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Weekend Recs: Christmas Specials (2023 Edition)

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week.

Photo by Kate Laine on Unsplash

From Home Alone to How the Grinch Stole Christmas to cheesy Hallmark movies, Christmas movies have worked their way into the hearts of many, regardless of whether or not they celebrate the holiday. It might only be a week into December, but as “25 Days of Christmas” suggests, it is still the perfect time to get cozy and watch some Christmas and holiday-themed specials.

With finals coming up this week, the mood might not be joyous and cheerful, but some lighthearted movies and shows might be just the thing to warm up even the Grinch-iest of hearts. (And if traditional Christmas movie really aren’t your thing, don’t worry. You can still watch Die Hard, Harry Potter, Gremlins, and Black Christmas).

If you have 10 minutes…and are a Birds fan, read this article about the Eagles’ new Christmas record.

If you have 22 minutes…and want to watch one of my personal favorite Christmas special episodes, watch Bob’s Burger‘s “Bob Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins,” available on Hulu. It’s definitely got the absurd tone of the earlier seasons of Bob’s Burgers.

If you have another 22 minutes…and want to watch my favorite Hanukkah special, watch “The Hanukkah Story” from The Nanny, available to stream on Max.

If you have 42 minutes…and love watch “A Benihana Christmas” from The Office‘s third season, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. This was one of the best seasons of The Office, and I think this Christmas episode reflects that.

Bonus: check out this list of the best sitcom Christmas specials for some more Christmas recs you can stream.

If you have 1 hour and 34 minutes…and are a fan of the classics, watch A Christmas Story, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. This is one classic I’ve never gotten around to watching (unless you count seeing the play), so it’ll definitely go on my watch-list this holiday season.

If you have 1 hour and 48 minutes…and enjoy ballet, watch The Nutcracker, available to stream through Falvey. Seeing our local Nutcracker productions was always one of my favorite Christmas traditions, but it’s hard to compete with this professional performance.

If you have 2 hours and 10 minutes…and want an even older classic, watch It’s a Wonderful Life, available to stream through Falvey.

If you have 2 hours and 30 minutes…and want some light reading, read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, available online through Falvey.

Bonus: if you want even more Christmas book recs to read once the semester ends, check out this list of new releases.

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.


Cat in the Stax: The Christmas Spirit

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Happy last full week of classes! Hang in there, Wildcats, because the semester is almost over. Then it’s a nice, long, well-deserved break where we have almost an entire month to rest and recharge.

This semester has been flying by, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Now that we are finally in the month of December, I thought it would be nice to provide you with some ways you can get into the Christmas spirit and get excited for the approaching holiday.

Listen to Christmas Music

This one is kind of a given, and I know people who have been listening to Christmas tunes since November, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Whether you’re driving to campus, walking to class, or even doing schoolwork, listening to popular Christmas music is a good way to jam out and get pumped up for the season. There are hundreds of playlists on Spotify or Apple Music, and Spotify has an official Christmas Classics playlist if you want to hear those old-time staples.

Check out Christmas Light Displays

If you have some free time this weekend, grab some friends and go see any of the light shows/displays Philly puts on every year. Some popular ones are the Electrical Spectacle Light Show at Franklin Square, LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo, and the LuminoCity Holiday Lights Festival at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Take a break from your studies and go look at some beautiful lights to put yourself in a holly jolly mood!

Villanova Christmas Tree at Riley Ellipse

Villanova Christmas Tree at Riley Ellipse

Attend Christmas at Villanova

Villanova hosts a couple Christmas events during December to help bring the holiday spirit onto campus. The Tree Lighting already occurred earlier this week, but don’t fret because next Monday is the University’s Holiday Village and Night Market from 3 p.m.-7:30 p.m at the Riley Ellipse. This annual event features carriage rides, food trucks, local market vendors, entertainment, and more. Celebrate the last day of classes with an evening of food, shopping, and fun! (This is also the perfect opportunity to get some Christmas gift shopping done!)

Get Involved in Villanova’s Holiday Outreach

Christmas is the season of giving, so this is a great time to get involved in volunteering and charity work to help those in need. It’s at this time that Villanova’s Campus Ministry is now hosting the second drive of their Holiday Outreach Programs. The current Christmas Outreach provides multiple options for you to give to others. You could gather a group of friends and “adopt a family” through Villanova’s partnership with North Light Community Center, donate gift cards or contribute to Amazon Wishlists, support a toy drive, or help deliver gifts. The Christmas Outreach is a great way to give back to and support the surrounding community.

