Holiday Hearts premiered on Saturday, November 23 on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. I’ve been looking forward to this one because it is a little bit different than all the typical plot lines and Victoria from How I Met Your Mother is in it! Spoiler Alert: This is now my favorite movie of the season. I really liked it. Okay, let’s dive in.
The movie begins with Peyton hustling and bustling at her family’s Inn. She is in charge of planning the BIG 25th Anniversary Christmas Eve Party. It is a BFD and they’re letting her plan it with no experience whatsoever. That’s the family Inn business though. Real hard to break in. Just rife with nepotism. The delivery guy stops by and asks her about the theme. Not today good sir! The theme is the most secret part of the whole party!
She goes to chat with her parents, the Inn owners. They are regretting letting her plan the party. They worry she has too much to do. But good news! She can do the accounting in her sleep! So, just the most important part of Inn keeping. No problem. She sees a stack of Christmas cards and has a great idea. She wants to hang them across the fireplace mantle. Her parents are like, another project Peyton? This is just too much. You better get your sister to help. Look, am I capable of hanging a simple ribbon across a fire place mantle to hang holiday cards? Absolutely not. But this movie isn’t about me. This seems like a pretty simple task. Spoiler alert, it takes them about five minutes.
She goes to fetch her sister to help in this complex craft project and she sees her saying goodbye to her husband. He’s a pilot so he got called in to fly more planes for Christmas. He hopes to make it home in time!
Like I said, they make short work of this holiday card business. But there is one notable card in the mix-a Christmas card from Dr. Ben. Peyton has a pretty snippy reaction to his card. Apparently she said she had feelings for him ten years ago and he went off to California the next day without another word.
Ben is at the hospital. He is seemingly headed out on a tropical vacation for Christmas. He stops in to his dad’s office and they talk about his plans. He wants everyone to think he’s going on vacation but he is actually interviewing for something similar to “Doctors Without Borders” in Honduras. I can’t remember the actual name. His dad is like, have fun bro! I’m going to Vermont to go skiing by myself. Then they both agree about how great it is to get to the airport early. I remember one time, my dad got us to the airport so early, they wouldn’t let us check in to our flight. So we had to wait in the check in area for an hour before we waited by our gate for five more hours. Dads LOVE airports. #MEMORIES. So Ben decides to high tail it to the airport.
Peyton is headed to the Party Supply store. She calls ahead to make sure they’ll still be open. Or so that we, the audience, know why she’s out on the highway in the middle of the day. Ben is on the same road at the same time to go to the airport. They both see a reindeer on the side of the road. They are both SO AMAZED at this reindeer that they cannot look away. Again, reminds of me of my dad when he drives. Look at that thing! He says as he veers the entire car in the direction he’s looking. So, they both drive their cars into their respective ditches. It is a little awkward since they haven’t seen each other in ten years. They get back in their cars and wouldn’t you know it, the Jeep won’t start. Subaru is fine though! She offers him a ride. He says he is going to the airport but he’s going to call the repair shop to pick up his car. Whew. I was worried they were going to leave it in that ditch and not explain it. So he’s about to make the call but his phone rings. Oh no! Their mutual friend Ford is in the hospital. He hurt his knee putting up Christmas lights. They decide to go to the hospital instead.
At the hospital, the nurse tells them that Ford’s daughter Lily is in the lobby, unsupervised. Ben goes back to see Ford and Peyton goes to find Lily. How did they get into this circumstance? Did an ambulance come get Ford? Did he drive himself in? Since it was not a real emergency, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for Ford to call a caretaker before leaving for the hospital? But no, the best solution was to leave his daughter alone in a hospital waiting room. She’s fine. She’s coloring. There are apparently tons of coloring supplies in this waiting room.
In the hospital room, they tell Ford he tore his ACL and it’s pretty bad. He could lose the use of his knee if he doesnt take care of it. Also, he is covered with a lovely little Christmas blanket. The doctor says they are going to wait for the swelling to go down before he has surgery. Ford starts to get up to go home. Ben is like, what are you doing? Ford is like, well I can wait out the swelling at home. Ben slaps him across the face. How dare you even think of that, Ford? No you have to stay here. ACL surgery is definitely not an outpatient surgery. It’s a 3-4 day hospital stay for a healthy guy like Ford. Ben is like, I’ll do anything you need. I’ll run your hardware store, I’ll do paperwork, I’ll re roof your house! Ford is like, actually I just need you to watch my daughter. Ben is like, well actually I’m leaving for Honduras in like 20 minutes. So in the words of the poet, Meatloaf “I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” He sings the rest of the song. Ford is like, yeah dude but I have no one else. You really think I would have a single dude in his late thirties watching my kid if I had a better option? So they all reluctantly agree to this situation. Oh by the way, we have A BUNCH of special Christmas traditions my dead wife created and you have to do all of them with Lily while I’m on my hospital vacation. KTHANKSLOVEYOUSOMUCHBYEEEEE.
