The 10 best holiday episodes of the last 15 years

NBC, BBC

Christmastime is here! And while your schedule has been chock-full of holiday classics (including several airings of "Home Alone 2" on various channels over the past few weeks), it's still important to pay tribute to the other guys.

Every so often, a Christmas episode comes along where viewers are left in awe. Unfortunately, they're not often aired as stand-alone specials, so while you may get to see "The One With the Holiday Armadillo" during a "Friends" marathon in July, you likely won't get to nestle in for a Friday night prime time viewing.

That's why we've come up with the 10 best holiday episodes of the last 15 years. Now you can spend the remainder of your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day basking in the warm glow of memory lane.

NBC

10. "The Office" -- "A Benihana Christmas" (2006)
After the unsuccessful merging of their branches earlier that year, Karen and Pam bond by joining forces to rival Angela's yearly Christmas soiree. Meanwhile, Michael Scott finds love with two servers from Benihana's -- two, because he can't tell them apart.
Why it's great: The only thing better than one Christmas party is two -- especially parties that see karaoke, bitter rivalries, and Michael Scott marking the arm of one of his (hopeful) girlfriends.

ITV

9. "Downtown Abbey" -- "Christmas Special" (2011)
After Mary and Matthew spend the majority of two seasons fighting their obvious love for each other, they finally admit their true feelings and become engaged. It's a Christmas miracle!
Why it's great: Frankly, had Mary and Matthew not gotten together by this point, it would not only be the worst Christmas, but arguably the worst TV relationship ever.

NBC

8. "Friends" -- "The One With the Holiday Armadillo" (2000)
Fearing his son only knows about Christmas, Ross becomes to determined to teach him more about Hanukkah. Naturally, this quickly goes south, and when Chandler gets one of the last Christmas costumes of the year, Ross is left dressed like an armadillo -- the holiday armadillo, one should say.
Why it's great: Family bonding is important, but watching a defeated Ross enter Monica's apartment in an armadillo costume is arguably the pinnacle of holiday TV.

NBC

7. "30 Rock" -- "Christmas Special" (2008)
Prepping for her first Christmas alone, Liz Lemon becomes fixated on making the Christmas dreams of lower income families come true. Meanwhile, Jack faces the opposite problem: forced to spend Christmas with his mother, he makes the "TGS" crew put on a live Christmas show so he can avoid her.
Why it's great: Elaine Stritch steals the show not only comedically ("I don't want you to die, mother." "I'm never going to, Jackie."), but she and Alec will make you well up during their lovely rendition of "The Christmas Song."

BBC

6. "Extras" -- "The Extra Special Season Finale" (2007)
Unhappy with what his career has become, actor Andy Millman finds a new agent, quits his own series, and abandons his best friend Maggie in her time of need. However, harsh reality sets in, and after a stint on "Big Brother," Andy realizes who his true friends are, and that only they can fulfill him.
Why it's great: Friends, revelations, figuring out "what's truly important" -- it's the spirit of Christmas! Like "A Christmas Carol" itself, but minus ghosts.

NBC

5. "Parks and Recreation" -- "Citizen Knope" (2011)
After Leslie Knope is dropped by her campaign team, each of her friends step up to support her, ensuring that when she runs for city council, she'll have a real team to rely on.
Why it's great: Not only does Leslie's gift-giving put everyone else's to shame, but to watch each character step up and give something back to her is both beautiful and heartwarming. How dare there be a dry eye in front of the television.

NBC

4. "Community" -- "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" (2010)
When Abed wakes up to discover that his world is now in stop motion animation, he and the study group set out to find the true meaning of Christmas (which is arguably even more magical than the claymation films of our youths).
Why it's great: It's not actually Christmas without claymation. Especially claymation voiced by the cast of "Community."

FOX

3. "The O.C." -- "The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn't" (2004)
Seth's favourite holiday is almost ruined when his grandfather, Caleb Nichol, reveals he has an illegitimate daughter. However, Ryan, Summer, Marissa, and Seth refuse to wallow, and arrive on said daughter's porch to deliver to her the best Chrismukkah ever.
Why it's great: Not only has "Chrismukkah" entered most holiday lexicons, it inspired four teen characters go buck wild with holiday joy. Christmas and Hanukkah can be hip! (Or at least that's what can be deduced from the official "Chrismukkah" CD of that same year.)

FOX

2. "Arrested Development" -- "Afternoon Delight" (2004)
When Gob takes over The Bluth Company for the holiday party, he becomes obsessed with his $6,000 dollar suits (COME ON). Meanwhile, Michael Bluth gets progressively jealous over his son's religious girlfriend, so instead he bonds with his niece Maeby, who helps him deliver a stirring rendition of "Afternoon Delight" (much to everyone's horror).
Why it's great: Importantly, we are reminded of why it's probably best not to work with our families. Not at Christmas -- not ever.

FOX

1. "New Girl" -- "The 23rd" (2011)
Jess realizes she needs to end her relationship with Paul, but ends up locked outside on a patio with him and roommate Nick during Schmidt's office Christmas party.
Why it's great:
One of the first episodes where fans are let in on how much the group cares about each other, it's hard not to feel something when the gang gets an entire neighbourhood to turn on their Christmas lights just to cheer Jess up. Arguably the most realistic special of the whole bunch, which is exactly why it's No. 1 on this list. Yes, it's an unconventional choice, but where the other episodes are beloved due to their hilarity or whimsy, this episode of "New Girl" is the most relatable. No one watching actually works at Dunder-Mifflin, no one watching is running for Pawnee City Council, and no one else lives in 1919. "New Girl," however, represents friendships so many of us have: friends that are there for you in moments of sadness, and friends who are willing to embarrass themselves to cheer somebody up. And that's a Christmas special worth taking to heart.