Reminder: Villanova De-Stresser Events

Reminding you all of these events happening tomorrow in anticipation of finals week:

To remind students to take care of themselves during finals, Health Services will be hosting a Thriving Through Finals event on Thursday, December 7 at 12 p.m. in the Connelly Center. Pick up a healthy snack, meet the campus dietitian, and learn what foods you can eat to support you during finals week!

If you happen to be studying in Falvey on December 7, feel free to stop by Speakers’ Corner for our Stress Busting Open House from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Library will have snacks and video games. It will be a great way to take a break from work and re-energize yourself!

Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Falvey Decks the Library for the Holidays

To get the campus ready for Christmas and all of the upcoming winter holidays, we decorated the Christmas tree! We worked elf-quick to bring you this dose of cheer in the form a time lapse video. Hope this gets you in the spirit for wassling and the festivities ahead!

(We added a hilarious final touch right after!)

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Photo Friday: Sing Joy

Photo courtesy of Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

Falvey staff members Brian Warren, Library Technology Developer (second row, second from right), and John Banionis, Metrics and Assessment Librarian (bottom row, first from left), along with Nicole Subik, Director, Learning Support Services (second row, first from right), sing joyful carols to all those in attendance at the University’s staff Christmas party on Thursday, Dec. 15. Interested in joining Villanova’s Faculty-Staff Choir? The volunteer choir accepts singers of all ability levels and interests. For questions or more information please email Betsy Springuel ( Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Looking for more holiday tunes? Check out this playlist by Olivia Dunn ’23.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. Her favorite holiday albumsThe Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait and A Swingin’ Little Christmas by Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, Tim Davis and The Tony Guerrero Quintet.




Falvey’s Guide To Christmas Pop

By Olivia Dunn

With Christmastime approaching, it’s time to start listening and appreciating the season before it passes you by. Rather than opting for the classics such as “Jingle Bells” or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” at every chance you get (although there’s nothing wrong with that), consider checking out the multitude of pop music various stars have offered over the years with the convenient broken-down guide provided below. Happy Holidays!


These pop hits have stood the test of time and are just as likely to be heard on the radio as any other Christmas carol. Out of all the classics, these three are the best of the best.

“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey – Say what you want about this song, as it has gained a reputation for being overhyped, but it’s simply not Christmas without at least a few (or hundreds of) listens.

“Last Christmas” by Wham! – This song is the perfect choice for those who could do without the same cheery tone of most Christmas songs.

“Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber – Upon its release in 2011, this song easily became a staple for both middle school girls and non-Justin Bieber listeners alike.


While these songs often get overshadowed by their more-famous counterparts, they are just as deserving of multiple listens throughout the holiday season.

“Cold December Night” by Michael Bublé – While Michael Bublé has become known for other famous tracks off his beloved holiday album simply entitled Christmas, “Cold December Night” deserves fame in its own right.

“Christmas Eve” by Justin Bieber – One of the more soulful tracks off of Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, “Christmas Eve” makes for the perfect listen during your family’s Christmas commute.

“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson – Once you hear this song for the first time, you’ll never be able to get it out of your head, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it. 

Worthy Covers:

With a limited amount of Christmas carols in existence, it can be difficult to decipher which covers are the best. Over the years, these three have remained tried and true staples.

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Bublé – While it was hard to choose just one cover from Michael Bublé, this song sums up the simultaneous anticipation and nostalgia associated with Christmas perfectly. 

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Sam Smith – This slowed-down take of a classic Christmas song is a match made in Christmas heaven with Sam Smith’s vocals.

“Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Darling” by Pentatonix – Pentatonix gives a fun and unique spin of “Winter Wonderland” by pairing it with Bob Marley’s fan favorite hit, “Don’t Worry Darling.”

View my full holiday playlist below. From all of us at Falvey, we hope you give these picks a listen and have a happy and healthy Holiday season! 

Olivia Dunn HeadshotOlivia Dunn is a senior at Villanova University. She works in Falvey Library as a Communications and Marketing Assistant and majors in Communication with specializations in both Journalism and Public Relations.




Weekend Recs: Christmas Specials

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Christmas is a little over a week away, and this means that Christmas specials will begin (if they already haven’t) filling the airtime of most cable channels and streaming recommendation lists. In the spirit of the season, or simply as a way to bring some merriness into the bleak week of finals, this weekend’s recs will share some Christmas specials for festive enthusiasts and Grinches alike.

If you have 4 minutes and 18 seconds…and need some (violent) humor in your day, watch this SNL “A Christmas Carol” sketch. If you’re a fan of old SNL, you’ll be happy to know it features prior cast members, Steve Martin and Martin Short.

If you have 22 minutes…and need some Michael Scott cringe (or hilarity), watch “Christmas Party” from The Office‘s 2nd season, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. Although The Office has quite a few Christmas episodes, “Christmas Party” was the first and, arguably, one of the best.

