Seen a Hallmark holiday special yet? Turned on the radio to hear a Christmas song intended to pull on your heartstrings? Seen the covers of Christian novellas with titles like “Little Julie’s Gift” or “A Christmas Miracle” or “Members of a Small, Steepled Church, Including a Disillusioned Pastor, a Rebellious Teenager, and a Busy Mom With Wrong Priorities, Come Together to Bring Christmas to an Injured Child Whose Father is in Prison”?
Writers out there, take note: sentimental sells during the holiday season. In case you need a guide on how to capitalize on this, here’s a handy scorecard to see how sappy you can possibly make a piece of Christmas entertainment.
Does it feature a child?: If yes, +10. If no, it’s not a sappy Christmas movie/song/book. Try again.
Does this child believe in Santa or God despite the cynicism of adults around him/her? +25 (+10 bonus if this change only comes at the end of the movie/song/book)
If you flinched at the association of Santa and God above, good for you. No points, though.
Has this child recently lost a parent, or is this child critically ill? +25
Does this child die? +200
Does someone cry? (Tears of sadness: +10, Tears of happiness: +20, Tears of happiness that could be mistaken as tears of sadness or vice versa: +50)
Is there a gift that expresses profound symbolism? +20
Is there a scene/line where unexpected snow features significantly? +10
Do the characters look up at the snow with expressions of joy and wonder? +5 per person
Does someone express a disbelieving sentiment such as “Well I’ll be”? +10 per comment
Does the line “Merry Christmas” or some form of it end a critical scene? +10
Is one of the characters opposed to Christmas? If so…
Is this character on a personal quest to cancel or get rid of some feature of the holiday (or the entire holiday)? +10
Is this character an embittered older person who will probably have a change of heart? +30
Are there any cute pets? +10 per cat, dog, bunny, reindeer, monkey, or baby hedgehog (no points for snakes or lizards)
Are angels referenced or pictured? +15 if said angel is robed and carrying a harp. -100 if it has six wings, carries a sword, and/or is covered with eyes.
+5 for any of the following:
Mention of peace on earth?
Word “miracle” used?
Someone looks up and says, “Thanks”?
Bells (church or jingle)?
Boys’ choir singing?