Peyton drives them back to Lily’s house and then she’s like, k bye! And almost peels out. Ben tries not to have a full on panic attack. Lily saves the day by asking whether she is going to come in? How can you say no to that? Inside, Peyton sees a picture of Lily’s mom, Patsy and has a sad moment. Lily shows them pictures she’s drawn of all their Christmas traditions. The most urgent one is to put up the snowflake lights on the front porch. That HAS to be done before they decorate the BIG tree. There’s also making cookies for all her teachers and making HOMEMADE presents (can you HOMEMAKE a PELOTON, LILY?). Ben is actively trying not to pee his pants in fear. Peyton’s like, okay well I guess I’ll get out of your hair! And I think Ben starts to cry. Anyway, he begs her to stay and is like, do you really think I’m capable of all of this? So she agrees to stay.
That night, Ben calls the Doctors Without Borders people and asks to postpone the interview. It looks like their office is outdoors. REMEMBER IT’S IN HONDURAS.
They hang up the snowflake lights. Ben is slinging puns right and left and Peyton is catching them. Lily asks if they like each other. And they say no, they’ve just been friends since grade school. At no point do either of them run to their homes to get a change of clothes. So Peyton helps with the lights and sleeps in her fancy work dress and nylons. This is unconscionable. Their houses can’t be that far away.
They both sit on the couch. They are wiped out. That reminds me of the time my sister hung out with my kids and I one morning and by the boys’ nap time, she needed one too. Oh wow, they apparently also found time to make paper snowflakes. Ben proposes that Peyton does all the Christmas stuff and he does the cooking and cleaning. He does not know how to do Christmas. Peyton says no, he has to do the Christmas things too. Maybe this way, he will find his Christmas spirit.
In the morning she has time to sit on the porch with a leisurely cup of coffee. She finally says, yeah I need to stop by my house and change my clothes and then get more clothes. But Ben is like, no we all have to feed this horse because apparently there is a stable behind this house right in town. The neighbors must be SO THRILLED. Ben tries to get Peyton to stay by pretending the horse is begging her. This time she’s like haha BYEEEEE.
And THEN at the Inn, she has the audacity to say she was late because she had to run home and change her clothes. Um, no that is not acceptable. Remember, this was ALL COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. Could have taken care of it the night before. Could have skipped that leisurely porch coffee. But no, she made her choices and the Inn suffers. Meanwhile, her sister is stress cooking. She misses her husband so she looked up 200 million bacon recipes and is just working her way through the list. I die over Peyton’s sweater.
Ben and Lily stop by the hospital. Ford isn’t having surgery until TOMORROW. Ford is just loving life. Sleeping, watching whatever shows he wants and having his food delivered to his room. He and Ben have some pretty great banter.
A reporter stops by and wants to do a big story about the Inn. She’s an accountant but she’s planning this one event. Do you want to see the ballroom? Her dad asks. NO DAD. She says the theme is still a BIG SURPRISE so don’t ask. But it’s really exciting. Everyone will love it. She opens the ballroom door to reveal..it’s undecorated. She doesn’t have any idea what the theme will be!
Back at the Sherwood’s, Lily is bossing Ben around about how to make a snowman. This one is upside down doing a handstand. Peyton shows up and says she remembers making them that way with Patsy as a kid. HOW DID THEY LIFT THE BIG BASE THOUGH?
They decide to go inside to decorate the BIG TREE. Casual Balsam Hill bag. The Sherwoods usually decorate the tree by their barn, then the one on the porch, and then the BIG TREE. Does anyone think the Sherwoods are doing too much?
Did you know that you can change from clear to multi colored lights on a Balsam Hill tree? And that you can use a clicker? Oh dang, you can have BOTH. Wow. Then Ben asks Lily to turn on some music. Lily and Peyton start dancing. And then Lily gets Ben and Peyton to dance. They have a moment. They feel awkward.
Then they start talking about the party. She admits that she doesn’t have any ideas for the theme. And its in FIVE DAYS. This is her chance to prove she’s more than just an accountant. She wants to be more than that! An event planner! Wait, what? Or does she want to do event planning and accounting? That would make sense. Girl, don’t quit your day job. Event planning in your small town as a full time job? No I don’t think so. Anyway, she has a lot to prove apparently. He tells her just to chill and the idea will come to her.
