REVIEW: Why Hallmark's "Never Been Chris'd" Is Such a Flop

Home for the holidays, BFFs Naomi and Liz reconnect with high school crush, Chris Silver.  A complex love triangle forms, forcing them to take stock of their lives and find the value of friendship. Starring:  Janel Parrish, Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes, and Tyler Hynes Image:  Hallmark Media What Is Never Been Chris'd About? Chris Silver (Hynes) was the most popular guy in high school.  Like most girls, Liz (Lamothe-Kipnes) and Naomi (Parrish) both had crushes on him, but he never seemed to notice them. Whenever a lucky lady became Chris' girlfriend, she instantly catapulted into popularity.  Liz and Naomi dubbed this phenomenon being "Chris'd." The tables have turned.  Thanks to the innovative "Best Pals" app that Liz and Naomi have created, they are now local celebrities. The two are acknowledged by former classmates when they come home for Christmas and finally experience being the "cool kids."  Chris is a former marine and an English teacher at t

Review: Hallmark's "Christmas by Design" Proves Movies Based on Books Are Better

A fashion designer gets accepted into a Christmas challenge to create a new holiday-themed collection and not only finds the inspiration for her next line but decides to redesign her approach to what's most important in life.

Starring:  Rebecca Dalton and Jonathan Keltz

Christmas by Design
Image:  Hallmark Media

Christmas by Design is Based on the Novel Jingle Jammies by Robyn Neeley

Even if you crave Hallmark Christmas movies like Santa does cookies and milk, the recycled plot formulas become a scosh tedious, if you're honest. 

The solution?  Find stories outside of the Hallmark scriptwriting bubble.  

Every time Hallmark adapts a novel into a movie, it's unique, engaging, and has far more substance.  Need some examples?  Consider these book-to-movie projects:

There are MANY more books Hallmark has transformed into holly jolly romance movies, and Robyn Neeley's work, Jingle Jammies, is the latest.  The reworked title, Christmas by Design, premiered on Hallmark Channel on October 27, 2023, and proved to be as delightful as a peppermint mocha latte.

If you love the movie, you need to add the book to your TBR pile because it completely flips the script--you won't feel like you're reading a repeat of the movie. In the book, Charlie (not Charlotte) is a mechanic with dreams of moving to NYC after the holidays.  She meets Spencer when she saves him from a snowbank, and it's he who has creative block when it comes to designing new holiday pajamas.  The two form a partnership, like in the movie, where he helps with her never-ending to-do list, and she helps design his pajamas.

Who doesn't love pajamas, especially in the winter? The whole concept is gold because it's one-size-fits-all--a book and a movie about one of the coziest things ever invented!  

Things to Love About Christmas by Design 

One of my favorite relatable moments from the movie is when Charlotte can't stop herself from judging everyone's fashion sense as she encounters different people around the town.

Aren't we all like that to some degree?  If you're an English major, written and verbal grammatical errors are like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Engineers and the "techie" type marvel at how dumb people are who can't do math in their heads or figure out complicated computer issues without help.  Chefs pinpoint everything that's wrong with someone else's cooking.  If you are a talented seamstress, you notice bad stitching right away. Whatever you excel at, you hone in on the deficiency of others in that area--unless you're a saint.

The movie gives a ribbing to those of us who decorate early for Christmas.  Charlotte learns that Spencer is one of those "lunatics" who decorates by November 1.  I'm one of those lunatics too--how about you?

Sign me up for Elfcapades!  This is a new term, and it includes Pajamboree, Christmas bingo, and more.  Another great scene is when Charlotte ties with her ex-boyfriend, Evan, during bingo.  Evan is now the town mayor who has cut annual funding for the Elfcapades, and he's involved with another woman.  To break the tie, the first one to receive a kiss under the mistletoe will win the prize.  Spencer quickly rushes to Charlotte to kiss her before Evan's girlfriend can reach him, and it's such a chivalrous gesture to save Charlotte from the awkwardness with her ex.

Another grand gesture dripping with more sweetness than a sugar plum is when Spencer buys the old tow truck of Charlotte's dad and plans to restore it.  They find her dad's coveralls in the back, which becomes a source of inspiration.

The story also includes a moral.  Charlotte's business is her priority, and she never makes time for anyone, not even her family.  When her dad was sick, she didn't come home, and it's a regret that haunts her.  Her sister loves her but bluntly points out that if Charlotte doesn't change, she's going to end up alone.  The reality check helps Charlotte recalibrate her life choices, and, as you can expect, everything works out perfectly by the end.

Christmas by Design Casting

Rebecca Dalton is completely adorable, but I have been underwhelmed by her performance in such movies as A Dog Lover's Guide to Dating.  She comes across as cold and aloof in some of her movies.  In Christmas by Design, however, she finds her groove.  She brings her character to life and gives a sincere and charming performance.

I rarely like movies featuring Jonathan Keltz.  He seems dweeby, but with a chip on his shoulder, as if in real-life, he's a complete jerk.  It's an unfair assessment that is completely baseless.  Maybe he's the nicest guy on the planet.  He is wonderful in the role of mechanic Spencer Dobbs, so maybe he'll grow on me.  I love him as the blue-collar worker who is the small town's most eligible bachelor, yet who questions whether he's good enough for a big city girl.

Dalton and Keltz generate great chemistry and do justice to Neeley's novel.  

Now, let's go buy a new pair of Christmas jammies, get cozy, and watch more Hallmark movies!  
Christmas by Design
Image:  Hallmark Media


  1. I liked this 1 too. -Maria

  2. I want those Jammie’s Charlie designed. Know if Hallmark is making them?

  3. Loved this movie! Where can I get my set of coverall Jammie’s?


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