Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Date Recap/Review

After the joy that was A Christmas Love Story (and to a lesser extent Christmas at Dollywood), we go back to normal with Holiday Date. It’s fairly straightforward for a Hallmark film.


Brooke is dumped right before Christmas and enlists the help of actor Joel to play the role of her boyfriend for the holidays. Brooke had described her ex-boyfriend as “Mr. Christmas” to her family and worries about keeping up the ruse when she discovers Joel is Jewish. When her family eventually finds out his background, they happily incorporate his Hanukkah traditions into their plans. Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated side by side as they all learn more about the other’s holiday. But when their relationship ruse comes to light, the two have some explaining to do as well as figure out if they’re ready to admit their true feelings.


The film starts with an English woman on a very important phone call. She races to her best employee, Hallmark Heroine Brooke, to dress a very important client. Brooke is an aspiring designer, so she’s happy to get any clothing related task she can.

She takes the job very seriously and puts the woman in an ill-fitting, wrinkled bag with a cape.

After work, Brooke gets a call from her very much alive parents. They’re excited to have her home for Christmas as well as her boyfriend Ethan. She informs her parents that he loves Christmas SO MUCH that she calls him “Mr. Christmas.”

“Our daughter is an idiot.”

The next day, Brooke shows her fashion designs to her low-rent Miranda Priestly. They are rejected for being too traditional. Brooke doesn’t take the critique well and makes a little speech about how we shouldn’t forget where we came from in fashion.

Brooke then heads over to meet Ethan for lunch. He comments that they’re going too fast and he shouldn’t be meeting her parents.

“I’m starting to feel that this is more about you taking someone home for the holidays than it is about me,” says the astute Mr. Christmas. He has summed up the motivations of most Hallmark Heroines. Brooke storms off from this breakup scene.

Later that evening, she heads to a “friendmas party” and meets a handsome man. He’s our Hallmark Hunk Joel. He’s an actor.

None of my friendmas parties have taken place in multi-million dollar apartments with catering.

Brooke proceeds to tell Joel about her failures in her job and life. The conversation is interrupted by Joel’s agent who brags that Joel is absolutely getting a huge role. It hasn’t been confirmed, but the agent has a good feeling!

The film is about a small-town guy who runs a hardware store. It’s a stretch for Joel as he’s a city boy. However, Brooke is from a small town and her uncle even runs the local hardware shop.

This inspires the agent to invite Joel to Brooke’s town for research. Brooke’s friend chimes in by saying Joel could be her pretend-boyfriend. Brooke protests, saying that her parents would be expecting an architect, not an actor. No problem! “Joel is an actor,” they say! The group eventually agrees that this is an excellent idea and our cockamamie plot churns into action.

Joel is going to need a lot more drinks to make it through this stupid plan.

The couple green screens their way to Brooke’s house. Brooke and Joel share details about their lives. Turns out they both have living breathing parents. So why did they both turn out so screwed up? The two-parent household thing is not the key to creating two normal adults.

They arrive at the happy home.

Joel greets Brooke’s mother by grabbing her head and kissing her on both cheeks, Godfather-style. This guy is a freak.

Joel keeps looking like an absolute idiot throughout all of the family encounters. This has nothing to do with the fact that he’s pretending to be another person. He’s just a total clown.

To make matters slightly more complicated, everyone Joel encounters keeps saying that he looks very familiar. It turns out he has a shaving cream commercial currently playing on TV. Delightful.

The women are into Joel, but Dad isn’t as convinced. See, Daddies don’t like their daughters dating men.

Brooke takes Joel to the hardware store and the guy starts dancing with a broom.

While Brooke goes shopping, Joel decides to buy his host family a surprise Christmas tree. He asks the guy for the biggest one possible and the man delivers. Joel then presents the monstrosity to the family who are gobsmacked. They usually buy it together, but the weird fake architect beat them to it.

Joel is like an excited stupid puppy.

