Five holiday things our A&E writers are loving this week

Head into the holiday season with a plate of cookies, festive music and a couple of unconventional Christmas movies.

by A&E Staff

From annual baking endeavors to watching a series of cheesy Hallmark movies, holiday traditions run far and wide. Consider switching yours up with A&E’s holiday-centric recommendations for the week.

Eric Kim’s M&M Cookies: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite recipe developer and cooking columnist in at least one of my picks of the week. Every recipe Eric Kim develops contains intentional steps, thoughtful directions and instructions that are simultaneously easy to follow and simple to achieve — not to mention a thought provoking narrative behind every delicious dish he creates. For the New York Times’ holiday cookie extravaganza, he developed this Chewy M&M Cookie recipe. With a fairly simple ingredient list and minimal kitchen tools required, a chewy, just-sweet-enough cookie with a smattering of chopped M&M’s comes to life in your oven. It’s a treat even Santa would be giddy to eat. -Nina Raemont

Tangerine, dir. Sean Baker: This 2015 movie, shot entirely on three iPhone 5S cameras, centers two sex workers seeking revenge on one’s cheating boyfriend/pimp. Since the plot takes place entirely on Christmas Eve, it therefore counts as my favorite holiday season movie. Following different Los Angeles subcultures, mainly an Armenian family and the main pair of Black transgender best friends, “Tangerine” goes on a wild and raunchy spin through the hazy city, culminating emotionally in friendship rather than family or romance. With Sean Baker’s newest film, “Red Rocket,” hitting theatres this month and Christmas music crowding the airwaves, now’s the perfect time to throw your holiday media diet a little off kilter with “Tangerine.” -James Schaak

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” Soundtrack: It may not be a Mariah Carey chart-topper, but the soundtrack to this classic Christmas special is high in the rankings of my favorite holiday music. The smooth jazz of the Vince Guaraldi Trio is perfect to put on in the background while you cook, bake cookies, do homework or visit with loved ones at a holiday gathering. Each track wraps the listener in a warm blanket of nostalgia, embodying the feeling of sitting in front of a cozy fireplace and watching the snowfall. “Christmas Time Is Here – Instrumental” is my personal favorite, a peaceful and familiar ode to the holiday season and all of the joy it encompasses. If you’re already growing tired of the overplayed Christmas pop hits, give this soundtrack a spin. -Macy Harder

“Last Christmas” by Wham!: If you’re a routine participant in Whamageddon, keep scrolling. “Last Christmas” is my favorite holiday song and I have absolutely no shame in admitting that during the month of December, you’d be hard pressed to find me listening to anything else on loop. It’s a song that’s stood the test of time as the best-selling single in the UK not to hit the top for 36 years — something that changed only in the first week of 2021, when it finally topped the charts. Countless covers of the crooning melody exist, with everyone from Taylor Swift to Arlo Parks putting their own spin on it. It’s more than an ode to Christmas past — it’s a soaring break-up ballad that’ll leave you pining after a foregone relationship and reaching for an extra cup of mulled wine. -Sophia Zimmerman

“Die Hard”: This 1988 classic action/thriller film is an unconventional Christmas movie and offers a ton of fun action sequences, earnest profanity and 1980s cinematic violence. The violence in this film and chiseled, lead white male action hero archetype mimics other 1980s films such as “Predator,” “The Terminator,” “Rambo,” “RoboCop” and “Bloodsport,” which regardless of their good or bad plot devices, are entertaining to say the least. This film is always a fun watch for the family because it takes place during the holidays and, despite all of its profanity and death scenes, at its core it’s about family. This 30-year old classic should be on everyone’s Christmas list because it’s ageless. -Jarrett George-Ballard