“Christmas Joy” Recap & Review

I absolutely love Hallmark movies. Everything I say is out of this undying, appreciative, in awe type of love. Yes, I poke fun at them, but my husband and I poke fun at each other all of the time, and we are annoyingly in love.

Meet Joy Holbrook (Danielle Panabaker)! Not only does she have a Christmassy name, she is also going back to her Christmassy sounding home of Crystal Falls, North Carolina. But–I’m getting ahead of myself. Joy

  • lives in Washington DC
  • works in marketing research
  • absolutely loves Weatherton’s department store
  • is plagued by a clumsy aunt.

She also, miraculously, isn’t afraid of mannequins that have 2008 Lady Gaga platinum blonde hair with Sia bangs. I probably would’ve punched that mannequin and ran away. No shade to Lady Gaga or Sia, but much shade to terrifying mannequins with wigs on.

Joy is braver than I’ll ever be…
…because consider this punched.

Meet Ben Andrews (Matt Long)! He does everything. I don’t think I am exaggerating, even though I am usually exaggerating. He

  • is the hospital administrator in Crystal Falls
  • competes in gingerbread competitions
  • co-captains a Christmas Cookie Crawl team
  • drives the most enormous truck I have ever seen.

Ben also has a problem with “city women.” Do spill the beans on that one, Benny!

i also wear santa hats

So, I mentioned a clumsy aunt. After staring at her Christmas Cookie Crawl trophies, Joy’s Aunt Ruby is so mesmerized and blinded by her achievements that she stands on the top step of a ladder–even though the ladder all but begs her not to in bold, black letters.

Fast forward to the hospital! Let this be a lesson, #Hallmarkies: always listen to ladders. They are wise. They understand safety.

While visiting Aunt Ruby’s smashed ankle in the hospital, Joy is accidentally roped up in a strand of Christmas lights by Ben. They haven’t seen each other in years, but some sparks fly 😉

Joy also gets distracted by a song declaring oh oh oh it’s christmas oh oh oh!, and rams her Mini Cooper into Ben’s enormous truck. These Holbrook women need to learn a thing or two about safety!!!!!!!!!!

CONSPIRACY THEORY!!!! Aunt Ruby got “hurt” so she could take a year off from the Christmas Cookie Crawl and just eat Rocky Road ice cream in her pajamas for a week.

Aunt Ruby has to go to a rehab center 2 hours away–that is one intense ankle injury–and isn’t able to prepare for the Christmas Cookie Crawl that is in just 6 days! Because her aunt has done so much for her, Joy decides to stay in Crystal Falls to help prepare. She has vacation days and her laptop, so she can work from home.

As Aunt Ruby’s usual co-captain, Matt tries to help Joy, but she wants none of it! She has watched enough Hallmark Christmas movies to know that if you don’t want to fall in love you must not bake with an attractive male. Even if you’re engaged and you bake with someone, you WILL fall in love with your baking partner immediately. It can’t be undone.

But, Matt spouts off the numbers to Joy. She’ll need to make

  • 7,000 lemon bars
  • Eleventy hundred chocolate chip cookies
  • 5 gallons of peppermint fudge
  • dozens and dozens of other ‘zerts.

So, if I did my math correctly, Joy has to prepare one million delectable desserts. I hate the word delectable. I hate myself for just using it.

How much does this all cost?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

sry don’t have $85k lying around to spend on all of this

After looking through boxes and binders even Leslie Knope would think were overdoing it, Joy tries to balance the Christmas Cookie Crawl and her nagging boss’ demands.

She also offers to pay Ben for CCC (I’ve gotta shorten it, my fingers are gonna fall off) advice, but he gets oddly offended by it. We soon learn that it’s something his city slickin’ EX WIFE would’ve done, and he was just trying to help because that’s what country folk do for each other. He’s got way too much product in his hair to be like not around these them here parts, partner, but, hey, at least we now know he’s single 😉 Once again, no shade to Matt Long’s hair, but his hair screams city boy.

