There's no truer marker of the end of Spooky Szn and the start of the festive one than the deluge of Christmas adverts – that and Mariah Carey, obviously.
And 2023 isn't short of strong contenders. Lidl has released a tear-jerking advert worthy of rivalling John Lewis, while M&S have secured a star-studded line up for their festive campaign. Waitrose have thrown the ultimate Christmas party (complete with a guest appearance by Graham Norton) and, true to style, Disney's advert tugs on our heart strings.
Here's our ranking of the best Christmas adverts for 2023...
Our favourite Christmas 2023 advert...
1. Charlie's Bar Christmas Advert
In an unexpected turn of events, there's a new Christmas advert that's got everyone talking. Charlie's Bar, a pub in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, has released a tear-jerking festive advert that gives John Lewis a run for its money.
The heart-wrenching advert starts by showing an elderly man walking alone after placing flowers on a grave. After being ignored by several people, he goes into the bar and is joined by a couple and their dog, who stay and drink with him. It ends with the W. B Yeats quote 'There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't met yet.' The advert quickly went viral, amassing millions of views on X and more than 60,000 likes on TikTok after being posted online - but cost only £700 to make. It even prompted a response from John Lewis, who left a comment on TikTok that said 'We're not crying, you are. Merry Christmas.'
Starring: Martin McManus, who said a friend had put him forward for the advert and that he got the part after they saw his photo.
Music: People Help The People, originally written and released by English-band Cherry Ghost and covered by Birdy in 2011.
Aimed at: Everyone.
Big message: To highlight the loneliness people experience over the festive period. Una Burns, the manager at Charlie's, told Sky News that the reaction to the advert is 'completely overwhelming.' Speaking about the inspiration for the video, she said 'It's just what I had seen in the pub over the years,' continuing 'And I suppose I just wanted to get across that message that it's not always a joyful, happy time for everybody - that some people find it really tough, and just to be kind - and that a smile or a simple hello can go a long way.'
Sob factor: 10/10. We challenge you to not shed a tear while watching.
Your verdict: The advert has got everyone talking (and tearing up) on social media. One user summed up the public mood on X, writing 'Just watched Talk TV as a beautiful Christmas advert was on called Charlies Pub.... I am in tears 5 mins after seeing it. Thank you for the best Advert so far this year.'
Our verdict: A clear winner. Take a bow, Charlie's Bar.
2. Lidl Christmas Advert: A Magical Christmas
Lidl’s heart-warming advert features a racoon who goes the extra mile to make a little boy’s Christmas extra special by crossing the city to return his toy monkey to him. It’s timely, given Lidl have just announced the return of their Toy Bank, a nationwide donation drive that last year saw over 80,000 toys donated to children who may not have otherwise received a gift.
Starring: An adorable, orphaned racoon.
Music: A lovely, uplifting soundtrack.
Aimed at: Everyone.
Big message: In true Christmas spirit, the advert reminds us of the enormous impact that small acts of kindness can have during the festive season. Peter de Roos, Chief Commercial Officer at Lidl GB, said ‘At Christmas, there’s nothing more magical than seeing the joy a gift can bring to a child, and we want to help make sure this joy reaches all families,’ continuing ‘Our hope is that by bringing back the toy donation points we are making it easier, for those customers who can, to donate directly to local good causes by giving them a small way to make a real difference and help those that need it the most.’
Sob factor: 9/10
Your verdict: A crowd pleaser, it seems. One user wrote on X 'it’s the 2nd of november why am i sobbing at the lidl festive raccoon advert.'
Our verdict: With subtle references to the cost-of-living crisis, and people who face spending Christmas alone, this advert is a real tear-jerker that could give John Lewis a run for its money. Watch this space.
3. John Lewis Christmas Advert: Snapper, The Perfect Tree
The much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas Advert has finally landed, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. For 2023, we meet Snapper, a mischievous Venus fly trap who loves everything about Christmas. The advert begins with a young boy buying a seed at a market. He lovingly cultivates the seed, believing it will grow into the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree, but it soon becomes clear that Snapper is far from traditional.
Starring: 'Snapper' the Venus Fly Trap.
Music: A song called 'Festa' by the opera artist Andrea Bocelli, which is written and produced by Le Feste Antonacci specifically for the John Lewis advert.
Aimed at: Families and children.
