The holiday season is upon us, and is there any better way to get excited about the season than cuddling up under a blanket and watching your favorite Friends holiday episodes? All ten seasons have their own great holiday moments, and each episode is more relatable and hilarious than the last.
Whether Ross is trying to solve one of the many problems of his own making, Rachel is trying to learn to be a competent adult, Monica is freaking out about having a perfectly decorated apartment, or Phoebe is in love with Jacques Cousteau, there’s something for everyone in these episodes. Get yourself an ice cube or an English trifle and settle in. Here are the ten best holiday episodes in Friends history.
10 The One With Christmas in Tulsa
Flashback episodes are usually a little less fun than episodes with new content. But there’s enough going on in this episode to keep it interesting regardless of all the flashbacks to earlier episodes.
Chandler has to spend Christmas in Tulsa with his coworker, Wendy, and Monica’s sadness turns to jealousy. Luckily, everything is better at the end when Chandler comes home to spend Christmas with his loved ones. Bonus points for the moment Chandler realizes he doesn’t have to continue working at a job that he hates.
9 The One With The Awkward Holiday Card
Oh, Ross. Whether you love him or hate him, his storylines are always a good laugh. In this episode, he and his girlfriend Mona find a beautiful photo of themselves taken while they were ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Mona decides she wants to use it for holiday cards that say, “Love, Mona and Ross,” even though they haven’t said that to each other.
The rest of the episode isn’t very holiday-centric, which is the only reason it doesn’t rank higher on this list. Rachel needs a new pill, and Chandler sees what his life would be like if he hadn’t married Monica.
8 The One With The Rumor
Brad Pitt makes a special appearance in this episode as Will, Monica’s formerly obese friend from high school. We find out that Ross and Will used to have an "I Hate Rachel Club" and started a rumor about her. During “meetings,” they would lock themselves in Ross’ room and say nasty things about her. If you can get past the episode's messier, dated aspects, this is still a very funny episode.
Definitely worth mentioning is Joey’s promise to eat almost tuna entire 19-pound turkey and Phoebe’s infatuation with Will, which leads to amazing lines like, “C’mon Will, just take off your shirt and tell us!”
7 The One with All The Resolutions
A lot of shows focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes for their holiday episodes, so the focus Friends put on New Year’s was always a treat. This New Year’s episode from season five starts out with a heartfelt scene: Joey making sure that Chandler and Monica get to kiss at midnight, even though their relationship is still secret at this point in the show.
The rest of the episode focuses on the group’s various resolutions and how quickly they all fail at them. Prime material is Ross trying to do “something new every day” which leads to absolute humiliation, as well as Chandler struggling to not make fun of his friends. Come for Monica taking photos of everyone at their worst moments, stay for Rachel mimicking a bad breast augmentation.
6 The One Where Rachel Quits
This holiday episode ranks around the middle of this list because only about one-third of it is truly a holiday episode. Rachel quitting her job is a great forward movement for her, but this is also the episode where Ross breaks a little girl’s leg. It’s on accident, but still.
What redeems this episode is the Phoebe/Joey storyline. Phoebe visits Joey at his job selling Christmas trees and learns that some of the trees don’t fulfill their Christmas destiny of being decorated and adorned with presents.
5 The One With the Monkey
Season one of Friends was an instant hit, and this episode is a perfect encapsulation for why. The group decides that they’re going to spend New Year’s with just the six of them, no dates. Of course, all of them end up reneging on that promise, leaving Ross to spend his first New Year’s as a divorcee alone… with his monkey. Somehow, that’s not a euphemism.
Of course, things fall apart and every one of them ends up alone when the ball drops. While the rest of their party celebrates, the friends stand in the corner with their bloody lips and broken hearts. Which is the peak moment: Rachel’s fight with a woman for a cab or when Joey kisses Chandler?
4 The One with Phoebe’s Dad
The episode centers around Phoebe’s search for her father, the man who abandoned her and her twin sister before they were born. The group tries to help her, and the end of the episode is bittersweet. Among the rest of the traditional run-up to Christmas, there’s ongoing tension between Rachel and Ross after The Horrible and Degrading List of Reasons Not to Be With Her.
This early holiday episode is another one of those evergreen, relatable moments in Friends history. Rachel and Monica are too broke to tip the super, the newspaper delivery kid, or the mailman, and Chandler and Joey put off buying Christmas presents so long they have to get whatever they can scrounge up at a gas station.
3 The One with The Routine
This episode manages to cover both Christmas and New Year’s. While Phoebe and Rachel search for their gifts from Monica, Monica dances with Ross while filming Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve party. They do a ridiculous dance routine from middle school, which they’re convinced is really cool despite it only earning them Honorable Mention in the brother-sister dance category.
Of course, Joey uses the party as an excuse to try to kiss Janine, his roommate that he’s been crushing on. Rachel and Phoebe manage to rope Chandler into searching for Monica’s Christmas presents. As is usual, they manage to mock Chandler in the process, bullying him into getting them better presents after they find his gifts for them, including the “azz.”
2 The One with The Holiday Armadillo
While Phoebe tries to get Rachel to move back in with her, Ross thinks of what to get Ben for the holidays. Despite Ross and Monica being Jewish, none of the Jewish holidays are ever really celebrated on the show. In “The One with Phoebe’s Dad,” we see Ross fixing a menorah, but until this episode in season seven, that’s the closest we see them get to celebrating Hanukkah.
Now that Ben is older, Ross wants to teach him about his Jewish heritage. Of course, Ben is so in love with Christmas and Santa, that Ross eventually gives up. But since it’s too late to get himself a Santa costume, he gets the closest thing: an armadillo, somehow. Bonus points to this episode for Monica’s Santa Claus kink and Phoebe’s reminder to everyone that “even though it’s Christmas, people still die.”
1 The One Where Ross Got High
During Monica’s and Chandler’s first holiday season as a betrothed couple, it’s revealed that her parents secretly hate Chandler. Chandler tries to charm them into falling in love with him, but he only makes things worse. Secrets come out, people get their feelings hurt, and Monica’s mom Judy has one of the funniest rants in the show’s history.
One of the best subplots of the episode is Rachel trying to cook dessert for everyone. She accidentally combines two traditional British recipes, resulting in a beef-custard dessert that, according to Ross, “tastes like feet.” The big reveal that Ross once got high and then blamed it on Chandler makes this the most relatable family holiday episode either. Is it really the holidays if people don’t lie to each other and fight, only to make up and love each other in the end?