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No TV show does the holidays better than Friends. From Ross and Monica’s performance of “The Routine” on New Year’s Eve to Joey and Chandler’s gift of toilet seat covers and condoms for Christmas, Friends holiday episodes always find a way to capture the festive (and hilarious) spirit of the holiday season. But which of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey’s holiday specials is the best? Well, we did the research for your binge-watching convenience.
In total, there are 11 Friends episodes that could be considered holiday-themed. (Season 10, unfortunately, only has a Thanksgiving episode, but seasons 5 and 7 have double the holiday fun.) Like Friends‘ Thanksgiving episodes, each holiday special has its own ridiculous antics that makes it iconic in the sitcom’s 200-plus-episode filmography. Some of our favorite holiday picks may be controversial (not as controversial as Joey and Rachel but close!), while others are easily agreed on. (Come on, who doesn’t find Ross’ leather pants fiasco funny?)
In honor of the holiday season, we ranked Friends‘ 11 Christmas and New Year episodes from favorite to least favorite. There is no worst Friends episode (though the shark porn one was questionable…), but, like every show, there are episodes that are better than others. And thus, we present our ranking of Friends holiday episodes.
Season 7, Episode 10: “The One With the Holiday Armadillo”
No Friends holiday binge is complete without the Holiday Armadillo. This season 7 episode, which is arguably the most memorable Friends holiday episode, follows Ross as he tries to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah and his half-Jewish background. In his attempt to do so, he rents an armadillo costume and dubs himself the Holiday Armadillo. His plan is almost ruined by Chandler, who comes in as Santa. Joey also shows up as Superman, which led to Rachel’s iconic quote: “Wow, it looks like the Easter Bunny’s funeral in here.”
Season 6, Episode 10: “The One With the Routine”
Ah, “The Routine.” This episode centers on Monica and Ross, who are invited to be background dancers on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve special, which films a couple weeks before the actual New Year. Desperate for more camera time, the siblings decide to perform “The Routine,” a ridiculous dance number they were famous for as teens. The minute-long dance scene is reason enough to rank this episode as our second favorite Friends holiday special.
Season 5, Episode 11: “The One With All The Resolutions”
“The One With All the Resolutions” starts with Monica and Chandler asking Joey to convince the rest of the Friends to kiss each other on New Year’s so the secret couple could have a private smooch. The episode continues with the Friends deciding on New Year’s resolutions: Rachel’s is to gossip less, Chandler’s is to make less jokes about his Friends and Ross’ is to try something new every day, which leads him to leather pants…Long story short, Ross gets hot in his leather pants, but when he tries to take them off, he realizes that they’re stuck to his body. Baby powder and lotion later, and he discovers that he’s in quite a predicament. Oh, and he’s in his date’s bathroom while all of this is happening.
Season 8, Episode 11: “The One With Ross’ Step Forward”
This episode of classic Ross. The main holiday-themed comedy of this episode is between Ross and his girlfriend Mona, who suggests that the couple send a holiday card together. Ross, scared of moving too fast, tells Mona this, who asks him where they are in their relationship. The rest of the episode plays out with Ross hilariously dodging Mona’s question.
Season 4, Episode 10: “The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie”
The most iconic moment from “The One With the Girl From Poughkeepsie” happens in the episode’s final moment when Phoebe, who’s struggling to write a holiday song for the entire episode, finally comes up with a jingle. The song impresses most of the Friends, aside from Chandler who Phoebe can’t find a rhyme for. Here’s how it goes: “Went to the store. Sat on Santa’s lap. Asked him to bring my friends All kinds of crap. He said all you need is to write them a song. They haven’t heard it, so don’t try to sing along, so don’t sing along…Monica, Monica, have a Happy Hanukkah. Saw Santa Clause, he said ‘hello’ to Ross. And please tell Joey, Christmas will be snowyyyyyyy. And Rachel and Chandler, blakdndjangleeeerrrrr.”
Season 5, Episode 10: “The One With The Inappropriate Sister”
The key holiday scenes in this episode are when Phoebe tries to raise money for the Salvation Army by asking for donations outside of a department store. She starts off sweet until she’s (literally) burned by passersby. (Long story short, a random person throws a cigarette into her money bucket, which goes up in flames. When Phoebe tries to extinguish it, she tosses in another person’s cup, only to find out that it was full of alcohol.) In the end, Phoebe becomes so ruthless that the department store has to replace her.
Season 2, Episode 9: “The One With Phoebe’s Dad”
There are tons of festive moments in this episode (Monica and Rachel trying to throw a holiday party but the heat breaks; Phoebe trying to make amends with her father before Christmas), but the best holiday antic in the episode is when Chandler and Joey give their friends objects they “found” as Christmas presents. What do these gifts include? Well, toilet seat covers, air fresheners and condoms are some.
Season 3, Episode 10: “The One Where Rachel Quits”
Most of this episode follows Ross, who breaks a girl scout’s leg and agrees to help her sell cookies to send her to space camp. But the best holiday scenes from the special involve Phoebe and Joey, who takes a job selling Christmas trees. When Phoebe visits Joey at work, she notices that some of the smaller, less green Christmas trees aren’t being sold. After she finds out that turned into saw dust, she becomes really upset. The episode ends with Joey taking home all the “reject” Christmas trees and surprising Phoebe with them.
Season 1, Episode 10: “The One With The Monkey”
Friends‘ first holiday episode follows the gang as they make a pact to not have dates on New Year’s Eve. Of course, all of them (except for Ross, who brings a monkey to Monica’s New Year’s party instead) break the pact and get dates. The episode is OK. It’s not as funny as other holiday specials, but it did introduce audiences to the gift that is Janice.
Season 7, Episode 9: “The One With All The Candy”
This episode centers on Monica, who finds herself stressed and overworked after she makes holiday candy for her apartment building and they demand more. Eventually, Chandler steps in to defend his wife as more and more people line up outside the couple’s apartment for candy. The episode also includes Ross giving Phoebe a bike after learning that she had lackluster Christmases as a child.
Season 9, Episode 10: “The One With Christmas In Tulsa”
“The One With Christmas in Tulsa” was a clip show, which means that it mostly consisted flashbacks of previous holiday episodes. The original scenes in the episode involved Chandler, who has to stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma, because of work. His coworker, played by Selma Blair, tries to flirt with him, and it’s uncomfortable to say the least for Monica and Chandler shippers out there.