“12 Gifts of Christmas” premiered on Hallmark Channel on Nov. 26, 2015 as part of Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” holiday programming. The movie stars Katrina Law (“Spartacus,” “Snow Bride”), Aaron O’Connell and Donna Mills (“Knots Landing”).
Anna (Law) is an aspiring artist who is looking for her big break at the art galleries in New York. Struggling financially, she lives her sister Marie (Melanie Nelson), a busy restaurant owner, and babysits her nieces because she cannot pay rent. Anna happens to have the gift of finding thoughtful presents, so she decides to make money as a personal shopper.
Anna sees herself as a contemporary artist, but she paints Christmas scenes for fun. She paints a Santa Claus with eyes that seem to twinkle and places in on the fireplace mantle.
Anna is a regular at a friendly coffee shop where she has a chance encounter with a Marc (O’Connell), a handsome and successful businessman who is too busy with his advertising career to go Christmas shopping. Marc hires Anna to do his Christmas shopping and gives her his credit card and a shopping list. Her first assignment is to purchase a Smart Watch but Anna finds the stores are out so she improvises. Upset at what he sees as her failure to follow instructions, Marc fires her, only to rehire her when the gift turns out to be a big success with his college buddy.
Marc is impressed with Anna’s gifts, so he asks her to pick out gifts for his co-workers and staff. In order to give thoughtful gifts, Anna needs to know more about them, so Marc invites her to the office Christmas party where she can interview people covertly. Generous sister that she is, Marie takes Anna to Cartier to purchase an expensive cocktail dress to wear to the party. This is very realistic.
Anna makes a great impression at the party as she makes conversation with the staff. After the party, Anna suggests that the best gift for everyone would be a week of paid time off between Christmas a the New Year. Extra holiday time off is a smashing success, as well as an exceptionally generous holiday gift. It is surprising that the company management did not think of this themselves.
Next, Marc hires Anna to purchase Christmas gifts for his family. He usually does not make time to visit his family, even though they live in within driving distance in Long Island and he has a car. Of course, Anna needs to meet his family so he takes her to a skating rink to meet his sister and nephews.
Anna hits it off so well with his family that he invites her to dinner at his parent’s lavish mansion. Marie has a big party at the restaurant and Anna is supposed to babysit, so Marc invites them to join the dinner. His mother Joyce (Mills) is charmed by Anna and apparently thinks she would be a terrific daughter in law. Things are moving along pretty fast and everyone loves each other.
On the basis of her one rather insecure job, Anna decides it is time to rent her own apartment, even though her sister’s basement appears to be spacious and comfortable. In the meantime, she is staying at Marie’s through the holidays.
Marc is having difficulty with a client who wants a personal and warm ad campaign for next Christmas. Marc’s suggestions are too slick and focused upon selling. Given one more chance to make a suggestion, Marc has a brainstorm and borrows Anna’s Santa Claus painting to use as the basis for a cozy campaign. Unfortunately, he recruits Marie to procure the painting and neither of them asks for Anna’s permission.
The ad campaign proposal is a huge success and Marc presents Anna with a lucrative contract. Instead of being pleased and grateful for her unexpected commercial success, Anna is furious that he used the painting without permission. Plus, she wants to be a serious contemporary artist and this would sully her reputation. She is so silly and over dramatic.
Christmas Day arrives and Anna is mad at Marc and Marie. Can everybody apologize and get in the spirit of Christmas?