Recap & Review: Netflix’s “The Holiday Calendar”

This is a full recap and review of The Holiday Calendar. Do NOT read if you want to avoid spoilers! 


“Some might call it magic, some might call it fate. Either way you define it, it ends up in the same place.”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And while you might equate original, cheesy holiday movies with the Hallmark Channel, Netflix is doling out a gift basket of its own festive flicks, with the first one having just dropped.

The Holiday Calendar, starring Kat Graham, tells the story of Abby, a talented photographer who is currently working at the local photography studio, which she hates, in order to make ends meet. She wants a life bigger than that and dreams of opening up her own studio where she and other artists can “create and help support one another.” 

Her best childhood friend, Josh (Quincy Brown), just got back from traveling the world as a visual artist and living up to his potential as a photographer. He pushes Abby to pursue her dreams by asking a compelling question: what would happen if you just went for it? At first, Abby doesn’t seem totally opposed to the idea of “just going for it,” but her actual response suggests she’s not entirely convinced it’s even possible. “I’d probably get some of these questions about my future answered,” she says, sounding kind of defeated before she’s even tried.

At a family gathering, her grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) gifts her with an antique advent calendar that originally belonged to Abby’s grandmother and which she claimed brought the two of them together years ago. Abby soon discovers the contents behind each day’s door seems to predict her future. For example, on the first day, the calendar’s gift is a little figurine of a pair of boots; later that day, she’s gifted with a pair of boots Josh bought her while traveling overseas.

Initially, she thinks nothing of it, that it was just a coincidence. Then the calendar produces a Christmas tree figurine for the second day and later that night she runs over a mystery man’s Christmas tree as it falls off the roof of his car. For the next couple of days, the calendar produces figurines that continue to bring the mystery man, Ty (Ethan Peck), into her life.

At first, she enjoys the time she spends with Ty. He takes her on elaborate dates and they seem to like each other’s company. But when she shows him her magical advent calendar he scoffs at the idea it’s predicting her future. Abby then realizes they’ve never really connected on a deeper level and breaks up with him.

Yet the advent calendar still brings love to Abby, just as it did her grandmother. However, it wasn’t in the form of someone new like she assumed; it turns out Josh, who has always been there for her, was the right guy all along. And just like a romance novel, this movie ends as expected: with Abby and Josh getting together AND the two of them opening the studio Abby had her eye on earlier in the film. 

Overall, I enjoyed Netflix’s first holiday movie for 2018. I really liked the playful yet natural chemistry that Graham and Brown had. It was easy to believe they were childhood best friends whose relationship over time developed into something more. Personally, I’m not into the “magical” holiday plots as I think there are plenty of other ways to capture the magic of the holidays without resorting to “literal magic”. However, it wasn’t a turn off in this movie; the writers were able to balance the plot device in a way that didn’t come off super-cheesy and just plain ridiculous.

With Christmas cookies and pictures with Santa galore, The Holiday Calendar definitely got me eagerly anticipating the yuletide season and desperately searching for any and all holiday movies I could find on the Internet. I highly recommend checking this movie out if you’re looking to feel the same.

The Holiday Calendar is currently streaming on Netflix.

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