There's no escaping awkward family encounters at Christmas time, so you might as well embrace them.
Attempting to avoid the drama and arguments at her family's Christmas party, Liz stays back in New York to spend the day with Jack and his family. But as the Donaghy Christmas dinner devolves into a airing of grievances and competitive arguing, Liz learns that family tension is as much a part of the holidays as "Jingle Bells" and mistletoe, and hops a train to visit her loved ones. If you're going to argue with somebody, it might as well be with your own, and it might as well be at Christmas time.
The true meaning of Christmas is family...of all kinds.
Abed has a psychological breakdown that turns himself and his Greendale friends into Claymation characters reminiscent of the classic holiday TV specials. He becomes obsessed with finding the true meaning of Christmas, and, worried for his mental health, the crew plays along for the journey. When it becomes clear that Abed's Christmas crisis was triggered by his mother's desire to spend the holiday with her "new" family, it becomes clear to Abed—and his friends—that Christmas is meant to bring family together, but that family may not necessarily be your blood.
Acts of kindness are greater gifts than the year's hottest toy.
Jimmy spent his childhood watching his father operate a black market for each Christmas' hottest toy, while he ended up with lame, cheap gifts. Determined for his own newborn daughter to actually get the popular gift for once, Jimmy saves money and jumps through hoops to make sure it happens. At the same time, Jimmy's mother's one wish is for her new granddaughter to play baby Jesus in the Living Nativity. When no one shows up, Jimmy uses the doll he had paid so much for to bribe a crowd to watch his mother's show.
It comes without ribbons! It comes without tags! It comes without packages, boxes, or bags!
Sue Sylvester pulls a Grinch and steals Christmas: all the Secret Santa gifts, all of New Directions' decorations, all the packages. But when the glee club rallies to continue raising money for a holiday charity—by singing of course—Sue sees that their holiday spirit wasn't rooted in the pomp and circumstance of the holiday, but in the kids' desire to spread the season's cheer.
Thoughtful gifts are the best ones.
Anyone who's watched The Office over the past six years has been charmed by Everyman Jim's adorable talent for thinking of thoughtful Christmas gifts. Now that she's married to him, Pam wants to return Jim the favor. She nervously asks her co-workers' opinions about the comic book she spent a year creating for Jim, The Adventures of Jimmy Halpert, and gets nervous when they think she crafted the gift because she was poor or had no better ideas. But they were wrong; when Jim opens the comic, the way his face lights up is an aww moment for the ages.
No use in simplifying Christmas—just make sure you have extra storage space.
While digging around the basement for boxes of Christmas decorations, Frankie and Mike Heck discover all the "have to have" gifts they bought for the children the previous year thrown amongst the boxes, still unopened. Worried that they don't appreciate the true meaning of the holiday, Frankie declares a Simple Christmas, where gifts, decorations, and celebration will be scaled down and family time and thoughtfulness increased. But when the grandparents arrive and spoil the kids rotten anyway—and the kids actually bond over their loot—Frankie learns that the holiday has a special power to bond families, even if it isn't simple.
Behave yourself at your office party.
The staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may have been partaking in holiday libations in the '60s, but the cautionary tale of their Christmas party is still relevant today. Roger's is forced to bury his disgust when a client gets too drunk, Don forgets his keys on the way home, and his secretary looses inhibition and sleeps with him—and spends the next several episodes spiraling towards a breakdown. The lesson here: go easy on the egg nog.