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Holiday Season ESL Lesson Plan

Jim Gaffigan's Straight Talk About The Holiday Season

Student Level


Video Length: 1:55

Updated on: 12/09/2023

Lesson Time: 1–2 hrs.

1 Credit

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Holiday Season ESL Lesson Plan Description


This holiday season ESL lesson plan contains activities, PDF worksheets, and digital materials for B2 upper intermediate students. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to describe their feelings and thoughts about the holiday season in December. They will also be able to express and respond to certain moods, intonations, and non-verbal cues in the context of holiday conversations.


To start this holiday season ESL lesson plan, students watch a short trailer of an American Christmas TV show by “Hallmark”. They’ll discuss some questions about this trailer. This helps prepare students for the video, since the speaker in the video makes a reference to Hallmark. Then, students think of and compare some synonyms for the adjective “wonderful”. The speaker also makes references to this adjective in the video. The third part features a matching activity using some definitions and images of Christmas/holiday nouns to further prepare students for the video.


Students watch a video with a speaker, a comedian named Jim Gaffigan, who describes his cynical attitude toward Christmas and the holiday season. He uses black humor to talk about the things that annoy him the most about the Christmas season. He mostly focuses on how the holidays are really not as “wonderful” as society makes it out to be. Students must listen for some of the things that annoy Jim, do a true/false activity, and then answer some questions about the video.


After watching the video, students discuss their thoughts about the video and Jim Gaffigan’s point of view. After that, they analyze one of his quotes from the video. They also answer some questions about it.

Students then do an activity in which they must decide whether certain phrases express positive or negative feelings. These include phrases such as:

  • It brings me joy when…
  • I have a blast on…
  • It drives me crazy how…
  • Sometimes I can’t stand…

In the last part, students look at some non-verbal cues that express moods. They must decide whether these non-verbal signals express positive or negative moods. These include cues such as:

  • Giving a thumbs-up
  • Grunting or sighing
  • Patting someone on the back
  • Rolling your eyes


The communicative activity is mostly aimed at helping students express their honest feelings about Christmas or another holiday. They use some phrases to describe positive and negative feelings about the holiday. There is a second option in which students do a role-play exercise. In it, one student displays a cheerful tone and uses a high intonation to greet a friend at a holiday party. They also exhibit some positive non-verbal cues. The other student displays a cynical tone and uses a low intonation when greeting their friend. In this case, they exhibit some negative non-verbal cues. They proceed to talk about the holidays and their moods.


The bonus grammar activity featured in this holiday season ESL lesson focuses on the causative construction "make [someone] + [do something]". See the example:

“I like Christmas, but not enough to make me behave like I’m in one of those Hallmark movies.”

Students do a few activities related to this causative construction, including a matching activity and writing some of their own sentences using it.

Benefits of using this ESL lesson plan about the holiday season:

Expressive Language: The lesson plan focuses on helping B2 upper intermediate students express their feelings and thoughts about the holiday season, enhancing their ability to articulate emotions in English.

Cultural Exposure: Watching a short trailer of an American Christmas TV show by "Hallmark" provides students with cultural exposure. This can give students a deeper understanding of holiday traditions and media references. They also get to learn about what Christmas season is like in the USA and compare it to Christmas or other holidays in their own culture.

Use of Humor: The comedian, Jim Gaffigan, adds an element of black humor to the lesson, making it more engaging and enjoyable for students while also exposing them to different tones and attitudes toward the holiday season.

Video Description

Comedian Jim Gaffigan talks straight about the December holidays. Do the crowds, congestion, cold actually put the "Happy" in the "Happy Holidays!"? Jim Gaffigan gives his opinion.

Lesson Activities


Holiday Season, Expressing Feelings & Moods (about the holidays)


Images, True / False, Short Answers


Holiday Season, Nouns, Phrases, Non-Verbal Cues


Causative Construction (make someone do something) 


Holiday Chats: Cheerful & Cynical, Quiz & Review, Lesson Reflection

Lesson Topics

Holiday Season, Christmas

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