Christmas Con 2021 New Jersey - Your Questions Answered: What Was it Like? Is it Worth the Trip?

Monday, December 13, 2021
Christmas Con 2021 has come and gone here in New Jersey, but the memories remain! There have been two Christmas Cons so far and I have attended both. If you're wondering what it's like or if you should purchase tickets next year, read on for my mini review and my comparison of both shows! For my west coast readers, there is a Christmas Con coming to your area, too, in August of 2022!

Disclosure: I was provided with media tickets to Christmas Con but all opinions are my own. 

Be sure to Pin this post for future reference! You can read about my experience at Christmas Con 2019 here, too. 


I get messages and emails about Christmas Con all. the. time. This is a show that people seem genuinely curious about. I get it- it's pretty unique and there aren't too many cons around like it, let alone here in New Jersey. Common questions I receive:

-Is Christmas Con worth it? (expand to: is it worth driving several hours it worth buying the VIP it worth staying overnight, etc.) 
-Do you see a lot of celebrities at Christmas Con?
-Is there anything else to do at Christmas Con besides see celebrities?
-Can you see the celebrities at Christmas Con if you don't purchase autographs and photo ops?
-Can you share info about my business? I am going to be a vendor at Christmas Con.
-Is there anything to eat at Christmas Con?
-What is seating like for the panels and contests? Can you see the celebrities?
-Do I need to arrive early to the show?
-Do you have hotel recommendations? All of the hotels around the venue are booked.

I will try to answer as many questions as I can here (including the ones I just mentioned), so be sure to read through this whole post (and email or message me with more questions if you got 'em!). But first, let me just summarize a few things for you.

What is Christmas Con?

This statement comes right from the Christmas Con press release: "Christmas Con is a first-of-its-kind celebrity autograph convention where the highlighted guests are all from holiday movies.  Set over a weekend and featuring 31 celebrities, guests immerse themselves in all things holidays which includes meet and greets with their favorite actors, professional photo shoots, Q & A panels, Ugly Sweater Showdown, Gingerbread Wars, holiday vendors, and more.  Christmas Con debuted in November 2019 to a sold-out crowd. This year (2021) is sold out as well with an expected 12,000 attendees." And indeed that does sum up what it is!

Which Celebrities Attend Christmas Con?

I have been to both Christmas Cons and the guest list differed each year. But the primary guests are (Hallmark Channel) Christmas movie celebrities. Even if you're not a huge Hallmark movie fan, you might still recognize some of the guests (this year I was excited to see Jack Wagner from my favorite Melrose Place days, Joey Lawrence, Tamara Mowry-Housley, and Melissa Joan Hart just to name a few). The scheduled talent list for 2021 included Official Host Jonathan Bennett, Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea, Beth Broderick, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Joey Lawrence, Bethany Joy Lenz, Andrew Walker, Danica McKellar, Alicia Witt, Brennan Elliott, Nikki DeLoach, Cameron Mathison, Ryan Paevey, Cindy Busby, Eric Mabius, Wes Brown, Neal Bledsoe, Brooke D’Orsay, Jess Hutch, Jack Wagner, Torrey DeVitto, Erin Cahill, Ashley Williams, Jen Lilley, Drew Seeley, Kristoffer Polaha, Tyler Hynes, Autumn Reeser, Luke Macfarlane, and Jill Wagner. 

What Was This Year's Christmas Con Like?

Christmas Con 2021 was significantly larger than 2019. This time the show took up the entire venue (NJ Convention & Expo Center in Edison), whereas in 2019 it only used a portion of the building. There were a lot more fun photo ops added, including a giant ornament, ornament chairs to pose in, a big red sleigh to sit in with your friends, and an adorable gingerbread house to pose in front of. The official gingerbread man mascot walked around for photo ops, and of course, Santa made an appearance, too, and there was a pretty photo area to meet him in! The Village Carolers were back from 2019, and added some beautiful live music (and fun traditional costumes) to the event. There was a wreath making class you could take part in for an extra fee. Other entertaining parts of the show:

-the ugly sweater showdown
-gingerbread wars 
-holiday game night
-tree lighting
-concerts (this year was Alicia Witt with Jen Lilley)
-Storytime with Elves
-IncrediKids (a special area for children with crafts, workshops, coloring, etc.)
-face painting

There are souvenirs you can buy with a reasonable array of prices (and there were many more cute items this year compared to 2019, including mugs, plushies, ornaments, tumblers, shirts, hats, aprons and so much more)

