One of the most enduring concepts in fiction and movies is when a character or two swap places. This, in turn, can vary between switching bodies, going somewhere out of the characters’ comfort zone, or switching roles. But regardless of the type of swapping, the outcome usually results in the characters learning a moral lesson.
Now, this kind of trope often appears in romantic comedies and family dramas. Yet there are several Christmas movies that involve swapping in some form. So for those who are looking for such a Christmas movie to watch, here are some of the best ones.
10 The Christmas Swap
When it comes to classic Christmas films, most of them tend to focus on white families as opposed to non-white ones. This is especially true of made-for-TV movies, which has caused a fair amount of criticism on the Internet. Luckily, there are some exceptions such as The Christmas Swap.
Released by TV One in 2016, it tells the story of two brothers played by notable television actors Dondré Whitfield and Christian Keyes. While one is a successful lawyer, the other is forced to take care of their mother. So the latter makes a wish around Christmas that results in him switching bodies with his brother.
9 A Christmas Prince
Released on Netflix a few years ago, this movie may not be the most original as it is one of many movies inspired by The Prince & Me. But it did well in terms of viewership to where a sequel was made last year and another is scheduled for this year.
Story-wise, it’s about an American journalist named Amber who travels to the fictional country of Aldovia to get some inside coverage of its prince Richard. But in the process, she gets mistaken for his sister Princess Emily’s new tutor. Thus, Amber’s forced to play along to get her story and starts falling for Richard in the process.
8 The Princess Switch
An early example of characters swapping places in fiction is Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Published in the late 1800s, it tells the story of a poor boy and an identical-looking rich one switching places. Since then, there have been numerous adaptations of this story including the Netflix Original film The Princess Switch.
With Vanessa Hudgens in two leading roles, it’s about an ordinary baker and the duchess of a fictional country taking each other’s place for a few days. As a result, they not only get into all sorts of comedically awkward situations but also find true love. Though this film got mixed reviews upon release, it’s set to get a sequel next year.
7 Christmas in the Heartland
Alternatively called The Christmas Trap, this independent film was distributed through many online platforms including Amazon Prime. Story-wise, it’s about two teenage girls that meet during a flight out to visit their estranged relatives for Christmas in a small town.
Quickly becoming friends, they learn that neither is looking forward to the trip and decide to temporarily switch places. Thus, one gets to experience a lavish lifestyle while the other gets a more rural type of life. Additionally, the film stars Joe Don Rooney from the Country-Pop group Rascal Flatts and actress Shelley Long who was on Cheers.
6 A Christmas Switch
Known for primarily focusing on gospel music, UPtv has since expanded to making its own movies including A Christmas Switch. Originally broadcast in November of last year, it focuses on two mothers who live very different lives. While one is a record label executive, the other is a singer who works multiple jobs to maintain herself financially.
But during a chance encounter at a local mall, they wake up the following day to discover that they’ve somehow switched bodies. Thus, we have ourselves a story that’s similar to Freaky Friday where the two women try to figure out how to switch back while helping each other out.
5 Finding Christmas
For those who wanted to see a male equivalent to The Holiday, then Finding Christmas delivers on that premise. A 2013 Hallmark Channel movie, it tells the story of two men named Owen and Sean who have just gone through a messy breakup and ruined marriage proposal respectively.
So they decide to swap residencies with Sean staying in Owen’s rural North Carolina home while Owen goes to Sean’s lavish New York City apartment. In these new environments, the two men find romance with Owen falling for Sean’s assistant Mia while Sean falls for Owen’s sister Ryan. This, in turn, complicates things as their residency swap is set to end around Christmas.
4 The Santa Suit
Known for starring in the nostalgic 90s show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Kevin Sorbo hasn’t appeared much on television lately. Then in 2010, he played an unusual role for him on the Hallmark Channel movie The Santa Suit. Specifically, a Scrooge-type businessman named Drake Hunter who ruthlessly runs a toy company he inherited from his father.
As part of a marketing scheme during Christmas, he sends out mall Santas to promote his company and then the real Santa Claus catches on. This results in Hunter being transformed into a Santa lookalike and is forced to work as a mall Santa after ending up in a homeless shelter.
3 Switched for Christmas
Whether it’s Hayley Mills or Lindsay Lohan, both versions of The Parent Trap starred actresses in dual roles as twins who discover each other by accident and deliberately switch places. Then the Hallmark Channel did its own version with the 2017 movie Switched for Christmas.
In it, two adult twins (played by Candace Cameron Bure of Full House fame) who’ve been estranged reunite at a brunch they promised following their mother’s passing. Frustrated with their current lives and workloads, the two decide to switch places until Christmas. Thinking that the other’s life is better by comparison, they get more than they bargained for.
2 The Holiday
Despite getting initial mixed reviews, this movie has gained a nostalgic reputation over the years. Released in 2006, it stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two heartbroken women from America and Britain respectively who participate in a house exchange program.
Then in classic rom-com fashion, the two meet guys that are perfect for them played by Jude Law and Jack Black. While the leads’ chemistry is questionable, particularly between Jack Black and Kate Winslet’s characters, the overall film is fairly solid. It’s not just a Christmas-themed romantic comedy, but “The ultimate self-care flick” for women as claimed by Refinery29.
1 It’s a Wonderful Life
Considering how iconic this movie is nowadays, it’s hard to believe that it didn’t do well financially upon initial release and bankrupted an entire film studio. Yet It’s a Wonderful Life gained a strong legacy thanks to squirrelly copyright claims and television broadcasts.
Following the story of George Bailey, who takes over his father’s loan company in spite of his own ambitions, the movie has nothing to do with Christmas until towards the end. Then like a prototypical Twilight Zone episode, Bailey is thrust into an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. Both heartfelt and surprisingly dark, there’s no doubt why this film is a Christmas classic.