Holiday Guide: Ranking the best Christmas episodes of ‘The Office’

Alex Putterman, Sports Editor

Over its nine seasons, “The Office” aired seven Christmas episodes with numerous overlapping themes: Jim and Pam being in love, Michael quibbling over who gets to be Santa, loads of Party-Planning Committee drama and Meredith getting drunk, among others.

But though the seven Christmas parties (“The Office” only had seven since season one ran in the spring, and season four was interrupted around holiday season by a writers’ strike) were often highlights of their respective seasons, some were better than others.

Here are the definitive rankings of “The Office” Christmas episodes:

 7. Season eight, “Christmas Wishes”

Andy was never really cut out to be the show’s main character, so the season-eight episodes that treat him as such are not great. This one centers on drunken Erin’s jealousy of Andy’s new girlfriend, a storyline that elicits absolutely no laughs.

Plus, Robert California is heavily involved, and that’s never a good thing.

Jim and Dwight’s attempts to frame each other for pranking are mildly entertaining, though.

 Season 8

6. Season nine, “Dwight Christmas”

Dwight dresses up as a German Santa Claus, and it’s not all that funny. This episode isn’t actively bad, and there are sweet moments, but it lacks the sharp writing and carefully constructed narratives of earlier seasons.

Overall, there are too many mediocre, on-off plot lines here and not enough substance as the show played out its final season.

Season 9

5. Season six, “Secret Santa”

This one isn’t awful, but it’s not the best. Michael gets frustrated that Phyllis is Santa, so he turns his jacket inside out and dresses as Jesus instead.

Things get a little crazy with a number of converging plot lines: Andy and Erin’s flirtation, Oscar’s crush on Matt from the warehouse and the announcement that Dunder Mifflin will be sold. Long on plot and short of jokes, this episode epitomizes late-season “The Office.”

The highlight comes when Michael describes Jesus as having the power to “heal leopards.”

Season 6

4. Season seven, “Classy Christmas” 

By now, “The Office” was well past its peak, but this two-part episode remains a good one. Dwight terrorizes Jim with snowballs, Darryl hosts his daughter and Jim and Pam exchange heartfelt gifts.

But the main event is the long-awaited reunion between Michael and Holly, who has been temporarily transferred back to Scranton. Though there’s a lot going on with that relationship, the funniest aspect of Holly’s return is the recurring joke that Erin doesn’t like her.

Season 7

3. Season three, “Benihana Christmas”

Michael is sad about Carol breaking up with him, so Dwight, Andy and Jim take him to “Japanese Hooters” to cheer him up. This results in some funny lines and also some somewhat offensive ones.

Meanwhile, the Party-Planning Committee is, as usual, a source of drama, with Pam and Karen uniting against Angela to plan a rival party. Naturally, the episode ends with the insinuation that Jim, who is dating Karen, isn’t over Pam.

Season 3

2. Season two, “Christmas Party”

Michael disobeys the $20 Secret Santa limit and buys Ryan an iPod, only to be disappointed in the homemade oven mitt he’s given and demands a sophisticated gift-trading game.

Michael’s character was a bit more raw and edgy in the early seasons, and though softening him long-term was probably the right move, it’s enjoyable to watch him offend and alienate his co-workers here.

This episode remains funny while not-so-subtly critiquing materialism (Michael: “We are going to sell that to charity. That’s what Christmas is all about.”) It’s also a high point in early-season Jim and Pam flirtation.

Season 2

1. Season five, “Moroccan Christmas”

This episode starts with Dwight sitting down at a wrapping-paper desk and never stops being funny.

The main storyline of Meredith being an alcoholic is fairly heavy, but it makes for some darkly humorous banter (Michael: “What is going to happen when you come into work, and you’re dead?” Dwight: “I stab her in the brain with a wooden stick.”)

And the side-plots, including Dwight buying hundreds of dolls and selling them for $200 each, are great. Also, Andy has a hilarious explanation of his college drinking habits that include sneaking into frat parties and taking body shots off himself.

But it’s the final moment that makes this one a classic. After a blackmailing scheme falls flat, Phyllis reveals to the office that Angela is cheating on Andy with Dwight, as Andy blissfully enters the room to play “Deck the Halls” on his sitar.

As per usual at “The Office” Christmas parties, it was a happy holiday for just about no one.

Season 5

Photo source: Screenshots via NBC

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