2019 Christmas Con vs. 2021 Christmas Con

If you read my post after Christmas Con 2019 (you can see it in its entirety here) you know I made some suggestions for improvements and gave my honest opinion about the show in general. I'm happy to say that I really think they made a lot of great improvements from 2019. I loved that the space was bigger and more spread out. It was very well-organized as far as entry, flow of events, etc. Keep in mind this is only their second Christmas Con (with a big fat stupid pandemic right in the middle) and I think they did an amazing job listening to the attendees wants/needs and trying to make improvements between shows. One thing I did miss, though, was the Hallmark photo ops that were present in 2019. Hallmark Channel was a sponsor of the show in 2019 so there was an adorable area that actually looked like it was right out of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. You could pose on the sofa and enjoy a sample of drinks and cookies from the Hot Cider Bar. Hallmark did not sponsor the show this year so those photo ops were not available. A minor complaint, but still would have been a nice addition again, along with seeing your favorite holiday movie celebs! 

Photos from Christmas Con 2019

I feel like the celebrity area was bigger and much more organized this year than in 2019. There were some different food vendors than 2019 (but I still think they need even more, since the expo center's food court is just meh - sorry NJ Expo Center, but it's true). Food vendors this year included Stella's Empanadas and Doc Popcorn, but if there were others I definitely didn't see them (there were plenty of baked dessert goods, though, from the attending vendors). There were more vendors selling products this year, too, but again, I still think they could use more. There are so many fabulous crafters in New Jersey! I would love to see even more of them making an appearance at Christmas Con next year!! It would also be great if the folks at Christmas Con would include the vendors on a labeled map in the program guide (vendors were just listed by name as opposed to a map of of specific locations and/or business descriptions). And I know you have to have sponsors at these things, but I hate walking around at a con and people are trying to sell me solar panels or shouting at me to enter a raffle by putting my email address on an index card, 'amiright?

Christmas Con Questions Answered

Okay, so let me tackle some of the questions that I mentioned in the beginning of this post. And I swear to you those are legit questions that I have received over the past two years since attending the first Christmas Con and publishing my posts about it here on the blog. If you have questions I might have missed, feel free to email me or send me a message on social media.

Q: Is Christmas Con worth it? (expand to: is it worth driving several hours it worth buying the VIP it worth staying overnight, etc.) 
A: If you are a big fan of Hallmark Christmas movies and love the celebrities, then emphatically yes. As I said before, I don't know of too many cons like this one featuring these specific holiday celebrities. If you're coming because you want to go to a Christmas event and don't care much about the celebrities, then I don't know if it's really worth a far drive for you, or the cost of the ticket. You want to get what you pay for, after all, and this event is strongly focused on the celebrities. The VIP pass is worth it if you want to beat some of the lines and get into the event ahead of the crowds (VIP's were permitted to enter a half hour before other guests on all three days). You also get a cute VIP bag and goodies (this year there was a Christmas Con snow globe in the bag!).  If you are planning to purchase autographs or photo ops with many celebrities then you might want to consider a multi-day pass and staying overnight because it's a lot to cram into one day!

Q: Do you see a lot of celebrities at Christmas Con?
A: Yes! Confession here: I like Hallmark Christmas movies but I am not a huge fan. I don't know all of the actors' names by heart and I'm not familiar with a lot of the movies (I'm sorry, I'm trying to be honest!). That being said, I still love seeing the celebrities. Where else can you find so much eye candy in one room??? I found myself totally fan-girling out when I saw Jack Wagner, thanks to all of those years watching him on Melrose Place. And I waited about fifteen minutes just to watch Joey Lawrence walk across the floor near me and sit down at his table. And I am so glad I did because I had no idea he was so physically fit and I actually gasped out loud and said "Look at his arms" (and he was wearing a long sleeve shirt). A woman standing near me laughed and said, "I don't mean to eavesdrop on you but I was thinking the same thing...woah!"   

Q: Is there anything else to do at Christmas Con besides see celebrities?
A: I think I answered this one above (and the answer is yes, but I still stress that the primary focus of the show is the celebrities).

Q: Can you see the celebrities at Christmas Con even if you don't purchase autographs and photo ops?
A: This is actually one of my favorite things about Christmas Con. I don't know if they will keep it this way from year to year, but I sure hope they do. You can walk around the autograph area even if you didn't purchase photo ops or autographs (you purchase those ops separately and prices vary, they are not included with your ticket). But you can see the celebs sitting at their tables as you walk by and that in itself is fun (at least it was for me). Word of warning here though: you cannot take photos of the celebs from afar with your phone. You can't run up and snap a shot or take a selfie with them behind you from far away. This is pretty standard at most cons and makes total sense (this is how the celebrities make money here and this is what other people are paying for, so why should you get to snap a shot for free??). So do us all a favor and don't ruin it for the rest of us. Don't take their pictures if you didn't pay for a photo op. 

