Disclaimer: I absolutely love Hallmark Christmas movies. Everything I say is out of this undying, appreciative, in awe type of love. Yes, I make fun of them, but my husband and I make fun of each other all of the time, and we are annoyingly in love.
In Helen, Georgia, gingerbread is Queen. Or King. It’s both King and Queen (or maybe President), because the American Gingerbread Competition is held there each year. Kylie Watson (Lacey Chabert), a pastry chef that just so happens to live in Helen, Georgia, is hoping that her 5th time entering the competition gets her into the finals.
Although she is a pastry chef, she isn’t a working one. The restaurant she worked at closed down, and is stuck living with her sister and being the receptionist at her boyfriend’s company, Hawkey Homes. Her boyfriend, Alex (Lane Edwards), is one of those smart in business, but seemingly a dullard in everything else types. He can’t even figure out the coffee machine that he walks by every single day. He also really likes referring to Kylie as a part of his team.
This isn’t basketball, Alex.
Kylie is blinded by his face, and can’t recognize that even though he’s sweet, he’s just read too many business/sport crossover books. He’s planned a romantic dinner for the two of them at a surprise location, and Kylie assumes he’s popping the question.
Spoiler alert: he ain’t.
Nick leads a blindfolded Kylie down the middle of downtown to their date. Seriously, why is no passerby calling the authorities over this? Why is no one quietly following them just to make sure they are going to a public place and not into an ally? Idk, maybe I’m paranoid, but I’d be having 911 on speed dial just in case this woman needed it.
They end up at an upscale pizza joint, a restaurant they haven’t been to before. Unfortunately for Kylie, it’s because she has made it a place they’ve never been to before on purpose.
Enter Nick Mazannti (Glenn Coco, I mean Lea Coco), the owner of said establishment. Not just any Nick Mazannti, but Kylie’s ex-boyfriend, Nick Mazannti. Kylie’s first kiss on a carousel, Nick Mazannti. Divorced Nick Mazannti. Still digging on Kylie Watson, Nick Mazannti (I just really like that name, so I’m going to type it as many times as I want).
During the dinner, Alex pops the question:
Will you be my office manager?
Kylie flips him off, then hurriedly storms home, but not before she gazes at a huge chunk of diamond in a jewelry store window. Nick lets Alex know what it was Kylie was expecting, and he’s shocked (see, I told you he was a dolt). But, he is determined to get her back!
Kylie mopes in reindeer slippers about her breakup for 15 seconds, and then is a-ok. Maybe, it’s because she gets into the American Gingerbread Competition, and if she wins she can open her own bakery! Or maybe it’s because she sees hunkadunk Nick Mazannti. Maybe it’s because she found a copy of Ina Bruckner’s gingerbread cookbook. She is the godmother of gingerbread, ya know! Maybe it can be all 3 reasons.
While shopping in downtown Helen, Kylie runs into Nick Mazannti and his son, Bobby (Brenden Sunderland). Bobby asks Kylie to help him bake something to bring to a party for his new teacher, and even though she met the kid yesterday, and has less than a week to prepare her submission to the finals of the American Gingerbread Competition, she’s like
yeah, that sounds like a great idea, your Dad is hott & fine, so yes.
Everything is going great, but not for long! Her sister’s oven explodes, taking out the whole kitchen in a fiery nightmare. Or, Kylie’s nieces decide to cook some of their toys, and the whole thing reeks of plastic. So, I guess that requires a new oven????
Kylie, a squatter at her sister’s house, is hella annoyed that she can’t use this free oven, and that she must find another free oven. Gaaaaaawd.
She runs through every possible person she could borrow an oven from
- characters whose names I do not remember
- Glenn Coco
- No not Nick Mazannti nooooo
She reluctantly asks Nick Mazannti to use one of his restaurant’s ovens in the evening. I mean, she does kind of deserve this for helping out his kid. He says yes!
In the kitchen, she runs into her old pal and chef at Nick Mazannti’s restaurant, Ralphie (Jonathan Adams).
Ralphie is wonderful. He is funny, fiercely protective of Nick Mazannti, and only uses the finest ingredients in his food. I heard something about a prosciutto panini?! My husband also passed out when he heard they used morels on their pizza.
Jonathan Adams needs to be in every Hallmark Christmas movie, because he is just that delightful. I got it! He would play the perfect Santa. Just look at that judgmental glare. He would be awesome at making naughty and nice lists.
Kylie, Nick, and Ralphie brainstorm ideas for Kylie’s American Gingerbread Competition finals submission.
- Empire State Building
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Cady’s Map to North Shore High School (I’m sorry for the Mean Girls references, I will stop)
Thankfully, Ralphie chimes in and suggests Santa’s Village. I mean, it has to be Christmassy, right?!
Kylie goes shopping with Ralphie and Bobby, so she can mooch off of the restaurant’s discount/membership at a restaurant supplies store. There she has a ❤ heart2heart ❤ with Ralphie about Nick Mazannti. Ralphie is guarding Nick Mazannti’s heart and doesn’t want Kylie to hurt him again. She clarifies that she ended things as to not selfishly take his attention when it needed to be elsewhere. When his mother died, she knew that his father needed help running his restaurant. She couldn’t live with herself if she took him away from where he was needed most. Ralphie approves and silently adds her to his Nice List.
