Christmas Made to Order stars a guy who I’ve seen host a lot of Food Channel baking competitions. He always has a weird foolish energy which I think the network hires him for. This film has nothing to do with food.
When architect and Christmas amateur Steven finds himself hosting his family for Christmas, he recruits holiday coordinator Gretchen to bring holiday joy to his home. Gretchen’s expert Christmas spirit brings Steven’s family together, but neither expected it to bring them closer to each other. After a great opportunity presents itself to Gretchen, she and Steven must decide what’s really important in life. Starring Alexa PenaVega and Jonathan Bennett.
I wish I could GIF the way they do the text for the film title and cast names. Initially, I thought it was an interesting deviation, but someone went nuts on the starwiping style animation. It distracted from the establishing shots.
Once the font disaster ends, we are treated to what this film deems a winter wonderland.
We meet our male lead, Steve. He’s aaaaalll business. He even questions his colleague’s festive tie. Harriet from Family Matters walks in to let them know that a client is ready to invest if they impress them. This means a lot to Steve because if he snags this win, he’s automatically made partner. Because partner is what you just randomly level up to in these films.
Pumped, Steve goes downstairs and we’re treated to another painful meet-cute. By painful I mean actually painful for the person who is getting hit in the face with a box.
Our Hallmark heroine, Gretchen, is revealed. She is also the one responsible for the mess in the office lobby. Apparently, the company actually paid for this woman for that monstrosity. Steve makes a comment about her going overboard and she essentially says he deserves to have fake snow on his clothes. Listen to Steve, Gretchen.
We follow Gretchen to her actual job at a catalog. Decorating is her hobby business and it should stay that way. But Gretchen figures that at this rate she can do her holiday decorating full-time. However, she’s still under the thumb of big catalog.
Steve has a Skype call with his sister and beloved niece. They break the news that their house is under emergency construction, so the family will need to go to Steve’s. He is not prepared for this.
Steve is stressed because of work and now having to house his family. They’re expecting a perfectly decorated house. His co-worker tells him to just hire someone to do it. Unfortunately for Steve, the house will not be perfect because he plans on enlisting Gretchen’s services.
Gretchen arrives at Steve’s bare house. And I’m not talking Christmas-bare, I’m talking bare-bare.
Gretchen has “a bunch” of ideas and I can guarantee you that none of them are good. Steve is difficult to work with. He spends the whole time texting when he should be giving his interior designer some guidance. Don’t be angry when you get a kitchen sink decoration plan, Steve.
Once Gretchen is finished decorating, Steve is positively overwhelmed. I wouldn’t be, but I guess we gotta get this movie going. Gretchen puts the finishing touches just in time for the family to arrive. They’re delighted with Steve’s accomplishment. His brother-in-law even gives a backhanded compliment.
Gretchen is still in the house when they walk into the living room, so Steve introduces her to everyone. They make it seem perfectly normal for someone to put their hand familiarly on their contract worker and say, “I’d like you to meet my Christmas decorator.” Gretchen tries to leave, but Steve ropes her into being his Christmas activity coordinator. He goes so far to dangle the opportunity being the official decorator for his company in front of her.
The first activity on the list: pick out a Christmas tree. They go through all this crazy effort of finding the “perfect” tree to only get a fake tree. Hallmark thought they could slip this past us. But it is so egregious, that it’s impossible to ignore.
Steve dips out from family duties because he’s got a lot of work to do. The family is puppy dog sad. As the family decorates the tree, Steve pretends to architect. But the noises of family joy and delight are too much to handle, so Steve finally emerges from his cave to join. Christmas is winning the war on Steve’s heart.
Gretchen finally gets to leave, but unfortunately for her, the car is dead. Steve drives her home. He sees that her house is just full of supplies and no decorations. This will likely come into play later.
While the family makes mulled apple cider at Gretchen’s aunt’s inn, Steve is at work. He can’t take it anymore and joins the family. Steve and Gretchen have a moment alone. Gretchen’s parents are dead. No point in killing off parents, but why not throw it into the character’s backstory for kicks? They also reveal to each other that they are both single. In an earlier scene that I chose to skip, Gretchen already communicated that she was single. Why do we need to hear about it again?
