6 Christmas Special Tropes That Need to DIE
1. Stories in which Santa exists, yet people stop believing in him as a matter of course.
Let's face it, people. If Santa really existed as described, there would be little to no doubt that he exists simply because of the otherwise-inexplicable presents that showed up every Christmas. Any teen or young adult who stopped believing would likely believe once again when they had their own child and mysterious presents started showing up. There might be a few outliers who decided that the presents were some sort of government conspiracy or were beamed in by aliens, but other than that, the existence of Santa Claus would be almost universally-accepted.
2. Plots of which the resolution hinges on the belief of one person.
Really, that's all that needs to be said.
3. Christmas = Snow
Without fail, snow WILL happen on December 25th, usually in the form of a fresh blanket delivered the night before. Even films set in locations that typically don't get much snow (eg, southern California or Florida) there will still be snow, usually courtesy of Santa's magical Christmas powers. Now, I love snow as much as anyone, but the implication that a Christmas without snow is a lesser Christmas is a gift-wrapped insult to those in warm climates and those who live below the equator.
4. Half-hearted attempts to recapture Rankin-Bass's glory days
There have been a couple of poorly-made sequels to a couple of Rankin-Bass holiday specials. One was Rudolph & The Island of Misfit Toys, a cartoon with CGI so cheap and bad that in one shot an elf's fingers actually came out through the cymbal he was holding. Another was A Miser Brother's Christmas, which was actually stop-motion, but had what was possibly the most childish and condescending plot ever.
The fact is, most of Rankin-Bass's fans are adults now, and have been for over thirty years now. Rankin-Bass was smart enough to realize their audience was growing up when they released special such as Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July all the way back in '79. However, Warner Brothers is apparently too dense to catch on to this, releasing things that might entertain people ages 12 and under.
Another Christmas special tried to use Rankin-Bass's classic "origin of a popular Christmas song" format, but it was drowned in enough saccharine to choke a polar bear.
5. Yet Another Watered-Down & Mutilated Nutcracker
The Nutcracker has gone beyond being a holiday tradition and right to holiday cliche. What's more, most attempts to create some kind of Nutcracker story are just mangled adaptations of the ballet, which in turn was a mangled adaptation of a story by Alexandre Dumas, which in turn was a mangled adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's original dark fairytale.
The perfect Nutcracker story would go straight to the source. Its style would be somewhere between Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki. Think Coraline meets Toy Story meets Little Nemo and you're halfway there.
6. Stories in which Christmas MUST BE SAVED!!!
Seriously, people, this one is so overdone, and quite frankly... it's just absurd. Especially when "saving Christmas" involves getting Santa back in his sleigh delivering presents. Think about it - what would happen if Santa disappeared from the face of the planet? It would be exactly like the real world. Really, that's not much to get worked up over. There are other and better ways to generate holiday drama. I suggest you look for them.