REVIEW: The Hallmark Sequel "Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up" Is as Silly as the First One

Emily and Jared are looking forward to celebrating the holidays together as a couple, and they prepare to work with their neighbors on Evergreen Lane to make this year's Christmas celebrations the best yet.  When a house on the block goes up for sale, the soon-to-be-neighbors are holiday royalty, but they are so competitive that they nearly ruin Christmas for everyone. Starring:   Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ellen Travolta, Melissa Peterman, Seth Morris, and Jennifer Aspen Image:  Hallmark Media Haul Out the Holly:  Lit Up Has a Moral When the residents of Evergreen Lane learn that their new neighbors are the Jolly Johnsons--famous holiday reality stars--they are thrilled to welcome them to the block.  Everyone assumes the Johnsons will fit right in since they share their same affinity for elf culture. Emily, Jared, and the rest of the holiday crew quickly realize that the Johnsons aren't interested in joining in on the fun--they plan to take over. Image:  Tw

Review: "Ms. Christmas Comes to Town" Is Sad but Poignant

A shopping channel host known as Ms. Christmas receives a terminal diagnosis, which inspires a multi-city excursion set to spread Christmas cheer before her farewell broadcast.

Starring:  Erica Durance, Brennan Elliott, and Barabara Niven 

Ms. Christmas Comes to Town

Image:  Hallmark Media

Barbara Niven Delivers Top-Notch Performance

Move over, Santa, because MS. CHRISTMAS is coming to town!

Barbara Niven is stellar in her role of Gale Storm--the woman who, for 24 years, has been selling merchandise every holiday season on HSC (Holiday Shopping Channel).

Ms. Christmas oozes more sweetness than a hot chocolate bomb, even when she receives bad news about her declining health.

While many of us might be tempted to wallow in despair following a terminal diagnosis, Ms. Christmas decides to focus on making it the best year yet for her loyal viewers by taking her show on the road.  Think of that--using time wisely to do good deeds in the time you have left.  If only we approached everyday life with this kind of attitude!

Elizabeth, the HSC executive, insists that Ms. Christmas travel with a nurse.  The problem is that Gale doesn't want her protégé, Amanda (Durance), to know of her condition until after Christmas.  Amanda is like a daughter to her and telling her the news will make the situation feel too "real" for Gale--she's just not ready.

As if she's not conflicted enough, an old flame from her past, James (Mark Brandon), tries to rekindle their romance.  Gale still loves him but rebuffs his advances without explaining why her circumstances make a relationship impossible.

Niven makes age 70 seem like the new 50.  She shines in the role of Ms. Christmas, and many fans have remarked that it's nice to see older couples finding love.  

  • She has been married and divorced three times.
  • She suffered from bulimia for 30 years (ages 15-45).
  • She has one daughter and three grandchildren.
  • In addition to being an actress, she is also a motivational speaker, media trainer, and animal rights activist. 

Romance Between Durance & Elliott Takes a Back Seat

Hallmark changes up the formula when it comes to the romance in Ms. Christmas Comes to Town.

Since the movie centers on Ms. Christmas, her retirement and grand farewell, her cancer, and her second chance at love, the love story between Amanda and Travis doesn't dominate the storyline as it typically would.  Yet, the script is so well-written by Brook Durham that fans don't feel short-changed. 

Travis (Elliott), hired to be Gale's nurse, pretends to be the network's eyes and ears while staying mum about the real reason he has joined the tour.  Travis isn't comfortable with the lack of transparency, but he agrees to Gale's request, especially since it means he'll be working closely with Amanda, whom he finds quite charming.

When Amanda learns the truth about Gale's reason for retiring, Hallmark handles it a little differently this time.  The viewer expects Amanda to have an argument with Travis for deceiving her, but instead, she focuses her ire on Gale.  After having time to process the devastating news, however, the rift is quickly healed.

Do You Find the Subject Matter Too Heavy?

Many fans say Ms. Christmas Comes to Town is their favorite new Hallmark movie in 2023.  Others say the movie is good, but they prefer stories that are merry and hopeful, and this one is too much of a downer for what should be a jolly season.

What do you think?  Share your opinion by taking the poll below:
Hallmark attempts to lighten the mood by baking humor into the script.  Amanda is introduced to fans as "Miss Holiday," and Travis participates as "Mr. Winters."  The two of them tag team perfectly and indicate that future shows will feature them both.  Between making corny donut puns and competing to impress Gale with their cookie baking and decorating skills, there are plenty light-hearted moments that will make you smile.

My Christmas Tree Rating

You might need Kleenexes nearby when watching Ms. Christmas Comes to Town, but a story that can move you is a good story.

I'm giving Ms. Christmas Comes to Town four Christmas trees.


  1. I loved this 1 too! Heavier matter is okay, just as long some joy or hope is included as well. -Maria


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