But Since It’s Christmas: Making Christmas Romance Tropes Fresh

by Lily Ruaah
published in Writing

It’s coming up to the rom-com season of the year: Christmas. And whether you’re writing a novel or a screenplay, it’s handy to know your Christmas romance tropes and important to make them fresh, original, and most of all, interesting.

So let’s talk about what the Christmas romance tropes are:

“But since it’s Christmas…” 

When better to confess our feelings than on Christmas? But is it a tired cliché? Your readers will be expecting a character to divulge their secrets in a festive epiphany—and Christmas might seem like a useful plot device to make this happen. 

But consider how you could do this in a “new” way. 

Maybe your character goes to reveal their feelings but can’t bring themselves to. Or maybe they find Christmas confessions convoluted and would never admit their feelings, especially on a holiday. 

Maybe they get rejected because their love interest doesn’t believe them. What would you do if someone told you they loved you for the first time, just because it’s Christmas? Would you be flattered or think, do they mean it?

Consider these three main things when writing a romance trope: 

  • Is it believable? 
  • Is it truthful? 
  • Does it reflect real life?

The Christmas or Office Party

Another way we are inspired to confess our feelings is through alcohol. Usually fed to our characters through some kind of Christmas or office party, and there are plenty of these at this time of year. 

Alcohol, or the kid-friendly version, festive spirit, gives us the opportunity to have our characters do things that are, well, out of character. 

Using this as a device means you can create situations where your characters are vulnerable about how they feel. It also allows you to create a storyline where the two leads get together but are still unsure about how the other feels about it the next day. Was it all just because they were drunk or got swept up in the moment? It leaves room for misinterpretation—a classic tool that all romances use. And maybe you’re thinking: ‘I don’t want to use misinterpretation if it’s an overused device’. 

But once again ask yourself, is it realistic? Maybe you wouldn’t get up on stage and sing karaoke to your crush, but you might not believe them if they said they liked you too, after a few drinks.


Picture this: A woman, sitting alone in Starbucks, Pret, Cafe Nero, maybe she’s drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte, maybe it’s a black coffee. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that she’s alone. And what’s the only reason a woman gets coffee alone? That’s right, she’s just had her heartbroken. 

Post-break-up is a great place to start a romance story as it begins your story with conflict. But is it too predictable? Are we tired of the hopeless female lead whose life can only be fulfilled through romance? Yes, probably. 

Heartbreak is one of the most relatable emotions we can write about, almost everyone has experienced heartbreak in some way, so draw on those memories, experiences to write about those moments in a concrete and honest way.

Nowhere to Go for Christmas

Another classic trope, which leads off of “the broken-hearted” trope is nowhere to go for Christmas. This could be because of a recent break-up or a strained family relationship but it will make your lead more interesting to their love interest, as they’ll be an air of mystery about it. In a way, this is a hard trope to avoid as it opens up your protagonist to have free time over the holidays. 

So how can we make it fresh? To repeat a mantra, consider realism—many people have fine relationships with their families but still choose to spend Christmas alone. This could be a statement about the character and add to their particular personality and view of the world. 

Maybe they’re working over the holidays—this could lend itself to roles in the emergency services which could be also used as a tool to create the “meet-cute”. 


Instead of broken-hearted, maybe your main character is just broken-car-ed 

This is the stranded trope, which can be written in two ways: 

  1. A character’s car/vehicle breaks down and is rescued by someone and ends up having to spend Christmas with them.
  2. Two characters become stuck or stranded together e.g. in a snowstorm. 

This is a great way to make a romance happen between two characters who “hate” each other (of course, we know that hate is actually attraction). 

Think about opposing characters—how can you make this dynamic super fresh and modern? 

One suggestion, start with your lead—write their character map—and then write a completely opposite character map. These are your two protagonists. 

Pretend Relationship

Stereotypically, holidays can be difficult for single people. At this time of year, in particular, there’s a social expectation to be in a relationship, to have “a date” for events. This is where the “pretend relationship” trope comes in. 

Two single people agree to pretend to be in a relationship for the holidays—whether that’s for one party or the whole two weeks. 

This can go one of two ways, they fall in love with each other or it works to create conflict between one of those characters and their true love interest. However you spin it, the outcome will be when the truth comes to light. 

How can we turn this trope on its head? One way of making this fresh is to think about how the “pretend relationship” comes out. Miscommunication can be a tiring and overused trope and maybe it’s high time our characters were a bit more honest. What if your character just told the truth? That could make a great piece of conflict and drive your story forward.


What’s it all building up to anyway? Christmas stories are usually fairly family-friendly, which means what we’re leading up to is the kiss. And what’s a great instigator for that? Mistletoe. A magical plant that makes people kiss, what could be a better plot device than that? 

But bear in mind, is a forced kiss really romantic? What are some more romantic ways your two leads could kiss?

An audience has come to expect, and enjoy, these tropes particularly in the sub-genre of Christmas so it’s not wrong to use these tropes. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to. Remember “no idea is an original idea” so don’t feel put down about using these tropes. 

Our advice

Think about quality over quantity. That means don’t use all of them. These tropes aren’t a list to tick off, but a jumping-off point for ideas. Try just using one or two and see where the story takes you. 

Extra tip: 

The best romances are based on truth—so think about the most interesting romantic story from your own life, whether it’s tragic, funny, or just plain romantic.

Lily Ruaah is a Content Writer for PublishingPush.com, which Patrick Walsh founded in 2014. PublishingPush.com is a self-publishing company based in the UK. Patrick started the company because he didn’t feel like the current publishing strategies were fair on authors. Writing, after all, is an art form, not a commodity; and he wanted to give everyone the chance to get published.

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