Christmas Made to Order
Alexa PenaVega - Gretchen Jonathan Bennett - Steven
Basic Plot – Workaholic Steven hires Gretchen as a decorator, fun Christmas activities ensue, and both learn to follow their dreams.
The movie opens with Gretchen surveying her work decorating the lobby of a large multi-storied office complex for Christmas. She looks super satisfied with the results, however, if I were paying her salary I would not be quite as satisfied. First of all, if you look behind her, you’ll notice that she has completely obliterated the office directory with a giant decorated Christmas tree. This should be great for business.
Also, as the camera pans around the space we see that she has crammed the entire lobby with nine Christmas trees, six large outdoor yard decorations, two full sized light-up reindeer and an ludicrous amount of fake snow. At this point, unless you jump from reindeer to reindeer, there now remains just enough walking space for exactly one person to enter and exit the office complex at a time. I’m pretty sure this will also be bad for all those businesses whose names are hidden under that giant tree, but what do I know?
Also, Gretchen has completely blocked the two doors on either side of the lobby with her decorations. Although I very much hope these doors are not necessary for entrance or egress into this building, sadly, in my experience, doors usually are.
Gee, this movie looks like it is going to be really good.
Now we see Tim, the security guard, giving her a thumbs up on the decorations and telling her “Looks great Gretchen!”
I am going to assume he is really happy about what she has done, because less people in the building means less crime for him to deal with.
Next, we cut to Steven, an architect who doesn’t “do” Christmas, (this is unfortunate since he works in an office where fully decorated Christmas trees pop up about every four feet). I also notice that Steven looks perpetually surprised which may be due in part to his cartoonishly darkened and enhanced eyebrows.
Next, we see Gretchen walking through the halls of her workplace and, go figure, the exact same Christmas trees are lined up along the wall every four feet or so. (Almost like the ones from Steven’s office were dragged over to this set!)
FYI we are in fourth scene of the movie and I have counted 27 Christmas trees so far. Holy Snowballs, is Santa an executive producer on this movie?
Now we meet Gretchen’s blonde-haired co-worker, whose name I don’t remember. It is unimportant anyway since the only purpose of this character is to ask Gretchen questions so that she will,
a) explain her job to us
b) let us know her big dream
Oh dear, I am confused after her explanation. Apparently, Gretchen works part time here, (not sure what “here” is yet), so that she has time for her other gig of freelance decorating which is really what she wants to do full time. I believe Gretchen wants to be some kind of “holiday decorator” which is a profession I have never heard of. Honestly, Hallmark I just want to watch a movie and I really don’t like to start it out with a math problem.
Next, her boss comes over to give her some instructions on two new decorating jobs. As he leaves Gretchen looks dissatisfied and then tells us that she wishes for “complete creative control” in her projects.
Gretchen please stop giving me math problems to solve! Now I guess I am supposed to figure out what type of dream job would ever give a decorator “complete creative control” since typically you’re getting paid by someone else that is not you. And how is going out and doing jobs on your own going to be any different from what you are doing now? I don’t think Gretchen understands the business-client relationship at all, (or how to decorate for that matter).
Gretchen first encounters Steven in the lobby of his office. Where, as he is exiting the elevator, she turns and accidentally throws a bucket of fake snow over him. Since they offend each other immediately after that and go their separate ways, I am not going to define this as a “meet cute.”
Summary of their first meeting:
Steven's opinion is that the lobby is over-decorated, (ya’ think?), however, why he is talking to a DECORATOR about how he doesn’t like decorations I do not know - apparently, Steven has the social intelligence of a third grader.
However, Gretchen doesn’t come across much better. You tell me, if someone throws an entire bucket of fake snow all over you and then says, “I thought you could use the holiday cheer,” would you consider them a klutz, an a**hole, or both?
Not cool Gretchen.
HAHAHAHAHA! Steven needs to host his entire family for Christmas at the last minute, so he is going to ask Gretchen to decorate his house inside and out. HAHAHAHA! This should be good…dude you better give her your platinum visa card and plant a flag in your couch so you can find it after she’s through. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
In the next scene, Gretchen is standing with a co-worker in the hallway of the decorating firm she works at part time and they have just finished putting the finishing touches on a gingerbread house on display there. The two are chatting about something which I totally miss since all I can do right now is wonder what kind of job pays its employees to build gingerbread houses.
Furthermore, I sincerely hope they never bring any clients here since the entire office looks like Suzy homemaker decorated it using a garage sale Christmas theme. Every shot where I see a rando poinsettia or giant red bow scotch-taped to the middle of a bare white wall I want to hurl.
Steven calls Gretchen and hires her. He invites her over to his house where he continues to text on his phone while she is talking about her decorating ideas.
Translation: Zero sparks between these two.
A few arbitrary observations over the next few scenes:
Hey Gretchen, smart decorators don’t climb ladders in heeled boots. Also, ever heard of a ponytail?
Gretchen’s decorating of his place is very homey, and by homey, I mean not like a professional did it.
She literally gift wraps the TV hanging over the mantle like a present. Gretchen, just because you can touch it doesn’t mean you should wrap it.
It looks like she just threw Christmas crap everywhere there was space.