Big message: To celebrate old and new Christmas traditions and to capture the changing ways the nation spends the festive season. ‘We are a nation that loves the traditions of Christmas - from classic traditions like pantos and putting up the tree to evolving new ones like crafting our own presents and Zoom get-togethers. Many of us have our own unique festive traditions and that makes them even more special,’ explains Charlotte Lock, Customer Director for John Lewis. ‘The film celebrates themes of family and evolving traditions and shows that a ‘perfect’ Christmas is finding joy together with loved ones, whatever your traditions.'
Sob factor: 5/10. It's not the usual John Lewis tear-jerker, but we did feel sad for Snapper when he gets banished to the garden.
Your verdict: The John Lewis advert never fails to get everyone talking. One user wrote on X 'Love this Christmas ad. You can always rely on John Lewis to create a Christmas advert that is memorable, different and makes you smile or cry (in a good way).'
Our verdict: Refreshing and highly original, this advert is a real winner - and Snapper is absolutely adorable.
4. Waitrose Christmas Advert: Food to Feel Good About
It’s party time in this year’s Waitrose advert, which has the tagline ‘Food to Feel Good About.’ The video shows guests attending a decadent party where the food, from turkey crowns to mince pies, and champagne, flows freely. As the party descends into chaos, a group of community officers knocks on the door and asks ‘) ‘excuse me, we’ve had multiple reports of a… Florentine-inspired Panettone?’
Starring: Graham Norton makes an appearance at the end.
Music: Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough
Aimed at: Party lovers and middle-class shoppers.
Big message: The genius advert appears to gently poke fun at Waitrose’s clientele and their indulgences, while simultaneously referencing relatable Christmas experiences. Speaking about the advert, Norton said ‘What a treat it was to be invited to such a fun party and to feature in this joyful Christmas campaign with Waitrose. It was quite a night, and after sampling so many delicious products from the festive range, I’ve got my order in already for the big day – because it’s Christmas, and it’s time for the good stuff. Now, is it too early to cut into another Golden Bûche de Noël?’
Sob factor: 7/10 (you will cry laughing)
Your verdict: Lots of fun. One user wrote on X 'The Waitrose Christmas advert is at least showing people smashing into food, getting lashed and having fun!'
Our verdict: Indulgent, decadent and exciting – who wouldn’t want an invite to the Waitrose party?
5. Asda Christmas Advert: Pop the Bublé
Asda have released a one-minute promo for its Christmas advert, which is due to drop this weekend. The clip features supermarket workers relaxing on their break before they encounter Michael Bublé in a storeroom - and are greeted by him singing It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. The advert concludes with the phrase, ‘Pop the Bublé, it's officially Christmas.’
Starring: Michael Bublé himself.
Music: Michael Bublé’s festive hit, It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas.
Aimed at: Everyone, but boomers will love it.
Big message: To embrace all the feel-good parts of Christmas. ‘At Asda, we absolutely love Christmas and this year we’re once again on a mission to bring that warm, festive feeling to households across the UK,’ said David Hills, Asda’s chief customer officer. ‘Today, we’re putting the speculation to rest and confirming that the legend that is Michael Bublé is partnering with us this Christmas to put on a showstopping performance.’
Sob factor: 6/10, in a sort of ‘aww’ way.
Your verdict: Everyone's a big fan of Michael Bublé. One user wrote on X 'I have just seen the Asda Christmas advert with Micheal Bublé in. Does that mean it's Christmas already?'
Our verdict: Simple yet uplifting, anything to do with Bublé is a clear winner when it comes to Christmas.
6. Aldi Christmas Advert: The Magical Christmas Factory
Aldi's advert features Kevin the Carrot for the eighth consecutive year, who tours the magical Christmas Factory with 'Plumty-Dumptys', a 'Spoilt Little Sprout', 'Greedy, Gluttonous Grape' and a 'Naughty Green Kiwi.' All of the characters encounter some hurdles along the way, but Kevin is the last carrot standing and wins the ultimate prize, the cheese to the factory.
Starring: Ebanana Scrooge and Marcus Radishford from the 2021 advert.
Music: It's mostly talking.
Aimed at: Families (although there are some cheeky moments...)
Big message: Christmas is all about goodwill and spreading joy to others. The advert ends with Kevin asking the question 'Can I share my good fortune with everyone?' It then concludes with the closing message, 'Seasonal goodwill was truly in the air as Christmas is a time that's sweeter when you share.' Jemma Townsend, Marketing Director at Aldi UK, said about the advert 'Christmas is made magical by coming together and sharing the joy of celebration even in tough times- just like Kevin wants to with his Christmas wish.'
Sob factor: 7/10.
Your verdict: Kevin the Carrot seems to be a true crowdpleaser. One user wrote on X 'Now THAT's what you call a Christmas advert! Thanks Aldi.'
