We like, we like to party.

I have tried, in my day, to be a person who throws great parties. The idea appeals to my nature as someone who is social but not spontaneous, an organizer at heart. But the expectations rarely meet the reality, do they? People arrive late and leave early and don’t appreciate your carefully curated playlist and would rather drink beer than the special themed cocktails you purchased specific liquor to make. Then, as time passes, we graduate to just meeting friends for a glass of wine and being home and in sweats by 9pm. Still, there’s a part of me that thinks back and wishes I’d had a little more success throwing Totally Major Parties. (Is it because I never had drugs? Should’ve had some drugs.)

At least my expectations never rose to those of Jennie (Torrey DeVitto, known to me as Spencer’s sister Melissa on Pretty Little Liars), who states multiple times over the course of The Best Christmas Party Ever that parties can be life-changing. She’s dedicated herself to party planning, sure that the path of her own life was changed at a Christmas party when she was seven years old, when she asked Santa for a job for her father. Santa was really the owner of the toy store Tyrell’s, and so began a great career for her now-deceased dad, and a lifelong friendship with old Mr. Tyrell, who throws a huge party that’s open to the public every year.

Jennie expects to take over the party planning company she works for when her boss, Petra, retires. It’s a rude awakening when Petra announces that her nephew Nick (the deeply cute Steve Lund) is coming to work for her, in order to someday inherit the company. Nick, an aspiring actor, has zero experience in planning anything, but charms everyone in sight — except Jennie, of course. She wants the ornaments and tinsel and lights put on the tree in the right order, and she doesn’t want pigs in a blanket at a classy party. Jennie is, in other words, uptight.

But Jennie is also beautiful and confident and clever, which makes Nick crave her approval. And he doesn’t like it much when a suave client named Todd, who works for the company that’s just purchased Tyrell’s, asks Jennie out on a date. Nick does his best to win Jennie over, but keeps making missteps, like inadvertently embarrassing her by asking her to tell a joke in front of a group, and taking over business meetings with his spontaneous ideas. And why should Jennie like him, really, when he’s swooping in to take over her company because of nepotism??

But Nick is relentless, and starts to win Jennie over by buying her a “truce hot dog” and discussing their lives. He teases her about being single because she can’t have fun, but she says it’s really because she compares guys to her amazing dad. In turn, Nick confesses that he’s a jokester/actor because it helped him make friends when moving around as a military brat, and it’s hard for him to let his guard down. They’ve totes bonded. But Jennie still has that date with Todd…

Bad news for Nick. Todd actually seems like a good dude, AND he and Jennie can commiserate over losing opportunities to nepotism (his bro took over their family biz because their dad thought he needed it more and Todd could handle life on his own). Plus, he gains points by taking her to a restaurant at the top of a skyscraper so that they can see the other buildings first light up for the Christmas season. COMPETITION.

On the night of a big Christmas-in-Hawaii themed party, Nick continues catching Jennie’s eye by doing things like being cute, badly playing the ukelele, and making small children like him. Plus, the party goes so great that they finally being to realize how Nick’s crazy ideas and Jennie’s attention to detail complement each other. Jennie wishes she could be more captivating with clients like Nick is! Nick wishes he could act natural around others like he can with Jennie! Could a match in love AND business be brewing?


Cue a hot hula girl interrupting the big moment. Nick hired his pretty actress friend Kim to work the party, and they have plans to hang out after. Which is just fine, because won’t Jennie be seeing Todd, anyway? Isn’t that the sort of guy she wants?

Maybe not so much after all. Todd has a lot of ideas about the annual Tyrell’s Toys Christmas party since his company is taking over, and none of them fit with the traditional all-for-the-kids vision. It’s more like a VIP, caviar/hot waitresses/Lamborghinis-as-sleighs vision. You know, CHRISTMAS. Now Nick, he loves Jennie’s idea for a Nutcracker theme, but he also knows it isn’t what the clients want. They argue, and when Jennie realizes she’s been unreasonable and tries to offer up another truce hot dog, they’re interrupted once again by that blasted Kim. And this time Kim and Nick are going ICE SKATING. The romantic skating scene is for the protagonist, you meddling minx!!!!

