun and interesting to watch) over their rival party from Angela’s. This ep has great comedic and serious moments, you see how much Pam and Jim long for each other, and although I’m not sure how the “I marked her arm” line would come across in today’s climate…., it’s a classic Office ep, and the ending sets up the beginning of the iconic weird, twisted relationship between Michael and Jan.
From Michael stating that Dwight has “elfish features,” to Angela screaming and destroying Christmas ornaments because she sees Kelly kiss Dwight, to Michael not knowing how much vodka will get a group of people drunk, this episode has some iconic comedic moments.
Perhaps the biggest iconic moment being Meredith flashing Michael and him snapping a photo with his digital camera oh so quickly. His expressions and timing are absolutely perfect in that scene – I remember my friends and I rewinding it 10 times when we first watched it.
This episode is also of course the one where Jim almost reveals his feelings for Pam in a note that he holds onto all the way to Season 9, and through his gift giving you really get a glimpse at how thoughtful Jim will eventually be as her husband.
Monica Moser is a native New Yorker, grew up in Texas and now lives in Nashville. She's a graduate of Belmont University where she studied Songwriting & Music Business and interned with NoiseTrade, Nashville's Independent Radio Station Lightning 100 and Dualtone Records (The Lumineers, Shakey Graves) assisting their TV/Film Synch Licensing department. She’s a musician, writer, playlister and is the Marketing Coordinator at Streaming Promotions in Nashville, and is also Coordinator at NoiseTrade.