While the holiday season can certainly bring feelings of joy, this time of year may not resonate with everyone in the same way. The season of giving and sharing love with the people around us is certainly important but can also highlight some of our more tender, devastating feelings—especially if you’re suffering through heartbreak.
Look, there is no easy way to say it—dealing with a broken heart over the holidays sucks. While others are taking holiday-themed photos and discussing their futures around the family dinner table, you’re still trying to keep yourself together. It’s important to know that while you don’t need a relationship in order to be in a great, thriving place in life, it’s more than okay to admit when you’re feeling less than stellar about feeling alone this time of year.
That being said, sometimes the best pick-me-up is to sit back, pour yourself some hot chocolate, and immerse yourself in holiday movies. If you’re certain that all Christmas classics are about love and Santa, guess again. Below, we’ve rounded up the Christmas movies to watch if you’re going through heartbreak—whether you need a laugh, a sob session, or just a reminder that love does exist, we’ve got you covered.
Meeting your girlfriend’s family for the first time can be tough. Planning to propose at her family’s annual Christmas dinner—until you realize that they don’t even know that she’s gay—is even harder. When Abby (Kristen Stewart) learns that Harper (Mackenzie Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew.
If you’ve ever struggled with your identity or had to hide your relationship from those who wouldn’t accept it, you know how painful things can be—especially during the holiday season when everyone is together celebrating their love for one another. While the storyline is full of ups and downs, this movie is a perfect watch for those who’ve had their heart broken by someone who couldn’t accept who they were—and is proof that we all have to make important decisions when it comes to the people we love, including ourselves.
You can stream “Happiest Season” on Hulu.
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.
There is a reason why “Love, Actually” is considered a favorite modern Christmas classic. While it may feel a little counterintuitive to watch a movie full of couples finding and falling in love, it’s a solid reminder that love comes in so many forms and can show up when you least expect it with unexpected people. It also serves to remind us that romantic love isn’t the end all of our lives–that the love of friends, family, and ourselves matters just as much.
You can stream “Love, Actually” on Peacock
Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results.
Okay, this isn’t exactly a Christmas movie focused on heartbreak or romantic love, but that’s kind of the whole point! It’s hard not to laugh at Buddy’s genuine attempts to exist as a human, as well as form a relationship with his biological father. Plus you can distract your sorrows as you squint and realize that yes, that is Zoey Deschanel as a blonde and it works for her.
You can stream “Elf” on HBO Max
The Last Five Years
In New York, a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and a successful writer (Jeremy Jordan) sing about their failed marriage from two perspectives.
Okay, not exactly a Christmas movie, but the holidays do appear in the timeline (especially if we focus on “The Schmuel Song”). This double perspective musical is proof that sometimes people aren’t perfect and relationships falter (but also that sometimes, men are kind of the worst).
You can stream “The Last Five Years” on Hulu
You’ve Got Mail
Struggling boutique bookseller Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) hates Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), the owner of a corporate Foxbooks chain store that just moved in across the street. When they meet online, however, they begin an intense and anonymous Internet romance, oblivious of each other’s true identity. Eventually, Joe learns that the enchanting woman he’s involved with is actually his business rival. He must now struggle to reconcile his real-life dislike for her with the cyber love he’s come to feel.
Look, sometimes when you’re struggling to believe in love again, you have to watch a classic enemies-to-lovers romance unfold. You just do.
You can stream “You’ve Got Mail” on HBO Max
Dumped and depressed, English rose Iris agrees to swap homes with similarly unlucky-in-love Californian Amanda for a much-needed break. Iris finds herself in a palatial Hollywood mansion while Amanda navigates the lanes of a picture-perfect English village. Soon enough, both lovelorn ladies bump into local lads perfect for a romantic pick-me-up.
The best holiday heartbreak movie, period. With both Iris and Amanda suffering through heartache at the start of the film and then deciding to just swap homes with the other for an escape from their current lives? It’s a reminder that sometimes life can be overwhelming (and full of heartbreak), but stepping out of your comfort zone a little can open the door for better things.
You can rent “The Holiday” on Prime Video
Fed up with being single on holidays, two strangers agree to be each other’s platonic plus-ones all year long, only to catch real feelings along the way.
Yes, the “fake dating” trope is certainly not a realistic one (does this ever happen in real life??) and yet, for whatever reason, our hearts can’t seem to get enough of them. If you kind of hate the holidays specifically because you’re single, this one is for you.
You can stream “Holidate” on Netflix
Bridget Jones’s Diary
At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger) decides it’s time to take control of her life—and start keeping a diary. Now, the most provocative, erotic, and hysterical book on her bedside table is the one she’s writing. With a taste for adventure and an opinion on every subject—from exercise to men to food to sex and everything in between—she’s turning the page on a whole new life.
While it may not immediately come to mind for some, this is in fact a Christmas movie. Most notably, when you’re going through heartbreak, sometimes you just need to sit in your loneliness for a while and acknowledge it. While Bridget spends a great deal of time trying to alter herself to make herself more appealing, the movie is also a reminder that people can love us exactly the way we are—a message we could all use every now and then, if we’re honest.
You can stream “Bridgit Jones’s Diary” on Paramount+
Merry Happy Whatever
A strong-willed patriarch must balance the demands of his complicated family with the stress of the Christmas season when his youngest daughter comes home for the holidays with a new boyfriend.
If you’re more of a “binge TV series” type of person, look no further than Merry Happy Whatever. The show gives off some classic Home Improvement sitcom vibes (intimidating father with multiple daughters) but follows multiple storylines that take place over the course of one week during the holidays. The heart of the story surrounds a couple who are hoping to get a family blessing for a proposal and follows the pair as they try to determine whether they should be together at all. Sometimes it’s easy to rush into things, but this show reminds us that things work out if they are meant to.
You can stream “Merry Happy Whatever” on Netflix
Falling For Christmas
A young, newly engaged heiress has a skiing accident in the days before Christmas. After she is diagnosed with amnesia, she finds herself in the care of the handsome cabin owner and his daughter.
Occasionally, you just need to watch a classic Hallmark-Esque rom-com to lift those spirits. Are the plots nonsensical? Usually. But this one brings the return of Lindsay Lohan to the screen, so, it’s worth it. Plus, no matter how heartbroken you are, you very likely didn’t fall off a ski lift and lose all your memories, so things could be worse, right?
You can stream “Falling for Christmas” on Netflix
It’s A Wonderful Life
George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all—and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence—who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.
Look, the film certainly starts off on a very bleak note, make no mistake. But it’s also a certified Christmas classic that shows us how important we are to the people in our lives, even when we are sure everything is horrible. Plus, it paints a picture of how everything in our lives helps shape the person we are today—yes, including the heartbreaks.
You can stream “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Prime Video