Every Iconic ‘The Office’ Christmas Episode, Ranked
For most people, Christmas involves trimming the tree, baking holiday cookies and singing carols with their BFFs. For us, it involves an endless supply of snacks and, more importantly, a required viewing of all The Office Christmas episodes.
In its nine season run, we've been lucky enough to see the Scranton employees celebrate this festive holiday in seven episodes and, of course, there's no shortage of entertaining moments. Remember when Kevin sat on Michael's lap when he played Santa Claus? Or that epic rivalry between the Party Planning Committees, which then led to the Committee to Determine the Validity of Committees? We could never forget these iconic moments, but as much as we enjoy spending time with the Dunder Mifflin crew, it's safe to say that not all holiday episodes are standouts.
Below, see our ranking of all The Office Christmas episodes, from worst to best.
7. “Moroccan Christmas” (Season 5, Episode 11)
It’s the episode where Phyllis unleashes her dark side by serving Angela the coldest dish of revenge. After she takes over the Party Planning Committee, Phyllis opts for a Moroccan-themed event (which, while creative, doesn’t strike everyone in the office as festive). Meanwhile, Dwight makes some extra cash by taking full advantage of the newest toy craze and Meredith gets so drunk that she accidentally sets her hair on fire. This prompts Michael to not only stage an intervention, but also take Meredith to a rehab center.
The episode starts out well enough, and there are definitely some golden moments, including the funny opener where Jim pranks Dwight with a gift-wrapped broken chair and invisible desk. But overall, this episode is way more intense and awkward than it is funny, especially considering Meredith's forced “intervention” and Phyllis’s big announcement. First, Michael’s staff meeting brings all the fun to an unfortunate halt, and it’s evident on the faces of everyone there. Worse yet, Michael chases Meredith down and (literally) drags her into a rehab center against her will. Definitely not one of the funniest scenes.
Also, we can’t forget the heavy silence in the office after Phyllis spills the tea about Dwight and Angela’s secret affair. And as if that isn’t bad enough, a clueless Andy walks in and begins to serenade Angela before she demands to go home, marking one of the most uncomfortable cliff-hanger endings ever. This earns the episode a solid last-place ranking.
6. “Christmas Wishes” (Season 8, Episode 10)
Andy Bernard decides to play Santa Claus as he promises to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true, even if it’s far-fetched. Well, all except for one.
Erin’s biggest wish is for Andy’s new girlfriend to go away, but even so, she pretends to be nice for Andy’s sake. When she gets plastered at the holiday party, however, she finally admits that she wants Andy’s new girlfriend to “die.” This causes Andy to lash out at Erin and demand that she move on, but to his horror, it appears that the newly single Robert California has plans to take advantage of Erin.
Elsewhere in the office, Jim and Dwight are at it again with their silly pranks, except this time, they drive Andy to take action by threatening to take one of their bonuses away. Of course, this only causes things to escalate as they try to frame one another.
The episode is entertaining enough, mostly due to Jim and Dwight’s shenanigans, but the Christmas party feels incomplete without Michael there. Andy tries his best to fill Michael’s shoes and make everyone happy, but his desperation for acceptance makes him look more like a weak pushover. And as for the Erin-and-Robert moments, the mere possibility of Robert trying to get lucky with Erin while she is drunk is a rather serious issue that left us cringing...
5. “Dwight Christmas” (Season 9, Episode 9)
After the Party Planning Committee fails to put together the annual holiday party, Dwight gets to host the event with a traditional Schrute Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas—and he is excited. He dresses up as Belsnickel and prepares unique dishes, much to Jim and Pam’s amusement. But after Jim leaves for his marketing job, plans change. A disappointed Dwight storms off and the rest of the staff decides to throw a more traditional party.
Meanwhile, Erin cozies up to Pete after Andy informs her that he won’t be returning soon, and Darryl gets wasted because he thinks Jim forgot to recommend him for a new opportunity in Philadelphia.
We’ll just start by saying that, as the title suggests, Dwight truly shines in this episode. He’s very committed to his Belsnickel role and it shows. But what stands out most is his rare moment of vulnerability, when Jim’s absence appears to hurt him even more than it does Pam (and, of course, the look on his face when Jim eventually returns). We also see some progress with Erin and Pete’s budding relationship, which we can’t help but ship, because Andy, who has the gall to casually tell Erin that he’s staying in the Caribbean for a few weeks, is incredibly annoying in this episode.
“Dwight Christmas” has a few good laughs and it definitely marks some important turning points, but compared to the other holiday episodes on this list, it’s merely okay.
4. “Secret Santa” (Season 6, Episode 13)
In a classic case of Secret Santa gone wrong, Andy goes above and beyond to try to impress Erin by getting her every item from “12 Days of Christmas,” all the way down to live doves that lead to her physical injuries. And Michael, being Michael, is super upset about Phyllis getting to be Santa Claus.
