How to Write a Hallmark Christmas Movie

Amy J. Devitt, Ph.D.
6 min readDec 4, 2021

Spot the genre in 7 easy steps — and make it better

Image by Michael Siebert from Pixabay

Allow me to present the genre of Hallmark Christmas movies in 7 easy steps and a suggestion

(some things never change, so I’ve revised and updated from 2019)

With the holiday season upon us, it seems time to refresh our knowledge of the romantic Christmas movie genre, whether Hallmark or Lifetime. For the greater good, I forced myself to watch a lot of Christmas movies. It was tough, but somebody had to do it.

In truth, I’m confessing again my shameful secret — that I’ve watched those movies for a few years now. The feminist me blushes as I admit the truth. I’m well aware of how they reduce women and men to caricatures, insist that women value family and marriage over work or adventure, idealize small town life and demonize big cities. Until recent years, they also insisted on white-only leads and male-female-only couples. And so much more.

But, like other comfort TV (Midsomer Murders or House Hunters International or English soccer— fill in the blank with your own fave), they also make life seem simpler for the moment, tug at the heartstrings or our love for family or friends, and assure us that everything works out at the end.

So on to the hallmarks of the Hallmark Christmas movie!

1. The hard-driving heroine

An attractive young woman (usually with long hair and carefully curled waves) leads a busy life in the big city, working too many hours but on the rise in her profession (architect, lawyer, designer, chef — no teachers that I can remember). She is unmarried, of course, though she may be engaged to a big city workaholic guy.

2. Her quest

Something happens to call her home to the small town she grew up in (she inherits her aunt’s B&B, tries to save her father’s Christmas tree farm from bankruptcy). Or she is sent to a small town for her job (she’s assigned to buy up the land for their new resort, has to decorate the boss’s vacation house for Christmas, is planning the wedding of the century). Very…

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Amy J. Devitt, Ph.D.

Writer, teacher, researcher, optimist. I explore language & everyday genres to help people see & choose the language & genres they use. www.amydevitt.com