Ranking Every “Glee” Christmas Special Because Somebody Has To


Lalaina Ratsimihah

The holiday season is upon us, so I think it only fitting to rank all of the “Glee” Christmas specials.

Lalaina Ratsimihah

“Glee” started off in 2009 as a satirical teen dramedy, constantly poking fun at the everyday absurdities of high school and the performing arts. It quickly became a hit, and recently, streaming services have managed to keep it alive long after its finale. 

While the drama was great, the best moments in “Glee” occurred when the show stopped taking itself too seriously. The annual Christmas specials were a perfect combination of melodramatics and great songs, while still managing to keep the same “Glee” charm and humor. But, one question remains: What are the best and worst “Glee” Christmas specials? Here are all of the “Glee” Christmas specials ranked along with the songs featured in them, starting from the worst to the best. 


The nativity scene at the end of the fifth season’s Christmas episode. The production quality was always top-tier in the later seasons. Bonus points for having Becky be Baby Jesus. (Lalaina Ratsimihah)

4. Season 5, Episode 8: “Previously Unaired Christmas”

Starting off strong, this episode is absolute absurdity from start to finish. The Glee club participates in a living nativity scene, and the graduated Glee clubbers in New York are hired as elves in a mall with a drunken Santa. Trauma and drama ensue. 

This episode’s schtick is the fact that it was originally scrapped by the production company, Fox, for being too controversial, and it had to have a lot of things cut to make the final product okay to air. After viewing it, I can see why it was cut in the first place. This was the last Christmas episode aired on the show, and it was a terrible sendoff for an otherwise hilarious tradition. Like most of the episodes in the later seasons, this episode was too weird to enjoy and too forgettable to talk about. 

Song Rankings:

  1. “Love Child” performed by Unique. It is crazy that this was meant to be the joke song in this episode. Unique always brings the house down, and she should have been the Virgin Mary. She was truly the saving grace of Season 5, and this song proves it.
  2. “Here Comes Santa Claus” performed by Santana, Kurt and Rachel. Season 5 may not have had the best of anything, but it never lacked this trio. Their voices are great together, and they were able to add some fun nostalgia to an otherwise stale episode.
  3. “Rockin’ Around the Chistmas Tree” performed by the Glee Club Ensemble. Boring. Safe. Christmas. Artie was great, though.
  4. “Mary’s Little Boy Child” performed by Unique, Marley and Tina. The Glee girls almost always brought a great performance, but this just did not hit. The choreography was out of sync, and overall, they could have brought more to the table.
  5. “The Chipmunk Song” performed by Santana, Kurt, Rachel and Hot Santa (yes that’s his name). This performance was so weird, and there was genuinely no need for it. Why have them inhale helium? Why have a hot Santa in the first place? Why is Santana, a lesbian, fauning after him? So many questions with no answers to be found.


Sue and Becky watch Marley’s family react to their new Christmas tree and gifts in season four. The moment is adorable and hilarious, fitting for “Glee”. (Lalaina Ratsimihah)

3. Season 4, Episode 10: “Glee, Actually”

I have never seen the iconic Christmas rom-com, “Love, Actually,” and after “Glee” aired this special, I don’t think I need to. The plot of this episode consists of different short stories where each character learns a lesson. Artie learns to appreciate his disability, Kurt and Blaine reunite in New York, Puck and Jake’s mothers meet and learn to get over their differences, Sue surprises Marley’s family with Christmas joy and Brittany and Sam get married before the world ends. Absolute “Glee” madness. 

The many different storylines were heartwarming and, of course, nonsensical. This episode felt like five different stereotypical Christmas tropes, but it managed to keep the same charm and hilarity of the rest of the season. The only reason it is ranked so low is that they brought Puck back.

Song Rankings:

  1. “White Christmas” performed by Blaine and Kurt. This couple can do no wrong in my eyes. Their tradition of performing a Christmas duet is always so cute, and it is upsetting that this was their last one ever.
  2. “Feliz Navidad” performed by Artie. Artie’s voice has always been top five. He needs more solos and more dance performances. This song may not be everyone’s favorite, but Artie still gave an amazing performance.
  3. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” performed by the Glee Club ensemble. Most of the time, slow songs feel out of place in “Glee,” but this song wraps up the episode perfectly and wraps the viewers in a warm, musical hug.
  4. “Jingle Bell Rock” performed by Sam. Again, boring, safe and Christmas. Sam is usually a delight, but his voice does not fit this song at all. 
  5. “The First Noel” performed by Marley. The moment was sweet, but “Glee” is not the place for unmixed a cappella.
  6. “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” performed by Jake and Puck. Jake and Puck’s voices do not mesh well. The Jewish representation in this episode is refreshing but poorly executed, and considering the fact that neither of the actors are actually of the Jewish faith, it is a little offensive.


The Glee clubbers surround their sad, little tree in season two. Although they only have each other and this tree, they still manage to have a fun Christmas. (Lalaina Ratsimihah)

2. Season 2, Episode 10: “A Very Glee Christmas”

This was the first Christmas special aired on “Glee,” and it set a great precedent for the tradition. The Glee Club works together to try and maintain Brittany’s belief in Santa Claus, but when she asks for her boyfriend, Artie, to be able to walk, their plan goes awry. There is also a B-plot where they parody the Christmas classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” with Sue as the Grinch and Brittany as Cindy Lou Who. It is melodramatic, funny and genuinely touching at the same time. The sole reason it is not number one is because of the Rachel and Finn plot that I could not care less about. Seriously, she is heartbroken because he breaks up with her for cheating on him. Okay. Still, this episode is adorable and almost perfect.