Oh, and Joy is going to judge Crystal Fall’s gingerbread competition so Matt can compete on a team with his mom. How will she survive all of this? How will I survive watching her juggle all of these things? I am easily stressed out.

But, at least, Joy has finally accepted Ben’s help. If I’m going to be semi-stressed out, at least I’ll be watching people fall in love.



Every CCC needs a darn good theme! Ben wants a classic theme while Joy wants to put a twist on it. Kinda like when someone competing on Food Network Star is like My style is Southern Comfort Food Japanese Greek Fusion.

While arguing about the theme, Matt trips and breaks one of Joy’s most treasured possessions from her mom who passed away: a beautiful green ornament. She, somehow, doesn’t melt into a puddle of tears on the floor.

After a long day of planning,

  • they go out for dinner
  • flirt
  • run into Ben’s parents.

Ben’s mother (Susan Hogan–who played the matriarch of the good Mitchums in A Very Merry Mix-Up) asks her son if the two are on a date. He denies this because he can’t date a city girl because he can’t get burned by one again.

A quick look at what I’d do to that wig mannequin if I ever came across it in the wild. Let this be a warning to you, wig mannequins!


  • Joy’s boss is insufferable.
  • Ben tries to fix Joy’s shattered ornament.
  • Joy visits Aunt Ruby with Ben’s mom and the two women judge her lack of progress. No theme?! No good!

But, this is where I gasped like a super duper goofball. Like, it was a noise I cannot describe. I was in awe of how romantic and how lovely and how beautiful it was. The pair go for a walk in the woods. AND








because it makes him feel more connected. Now, I don’t believe I’ve ever connected more to a moment in a Hallmark movie than this one. If you think that is dumb, do not tell me. It was super beautiful to me, and I don’t want it tainted by your bad opinion.

Also, their theme is going to be Mother Nature and how we’re all connected by it at Christmas time–the magic of the trees, the snow, Jack Frost dancing in the chill of the frosty air. So rustic winter wonderland chic, I’m supposin’.


This beautiful moment is followed by the most brutal near-kiss of all time. I am still not over it. She is left standing there, her eyes closed, in the soft glow of white twinkling light wrapped trees. Ben just stops. Ben just leaves.

So, ole’ Joy eats some cookie dough.

That, I understand.

Oh, but the freezer lid pops open and some of the dough is ruined?


Let’s throw out some more bullet points! My husband has already gone to bed, and I’m tired!

  • They all come together to help remake the dough that was ruined.
  • The super serious gingerbread competition happens and Matt and his mom win (In a surprise twist, the carousel that took first prize from The Sweetest Christmas last year got 2nd place)!
  • Everyone wears amazing sweaters.
Eye spy at least 4 Christmas sweaters I want.

Before Joy goes to her company’s Christmas Gala in the dress she got off of the Lady Gaga/Sia mannequin, she opens a Christmas present from Ben.

He has repurposed the ornament he broke!!!!!!!! It is actually beautiful. She, somehow, doesn’t cry for an hour over this. I would’ve been a wreck about how thoughtful this was.

Meanwhile, Ben listens to the trees and his father. They both tell him to take a risk and to go get the girl! Which he does by driving to DC to surprise her at the gala. Unfortunately, he is dressed just like the waiters. So, he leaves? He should’ve pulled a Michael Scott and made Dwight Schrute switch shirts with him like he did before David Wallace’s party. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute should’ve been in this movie. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute should be in everything.

Oh, and the company Joy works for lost Weatherton’s as a client. Oh, and Joy quit her job. Oh, and she’s staying in Crystal Falls. Oh, and she talks to Poppy Weatherton, the head honcho at Weatherton’s–who I should’ve mentioned before this moment.


Aunt Ruby approves of the CCC decor, as do I!! It is probably the classiest decor I’ve seen in a Hallmark movie. And there actually seem to be a bunch of people there, as opposed to the usual 5 that are at the big events at the end of these movies.

Poppy Weatherton shows up at the CCC. She reveals that she is opening a new store and corporate offices in Charlotte, and wants to hire Joy! This is good and great!


