Now that the holidays are here (and we’re still locked down due to coronavirus), it’s the perfect time to curl up on the couch and binge Friends Christmas episodes all month long. Because really, what’s better than seeing Monica and Ross perform their infamous “routine”? Or watching the gang celebrate the season in 90-degree heat due to a broken radiator? Here, we rank the best Friends Christmas episodes from all 10 seasons of the show.
To say that Friends was a hit is putting it mildly. During the sitcom’s 10 years on the air (from 1994 to 2004), it was always rated in the top 10 and eventually claimed the number-one spot in its eighth season. When the show’s finale aired in May of 2004, it was watched by 52.5 million Americans and became the fifth most-watched series finale in TV history.
Friends also made megastars out of its six main cast members, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer. During the shows’ last two seasons, each cast member earned a whopping $1 million paycheck per episode, making them the highest-paid TV actors of all time.
Thanks to reruns on TV and streaming services, Friends is more popular than ever before. It continues to be embraced by new generations of fans and keeps earning the cast plenty of dough—according to USA Today, each Friend makes an estimated $19 million a year from the show’s royalties.
And when it comes to Friends Christmas episodes, the gifts are plentiful. Out of its 236 episodes, 11 were holiday-themed and we’ve ranked the full list below.
In this episode, which first aired on December 7, 2000, Monica makes a batch of delicious, home-made holiday candy in an effort to befriend her neighbors. Unfortunately, the plan works better than she expected—her neighbors love the candy so much, they start showing up at her door, demanding she make more and more. Monica, ever the perfectionist, runs herself ragged trying to satisfy their sugar cravings—until Chandler steps in and puts a (hilarious) stop to the madness.
In this episode from season 10, which first aired on December 12th, 2002, Chandler is stuck at his new job in Tulsa and says he won’t be to make it back in time for Christmas. What’s worse, his co-worker is a former Miss Oklahoma runner-up (played by Selma Blair), which has Monica just a teensy bit jealous. Throughout the episode, the gang reminisces about Christmases past, which we see through various clips of old episodes. Happily, Chandler surprises everyone by showing up at the end, just in time for the holiday.
Originally aired on December 5th, 1994, this season-one episode was the first holiday-themed offering from Friends (and the first to feature Marcel, Ross’s pet monkey!). It centers around an agreement the gang makes to all go to Monica’s New Years’ Eve party without a date. Of course, none of them follow through with the promise, and the dates they bring (which include fan-favorite characters Janice and “Fun Bobby”) all end up being disasters.
This season-three episode first aired on December 12, 1996. As the episode title suggests, this is the one where Rachel quits her job at Central Perk. However, its main holiday plot-line centers around Phoebe, who is upset that Joey is working as a Christmas tree seller. “I’m against innocent trees being cut down in their prime and their corpses grotesquely dressed in tinsel and twinkly lights,” she says. Phoebe also hates the fact that all the old trees are thrown into the wood chipper to make room for the new ones, so the gang ends up buying all the old trees and puts them in Monica’s apartment to surprise her. “It’s like Night of the Living Dead Christmas trees!” Chandler quips.
First aired on December 6, 1997, this episode from season one sees most of the gang upset about the fact that they are single for the holidays. The highlight of the episode is Phoebe’s struggle to write a holiday song for all of her friends that rhymes. The end result is, of course, hilarious.
Also known as The One With Ross' Step Forward, this episode originally aired on December 13, 2001. Ross is surprised when his new girlfriend, Mona, suggests they send a joint Christmas card to all of their friends. Freaking out because he thinks it’s too much too fast, he “accidentally” offers his apartment key to Mona in an effort to avoid talking about the future of their relationship. Then he freaks out even more and has all the locks changed so she can’t get in. It’s a good thing Ross ended up with Rachel, or he’d probably be single to this day!
Airing for the first time on December 15, 1995, this season-two episode features Monica and Phoebe’s unwise decision to give cookies instead of money as tips—which is not well-received by the ladies’ landlord, Mr. Treeger. Monica and Rachel are also forced to turn their holiday soiree into a “Tropical Christmas Party” when the broken radiator in their apartment will not stop pumping out heat.
The 10th episode of season five, this episode first aired on December 17, 1998. It features Phoebe in yet another silly holiday predicament—trying to keep her cool as rude New Yorkers throw trash and other disrespectful items into her collection bucket for the poor. In addition to yelling, screaming, and going back to being “Street Phoebe,” she makes some hilarious signs to deter people from vandalizing her bucket, including one that says: “We are not a urinal! Happy Holidays!” In the end, Phoebe takes her toughness a bit too far and ends up being moved by her supervisor to a “less high-profile” street.
The next new show to air after The One With The Inappropriate Sister, this episode begins at the end of the gang’s New Year’s Eve party. Each friend makes a resolution, including Ross, who vows, “No divorces in '99!” When Rachel points out that his divorce from Emily isn’t final yet, he says, “ Just the one divorce in '99!” Ross also resolves to do one thing he has never done before, which ends up being a total (and hilarious!) disaster when he decided to wear a pair of tight leather pants on a date.
Originally aired on December 17, 1999, this is another New Years-focused episode. It’s become a classic thanks to Monica and Ross’s infamous childhood dance routine, which the siblings perform during a taping of the TV show Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. While they think their eighth-grade routine is tight, it actually makes them look ridiculous. Unbeknownst to them, it lands the pair a spot on the New Year's Rockin' Eve blooper reel.
Who can forget this classic Friends Christmas episode, which first aired on December 14th, 2000? It features Ross trying to impress his son Ben while dressed as the Holiday Armadillo, whom he explains is “Santa's representative for all the southern states. And, Mexico!” But really, Ross was just unable to get a Santa suit in time and had to settle for the odd costume, which is hilariously dubbed “Weird Turtle Man” by Chandler.