Your Yuletide Guide to Holiday TV Specials: December 5 to 11

Part 1 of TV Week's guide to Christmas specials, movies, concerts + more this holiday season

Credit: Matt Russell

Cozy up in front of the TV to enjoy some new holiday offerings and old favourites that are sure to get you in the spirit of the season


Saturday, December 5, 3 p.m., Food

In this one-hour special, chef Jamie Oliver prepares winter wind-down foods, including oozy, cheesy pasta and simple one-pot wonders like Bloody Mary beef.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Saturday, December 5, 8 p.m., CTV & NBC

Every bit as much of a holiday tradition as twinkling Christmas trees and chestnuts roasting on an open fire is this 1946 classic guaranteed to warm the cockles of the coldest heart with its tale of a down-on-his-luck do-gooder who recovers the seasonal spirit thanks to the help of a wingless angel.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

Saturday, December 5, 9 p.m., Joytv

Scholar and entertainer Audi Gozlan hosts this look at the origins of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday considered the cultural counterpart to Christmas.

Gordon Ramsay’s Festive Cooking

Sunday, December 6, 2 p.m., Food

Keeping in mind that this is a holiday program, let’s hope that the notoriously foul-mouthed chef keeps his swear words to a minimum in this one-hour special—but don’t count on it!

Last Chance for Christmas

Sunday, December 6, 6 p.m. & 10 p.m., Lifetime

When Prancer injures his hoof, Santa’s stable hand, John (Gabriel Hogan), must find a fill-in to ensure Christmas deliveries go off without a hitch. His mission gets complicated when he discovers that Frankie, the perfect substitute reindeer, belongs to a precocious eight-year-old girl and her mother Annie (One Tree Hill’s Hilarie Burton). As he races to get Frankie up to the North Pole, he realizes that he’s actually falling in love with Annie and has to find a way to win her over and save Christmas at the same time.

12 Gifts of Christmas

Sunday, December 6, 7 p.m., W Network

When Anna Russo (Spartacus’ Katrina Law), an unemployed fine-arts painter, is unable to make ends meet, she is hired to become a personal Christmas shopper for Marc (Aaron O’Connell), an uptight corporate exec. As they begin working together, Marc learns that Christmas giving has less to do with the amount of money spend and more to do with the importance of the gift, while Anna discovers she might find success as an artist in a way she never expected. But the best gift of all, of course, is the love they discover with one another in this made-for-TV holiday flick.

The Three Tenors Christmas

Sunday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., WTVS

In this high-brow holiday special, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras join the Vienna Symphony Orchestra to perform 90 minutes of Christmas classics, such as “White Christmas” and “Adeste Fideles.”


Sunday, December 6, 8 p.m., CBC; 9 p.m., Global

The beloved Will Ferrell holiday comedy makes its annual appearance to tell the hilarious tale of an oversized elf named Buddy as he travels to New York City to track down his birth father and, of course, spread weird holiday cheer along the way.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Monday, December 7, 8 p.m., CBC

Some things never get old, and this heartwarming 1964 tale is one of them. Who could get tired of watching the triumph of a bullied reindeer whose greatest shame—that nose!—ends up saving the day when a blizzard threatens to cancel Christmas? 

The Santa Clause

Monday, December 7, 8 p.m., CTV2

What happens when a divorced father (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? Well, naturally, he pops on the dead elf’s suit, delivers the rest of his presents, rapidly gains a hundred pounds and becomes mystically bound to man the sleigh for the rest of his days. 

Miracle on 34th Street

Wednesday, December 9, 2:30 p.m., AMC

Don’t tune in expecting to see the 1947 black-and-whiter featuring Natalie Wood, because this version dates back only to 1994 and features Mara Wilson in Wood’s old role as a cynical whipper-snapper who doesn’t believe in Santa, Elizabeth Perkins as her world-weary mother and the late, great Richard Attenborough as a mysterious shopping-mall Santa.

Abominable Christmas

Wednesday, December 9, 6 p.m., YTV

Modern Family’s Ariel Winter and Glee’s Jane Lynch lend their voices to this cartoon about two Abominable Snowkids who spend the holidays with a human family after being chased out of their mountain hideaway by an evil scientist. 

Credit: Sachyn Mital 

Taraji and Terrence’s White Hot Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 9 p.m., Fox

Empire’s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard host this brand-new special in which they celebrate the season with a little musical assistance from Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx and John Legend.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Thursday, December 10, 8 p.m., Global

While some say this live-action take on the beloved cartoon doesn’t do the Grinch justice, others insist it’s one of Jim Carrey’s finest roles. We say: judge for yourself!

Saving Hope Holiday Special

Thursday, December 10, 9 p.m., CTV

It’s Christmas Eve and even the threat of an ice storm can’t quell the spirit at Hope Zion Hospital. When a Good Samaritan is brought in after a car crash, Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance) must use all her skills to procure a desperately needed Christmas miracle. Meanwhile, Dr. Shahir Hamza (Huse Madhavji) and Dr. Dana Kinney (Wendy Crewson) get roped into the annual toy drive.

Rogers Santa Claus Parade Special

Friday, December 11, 6 p.m., CITY; 7 p.m., Omni

From the streets of downtown Vancouver comes this annual favourite that marks one of Santa’s first appearances of the season.