If you freeze-frame Steven’s face his eyebrows look like they have been painted on like a Ken doll
BTW don’t freeze frame Steven’s face
The moment Steven’s family enters his home, they start to demand things:
Steven’s Mom: “Where do I put the presents? I don’t see a tree!”
Steven answers they do not have one yet – however he must be pretty forgetful as one second later he passes a fully decorated tree in the hallway. Also, about three seconds after that we see ANOTHER fully decorated tree in his study.
Dad’s question: What is there to eat, I’m starving!
Steven does not answer this question, which is about what it deserves.
Niece’s Question: What is there to do in Salt Lake?
Hilarious question from a teenager since they should never ask an adult this and expect an answer they want. But here’s an answer…. Google it.
Steven freaks out from all their three questions and quickly makes a deal with Gretchen. In exchange for a job recommendation she will become his “Christmas coordinator” which is yet another made-up profession.
Good grief, all these fake jobs are killing me. How much you want to bet we are going to find out that Steven’s sister is a unicorn salesperson and his Dad eats cereal for a living?
Gretchen decides to take them all out the next day to buy yet another Christmas tree for the house.
Then the family guilts Steven into joining them even though he tells them he will have to work extra late that night to do it. You know, I may just be spit balling here, but I’m pretty sure Steven’s family are kind of a bunch of a**holes.
At the tree farm, Gretchen instructs them in how to pick a good Christmas tree and then sets them loose. Have none of them ever picked a tree before? Isn’t it pretty obvious that you don’t want one with brown needles? Isn’t Christmas tree picking usually done by elementary age children?
I assume that either the Christmas tree farm did not meet Gretchen’s exacting yet mediocre standards, or they all failed her tree picking assignment since the next scene has them lugging an obviously artificial tree into the house.
Side Note: Yet another poor decision by a Hallmark set director who could have maintained continuity simply by using a real tree, but instead just thought, “whatever, no one will notice.”
They continue with the holiday traditions like making mulled cider and decorating cookies and blah, blah, blah.
Mulled Cider Reveal: Steven joins the family and he and Gretchen have a moment alone – just long enough for her to reveal that she is single and an orphan. Oh, and did she mention she’s single?
During a scene where the family is together decorating cookies, Steven gets a call from “WORK” on his phone which begs the question, “Do people really use generalized descriptors like WORK or FRIEND or BOSS in their cell phone contacts?” Hmmm, I don’t think so.
Back at the office Steve is running into problems. Oh dear, the “Big Client” did not like his presentation! When the client is pressed for what he would like he says, “It’s difficult for me to describe exactly what we want.”
Translation: Steven is super screwed.
“Near miss kiss” occurs!☑️
Mom and Steven discuss Gretchen and how he feels about her. He says he feels weird asking her out because of their business relationship, (an incredibly valid point).
Mom’s response: “Go for it. Give love a shot,” which tells us that she will be suggesting he use the “hopeless romantic” defense when he is sued for workplace harassment.
Steven and Gretchen go for a walk outside and they share a romantic moment that somehow inspires Stephen. We know this because we next see him looking inspired and drawing lots of lines with his pencil just like the director told him to.
See this blank white spot?
Watch me fill it with lines!
Steven and his niece decorate Gretchen’s apartment for her. Although they are not professional holiday decorators, and I think they crammed ten Christmas trees into her tiny apartment, it looks a thousand times better than his house.
Steven nails the presentation with the “Big Client!” Apparently, he changed a rectangle to a half-circle and this is exactly what the client wanted-that-he-didn’t-know-he-wanted! Wow, Steven is going to make partner for sure!
Next, Steven makes good on his promise to Gretchen and sets up an interview with his boss. Astoundingly, Gretchen is actually offered the made-up job of in-house decorator for the firm. This job does not even exist anywhere, and she gets it. What luck! But hold everything…when she finds out she can’t have “complete creative control” she turns down the position.
Steven feels bad and offers to double her pay which makes her angry and I can totally see why. I mean, what does Steven think he is doing? Offering her a holiday gig, getting her a kick-ass job offer, decorating her apartment, doubling her pay.…what an inconsiderate douchebag.
However, Gretchen’s crazy does provide us with the mild to moderate misunderstanding that will get us one step closer to an ending so there is that. Oh, and then they both quit their steady jobs to follow their dreams. Yeah, you heard me right…THEY QUIT THEIR JOBS.
Wow, these two are as dumb as a box of rocks. Good luck finding your “dream job” when you haven’t even lined up any “dream interviews”. Although in Gretchen case, since her “dream job” is a figment of her imagination, maybe she’ll nail the interview tonight while she’s sleeping.
Gretchen goes to her aunt’s house and finds out that all of Steven’s family including Steven have been invited for a pot-luck dinner. Steven and Gretchen make up and giggle a bit and kiss, then walk upstairs past 4 Christmas trees and a weird giant stuffed Christmas moose, to join the rest of the family. Dinner consists of a pie, Christmas cookies, a salad, rolls, and a centerpiece of fake roses in a planter covered in tin foil. Yum!
FYI They have known each other for 2 weeks
● I learned how “not” to decorate for Christmas
● Lack of chemistry between the two leads
Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Christmas Made To Order” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel
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