You can also see the celebrities during the panels and events that Christmas Con has planned. Seating is pretty plentiful but the seats are not assigned, so many people line up early to get to to the front row. Celebrities walk around the show floor sometimes, too, although you can't run up and grab them or snag a selfie (they are usually escorted by pretty quickly but you still get to see them). 

Q: Can you share info about my business? I am going to be a vendor at Christmas Con.
A: If you are a vendor and you plan on attending Christmas Con, definitely drop me a line!
I'm usually happy to share with my readers (as long as you are family-friendly and relevant to my followers). Feel free to email me and send me info about your business. But just know that I don't usually share info if you are a sales representative from companies like Stella and Dot, essential oils, Origami Owl or Color Street (and this is because I know a lot of people who sell for these companies and I don't want to play favorites! Sorry). 

Q: Is there anything to eat at Christmas Con?
A: I think I answered this above, too. The Expo Center has a small food court with burgers, chicken tenders, etc. Christmas Con also added a few outside vendors this year, too, but I still think they could have used a few more.

Q: What is seating like for the panels and contests? Can you see the celebrities?
A: The past two years have had plenty of seating for attendees in regular chairs with events taking place on a beautifully decorated stage. Many attendees start lining up early for seats since they are first come-first served and everyone seems to want those front rows!

Q: Do I need to arrive early to the show?
A: Personally, I would recommend arriving as close to opening as you can. On one of the days I left after lunch and there was a line wrapped around the building to get in! Also, parking is free at the expo center and there is usually enough parking in the lot, but the later you get there, the further away you have to park. Sometimes cars will park along the road, as well.

Do you have hotel recommendations? All of the hotels around the venue are booked.
A: There are a lot of hotels near the expo center. The expo center is in a business area, meaning it's all businesses and convention spots, not a place where you'll find stores and shopping. You can't walk from your hotel to the venue (I mean, you could, but it's far and not a pleasant walk, IMO). If the hotels in Edison are booked and you don't mind a short drive, I highly recommend the Bridgewater area. AC Hotel Bridgewater and the Bridgewater Marriott are right near Bridgewater Commons Mall and about a 25 minute, easy drive to the venue. You'll have plenty of restaurant choices in this area, too, whereas there isn't much to choose from by the expo center (although there is a great diner near the venue that serves giant pancakes - it can just get very crowded so plan accordingly). 

Also Good to Note

There is a coat check. There are bathrooms but lines do form for those, too, like any public event. There is an ATM machine on-site. There is not a tremendous amount of walking but I did hear people griping that there were not enough places to sit and relax this year. I thought there were a decent amount of chairs and sitting spots but I was also not standing on line for photo ops all day so maybe others would disagree with me. 

Tickets sell out fast, especially for Friday and Saturday. If you really want to attend, be sure to get your tickets as soon as you can (I always try to keep people posted about the show on my social channels and blog, so follow along!).

There are usually opportunities to volunteer at the show if you're interested! Be sure to look into this if you feel like it's something you would enjoy next year. But please be a cheerful volunteer if you do! As a member of the media I encountered some rather not-so-nice volunteers this year who did not seem to understand that I was doing a job and covering an event (not all of the volunteers were grumpy, though, so please don't think I'm judging). They didn't want me photographing the gingerbread houses before the show started. Or the empty stage. Or the empty celebrity area (no celebrities in sight, mind you, I just wanted a photo of the venue for my article so people could see how the autograph area was set up). If someone's badge says "MEDIA" please just give them a smile (and a break!) and remember they're on your side. (*And thank you to the kind volunteer who finally did offer to walk us through the gingerbread display so we could take pictures)! :) 

Jersey Momma's Thoughts: Is Christmas Con Worth It?

I think a lot of heart, organization and planning goes into this show. It's young as far as cons go (this is only its second year) and I saw nice improvements from the first year so that hopefully means it will continue to get bigger and better! If you are a Hallmark Christmas movie fan then I think you'll love this show. The Christmas Con fans are also wonderful people and have a group on Facebook where they share their excitement each year (look for 'Christmas Con-versations'). The celebrities we encountered seemed caring, appreciative, friendly and really seemed to go above and beyond for the attendees. I give them a lot of credit for happily greeting so many people during a pandemic. I know it meant so much to so many! I, for one, am so excited that Christmas Con has made New Jersey its home. There is no other show like it around here and I hope it continues to spread its Christmas magic in The Garden State for years to come.

Christmas Con will return to NJ in 2022, but in the meantime, be sure to check out That's 4 Entertainment's next show, 90's Con, happening March 11-13, 2022 in Connecticut! Follow @Thats4Ent on Instagram and Facebook for the latest info. 

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