While many people are cozying up with Christmas movie upon Christmas movie this time of year, I prefer to stick with the classics. And by classics, I mean the holiday episodes of my favorite sitcoms of yore, yore here meaning the '90s. So now seems like the perfect time to reminisce over every Christmas episode of Friends, in chronological order (because I love them all equally).
On Friends, the six main characters are more like family than buds. So, unlike workplace comedies like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, almost every season has Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Hanukkah episodes. After marathon-watching all of Friends' Thanksgiving episodes last weekend (which I highly recommend, by the way), I have officially moved onto the Christmas episodes.
I'd recommend watching them all in order because it's fun to watch how the characters progress over the course of a decade. Well, over the course of nine years, that is, because Season 10 is inexplicably Christmas-less. Womp-womp. But anyway, as you probably already know, all of Friends is on Netflix, meaning marathon-watching all of the below episodes will take almost no effort at all.
So without further delay, here's the rundown on Friends' Christmas episodes.
Season 1: The One With The Monkey
Though technically a New Year's episode, The One with the Monkey takes place around Christmas. Phoebe performs her depressing songs for Central Perk during Christmas time and meets noisy audience member David, the scientist guy who pops in and out of the show up until the final season. The gang makes a no-date pact for their New Year's party, but that pact goes very wrong.
Season 2: The One With Phoebe's Dad
The One with Phoebe's Dad is, like so many other episodes, mostly about Ross and Rachel. In the previous episode, Rachel found a list Ross made comparing her and Julie, just as they were on the cusp of getting together — leading to a huge fight. The title refers to Phoebe finding out her dad is a pharmacist living upstate, and she goes on a road trip with Chandler and Joey to find him. The long journey causes Chandler and Joey to go Christmas shopping at a gas station for the gang, resulting in presents almost as lame as the cookies Monica bakes for their superintendent. Also the radiator in Monica and Rachel's breaks, so their Christmas Eve party winds up being summer-themed.
Season 3: The One Where Rachel Quits
In The One Where Rachel Quits, Rachel finally leaves waitressing life and quits her job at Central Perk. Conversely, Joey has just started a new job selling Christmas trees. He and Phoebe are at odds throughout the episode because she thinks the treatment of dead Christmas trees is inhumane. Pretty weird that a vegetarian would think plants had feelings or a central nervous system, but that's Pheebs. And in one of Friends' most random, unrelated-to-anything, verging-on-creepy storylines, Ross accidentally breaks a little girl's leg, and he continually visits her in her bedroom, sells "Brown Bird" cookies for her, and creates a "space camp" in the guys' apartment for her. OK, Ross...
Season 4: The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie
Ross meets a Girl From Poughkeepsie on a train, and struggles between dating her long distance and dating someone else who's only OK but lives just uptown. Rachel's also a bit desperate for love, and Chandler sets her up with a coworker. Monica's also desperate, but for approval at work. So she hires Joey so she can fire him in front of the staff to show 'em who's boss. And in the only actual Christmas-centric storyline from this season's Christmas episode, Phoebe is working on a Christmas song about her friends throughout the 22 minutes, and she performs the final masterpiece at the very end. A Buffay classic.
Season 5: The One With The Inappropriate Sister
Just like in last season's Christmas episode, the person with the Christmas-iest storyline in The One with the Inappropriate Sister is Phoebe, who volunteers to ring a bell and collect donations in a bucket outside Macy's. Rachel starts dating her cute neighbor Danny, who already seems weird but then gets even weirder when Rachel sees him and his sister together. Let's just say they are way closer than Ross and Monica. And as for the guys, Joey procrastinates his way through writing the screenplay Ross assigned him, and instead invents a new game with Chandler, called Fireball.
Season 6: The One With The Routine
As the gang prepares for Christmas, Monica, Ross, and Joey get to dance in pre-taped footage for Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve along with Joey's supermodel roommate, Janine. While the "dancers" Ross and Monica are busy performing The Routine for the cameras, Rachel and Phoebe are ransacking the apartments for Monica's Christmas gifts. They obviously rope Chandler into their deviousness. Also, sparks fly between Joey and Janine.
Season 7: The One With The Holiday Armadillo
Ross has Ben for the holidays this year, and he's determined to teach his son about Hanukkah. After Ben cries over not getting to meet Santa this year, Ross tries to get a Santa costume but gets stuck with an armadillo costume instead. Ross dresses up as the iconic "Holiday Armadillo," Chandler comes through with a Santa costume, and Joey comes through with a costume somehow more random than an armadillo. It's a Hanukkah miracle!
Also, Phoebe and Rachel's apartment is finally ready to move back into after the fire, and out of fear that Rachel won't want to move out of Joey's place, Phoebe buys him an influx of loud and scary Christmas presents to drive Rachel out. Very Christmas spirit-y, Pheebs.
Season 8: The One With The Creepy Holiday Card
Rachel's pregnancy hormones are raging, and she finds herself a bit desperate for a man to help her out with that. Ross and Mona are going strong — if you ask her. When she suggests they send out a joint holiday card, Ross says yes, and then promptly panics, lies, and acts very strange, all so he can avoid having a "where are we?" conversation with her. Chandler is forced to spend time alone with his nasty boss so that Monica doesn't have to, an experience he tells Monica is "like It's a Wonderful Life with lap dances."
Season 9: The One With Christmas In Tulsa
I think most Friends fans would agree that the whole Chandler-in-Tulsa storyline is a bit boring, but that the Christmas-in-Tulsa storyline is anything but. Forced to spend Christmas at work in Tulsa, an employee played by Selma Blair tries to seduce Chandler. After having flashbacks to his relationship with Monica, he turns Selma Blair down.
Back in New York, the rest of the gang has flashbacks to holiday episodes of the past. Chandler does the right thing and — spoiler alert — quits his job and flies home to be with Monica and the friends. It's a Christmas miracle!
For some reason, Season 10 doesn't have a Christmas episode, and it's honestly an outrage. Luckily, season 1 through 9 have got you covered. Happy holidays, Friends!