If there’s comfort in the familiar, Hallmark Christmas movies are the cozy sweatpants of winter television.
If you want to spice up your next viewing (the movies are on pretty much 24/7 this time of year on the Hallmark Channel and on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), here’s a drinking game to keep you alert to all the subtle nuances of a classic Hallmark plot.
And because we’re talking Hallmark here, the recommended beverage is, of course, hot chocolate — although if you’d like to spike it with a little Kahlúa or bourbon, we can’t be responsible for what happens.
• If the movie is set in a small town, take one drink. If that town is in New England, take another.
• Is one of the main characters an outsider who ends up in that town by accident or because of an obligation? Drink up. If that obligation is a Christmas wedding, drink again.
• Has someone lost their Christmas spirit? Take a drink. If they lost their Christmas spirit because their “love” broke up with them on Christmas, take a drink. If it’s because their “love” died at Christmas, drink. If it’s because a parent left when they were a kid — at Christmas — drink again. If it’s because they accidentally killed their brother while ice skating at Christmas, you’re watching a repeat of Harry Connick Junior’s “Angels Sing,” which may or may not be a Hallmark movie, but it’s so good.
• Speaking of — does someone die in the movie? This is so rare, it deserves four good drinks.
Are you OK so far?
• Is there a love triangle? Take a drink. If one part of the triangle is a city slicker focused on a hectic career, take another drink. (Also, don’t get attached to him.)
• If there’s magic involved — a magical stocking, ornaments, snow globe, guardian angel, etc. — take two drinks.
• If the primary male love interest is a farmer, carpenter or just someone who works with his hands, take a drink. If he drives a pickup or Jeep, take another. If he wears flannel, then — never mind, we don’t want to kill you.
• Is the male love interest descended from royalty and falls for a commoner — and his family disapproves but comes to appreciate her genuineness? Two drinks.
• Is there an African-American best friend or assistant? Two good drinks.
• If one of the main characters is a handsome/beautiful single dad or mom, take two drinks. If the mom or dad is single because their spouse died tragically, take another drink. If that spouse died near Christmastime, take another drink. If the little kid from this union is a horrible brat, check your channel because you’re not watching Hallmark.
Better eat some cookies, because you need some food in your stomach. That reminds us:
• If a baking contest is part of the plot, take a drink. If it’s ice-sculpting, take two drinks. If the main character loses the contest, three drinks.
• Does one of the main stars have a dog? Drink. A cat? Two drinks.
• Are the main characters in the movie old high school sweethearts who drifted apart? Take a drink. Was it an ugly breakup? Two drinks.
• Do you recognize one of the actors from an old TV show? Drink. Is it from another Hallmark movie? Drink. Did you just Google that person? Drink. Are they Canadian? Drink!
How do you feel now? Better pull yourself together — another movie starts in two minutes.