If you have another 22 minutes…and look forward to another Belcher family Christmas each year, watch the most recent Bob’s Burgers holiday special, “The Plight Before Christmas.”

If you have 51 minutes…and are a fan of the family-friendly classics, watch The Year Without a Santa Claus. If you have cable, you will likely have ample opportunities to catch this old-timey Christmas special, and it is, in my opinion, one of the bests. (I mean, the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs earn their iconic status).

If you have 1 hour and 28 minutes…and have a chaotic family that keeps the holidays interesting, watch Four Christmases. An ode to children of divorce and emotionally immature parental figures, this Reese Witherspoon/Vince Vaughn comedy might just make you feel a bit better (or at the very least, validated) about your Christmas-time family antics and woes.

If you have 1 hour and 45 minutes…and want to watch a slightly newer “classic,” check out the ultimate Jim Carey holiday film, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. In all honesty, this is my favorite Christmas movie of all time, so I might be a bit biased when I say it is worth a watch, but…it’s worth a watch.

Photo by Samira Rahi on Unsplash

Bonus: this recommendation practically goes without saying, but watch Elf this holiday season, also available in Falvey’s DVD Collection.

If you have 2 hours and 7 minutes…and are tired of re-watching old Christmas films, watch Spirited. Released over Thanksgiving, this film updates Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a comedic twist. Plus, as a bonus, it stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell.

Bonus: For all the MCU fans, Iron Man 3 and Hawkeye are both set around Christmas time and are perfect for those who want something only tangentially related to the holidays.

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.

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Photo Friday: It’s The Holiday Season

Image of Christmas tree in Falvey Library.

Photo courtesy of Shawn Proctor.

Image of Christmas tree in Falvey Library.

Photo courtesy of Luisa Cywinski.

Image of Christmas tree in Falvey Library.

Photo courtesy of Gina Duffy.

It’s the holiday season! Falvey Library staff assembled the Christmas tree on the first floor yesterday. Staff (and students passing by) were able to hang ornaments on the tree and enjoy some hot chocolate and an assortment of desserts. Stop by the library to enjoy the decorations during the remainder of the semester: The building is open 24/7. View the full listing of service hours here. Looking for research support? Subject librarians are available for assistance Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. or by appointment.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library.




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Curious Cat: Holiday Tunes

Olivia Dunn & Ethan Shea

"Curious Cat Banner"

Happy Thursday, Wildcats! We hope your November is off to a great start. For this week’s installment of the Curious Cat, we take on a controversial topic…

Some people begin listening to holiday tunes the moment Halloween ends, but others prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving before they start rockin’ around the Christmas tree. That’s why we chose to ask some Falvey patrons when they begin listening to holiday music!

Here are the answers we received:

"Curious Cat 11/3 (1)"

“My family starts listening as soon as Thanksgiving dinner ends.”

— Kathryn Scotto ’24

“It’s 100% okay after Thanksgiving, but sometimes you just need to listen to Christmas music. I remember listening to it in October during my senior year of high school.”

— Maggie Hutchins ’24

"Curious Cat 11/3 (2)"

“I start listening on November 1.”

— Bridget Ritchie ’24

“The day after Thanksgiving.”

— Anna McCarthy ’24

“I’ll listen any time, but November 1 is most acceptable.”

— Alise Adornato ’23

Olivia Dunn Headshot

Olivia Dunn is a senior at Villanova University. She works in Falvey Library as a Communications and Marketing Assistant and majors in Communication with specializations in both Journalism and Public Relations.





Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Holiday Movies for Not-So-Jolly Nights

By Shawn Proctor

Even if December is totally your jam, there are likely going to be days when your enjoyment of Christma-kwanza-nakuh-yule wanes.

Will Farrell’s Elf needs to stay on the shelf, you think to yourself. Jingle All the Way can just jingle-go-away.

Wait! There are films for those days when your cheer is not in gear. Save yourself from going full Scrooge with this slate of holiday favorites that take a more sanguine approach to this season. And some you might not realize are holiday movies at all.



Image courtesy of Movie Graveyard

Die Hard
There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and Die Hard IS a Christmas movie. There’s all of the trapping of Christmas, including snow, fun Christmas music, and, of course, Bruce Willis fashioning quotable Christmas lines like, “Now I have a machinegun! Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Dig Deeper: If you want to look back at the inspiration for Die Hard, check out Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever (available via InterLibrary Loan), sequel to the book The Detective, which was also adapted to film and starred Frank Sinatra.

Learn more about every film in the franchise by listening to the Die Hard retrospective series from Now Playing Podcast.