Song Rankings:

  1. “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year” performed by the Glee Club ensemble. This song encapsulates the warm, Christmas joy that you look forward to when watching a Christmas special. Their voices are just beautiful in a minor key, and it teleports you to a winter wonderland. All of the leads were expertly chosen. They sing while they are decorating a really ugly tree and explain how it represents how sad they are while stuck in loserdom. So dumb, so dramatic, so “Glee.”
  2. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” performed by Blaine and Kurt. Their voices are so great together;they deserve a duet every episode. This song fits the atmosphere of the Dalton Academy halls so naturally, and it is as decadent and sweet as a cupful of piping hot chocolate.
  3. “We Need A Little Christmas” performed by the Glee Club ensemble. This song is sickly sweet but adorable. You can also never go wrong with a Mercedes lead. 
  4. “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” performed by k.d. lang, a guest cameo. A great arrangement of a classic that narrates the absurdity of Sue stealing presents from homeless children. 
  5. “Welcome Christmas” performed by the Glee Club ensemble. Three ensemble songs in one episode just feel like too much. This one in particular does not sound like the cast at all. There is a soprano singing into the stratosphere, and I am almost certain that none of them (except for maybe Kurt) could hit notes like that.
  6. “Merry Christmas Darling” performed by Rachel. Rachel is so annoying. You cheated on him, and you are acting like he killed you by not wanting to listen to you sing. Please stop.
  7. “Last Christmas” performed by Rachel. This is my favorite Christmas song, but Rachel has managed to make it the worst song in this entire episode. How do you manage that? The pop-style background vocals and overpowering band seem to satirize the original, emphasizing just how ridiculous Rachel is acting in this episode.


The season three Christmas special was filmed in black-and-white and had a lot of holiday cheer and cuteness. (Lalaina Ratsimihah)

1. Season 3, Episode 9: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”

This episode aired during the golden age of “Glee.” The production quality was high, but not so high as to detract from its charm. The cast is absolute perfection with powerhouses like Mercedes, Santana and Blaine getting regular solos. The guest Glee clubbers are present, and they bring so much energy and humor to the show. And, the writing is still believably surreal. 

In this episode, the Glee club is asked to film a holiday special airing on public television that will be written and directed by Artie. They pay homage to many different holiday tropes including the “Star Wars” Christmas special and old 1950’s TV shows. Sue asks Mr. Schue to volunteer at a soup kitchen, and Sam and Rory are homesick for the holidays. It is hilarious with a great selection of songs. The drama is realistic and not just based on the relationship between Rachel and Finn (for once), and the concept is creative and fun. It is so excessive, high quality and cute. Just how Christmas specials should be.

Song Rankings:

  1. “Blue Christmas” performed by Rory. This song melts hearts. Rory’s voice is velvety smooth and perfect for Elvis. The minimal, jazz orchestra and complementary background singers add to the melodramatic, Christmas warmth. This song is perfect for scratchy vinyl records and fuzzy winter socks.
  2. “All I Want For Christmas is You” performed by Mercedes. Mercedes’ voice is amazing, and she should constantly be covering Mariah Carey. 
  3. “Let It Snow” performed by Kurt and Blaine. This fast-paced swing arrangement of a holiday favorite is so fun. Their voices complement each other so well, and the fact that they perform this in black-and-white is just so kitschy and adorable. It is a crime that this is the only dance duet we get from them.
  4. “My Favorite Things” performed by Mercedes, Blaine, Kurt and Rachel. I do not understand why this is considered a Christmas song, but it is cute nonetheless. A little boring, but Christmas is all about forgiveness.
  5. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” performed by the Glee ensemble. This episode did not have great ensemble numbers, and this one was no exception. Also, singing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” at a soup kitchen while serving unhoused people seems in poor taste.
  6. “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” performed by Blaine and Rachel. This season tried to make original “Glee” songs work, and they missed the mark every time. Blaine and Rachel do not have vocal chemistry, and the song is ear-piercing.
  7. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” performed by Finn and Puck. The country-rock style doesn’t fit “Glee,” but it is the only style that fits Puck’s voice. It takes away the Christmas cheer and replaces it with an unexpected harmonica feature.
  8. “River” performed by Rachel. Annoying. Melodramatic. Typical Rachel.
  9. “Christmas Wrapping” performed by Brittany. Brittany’s voice is so grating, and her solos only work if accompanied by an amazing dance number. The song felt out of place and too upbeat for the tone set by the other numbers.


When looking back at “Glee,” many cringe, and I do not blame them. The show can be dumb, self-egrandizing and downright infuriating at times. But if you actually sat down and watched it, you would find moments that can only be crafted using genuine performances, a talented cast and insane plots that are unique to “Glee.” The Christmas specials were cheesy, fun and absurd, but still managed to encapsulate the warmth needed to get through the holiday season. Ranking every “Glee” Christmas special was not a fruitless endeavor; I was able to rewatch some of my favorites and re-hate my least favorite characters (cough, Rachel, cough). Overall, I had a good time, and I am sure you did as well. You’re welcome.