Our verdict: There's something comforting about festive characters returning to our screens each year, and Kevin the Carrot is no exception.
7. Lily's Kitchen Christmas Advert: ‘Christmas Every Day
As any dog or cat lover will know, pets are an important part of Christmas. The first ever advert by Lily's Kitchen celebrates the joy of our pets in a 30-second montage of happy dogs and cats sent in by customers and the brand’s charity partners Dogs Trust and London Inner City Kitties .
Starring: An adorable line-up of cats and dogs.
Music: A voiceover with some tinkly music in the background.
Aimed at: Animal lovers
Big message: Pets are part of the family, and they should also be able to enjoy the festivities. 'Pet parents everywhere will understand the joy that having a cat or dog in your life brings you every single day – for our pets, the excitement of spending another day with their humans is as magical as that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning! And this year we wanted to celebrate that feeling by showcasing these moments of happiness through the eyes of real pet parents across the country,' said Samantha Crossley, UK Marketing Director at Lily’s Kitchen.
Sob factor: 8/10.
Your verdict: One Swiftie found herself wondering whether the advert was set to the backdrop of one of her favourite songs. She wrote on X 'Lily’s kitchen Christmas ad background music sounds like closure by Taylor swift… can’t unhear it.'
Our verdict: Anything to do with pets is a clear winner, and this advert, which features adorable animals from rescue centres, pulls on the heartstrings.
8. Disney Christmas Advert: A Wish For The Holidays
A super sweet advert that focuses on the power of wishing. The video shows people in a variety of scenarios, from dancing round the sitting room to arriving at the airport, who are all united by one wish: to be with their loved ones this festive season.
Starring: Ariana DeBose, who sings the opening line.
Music: The iconic Disney song, A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.
Aimed at: Families.
Big message: A heart-warming reminder to spend time with the people closet to you this Christmas, because that’s what it’s all about. Speaking about the advert, director Meji Alabi said ‘I feel lucky to have collaborated with such a diverse group of people on Disney’s holiday campaign this year. There were so many stand-out moments for me during the filming, but I think the most memorable was watching the South African kids choir sing their lines. It truly gave me goosebumps.’
Sob factor: 8/10 (watch out, John Lewis)
Your verdict: An advert that looks good and does good. One user wrote on X 'This is a nice one. Supporting Make-A-Wish, Disney presents an advert fully shot in South Africa and featuring a multi-lingual rendition of ‘A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes’ from Cinderella. #DisneyChristmasAd.'
Our verdict: Christmas is the one time you can get away with OTT, cliché adverts, and this one is plain adorable.
9. Baileys Christmas Advert: The Symphony of Indulgence
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Baileys – or at least the Bailey’s advert. The ‘Symphony of Indulgence’ advert shows Hannah Waddington (who is quickly becoming the face of Christmas 2023) take on the role of conductor, who take a break to enjoy a Baileys signature ‘Choctail.’
Starring: Hannah Waddington and the Gold Vocal Collective, who play the choir.
Music: The choir sings a harmony of ‘Baileys.’
Aimed at: Golden oldies.
Big message: Quite simply, it’s time to indulge this Christmas. ‘This is truly the most indulgent time of year with so many treating occasions, so we invite treat lovers all over the world to join in the festive cheer and drizzle some deliciousness as they celebrate the season with friends and family,’ said Charlie Gibbon, Marketing Category Director for Gins, Pimm’s & Baileys.
Sob factor: 5/10.
Your verdict: Some people noted how Hannah Waddington is set to be the face of Christmas 2023, with one X user writing 'So we get Hannah in the M&S Christmas advert, the royal variety show , and the baileys advert plus she’s in m&s billboard girlie really is gonna be the next mrs clause.'
Our verdict: A simple yet cockle-warming scene reminiscent of carol singers turning up on your doorstep.
10. Morrisons Christmas Advert 2023
Morrisons festive advert focuses on oven gloves and mittens who sing while homeowners go about their day, from chopping winter vegetables to preparing mince pies and drinking fizz.
Starring: Some musical oven gloves.
Music: Starship's hit 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.'
Aimed at: Anyone who hosts Christmas.
Big message: Celebrating hosts and their oven gloves, who are the quiet heroes of the festive period. Morrisons’ chief customer and marketing officer, Rachel Eyre, said it was vital to consider Morrisons’ shopper demographic and so decided not to show an 'overly glamorized' Christmas. 'We’ve instead represented the work that goes into hosting to prepare and deliver a great Christmas for the people they care the most about,' she said.