They put Lily to bed. Lily misses her dad. Ben tells her that when he was a kid, his aunt put this little tree in his bedroom and told him that all the lights on the tree represent someone that loves her. Peyton goes downstairs and finds an unopened box and inside is a small tree. They put it next to Lily’s bed and she touches two lights and says “Goodnight Mommy, Goodnight Daddy” and they thought they were going to get me but I don’t cry. Back downstairs, Ben and Peyton put together a doll house for Lily. I don’t think they’re doing it right though because there’s no crying or cursing or storming out of the room. Peyton is “helping” by making Christmas decorations for the dollhouse. And still there is no yelling or crying.
She starts talking about his vacation to Honduras. He starts to tell her about it but then Lily asks for water. Classic bedtime stall gimmick but Ben is a rookie so he falls for it. Peyton put one of those cute little trees in Ben’s room too.
In the morning, bless Ben’s heart-he tries to make stethoscope pancakes. They…do not look like stethoscopes. Ben tells Peyton they should try and keep Lily occupied until they hear whether her dad’s surgery goes well. Peyton has to do some work but plans to meet up with them around 1.
Peyton’s sister is on the phone with her husband. Sounds like he is going to be gone even longer!! Peyton wearing ANOTHER GREAT SWEATER. And her sister is just crushing a great Christmas broach. Peyton spills the beans about her lack of theme to her sister. She admonishes her. Everyone says they believe in her but no one offers to help. She lays on hardwood floor all morning and comes up with nothing. And then it’s time to meet the gang downtown. They stroll down a lovely Main Street. Peyton asks Lily how she would decorate a window display and she describes a cute snow globe. The hospital calls. The surgery went well! They stop at a craft store where Lily and her family usually make their homemade presents. It’s like a fire and ice ceramic type store. Ben is trying to paint a reindeer mug. Peyton notices Lily’s snowflake bracelet. Lily says her mom gave it to her. She says, “Snowflakes are like kisses from heaven”. And well, I AM TOTALLY FINE.
At the next store, they see a dress in the window. Peyton says she should get it for the party. And then she describes the first Inn party to Lily. Finally, Ben shares about his job interview with Doctors Care International. It would be for three years. This is the type of work his dad did too and he feels like he should do the same. She is a little bummed.
Back at the Inn, Peyton and her sister are chatting about Ben and this job. Peyton says she doesnt want a boyfriend. Peyton gets weird with a piece of pie. Her sister is secretly helping her do stuff for the party. When the sister asks if she needs anything else, Peyton says she needs tons of cookie supplies to help Lily make cookies for her teacher. If this is a tradition, shouldn’t they have everything? Unless she means ingredients. The reporter stops her on her way out and asks to interview her. She is TOO BUSY with TOO MANY lists so she declines.
Ben is shopping again with Lily. Lily is looking for socks for her dad. She gets him a pair every year. She picks some hilarious socks for him. Ben glances at the dress in the window. OOOOH that is a risky game Ben-buying a dress for a woman and guessing her size.
Back at the Sherwoods, the three of them have a lovely time making Christmas cookies. Poor Ben hasn’t ever made Christmas cookies. Sadly, when they go door to door delivering them to the teachers, I realize they are only putting like 3 or 4 on each plate. That is a huge bummer for everyone. On the way to Mrs. Conway’s house, Ben throws a snowball at Peyton. Peyton throws one back. We are all having a great time. Mrs. Conway guesses who decorated each cookie. I would blame children on all of my decorated cookies if I were in this movie.
They take a hot chocolate break. Ben realizes he can go to the party. As Peyton starts to describe the first party to Lily, she comes up with her theme idea. She runs to the Inn and starts writing in her planner. Or maybe drawing. I don’t know for sure but she lays on the ground again. Oh, yes, she is drawing.
More inspo pictures go up on the wall in the ballroom and a few Christmas trees are getting put up. Ben calls Peyton while they are wrapping presents. She says she is going to work late so she can’t come over that night. When she hang up she says, I love you! And Lily politely says, we love you too. I LITERALLY ACTUALLY DIE of embarrassment for Peyton because accidentally saying I Love You on the phone is one of my worst fears. I know it’s supposed to be sort of significant here, like she loves them and loves their little pretend family but OMG how EMBARRASSING.
The next morning, Miranda, the horse, convinces Ben and Lily to go see Peyton. They come by with donuts I think. And then we have a great montage of them helping decorate. And Peyton is wearing ANOTHER GREAT SWEATER. Lily asks if there will be presents under the trees. There should be presents?!!! And then Peyton has another great idea. They will use the party to collect toys for the toy drive. And then Ben and Peyton both want to go get a present for Lily. Peyton’s mom offers to have a tea party with her.