During the shopping outing, Kylie learns from Bobby that they do not have a Christmas tree at their house. The Christmas memory he has with his dad is that he gets a new soccer ball each year. It’s not even a red and green soccer ball, or one that look like a reindeer. Kylie finds this unacceptable.
She goes to the town Christmas tree lot to pick a tree out for the House of Mazannti. Who else does she run into other than Alex? He offers for Hawkey Homes to sponsor Kylie in the American Gingerbread Competition, and that she can use the kitchen in one of the model homes. She seems intrigued until he says
I miss having you on my TEAM, you real TEAM PLAYER you!
I can’t tell if he thinks he’s the coach of this team he keeps talking about? Is he drafting up a team of girlfriends? Or is he part of the starting 5? Whichever it is, stop trying to get Kylie on your roster without a full-ride offer.
She shuts him down, and gallops off to see Nick Mazannti.
She arrives at House of Mazannti, and he answers the door in a robe. Which is fine and okay, until he steps outside of the house and is wearing a cashmere sweater, skinny jeans and super nice dress shoes under it????????????????????????????????
That’s like when Lorelei Gilmore warns Rory that the Puffs are going to kidnap her in the middle of the night so she wears cute pajamas and a full face of makeup. As every glitter screen-printed v-neck says now: I woke up like this.
Though he is kind of upset about her getting the tree for him, he takes it.
- Kylie and Nick Mazannti flirt
- Kylie helps Bobby with his cupcake project
- Kylie does everything but work on her gingerbread project
- (Okay, she works on her Santa’s village clocktower a wee bit)
- Ina Bruckner announces she is entering the American Gingerbread Competition?!
Meanwhile, Alex decides and announces that to get Kylie back, he will do
THE GRANDEST GESTURE OF THEM ALL.
Alex seems like the kind of guy who thinks THE GRANDEST GESTURE OF THEM ALL is giving his girl one of those sterling silver tin cans that Tiffany’s is selling now. Sure, it’s $1,000
but it still looks like a tin can.
Kylie attends an event honoring the finalists of the American Gingerbread Competition, and she is intimidated by the other gingerbread artists and their sponsors. Ina Bruckner is announced, and so is her sponsor: Hawkey Homes.
What in the heck, ALEX?! This is what you think a grand gesture is? This is so much worse than a sterling silver tin cup. Mr. I-don’t-know-how-to-work-a-Keurig-but-am-plotting-like-a-Real-Housewife-of-Helen.
Kylie is blindsided, and loses her confidence. Nick Mazannti is annoyed by this because she is living by “what would Ina do?” instead of “what would Kylie Watson do?”
(but, really what would Ralphie do? That’s what I care about).
After leaving Nick Mazannti a voicemail saying that she is withdrawing from the competition, things aren’t meant to be, blah blah wah blah, Kylie heads over to Hawkey Homes to confront Alex. She walks in on Ina and Alex conspiring
to propose to her?!
Oh yikes, I’ve been too harsh. Alex hired Ina to help him propose to Kylie with a gingerbread jewelry shop. It’s actually very sweet, but he is still dense because he utters the phrase
I want you on my team.
Kylie bolts back to Nick’s restaurant and cries to her sister about how she wants Nick Mazannti, and definitely never ever never ever will she marry Alex. Ralphie overhears this, and encourages her to tell him. A light fires up behind her eyes, and she decides to scrap her clocktower (thank goodness, that was lame), and start over again. She has only 12 hours to create a brand new gingerbread structure.
Kylie finishes in time, which is not super surprising because contestants get far less time doing stuff like this on Food Network.
One of the judges waltzes up to Kylie and has the audacity to say
“Very impressive, but does it do anything?”
Yeah, look like a freakin’ carousel, lady. But, it does move and the judge looks pleased.
- is $25,000 richer
- can open her own bakery
- can quit Hawkey Homes
- never has to see Coach Alex again
- rides off into the sunset on a carousel with Nick Mazannti
- Ina throws her gingerbread jewelry store on the ground
I rate “The Sweetest Christmas”: The carousel horse that has a wildflower scene painted all over it, which is a 4/5 on my scale of Carousel Horses.
- The one that has been broken since the carousel opened
- The horse with red fire eyes that looks like it wants to kill all the other horses
- Random carriage you have to share with your siblings
- The horse that has a wildflower scene painted all over it
- A horse that is actually a giant cat
“The Sweetest Christmas” was deducted a full point because it needed more baking. I think, maybe, I expected to be watching Lacey Chabert competing in a Food Network holiday themed baking competition show, and got way less baking than I was expecting. So, that’s probably on me. Also, this is my formal request for Lacey Chabert to enter a cookie making competition on The Food Network.
The movie automatically gets a high score because of the cast. Like, does the plot, setting, or anything really matter when Lacey Chabert is the lead? Lea Coco is charming and I would not be surprised if we saw him in another Countdown to Christmas movie next year. Huge bonus points for Jonathan Adams, because duh. His comedic delivery is unforced, and still naturally plays a caring and protective friend. I would love to see him as a lead next time. I will end this by saying once again #JonathanAdams4Santa2018.
Thanks for reading! Hope your day is merry! 🙂