Sob factor: 4/10.
Your verdict: The feel-good nature of the advert is earning Morrisons lots of praise on social media. One user wrote on X 'Great Christmas advert! Being a food retailer they focus on food! Funny, cosy, themes of comfort, home & family - @Morrisons nails it!.'
Our verdict: A sweet sentiment, but the advert doesn't tug on the heart strings like some of the others.
11. Very Christmas Advert: Let’s Make It Sparkle
The animated advert shows the pink flamingos, Cherry, Kerry and Terry, dutifully Christmas shopping under a grey sky. But soon, pink thunderstorms roll in and the sky is filled with delivery flamingos carrying Very parcels. As the parcels are delivered, Kerry, Terry and Cherry's homes erupt into enormous, clouds of pink glitter.
Starring: Animated flamingos.
Music: A remastered version of the Girls Aloud track, Merry Christmas, Everybody.
Aimed at: Girly girls and tweens.
Big message: A well-chosen gift is the key to lighting up your Christmas. 'We know Very customers are as imaginative and enthusiastic about everyday moments as they are about Christmas, and we want to celebrate and enable that sense of joy and fun all year round as part of our commitment to our purpose; helping families get more out of life,’ says Jessica Myers, Chief Marketing Officer at Very.
Sob factor: 5/10
Your verdict: The flamingos were a big hit. One user wrote on X 'the 'very' christmas advert has already won for me because FLAMINGOS.'
Our verdict: Sparkly, fun, and very (Very) pink.
12. Argos Christmas Advert: Dancer
The dancing toys Connie the doll and Trevor the dinosaur are at the centre of Argos Christmas advert this year. It features Trevor filming Connie doing a dance routine, before realising he was on selfie mode the whole time – and didn’t capture any of the footage. Relatable stuff, really.
Starring: The characters are voiced by People Just Do Nothing’s Ruth Bratt and This Country’s Charlie Cooper.
Music: Chic’s disco hit Le Freak.
Aimed at: Children will love it.
Sob factor: 4/10.
Big message: Essentially, that Argos has some of the best toys on the market. ‘In a festive-themed adventure, the dynamic duo spotlight just a few of the incredible products our customers can buy this Christmas, and bring them to life in a witty and playful way – igniting the Christmas joy our customers can find at Argos,’ said Laura Boothby, head of campaigns at Argos. Oh, and to double check you aren’t on selfie mode before you film a memorable festive moment.
Your verdict: It hasn't really got many people talking.
Our verdict: The advert cleverly plays on 2023’s Barbie mania, with Connie donning a pink sequin jumpsuit with long blonde hair. It falls short of capturing some of the magic of Christmas, but it will certainly appeal to the TikTok generation.
13. M&S Christmas Advert: Love Thismas not Thatmas
The ‘Love Thismas not Thatmas’ advert features a star-studded line-up taking on festive chores to please friends and family. In the kitchen, we see Sophie Ellis-Bextor using a blowtorch to set fire to a pile of unwritten Christmas cards, while Zawe Ashton grows frustrated during a game of charades. The advert was criticised after an outtake shared on the M&S Instagram account appeared to show burning paper hats resembling the Palestinian flag. M&S deleted the Instagram post and have since apologised in a statement on X. 'Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas clothing and home advert, which was recorded in August. It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate. While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused,' they wrote.
Starring: A star-studded line-up featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Hannah Waddington, Tan France and Zawe Ashton.
Music: The scene is set to a reworking of Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) by the singer-songwriter Ray BLK.
Aimed at: Parents, people pleasers and anyone who feels burdened by endless chores over the festive season.
Big message: To just relax when it comes to Christmas. Anna Braithwaite, clothing and home marketing director at M&S, said the company had made the ad for a similar budget to last year and the change of tack reflected customer research, which indicated a desire to ‘just relax and switch off’ over Christmas after a tough year.
‘There is a lot of pressure on people with [higher] interest rates and mortgages [payments] and everybody feels the pinch, but our customers absolutely love Christmas and they just want to protect it,’ she said.
Sob factor: 3/10.
Your verdict: Not the most popular out of the festive adverts, with many social media users complaining that M&S have 'missed the message' this year. However, others came to its defence, with one user writing 'I can’t understand why people are up in arms over this M&S advert. I think it’s quite fun and upbeat.'
Our verdict: It’s a hard to follow at times (for example, it's never explained why Zawe hits a toy elf with a baseball bat), but the sentiment will appeal to lots of people who find themselves getting unnecessarily stressed over the festive period.