It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, time for TV shows to roll out a fresh batch of Christmas-themed episodes for our viewing pleasure. But which of the many Christmas episodes we’ve enjoyed over the years have stood the test of time to become a true holiday tradition? You tell us. We’ve ranked the most enduring Christmas episodes ever -- along with a few wild cards -- and placed them in a March Madness-style bracket. Over the next two weeks, we’re asking you to vote for your favorite episodes until we get a winner: the undisputed best Christmas episode of all time.
(4) The Office, “Christmas Party” (aired December 6, 2005)
This matchup is a tale of two office Christmas parties. This Season 2 “Office” installment revolves around the awkward, depressing kind of office party we’ve all suffered through, with Michael forcing the Scranton branch to exchange gifts in a cutthroat round of “Yankee swap.” This one is chock full of holiday goodies: a sweet subplot of Jim getting Pam a very special teapot (aw, remember when we used to like Jim and Pam?); the dated hilarity of the staff fighting over a $400 (!) iPod; and Michael getting everyone soused on cheap vodka -- and getting flashed by Meredith for his trouble. “The Office” has given us several quality Christmas episodes over the years (we’re sorry Season 3’s “A Benihana Christmas” didn’t make the cut), but we wouldn’t swap this one for anything.
(13) Mad Men, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” (aired August 1, 2010)
The polar opposite of Dunder-Mifflin’s sad Christmas party is the festive shindig thrown by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in this Season 4 gem. The firm’s top client, Lee Garner Jr., wants to experience a Madison Avenue office party, so Roger and Joan pull out all the stops, setting up a swinging ‘60s winter wonderland complete with beautiful secretaries, free-flowing booze, and one heck of a conga line. Sure, a post-divorce Don is a bit of a Grinch (“I don’t hate Christmas. I hate this Christmas”), and the party turns ugly when Roger reluctantly dresses up as Santa and gets humiliated by a sadistic Lee. But the sight of Joan in that ravishing red dress that, as Roger says, “makes [her] look like a present”? Truly a gift to us all.
Which episode deserves to advance to the next round of Mistletoe Madness? Vote in the poll above, click here to see the full bracket and vote on other pairings (first-round voting ends Tuesday at 6 PM PT), tweet out your choices using the hashtag #MistletoeMadness, and hit the comments to tell us about all the great Christmas episodes we forgot to include.