Ben shows up to the CCC after his hella weird behavior in DC. He tells Joy that he got scared because he saw her at the party and saw how much she fit into that fancy schmancy city world. Once he learned that she is staying, he feels that the relationship could work soooooo

They kiss and probably live happily ever after as Mariah Carey belts Joy to the World. The End!


I rate Christmas Joy Milk Chocolate Milanos which is a 3.75/5 on my scale of Cookies!

The Scale

  1. No cookies at all
  2. Those pink sugar wafer cookies
  3. Oreos
  4. Cookies made out of Funfetti Cake Mix (look it up, you won’t be disappointed)
  5. My Grandma’s Mexican Wedding Cakes ❤

I’ve been excited about Christmas Joy ever since I saw sneak peeks of it in the first of the 800 Countdown to Christmas Preview Specials. Danielle Panabaker and Matt Long had such great chemistry in it, and thankfully that translated into the movie as well!

Susan Hogan is wonderful. She is my favorite Hallmark movie mom, and she is always welcome.

There were two major highlights of the movie for me:

  1. The extremely touching moment in the woods
  2. How Matt turned the broken ornament into something beautiful

Also, I love the idea of a Christmas Cookie Crawl–but only attending. Making that many baked goods and spending thousands of dollars on sugar and trees sounds terrible. Bless the people who do it. I will leave you a $5 bill at the door for your trouble.

Thank you so much for reading! Let me know what you thought of Christmas Joy!


6 thoughts on ““Christmas Joy” Recap & Review

  1. I enjoyed it but it was a bit confusing what with 2 contests! Liked there was no big city boyfriend. Green dress was lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First-this is the 2nd movie that they crash a MINI Cooper & as a MINI owner I’m offended. Now on to the movie
    The theme-why didn’t the Aunt help with ideas she wasn’t doing anything else except like you mentioned eating ice cream & if it was so important…
    The gingerbread judging-why was that such a big ordeal & they made it seem like a big time consuming important job. All she did was vote like everyone else & announce the winner. Maybe I missed something there.
    Ben’s job-was he on vacation? While she was staying up all night working at her job & CCC he seemed to have plenty of time. I know she didn’t want his help but he was Co-Captain & he Ruby always let him help-whatever.
    The kiss was brutal-standing there with your eyes closed ready for THE BIG KISS. I mean she didn’t have anything on her face for him to wipe off or clumsily fall & be caught by him just ready for a big romantic 💋 & he just leaves her standing there-how humiliating.
    The gift-so awesome & beautiful THEN at the end they show it with this big awful key ring thing on it-what!?? Anyone who made that would have put a nice chain & ring on it or nothing at all-just make it a beautiful ornament or something which I thought it was (didn’t see the key ring when she took it out of the box-if I’d taped it, I would watch again just to see-did anyone else notice?
    Other than ALL those complaints & the way too obvious product placements-not that I miss the big Folger’s container😉 it was the classiest decorations ever. I always hate the awful trees they have decorated usually. But I’m the real tree, vintage ShinyBrite ornaments & old family things. My Mother’s 1st ornament-a shoestring with a few glass balls still left, old Christmas cards that my grandmother always used etc. oh now I’m getting nostalgic I think I may put a few decorations out 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You always crack me up! And, I actually didn’t notice the key ring! How weird.


  3. Hilarious review! You, Julie, and Aunt Nene bring up a lot of good points that I agree with. I did notice the key ring on the ornament and was very confused by what the gift was supposed to be; an ornament or a keychain? I also agree that Joy and Ben’s near-kiss was one of the most awkward in Hallmark movie history. By the way, Emma, I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Here’s the link to my award post:



  4. Hi, just found your site. I thought this movie was fun, had a great cast, and some sweet moments as well as those “just roll your eyes and go with it” lines we expect in Hallmark movies. In a crazy, sometimes worrying world, a favorite Hallmark movie, a warm blanket, and a cup of something warm can provide welcome escape.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close