Christmas with Holly

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Christmas with Holly Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming story of overcoming grief is great family fare.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Members of a fractured family find common ground in caring for their young niece, and the experience rekindles their own sibling relationships. Themes like adapting to change and healing after heartache are woven into all of the characters' experiences. The story centers on a nontraditional family structure that abounds in love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mark changes his entire life to care for his niece and finds heartwarming fulfillment in the task. He and his brothers are often at odds, but they make Holly's needs their top priority, and the set-up has surprising results for their relationships, too. Mark and Maggie's relationship is respectful and addresses both parties' emotional needs.


The story centers on a young girl who's lost her mother. Some brief worry during a house fire, but all is well in the end.


A couple of scenes show men in their boxers, but not in a sexual scenario. A woman tells her sister that a guy is hot for her. A sweet romance culminates in a couple of kisses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults are shown drinking beer in a few bar scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christmas with Holly is a poignant tale of people recovering from grief and finding fulfillment in new relationships. While the content is as clean as it comes in TV movies, the subject matter -- which deals with a young girl's sadness over the loss of her mom and a woman's attempts to move past being left at the altar -- often is emotional and not really appropriate for young kids. Those who do watch will be treated to heartwarming moments that illustrate the best aspects of family relationships and a budding romance.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDaniel L. August 1, 2020

Grief but made me cry

PG-13: grief moments.
Adult Written byJared Galczynski June 3, 2014
I saw this when on TV when it came out in 2012. It was so poignant yet so magical, the storyline about a little girl who has lost her mother and hasn't spo... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In CHRISTMAS WITH HOLLY, Mark Nagle (Sean Faris) is appointed guardian of his 6-year-old niece, Holly (Lucy and Josie Gallina), after his sister dies, and he struggles to help her work through her sadness over the loss of her mom. Looking for a change, he and Holly move in with his brothers, Scott (Dana Watkins) and Alex (Daniel Eric Gold), in their childhood hometown and attempt to make a go at family life. Meanwhile, Maggie Conway (Eloise Mumford) arrives in town to open a store and attempt to put her ruined engagement behind her, and she finds herself drawn to Mark and Holly. Could second chances be the ticket to happiness for all of these healing hearts?

Is it any good?

Hallmark Hall of Fame is a trusted name in family entertainment, and Christmas with Holly won't disappoint viewers who've come to expect the best from the label. The story approaches weighty topics like losing a loved one and taking risks with a delicate balance between reality and rosy optimism. Of course, this is a family-geared movie set against a backdrop of the holidays, so it's pretty clear from the first few character introductions how things will shake out in the end, but that doesn't make the road there any less fitful or the characters' journeys any less challenging.

This is a lovely story whose appeal transcends easy-on-the-eyes characters or pretty scenery. It takes serious circumstances that face average people in the real world and chronicles their attempts to rise above them. In so doing, it offers families the chance to think about the challenges that other people face and to talk about how the movie's messages about relationships, love, and keeping faith relate to their own lives. Even better, the story supersedes the traditional romance to incorporate a love story between a man and his unexpected new daughter, and this connection overshadows even the developing relationship between two adults who find healing in each other's company.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coping with grief. What events in your life have impacted you like Holly's mom's death did her? Who do you turn to when you're facing an emotional crisis?

  • What messages does Christmas with Holly send about family relationships? How do Mark and his brothers come to understand each other better as the story progresses? Are there family members you wish you could reconnect with?

  • What would you consider to be educational TV? What can be gleaned from movies like this one? Do you think this movie could compete on the big screen? What determines which movies are made -- and which ones are successful?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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