Gretchen is now part of the family, so she’s invited to a family dinner. She makes them decorate cookies. Gretchen and Steve use this time to touch each other without arousing suspicion.
Sadly, Christmas is not all fun and games for Steve. He attends the big meeting with the client. They are the WORST type of client. After Steve shows his plan, the guy says he doesn’t like it. When pressed for reasons why and what he would like to see, the client says, “It’s difficult for me to describe what exactly we want.” If you have a client that says this, FIRE THEM. Harriet from Family Matters tells Steve that he’ll figure it out because he “always finds a way.” You’re no help, Harriet.
At another Christmas family gathering, Steve and Gretchen talk about their aspirations. Steve is afraid that spending more time with his family is making his work suffer. Gretchen fears starting her business of terrible decorating.
When she leaves, Steve’s mother tells him to ask Gretchen out on a date. He’s a little apprehensive because he’s her client and that might be a blurry area. He’s right. He should ask once their professional arrangement is complete. Mom is like, “Whatevs to this respect of boundaries, ask that gal out!”
After a romantic moment in a gazebo with Gretchen, Steve is inspired. He knows just what his difficult client wants.
But before he unveils his masterpiece, Steve and his niece break into Gretchen’s home and decorate it. Steve’s taste is very similar to Gretchen. The wannabe decorator isn’t fazed by the felony. She’s just so durn happy that her house looks like something she’d decorate.
At the final client meeting, Steve reveals his plan. Rather than a grid shaped community, it’ll be semi-circle shaped so that people can be together. The client loves it.
With Steve securing the client, Harriet from Family Matters states that he’s got that partner thing sealed. Steve uses this opportunity to offer Gretchen’s services for the client buildings. Harriet is chuffed and agrees to speak to Gretchen.
Steve heads back home to see his family (who is happily building a rough looking snowman), tell them that he’s partner, and Gretchen may have a new job. Everyone is pleased.
Gretchen meets with Harriet from Family Matters. They talk but the role doesn’t fit Gretchen’s view of butchering decorations. She turns down the offer. Harriet tells Steve the outcome of the conversation. He feels conflicted. Steve then approaches Gretchen to get her side of the story. He offers her double her pay for not holding up his end of the bargain. She takes light offense to this. This leads to a contrived misunderstanding.
They each have their own enlightening chats with their family members. They all pretty much say, “You’re in love. Start your own business.”
With this newfound knowledge, Gretchen quits her part-time catalog job. Steve quits his job where he was about to be partner. Something seems wrong here.
Back at the aunt’s inn, Gretchen and Auntie set multiple places at the table for Christmas dinner. This confuses Gretchen. Auntie invited more people….oh my God, it’s Steve’s family! They pay their respects. Steve is last to arrive. He tells Gretchen he’s starting his own business of building single family homes. Gretchen also says she quit. They say they like each other. They kiss. FIN.
This film was interminable. It was basically Christmas family event, after Christmas family event. It got so repetitive after the 5th event. I watched this with my brother and mother and they couldn’t take it anymore. Gretchen was overly delighted about everything which could get tiring and if she was a real person, would feel really fake. I was alright with Steve, to be honest. His reactions seemed fairly understandable…apart from the breaking and entering scene.
We’re just about done with Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas…I’ve three more to post for your reading pleasure and then that’s Christmas over!
- My mother about Gretchen’s decorations and security guard: “It looks like s**t thrown together. Just like his hair.”
- The actors’ faces are so very orange. It was highly distracting when they’d be on a phone call. I couldn’t stop comparing their hands to their faces.
- The father disappears for a while. I think the actor wasn’t around for filming or something.
- There’s a storyline about the niece wanting to sing. It ends the way you think: with hugs.
- I haven’t seen many gazebos in this year’s batch of Hallmark. One finally appears in this film.
- Find the rest of the recap/reviews here.