For many of us, the Yuletide season consists of bouncing from one department store to the next in search of a perfect gift while sipping on a peppermint-flavored hot chocolate. And yet, others would rather gather underneath a snuggly blanket and adhere to an abundance of television content — especially animated classics from Nickelodeon.
For a large majority of us, these particular Nickelodeon animated Christmas specials were the backbone of our childhoods, playing in the background as we opened presents from Santa and scarfed down some holiday-inspired cookies. As a result, most of these Christmas specials are undoubtedly nostalgic and make our hearts melt each year due to that comfortable feeling of being a kid with virtually zero responsibilities.
So, grab yourself a tall mug of delicious eggnog, unpack those vibrant childhood memories, and follow along as we reveal the best animated Nickelodeon Christmas episodes to enjoy this holiday season.
Invader Zim — “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever”
Any singular soul out there who has seen Invader Zim at one point or another understands how wacky the series truly is. So, it should hardly come as a surprise that the Christmas special is just as zany and over-the-top as the rest. Once Zim figures out who Santa is and discovers everybody loves him, he kidnaps and drains the brain and knowledge of Santa Claus and disguises himself as one, causing complete chaos in the process. It’s out-of-this-world and hilariously full of nostalgia, but that’s surely to be expected with this show.
My Life as a Teenage Robot — “Robot for All Seasons”
Despite only lasting for 3 seasons, My Life as a Teenage Robot is certainly one of the best shows Nickelodeon has ever crafted. Moreover, its Christmas episode packs a dark, nostalgic punch and takes us through a trip down memory lane. When Jenny is programmed to become evil to destroy the holidays, she does absolutely everything in her power to make herself good again and save the most favorable holiday of the year. It’s not the most popular of the bunch, but it definitely harbors that familiar nostalgia.
The Ren & Stimpy Show — “Son of Stimpy”
I don’t know about you, but The Ren & Stimpy Show remains a vital part of my childhood — if for the simple fact that the animated series was insanely wacky and hilariously entertaining. That being said, there’s likely no episode out there from the show wilder than its Christmas special — especially with this episode centering around Stimpy giving birth to a fart that he named Stinky. Eventually, Ren manages to help Stimpy and Stinky reunite in one of the most bizarre, yet somehow emotional moments in Nickelodeon animation. Hey, we never said nostalgia had to be good.
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius — “Holly Jolly Jimmy”
Seeing as the ever-popular show centers around a boy genius with a strong capability of creating inventions, it shouldn’t be a major surprise that this Christmas special revolves around Jimmy not accepting that a figure like Santa Claus could possibly exist. But through the help of his friend Carl and uncovering the true meaning and magic of Christmas, Jimmy believes that Santa presents a feel-good sensation of happiness and being a kid that makes people happy. It’s the perfect representation of how fun Christmas truly can be.
Doug — “Doug’s Christmas Story”
If I’m being completely honest here, Doug is undoubtedly the most underrated classic Nickelodeon series, and I will happily die on that hill. So you can surely imagine that its Christmas episode is just as underrated, presenting that indescribable nostalgic Christmas sensation that we all feel around the holiday season. When the time comes for Doug to protect Porkchop after he is accused of attacking someone, Doug remains faithful to his canine best friend and embodies what Christmas is all about.
Catdog — “A Very Catdog Christmas”
Catdog is another one of those Nickelodeon classics that doesn’t get enough love — but we’ll surely take care of that as we showcase the series’ shiny Christmas special. After discovering that Catdog “sold” themselves to be the “pet” of a spoiled daughter of a rich tycoon, Santa Claus cancels Christmas as retaliation, causing town-wide panic and devastation. However, Catdog’s antics somehow bring the entire community together in the end, giving us one of the most nostalgic episodes to fondly remember in adulthood.
SpongeBob SquarePants — “Christmas Who?”
Admittedly, I probably watched this episode way too much as a kid, but that’s to be expected with how popular SpongeBob was. Of course, the animated series has a handful of favorable Christmas episodes, but its first Christmas special certainly takes the cake. As SpongeBob and Patrick bring the joy and warmth of Christmas to Bikini Bottom, they’re shocked to learn that Squidward doesn’t believe in Santa nor care about Christmas — that is until Santa gives Squidward a visit in the end after he does some good deeds.
Rugrats — “The Santa Experience”
Rugrats is one of the greatest Nickelodeon classics of all time, so it makes perfect sense to include its best Christmas episode. With Angelica acting naughty and Chuckie being afraid of Santa Claus, the episode is jam-packed with entertainment. The brightest spot of the special happens when Santa shows up in the end and delivers presents to all the babies while they’re staying at a cabin in the mountains. This one always leaves me feeling completely nostalgic and a bit teary-eyed.
The Fairly Oddparents — “Christmas Every Day”
This particular Christmas special is heavily nostalgic for all of us, because as kids, who didn’t want Christmas to be every day? Well, this Yuletide episode perfectly dives in and explores that idea when Timmy wishes for Christmas to happen every day — resulting in a whirlwind of chaos and panic. In the end, Santa intervenes and Christmas goes back to normal, happening only once a year to maintain its magic. This one is undoubtedly worth the watch and features a catchy solo song in the beginning.
Hey Arnold! — “Arnold’s Christmas”
If you can watch this episode without getting choked up, then you’re surely a strong soldier. As Secret Santa commences at Arnold’s boarding house, Arnold is tasked with buying a gift for Mr. Hyunh, although he’s not entirely sure what to get him. But after hearing Mr. Hyunh’s troubled backstory with him being separated from his infant daughter, Arnold attempts to reunite the pair, with Helga ultimately being the one to make it happen as a quiet favor to Arnold. It’s the sweetest episode that deserves a watch this year.