“How long are you going to be down here ‘providing joy’?”

“For as long as you need it.”

“And how will you know when I no longer need it?”

He shrugs. “Not sure yet. I think I’ll know when I know. Your holiday spirit is a miserably low one point five out of ten on the holiday Scale.”

“Listen, you. I’m a ten at everything.”

“If your number stays low,” he continues, “then I could end up hanging around here forever.” 

This is a bonkers and delightful take on a Christmas romance that I could not get enough of.  

Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a collection of designer purses and an enviable dream home in Hawaii. That was before she lost all her money. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea. 

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backward and accidentally conjures up Hall, the Holiday Spirit, in the form of a charming and handsome (if offbeat) man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as some of Bettie’s wishes lose their charm, she finds herself thrown off-kilter by Hall’s sweet nature. Suddenly, grumpy Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways return as soon as the holidays are over? 

God. This book. This book has everything I needed this holiday season to get me into the Christmas spirit: it’s funny, a little crazy and so so sweet. I highly recommend this book if your heart is feeling a little too small this season. 

Bettie Hughes, our main character, is a terrible influencer brat who’s living a false life trying to keep impressing flaky friends and her family that she seems to love and hate. In a downward spiral, Bettie accidentally conjures a Christmas genie during a drunken night by herself. The chaos that occurs after Hall, the holiday spirit, is both hilarious and cinematic. I need this book to be a movie directed by Wes Anderson immediately. This is a book filled with comedic side characters, a delicious love story and just enough of the Christmas spirit to make me tear up and sigh emphatically at times. 

Bettie and Hall are one of the most unlikely couples I’ve read this year. Bettie is gorgeous and talented but lives in the shadow of her famous and accomplished family and keeps sabotaging herself. She is a constant cynic and a terrible grump whose only true love in her life is her adorable grandpa. Hall is a Christmas spirit – he is literally the essence of holiday cheer. He also happens to be ridiculously good looking, kind and so naively optimistic that others can’t help but fall for him. Bettie and Hall are drawn to one another and their love story is so sweet and poignant. It’s made all the more wistful because Hall’s time is limited: he’s here on earth for as long as it takes for Bettie to feel the Christmas spirit again. She wants to delay his time with her, but the problem is that the more time she spends with him, the happier she is. 

Bettie, in a desperate bid to gain her family’s approval and attention, decides that Hall has to be her fake fiance over the Christmas holidays when they all gather at her grandmother’s house. I love fake relationships so much and Bettie and Hall are a complete delight as Bettie slowly gets out of her own head and starts to see her family through Hall’s eyes. The antics that happen with Hall’s Christmas magic add so much whimsy to this storyline. Bettie’s family is just as off the wall as she is in their own way. It was a delight to see the family have to stretch and grow to accommodate Hall, who’s treated with mistrust, delight and anger by different family members who aren’t sure what to make of him or his relationship with Bettie. 

While this story is about Bettie and Hall’s relationship, it’s also about how Bettie defines herself. The growth and maturity that Bettie develops through the book is so heartwarming. Through her time with Hall, Bettie truly finds out what brings her joy. Living her most authentic life has such a ripple of effect on all the people around her. It was a startlingly thoughtful plot point in a very funny and joyous book. I laughed and cried through Bettie’s crazy antics.

If you couldn’t tell, I freaking loved this book. I can’t wait to re-read it every holiday season. This is one of those stories that I can’t stop recommending to others and already can’t wait to dive back into Bettie’s and Hall’s story next year.