10 Holiday TV Specials to Watch

Gone are the days when we collectively paused from our holiday bustle to gather around the television set to watch the likes of Rudolph, Frosty and Santa.

In the new digital world there is a plethora of holiday movies and specials vying against the classics for our eyeballs. You could easily tune into a different one (or two or more) on a different channel every day from now until Christmas.

ABC Family has 25 days of holiday programs. Its "25 Days of Christmas" is stocked with big screen releases from its Disney catalog, including "Toy Story," "Home Alone" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," as well as old and new TV movies and specials.

In the original ABC Family musical "The Mistle-Tones," Tori Spelling and "Sister,Sister" star Tia Mowry play rival Christmas singing group leaders who face-off on Christmas Eve. It premieres at 8 p.m. on Dec. 9.

Elsewhere, the Hallmark Channel boasts 12 new Christmas movies and five original specials. TBS will air the 1983 film favorite "A Christmas Story" 12 times in a row beginning Christmas Eve and some of your favorite animated characters will star in their own specials.

Click through to see the highlights of television's holiday season.

'The Christmas Heart'

With titles like "Hitched for the Holidays," "A Bride for Christmas," and "Matchmaker Santa," it would seem the Hallmark Channel is doing everything it can to tug at your heartstrings. "The Christmas Heart" is literally about a teenage boy in desperate need of a heart and the dramatic Christmas miracle that saves his life. "The Middle" star Patricia Heaton produced the script written by her brother newspaper columnist Michael Heaton, and Teri Polo stars as the boy's mom.

Premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 on Hallmark Channel

'The Flight Before Christmas'

Earlier CBS aired that perennial favorite "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." In "The Flight Before Christmas," a young reindeer who's never met his father wants to follow in his hoofprints. But he suffers from vertigo. So he takes lessons from a member of a Finnish family of aerialist squirrels. Features the voices of Norm Macdonald and Emma Roberts.

Premieres at 9 p.m. Dec. 8 on CBS

'It's A Spongebob Christmas!'

Nickelodeon celebrates the holidays with SpongeBob's first stop-motion animated special. The half-hour "It's A SpongeBob Christmas!" was co-written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley and features John Goodman as Santa Claus. After Plankton turns everybody in Bikini Bottom from nice to naughty by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake, SpongeBob saves the day with his singing. CBS aired the special on Nov. 23, the first time an episode of the series premiered on a channel other than Nickelodeon.

Premieres at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 on Nickelodeon

'Michael Bublé: Home for the Holidays'

What would the holidays be without the ubiquitous music special? Michael Bublé is the latest music artist to dish up holiday cheer with a songfest featuring guests Rod Stewart, Blake Shelton and Carly Rae Jepsen. Songs include "Jingle Bell Rock," "Let It Snow," "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and "Winter Wonderland."

Premieres at 10 p.m. Dec. 10 on NBC

'The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story'

CBS is bringing back the animated special inspired by the popular Christmas toy The Elf on the Shelf. "The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story" is about Chippey, a young scout elf who has been assigned by Santa to restore 9-year-old Taylor's belief in Christmas magic. Airing for a second year in a row, this one may be destined to become a Christmas classic.

Premieres at 9:30 Dec. 14 on CBS

'Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas'

The stars of the "Ice Age" franchise are back on Fox with "Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas." In the half-hour special which first aired last year, Sid and his crew of friends head to the North Pole to get off Santa's naughty list and end up accidentally destroying Santa's workshop. With the help of Manny and an army of mini-sloths, the gang makes enough new toys for every child on Earth.

Premieres at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 17 on Fox

'It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie'

CW celebrates the holidays with the muppets again this year. On Dec. 11, it will air the 2008 TV movie "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa," followed by the 2002 TV flick "It's A Very Muppet Christmas Movie" a week later. In the "Muppet Christmas Movie, David Arquette plays a friendly angel who shows Kermit that he still has a wonderful life after a bitter banker Joan Cusack shuts the Muppet Theatre on Christmas Eve. Whoopi Goldberg and William H. Macy also star, with cameos by Mel Brooks, Kelly Ripa, Jon Stewart and Molly Shannon.

Premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 18 on CW

'CMA Country Christmas'

If you like a little country in your Christmas, you'll love the Country Music Associations' Country Christmas special. Three-time host Jennifer Nettles hosts this special featuring traditional songs and holiday from country-music stars Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, the Band Perry and Keith Urban. Also appearing are Colbie Caillat, Katherine Jenkins and John Legend.

Premieres at 9 p.m. Dec. 22 on ABC

'A Christmas Story'

TBS will feature the film favorite "A Christmas Story," starring Peter Billingsley as 9-year-old Ralphie, who wants only one thing for Christmas -- a Red Ryder BB Gun -- and will stop at nothing to get it. Beginning Christmas Eve at 8 p.m., TBS will run the movie for 24 hours straight.

Premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 24 on TBS

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