'Tis the season for Christmas-themed TV, and no one delivers quite like The Office. Sure, the NBC sitcom has been off the air for several years, but it was the pinnacle of the annual holiday celebration, marked with the mediocrity of office life and the genuine heart that truly made the show great. But over the series' nine-season run, not every offering was perfect. Only some can be considered the best The Office Christmas episodes. And I'm not going to lie, you may not like my picks.
Unlike some people, I didn't hate the later seasons of The Office. They couldn't compare to the series in its hey-day, but I think a lot of what made the show so great was its ability to evolve a bit. The humor was generally consistent, but the characters changed, which is what makes the end of the series pretty awesome in my book.
Honestly, it's just nice to be able to reflect on what an incredible show this was, and how for the most part, it holds up. If you've been feeling nostalgia from that The Office reunion photo that's been circulating the internet, this list will definitely hit you directly in the feels. Sorry about that.
Christmas Party (Season 2)
Season 1 was too short for a Christmas episode (plus all of the episodes aired in the spring), so this is the start of the tradition and, honestly, it's hard to beat. Most important is the Secret Santa involving a very special teapot and a letter that doesn't come back into play until way down the road. There's also the competition for the iPod, which is so 2005 it hurts. Oh, and there is a ton of drunken shenanigans, such as Kelly kissing Dwight (I definitely didn't remember that part) and Meredith flashing Michael (I will never forget that part).
A Benihana Christmas (Season 3)
So I said that the "Christmas Party" would be hard to beat... but it's not impossible. The third season's holiday episode is the best the series has to offer. For one thing, it's a double-episode, giving us a lot more story and, therefore, fun. After Carol dumps him, Michael drags the boys to Benihana, gets drunk, and tries to get over his ex with a little help from Jim.
Of course, Jim isn't exactly in the best place to be giving love advice: He's with Karen (remember, Rashida Jones was on the show for a hot second?), but he still loves Pam (who's still with Roy). But by this point, it's getting ridiculous that these two kids aren't together yet, as made obvious by their joint prank in which they've convinced Dwight he's been recruited by the CIA. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
Classy Christmas (Season 7)
OK, the biggest things about this episode is that it brings back Holly, even though she and A.J. are still together. Michael pulls his usual immature shenanigans, but he also requests a "classy" Christmas party for his ex, which is just so cute, so I forgive him. Even though he and Holly don't get together in this episode, it paves the way for future, making it pretty great in my book. Plus, Pam makes that amazing comic book, and Dwight has a rare victory as the snowball fight champion.
Dwight Christmas (Season 9)
No one would argue with me that the very best The Office episodes generally come from the first half of the series. But after the low point that was Seasons 7 and 8, the show had a bit of revitalized energy in the final season, resulting in a Christmas offering with callbacks to the show's past.
"Dwight Christmas" featured a new twist: Instead of the party planning committee taking on its usual duties, Dwight is responsible for the festivities, and so we get a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas party starring Dwight as Belsnickel, a Saint Nick-like character, only mean and ugly. There's also Drunk Darryl, which is pretty much Craig Robinson at his best.
Less interesting are the romances in this episode (Pete and Erin are still trying to be Jim and Pam 2.0). But the references to Die Hard, every bro's favorite "Christmas" movie, are entertaining and the Nellie-Toby interactions, specifically Toby's resurfaced obsession with the Scranton Strangler case, are fun to watch, at minimum. But it's no Season 2 or 3 episode.