After the Christmas tree fiasco, Joel nonchalantly tells Brooke that he’s Jewish. He’s never done Christmas, but he’s always wanted to! I’ve only ever seen one other Jewish character in Hallmark and every time they’re just DYING to get involved in Christmas.

He is then offered a Christmas ham.

Brooke’s niece is in a play and Joel provides his advice. He says she can forget the lines and say what she feels. The drama teacher walks up from behind and comments that he’s been working on this play for six months so would appreciate if she stuck to the lines. This scene is actually delivered quite well.

The family then builds an awful gingerbread house because Joel is not actually an architect. He even decorates the monster tree – again, another activity that the family does together. Joel clears his mind of the disappointment by watching his commercial on TV.

Unfortunately, he has to face another challenge: singing Christmas carols with the family around the piano. Unable to continue with half of the charade, Joel blurts out that he’s Jewish. The family decides they should celebrate Hanukkah, too.

What I wonder is why the family doesn’t question why their daughter would hide her boyfriend’s religious background. Does she think they’re anti-Semitic? This is problematic.

Due to some hijinks, the family is under the impression that Joel and Brooke are engaged. Dad isn’t too pleased as they’ve only been together for six months. However, this isn’t an issue for Mom. Her daughter NEEDS to get married.

Mom is really going all out here.

Lucky for Mom, Joel and Brooke are kind of falling in love, so she may have wedding yet.

Another bump in the road for both Joel and Brooke as the real Ethan makes an appearance. He discovered that an impostor has taken his place and decided to visit Brooke’s house to see for himself.

Brooke quickly makes up a lie that Ethan is an old fashion school friend and he just goes with it for some reason. She takes her ex aside and they break up amicably.

Joel catches their hug and gets all sad, but it’s all cleared up with a snowball fight.

The family watches Joel and Brooke kiss under the mistletoe and then they all make potato latkes.

That apron. My God, that apron.

Things are going well until Joel calls his agent and says his full name as well as “I’m an actor” which Dad overhears. Weirdly enough, Joel and Brooke decide to tell the family about the ruse around the same time. Beans get spilled, parents get mad, and Joels don’t get kicked out thanks to Christmas magic.

Both parents have a heart-to-heart with the fake couple. Turns out that they’re more interested in their feelings rather than their daughter having brought a proper stranger into their home.

Job-wise, Brooke is offered a senior position at her job, but turns it down to be a costume designer for her local theater. Joel loses out on the small-town guy role, but he doesn’t care because he wants to do community theater.

In spite of the betrayal and such, the family allows Joel to join Christmas dinner. Brooke and Joel are now a couple. Joel wants Brooke to meet his family sometime soon. They kiss. The family watches. FIN.

He gives her a necklace with a menorah and Christmas tree on it.


This film was classic stupid Hallmark. I’m all for classic stupid Hallmark. The heroine was desperate and nuts. The male lead was oddly into everything. It made for a ridiculous film. Joel is truly an ACTOR.

Rating: 3 out of 5 briskets


  • “Denzel would be halfway to Whispering Pines by now!” exclaims Joel’s agent in an effort to convince his client to fake being a stranger’s boyfriend and stay at an unknown house.
  • Joel didn’t tell Brooke that he was Jewish because he didn’t think it was relevant. Brooke shouldn’t have named her old boyfriend “Mr. Christmas.”
  • Joel lists all the things that make Christmas so wonderful and perfect! Lord Almighty.
  • When someone asks Joel if they’ve met before, Joel asks if they use shaving cream, alluding to his dumb commercial. The obtuseness of this guy is almost making me like him.
  • Joel keeps saying, “I’m an architect” or “I’m an actor” when introducing himself to people. I might adopt this.
  • Joel temporarily steals the dad’s glasses so that he won’t see the shaving commercial.
  • Joel acts in a children’s play which convinces the family that he’s an AMAZING actor.


  • Brooke’s poor sister’s husband keeps getting the shaft. The dad truly dislikes the man.
  • The family constantly sings.


We get ever closer the proper Hanukkah film, but first we must watch A Cheerful Christmas.