Sometimes I write about festive episodes of series that I like but this time I thought it’d be fun to focus on every Christmas episode from ten years’ of Friends. They spend more time on Thanksgiving, obviously, with some really classic episodes in November: the football game, Brad Pitt, Joey with a turkey stuck on his head, etc. But Christmas does crop up every now and again, quite inconsistently, through the decade.
Season 1 - The One with the Monkey
This is a Christmas episode that is actually really about New Year’s, the gang making a pact to stay single for the party and all of them failing to do that. Ross introduces us to Marcel, which is the first in many, many mis-steps in Ross storylines. It’s no wonder the monkey likes Chandler better.
We’re introduced to David for the first time, and whilst I do think Phoebe was right to choose Mike in the end, you can’t argue that the on-again, off-again love affair with David is one of the sweetest aspects of Phoebe’s storylines. Bonus fun is Phoebe’s attempts at Christmas songs and an appearance from Janice!
Season 2 - The One with Phoebe’s Dad
There’s confusion about tipping, cookies versus money, and the implications of pissing off delivery drivers and service people - a tropical Christmas party. Ross, trying to make amends with Rachel regarding the list, gets her a slinky - which is a weird gift for an adult woman that lives in an apartment.
The long-running saga of Phoebe trying to find and meet her father begins with her believing the stock photo guy is her birth father. The best bit of that is Joey and Chandler having to get their gifts from the garage. Also, ADORE grandmother updating the phone book from the obituaries.
Season 3 - The One Where Rachel Quits
Not a hugely Christmassy episode. Joey is selling Christmas trees, which Phoebe takes offence at - I do love that the gang buy up all the trees for her at the end. Gunther asks Rachel to retrain at her job, so she quits. Ross accidentally breaks a little girl’s leg, which is only fun because of ‘Sarah Tuttle’s private, very special space camp.’ Monica’s only real storyline here is getting mildly obsessed with cookies, which seems like a fair thing to do at Christmas.
Season 4 - The One with the Girls From Poughkeepsie
Again, not a hugely Christmassy episode. Ross being a creep with women on various modes of transportation. Chandler sets Rachel up on dates and becomes super popular around his office. Monica is having her own problems at work and hires and fires Joey to make a point. Phoebe’s Christmas song! Efforts to rhyme with all their names.
Season 5 - The One with the Inappropriate Sister
Joey has to look after a bored Ross - I do love the structure he gives him to write a screenplay though, I’d love that in my life. Monica interferes with Rachel and Danny, who always had a weird relationship from the start, so the sister thing isn’t really a surprise. Phoebe gets aggressive trying to raise money for the poor.
Season 6 - The One with the Routine
This is one of the two iconic Christmas episodes with Ross and Monica taking centre stage - literally - and performing one of the worst dance routines ever. The episode does have annoying Janine in it, but the dance is SO worth it. You can’t argue with brother sister goofiness at Dickin’ Rockin’ Dickie Eve. There’s a side storyline of Rachel and Phoebe roping Chandler into looking for Monica’s presents, but it’s overshadowed by the dance.
Season 7 - The One with the Holiday Armadillo
The second iconic Christmas episode where Ross dresses up as a Holiday Armadillo, having failed to get a santa costume. He’s trying to teach his son about the Jewish festivals but has to do battle with the big red guy in the suit that brings presents. Also very much enjoy Phoebe trying to put Rachel off living with Joey and then changing her mind when she sees her nice redecorated apartment.
Season 8 - The One with Ross’s Step Forward
Back to the less festive episodes, with the only Christmas element being Mona wanting to send out holiday cards with Ross. This lady puts up with so much from Ross, it’s a wonder, but I particularly enjoy that he gives her a key to his apartment and then she walks in as he’s having the locks changed. Hilarious. Meanwhile, Rachel is pregnant and hormonal, and Chandler had to entertain his disgusting boss by saying he’s split up with Monica.
Season 9 - The One with Christmas in Tulsa
This is a disappointing end to the festive run (there’s no December episode in season ten), as it ends up being a clip show. The hook is that Chandler is working away from home in Oklahoma with a bunch of disgruntled employees, remembering the things that have happened in the past.
And that’s where we wrap! If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that Friends is not the go to show for Christmas episodes and that I’d be better off pulling together a Thanksgiving list instead, even though it’s not a holiday I celebrate. But even with that, there’s a lot of joy to be had in these episodes, and the ongoing process of disliking Ross more and more on every rewatch. Merry Christmas!