Downtown, Ben asks if Lily would like a neck tie. Peyton says they have to split up and each find something separate for Lily. This is unfair. Ben clearly needs help. They have a nice regroup over hot chocolate again.
Back at the house, Ben and Lily have a surprise for Peyton. They give her the DRESS! Yay! It is a great dress. I sure hope it’s the right size!! Ooof. What if he guessed too big? What if it’s too small? So RISKY Ben. Then Ford calls and says he’s coming home tomorrow morning! But shouldn’t someone pick him up?
After they put Lily to bed, they start looking at Ford and Patsy’s wedding album. There are ALOT of just Peyton and Ben. Ben mentions that he’s thought a lot about the night Peyton said she had feelings for him. She’s like, what’s up man? You never talked to me again. Ben was like well I had med school and stuff! But he apologizes. And they agree to stay in touch. Hello, what about social media?
In the morning, Ben talks to Miranda the horse about his feelings. Ford comes home and Ben and Peyton are like KBYEEEE! Good luck with all those stairs in your house on those crutches! Lily gives Peyton a drawing and gives Ben the book he read to her every night. Again, I am JUST FINE.
Peyton drops Ben off in the middle of town? Or the car repair shop? His house? I’m not sure. Back at the Inn, it’s almost time for the party! Toys are getting dropped off right and left! Ugh. Peyton is in ANOTHER GREAT SWEATER. 10/10 Peyton. Her sister is still panicking about her husband getting home in time for Christmas. They talk more about Ben.
Ben and his dad met for coffee. His dad is like, why didn’t we meet in the hospital cafeteria? Oh and they’re both flying out at the same time on Christmas Day. They should carpool and get there early! Ben asks his dad about his life traveling all over the place as a doctor. His dad said it was really rewarding work. Ben is contemplative.
Peyton’s sister stops by her house with a butt load of food. She’s stress cooking because Jake, her husband officially won’t be home for Christmas. Peyton promises to come over on Christmas morning and make snow angels with her.
Ben is in his surprisingly decorated apartment/house and puts the children’s book on the mantle.
It’s the night of the big party! Ford is on crutches that are now decorated like candy canes. This year’s toy drive is the most successful ever! Everyone looks so great in their Christmas dressses. These two girls play great sisters together. When Lily arrives, Peyton calls her over and she gives a speech. Then she opens the ball room doors to reveal like 1,000 Christmas trees. I bet half the space is covered in trees.
Everyone is having a great time. And what? Jake the pilot made it home! She hugs him like he came back from war. I think he’s been gone 3-4 days.
She sees Ben. They talk about him going to Honduras. He asks her to come with him. Peyton is like, but my accounting! And my Event planning business! Look, this is a fair point. She has a life that’s very important to her. But he is like, helping under served medical populations? I don’t know. I’m torn about which one should make the sacrifice. Sure, there are underserved populations in the US he could work with. But the message here is like, yeah but he’s not living HIS life. So that doesn’t seem like a super great takeaway? So anyway they are at an impasse.
Then Mrs. Conway asks her to plan her Silver anniversary in June. Oh, it’s all happening for Peyton. Yes, this is the path we are supposed to be rooting for? Why did it have to be Doctors Without Borders or Event Planning? Doesn’t that seem like such a silly choice?
The next day, the Caradays are celebrating Christmas Day. Her parents say they’ve already ordered business cards that list her as an event planner too. They show her the front page story about the party. It’s a big hit. She decides to bring the present she made over to Lily’s.
Ben and his dad are headed to the airport. Ben’s dad is like, look, that was my life. I love you even if you don’t decide to help underserved populations in developing countries. Then Ben sees the reindeer again and feels that is a sign that he shouldn’t help the impoverished nation of Honduras.
Peyton makes herself at home during Lily and her dad’s special Christmas time. Lily opens the gift Peyton made. It is the snow globe Lily described while they were shopping. Wow. Peyton is too artistic to be an accountant! She SHOULD be doing event planning for a quarter of her current salary. As she walks out of the Sherwood’s house, Ben pulls up. He decided to live HIS life. And he wants to be with Peyton. They say some nice stuff but can we just put a pin in Honduras and maybe not shelve it completely? Because it just doesn’t seem fair that the winner in this movie is event planning in a small town. Okay, I’m releasing it. Let’s see how this movie stacks up.
- 2nd generation workaholic too busy for Christmas
- Lead is stranded in the small town thanks to his buddy
- Single parent
- Is that guy secretly Santa? (Guys, that reindeer, right?)
- Christmas Party
- Christmas Baking
- Snowball fight
- Christmas puns
- Someone not chasing their dream
- Christmas montage
Total score: 10/20 This may be a record!