After Michael tries to upstage her by dressing up as Jesus, he learns from David Wallace that the company is being sold and he misinterprets it to mean that Dunder Mifflin is going out of business. Within 10 minutes, the entire office knows and begins to panic, until David clarifies that the Scranton branch is actually safe.
The idea of losing his job and everyone at the company appears to humble Michael, even to the point of apologizing to Phyllis, which is a standout moment. The episode also has its fair share of sweet moments (like when the episode concludes with the band of drummers), and it doesn’t disappoint with one-liners, from Michael’s claim that Jesus can fly and heal leopards to Jim’s classic retort after Michael insists on being Santa. Jim says, “You can't yell out 'I need this, I need this!' as you pin down an employee on your lap.” Such a memorable episode, but certainly not the best.
3. “Classy Christmas” (Season 7, Episodes 11, 12)
The two-part episode features Holly's big return, which prompts Michael to pull out all the stops to impress her. He tells Pam to make the Christmas party more elegant, even giving extra cash for more decorations and entertainment. But to his dismay, when Holly returns, he learns that she and her boyfriend, A.J., are still together.
Meanwhile, Darryl tries to treat his daughter to a special Christmas at the office, Oscar instantly picks up on the fact that Angela's senator boyfriend is gay, Pam surprises Jim with her creative comic book and Jim and Dwight engage in a pretty intense snowball fight.
We love that Michael and Holly’s relationship is the main focus of these episodes. They may not have as many laughs but they’re a great balance of drama and comedy, and they offer a deeper look at certain characters, including Michael, Holly and Darryl. When it comes to Michael and Holly, “Classy Christmas'' taps into the whole will-they-or-won’t-they storyline, since it’s clear that they still have feelings for each other, but Holly isn’t quite ready to give up what she has with A.J. As expected, Michael’s reaction is childish, but the pain he feels because of this is quite palpable, which forces viewers to take him seriously for once. And as for Darryl, we get an extremely rare look into his personal life by meeting his daughter and seeing the kind of father that he is. Seeing the staff come together to ensure that her Christmas is enjoyable is by far one of the most memorable moments.
2. “A Benihana Christmas” (Season 3, Episodes 10, 11)
“A Benihana Christmas” comes in at a close second in this roundup, and for good reason. In this episode, Karen and Pam form a rival Party Planning Committee after putting up with Angela’s negativity. This, of course, leads to two different events, which results in the ultimate Christmas party showdown. While the rest of the staff celebrates at the office, Michael invites Jim and Dwight to join him and Andy at Benihana after he gets dumped by his girlfriend, Carol. But when they return to the office, Michael and Andy bring two of the waitresses (whom Michael can’t tell apart).
The episode deserves its ranking for several reasons. For one, it marks a milestone moment between Pam and Karen, who become fast friends after dealing with a common enemy. And then there's Jim, who ultimately proves that pulling major pranks on Dwight is something that he'll never grow out of. But best of all, there’s Michael Scott, who manages to give us a number of laugh-out-loud moments that are pure gold. For instance, there's that scene when he keeps listening to the 30-second sample of James Blunt’s “Goodbye My Lover.” Absolutely priceless.
1. “Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)
It’s the first official holiday episode that kicks off the show's tradition, and boy, does it start off strong. In “Christmas Party,” the Dunder Mifflin staff has a Secret Santa gift exchange during their holiday party, and right off the bat, we learn that Jim is giving Pam her iconic teapot, AKA the most meaningful gift ever. Michael, however, is giddy with anticipation because he spent $400 on his gift for Ryan—and expects to get something expensive in return. When he gets Phyllis’s handmade mitten, he insists on doing a "Yankee Swap'' instead. As a result, almost everyone ends up with gifts that they don’t really want, and Pam ends up with the expensive iPod, rather than Jim’s gift.
In an attempt to make up for dampening the party mood, Michael goes out and buys enough vodka to “get 20 people plastered.” And surely enough, the alcohol manages to do the trick.
This episode simultaneously gives us all the feels and has us laughing (while also reminding us that Yankee Swaps aren't always the best idea). We see Jim *almost* work up the courage to tell Pam how he feels. We see Michael try to fix his mistake with 15 bottles of vodka—a decision that will set off a long-standing tradition of at least one employee getting way too drunk. And of course, we can’t forget all the quotable lines, like when Dwight claims that "Yankee Swap" is like "Machiavelli meets Christmas." These things set the foundation for a lot of what we see in the following holiday episodes, and no matter how many times we watch, it still feels like we’re experiencing it all for the first time.
For that, it definitely deserves a Dundie.