Content warnings: violence, harsh language, drug use


Image Courtesy of Movie Scene

This delightfully horrific tale twists Christmas iconography into something far darker. But for every scary gremlin, there’s the mogwai like Gizmo to give you big doses of cute and cuddly.

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and nothing like chaotic mogwai (which incidentally means “monster” and “evil spirit”) to warm your heart…by possibly burning down your house.

Content warnings: violence, a melodramatic story in which Santa is disproven


Image courtesy of Regal Movies.

Edward Scissorhands

Picture a snow globe with an idyllic town with little people and a house high up on a hill. Picture yourself inside that snow globe. Now picture a weird, gothic automaton that no one understands, except you. That’s Edward Scissorhands in a nutshell…er, globe.
This underappreciated classic features Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) and Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) at the height of their quirky, wonderful powers. It’s breathtaking, beautiful, and sad. And obviously directed by Tim Burton.

Image courtesy of Arts Meme

L.A. Confidential
This is a movie where the holidays are the inciting incident from which a Los Angeles power struggle begins.
The best police force in the world is tarnished by scandal during a robbery/massacre and Christmas party that goes from “Silent Night” to melee. There’s twists. There’s intrigue. There’s enemies who become friends, and friends who become betrayers. All of this carries right through to the tense climax.
It also features a slate of amazing, charismatic actors, including Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, and Kim Basinger.
Dig Deeper: The film was adapted from the James Ellroy novel, L.A. Confidential (available from InterLibrary Loan.)
Content warnings: racially insensitive language, violence, harsh language, Kevin Spacey (unfortunately)
Honorable Mentions:
Philadelphia is a great city for Christmas, and it has appeared in many notable films. If you want to get to know the City of Brotherly Love in cinema, be sure to check out the delightful superhero film Shazam! The film has great comedy scenes, solid acting, and a great message about celebrating found family.
Harder hitting and darker is the original Rocky. It shuns the glamor of the later films, but this Oscar-winning drama captures the ’70s vibe of Philadelphia in the winter and the unbreakable spirit of its people. With gritty moments leading to the ultimate David vs. Goliath fight, Rocky depicts the American dream, as told through a journeyman boxer who must discover the endurance to go the distance against the best fighter in the world.
Did I miss one of your not-as-cheery holiday movies? What about a classic incidentally Christmas film? Let me know!

Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


Try These Books Turned Hallmark Movies This Holiday Season

Poster of the Movie Guide—Countdown to Christmas 2021. Image courtesy of Hallmark Channel.

Movie Guide—Countdown to Christmas 2021. Image courtesy of Hallmark Channel.

Who doesn’t love Hallmark movies…Okay, I know not everyone likes Hallmark movies. So if you don’t like cheesy holiday cheer, this isn’t the blog for you. If you’re one of the people who likes Hallmark’s holiday classics (or someone who doesn’t publicly share their Hallmark fandom) you’re going to want to keep reading.

Now, before I continue with this article, I fully acknowledge that Hallmark movies are not Oscar-worthy films. Almost all of them feature over-the-top acting, quirky characters, overused clichés, and the same predictable plotlines. However, that formulized narrative is what makes them so appealing. “The human brain loves patterns and the predictability is cognitively rewarding,” explains Pamela Rutledge, Behavioral Scientist, Director of the Media Psychology Research Center and Media Psychology faculty at Fielding Graduate University. “Those predictable story arcs that draw on the standard patterns we recognize from fairytales offer comfort by presenting life as simple and moralistic…The movies provide simplistic solutions to all those stressors that the holidays can bring: family conflict, isolation or financial pressures.” 

That suspension of reality, as with any entertainment, is a form of escapism for viewers. So, while I may not inherit millions of dollars from a long-lost relative and move to a small town, and then proceed to save said small town from from financial difficulty, all the while meeting the love of my life during the Christmas season—I can reduce my stress level by getting lost in a fictional reality full of hopeful optimism.

While Hallmark is famous for its “Countdown to Christmas,” and Lifetime for “Its a Wonderful Lifetime,” many streaming platforms have also begun to produce holiday-themed films and mini-series that mirror Hallmark’s movie format. We all celebrate the holidays differently, and if Hallmark movies, or similar films, are part of your festivities—embrace and enjoy the cheesy cheerfulness. If not, make some hot chocolate, change the channel, and find another movie that will help you decompress.

If you prefer the page to the screen, try reading a book (or two) that Hallmark films are based upon this holiday season:

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. Her favorite Hallmark Movie is The Christmas Card.



References: Page, D. (2019, November 16). Here’s why it feels so good to watch those Hallmark holiday movies. NBC News. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from




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Last Modified: December 8, 2021

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