Over a sad mug o’ nog, Jennie’s friend Natalie reminds her that Jennie should HATE Nick anyway because HE’S STEALING HER JOB. She has a good point, but then again Jennie is doing a pretty good job of sabotaging herself. Todd gets so frustrated over Jennie’s insistence with adhering to tradition with the Tyrell’s party that he ends up having to fire her — supposedly on his boss’s behalf — but still wants to date her. He gives her a gift he found in the company archives, a photo of her as a kid at that oh-so-important party. It’s actually totally sweet. DAMMIT, TODD.

Back at the ranch, Nick finds out he got a part on a soap opera that he auditioned for a while ago, but he can’t even be happy about it because he’s so focused on helping Jennie. He even pleads with Todd to hire her back, to no avail. Meanwhile, Jennie goes to talk to ol’ Mr. Tyrell about these pesky new owners of his store and how they’re not honoring his handshake deal about keeping the party as-is for the community. They all decide to go forward with throwing the party themselves… but will Nick take the part and have to leave on Christmas Eve? He’s ready to stay, until roses arrive for Jennie from Todd, and she seems for a moment to consider giving the guy another chance. It’s because she thinks you’re dating the hula girl, you idiot! And wouldn’t you know, his agent calls right at that moment — and he agrees to head to LA. (Nobody tell the makers of this film that daytime soaps are based in NYC anyway.)

As the group rallies to make the party happen (without telling Petra they’re going behind a former client’s back…), Kim confesses to Jennie how Nick fought for her with Todd. Hula Girl knows what’s up. But romance will have to wait, because Petra just found out about what they’re doing, when lawyers showed up to warn her about violating a non-compete clause. Jennie readies herself for a lecture and maybe a firing, but then Petra gets wise on her ass. She looks up “party” in the dictionary — repeat, SHE LOOKS UP “PARTY” IN THE DICTIONARY — “a social event, a gathering of people.” In other words, you’re not alone, I’m here for you, bitch! She’s only mad to have been kept in the dark, and tells them to go full speed ahead, because she’s got lawyers, too. Yay, old rich white lady!!

On the morning of the party, Nick must depart. He and Jennie share one last hot dog, and then it’s off to the airport. While there, he opens her gift to him — a vintage clock radio, in reference to how he once said he feels like a clock radio because he always has to be “on.” That doesn’t actually make that much sense as a gift when you think about it (he DOESN’T like being like a clock radio, Jennie), but sure enough it sends Nick running back to the party, ready to declare his love.

But is the party about to implode?? Todd and his boss have shown up after seeing a piece on the local news; will they try to shut it down? Shit, son, this is Christmas. One look at the happy kids and the boss man is converted, actually blaming Todd for trying to stop the party in the first place. (Poor Todd.)

And then! Nick bursts in and confesses his feelings to Jennie. Their kiss is eeeeeaaaaaasily the hottest Hallmark kiss so far this season. (Poor Todd times two.) AND IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. Jennie and Nick are gonna bone down so hard tonight. And Christmas is saved and all that. The end.

The Best Christmas Party Ever is on the high end of this year’s Hallmark crop. The plot is cheesy in a fun, not overly-serious way, the characters quickly gain layers beyond the first characterizations of “uptight girl” and “fun-loving guy,” and the actors have actual sexy chemistry. “If you think It’s A Wonderful Life rates a 10, Best Christmas Party Ever is at least a 20″ says a crazy person on IMDb! How can you argue with that? It’s the penultimate entry in this year’s line-up, but will Hallmark end on a high note? Stay tuned for our season finale.

Countdown to Christmas scorecard:
*female lead’s name is a Christmas reference: 4/11 films
*male lead’s name is a Christmas reference: 2/11
*female lead gets fired: 4/11
*male lead has sad childhood Christmas memories: 3/11
*romantic ice skating scene: 3/11
*romantic tree decorating scene: 7/11
*character comes to senses after heart-to-heart talk with father figure: 5/11
*dead parents: 6/11


2 Responses to “We like, we like to party.”

  1. 2 Emily January 4, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Now I regret not drinking your amazing cocktails, even though I hate gingerbread.

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Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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