In this one-hour Christmas special, Fozzie Bear surprises his mother Emily on Christmas Eve by bringing the entire Muppet gang to her farm to celebrate the holidays. Doc and his dog Sprocket, who had planned a quiet Christmas, end up joining the Muppets in their holiday activities and preparations.
- The Muppets sing "We Need a Little Christmas" as they travel towards the farmhouse.
- Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem perform "Jingle Bell Rock."
- Fozzie and a Snowman sing "Sleigh Ride."
- The Muppets watch a home movie of their first Christmas together as the Muppet Babies.
- The Sesame Street characters sing "Deck the Halls" as they travel towards the farmhouse.
- Bert and Ernie rehearse for the Sesame Street Pageant, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
- The Swedish Chef, who has been waiting for the perfect bird to serve for Christmas dinner, meets Big Bird in the kitchen, and the two sing "The Christmas Song".
- Kermit and his nephew Robin visit the Fraggles, who sing a song, "Pass It On," about their tradition of giving.
- When Miss Piggy finally arrives, she and Kermit lead the Muppets in a medley of Christmas songs.
- Doc dresses as Santa Claus and gives out presents
- Jim Henson makes a cameo appearance at the end of the program, washing the dishes with Sprocket.
A Muppet Family Christmas has been released on video in both 1994 and 1998 and on DVD in 2001. However, every commercially available version in the United States and Canada has scenes edited out due to music rights problems. When this special originally debuted on television, the full rights to the songs were only secured for television. Because the US song rights are different than for other countries, the PAL video release available in Europe does not contain the music edits the NTSC videos suffer. All video releases derive from the 1989 edit, which contains less incidental music, and puts dissolves between scenes that originally faded to and from black for commercial breaks. (NBC added their own fades when airing the special.) The 2001 DVD is a shorter cut of the 1989 edit.
- The red "A Muppet Family Christmas" logo seen in the first shot of the film was added for the home video releases of the special. In the original cut of the special, the logo is seen over Ma Bear's farmhouse at the end of the song "We Need a Little Christmas." However, it was slightly reworked for future television airings. This brief musical interlude was edited from the master and the logo was reinserted separately. Because this new master was of higher quality, it has been used for all subsequent TV airings and home video releases.
- The snowman musical and comedy number with Fozzie is completely gone on home video. In the original version the song "Sleigh Ride" is sung. Rowlf begins playing the song on Emily Bear's out-of-tune piano. Rowlf says he "loves out-of-tune pianos" while Sprocket watches him play. Fozzie, the Snowman, and penguins sing outside. This cut is due to rights with the song.
- The Muppet Babies singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is removed. Included in the broadcast version of the special are the baby versions of Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Scooter, Animal and Gonzo. In the edited versions, they begin the home movie and Animal immediately bursts through the screen – the whole home movie and song is cut, again due to music rights.
- Miss Piggy and the Muppets singing "Home for the Holidays" is not shown in the edited version. After Miss Piggy arrives and Kermit mentions that she always likes to make an entrance, the edited release cuts immediately to the beginning of the Carol Sing Medley. The entire song, along with Miss Piggy falling on the icy patch is removed. This is due to music rights.
- A brief segment (5 seconds) where Fozzie and Elmo light the Christmas tree only appears in the original 1987 version.
- Kermit and Piggy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Statler and Waldorf singing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" are both removed from the Carol Sing Medley on the R1 DVD, again due to music rights
- The scene with Fozzie and Ma hanging stockings is removed. In the scene, Emily Bear (Ma) hangs Fozzie's stocking on the fireplace. Fozzie mentions that he's a grown bear, alluding to the fact he doesn't need it anymore. When Emily reaches to take it down, Fozzie decides it's OK to leave it up. This lost scene is due to the master used to create the releases. Henson remastered the special in the late 1980's for television reruns. The scene with Fozzie and Ma was cut from the master. Because the new master was of higher quality, it's been used for subsequent TV airings and video releases.
- The original 1987 airing featured a Muppet Family Christmas bumper in between commercials, with Kermit in front of a Christmas tree saying "A Muppet Family Christmas will return in a moment" and Fozzie behind him, playing with two little stuffed bears as if they were puppets.
- The ABC, NBC, and DVD versions all have different end credits (changes to font or copyright info, as well as corporate logos).
- When this special aired on Nickelodeon, the following edits occurred: The title was seen in the first shot, instead of after the "We Need a Little Christmas" number; the music that played before Rowlf arrives to the farmhouse is cut; and the Turkey meeting Camilla is cut (the scene fades to black after the turkey says, "This is starting to be fun."). When Fozzie and Emily Bear check off a list of who is sleeping where, a shot of a fireplace is shown over their beginning dialogue (originally, they were seen the whole time they were checking off sleeping arrangements); Fozzie and Elmo decorating the tree is cut; a shot of the tree is shown over dialogue of Fozzie getting ready to tell everybody that his mother has an announcement, as opposed to him being seen (this followed Fozzie and Elmo putting the tree up).
- At the beginning, in wide shots of Fozzie's truck, Rizzo can be seen sitting next to Lips near the side of the truck, but in one shot he is with the other rats in a different part of the truck.
- When Fozzie first enters the house, he does not slip on the icy patch, as if it were not there; the second time he enters, after the "Sleigh Ride" number, he does slip.
- During the scene where the Muppets enter the house, a puppeteer's full face is exposed on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
- Before the second time Kermit answers the phone, he can be seen holding the phone receiver right before it rings.
- Biff and Sully change locations throughout the song "Deck the Halls".
- Louis Kazagger can be seen sitting near the tree during Emily Bear's announcement, but during the caroling medley, as the screen scrolls past that area, he is no longer there.
- Gonzo and Animal are both shown wearing pajamas while hanging from hangers, but at one point during the caroling medley, Gonzo wears a purple suit and is with the other Muppets, and then after singing his verse is missing from the remainder of the carol sing.
- Beaker does not appear during the first half of the caroling medley. He then suddenly appears when he and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew sing a verse, and he is missing again in the last shot of the medley.
- During the carol sing there are two rooms full of Muppets, but some Muppets appear in both rooms at the same time. These characters include Statler and Waldorf, Simon Soundman, The Christmas Turkey, Two-Headed Monster, and a female lavender Anything Muppet.
- During a fade right before the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in the carol sing, the puppeteer that performs Camilla the Chicken and the Turkey drops both puppets too early.
- During the caroling medley, you can see the black sleeve of the puppeteer operating a Muppaphone.
- During the end, Sprocket appeared in the back of the living room with the Muppets, but also appeared with Jim Henson in the kitchen.
- In most wide shots during the caroling medley, Janice can be seen sitting near a stairway at the end of the room, but there are a few shots where she is next to Floyd Pepper, who is always behind the couch during that sequence.
- This was released after Fraggle Rock ended its run, yet Doc acts as if he hadn't met the Fraggles.
- When the Turkey directs The Swedish Chef to Big Bird ("If you think I'm a nice fat bird... LOOK AT THIS!"), a puppeteer's head briefly pops up.
- Gobo is the first Fraggle to ask "What's a frog?" upon meeting Kermit and Robin, but he was given a frog for his birthday in Space Frog Follies.
- Muppet Performers: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Steve Whitmire, Kathryn Mullen, Karen Prell, David Rudman, Terry Angus (uncredited)
- with Caroll Spinney
- Muppet Show Characters
- Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Ma Bear, Robin the Frog, the Swedish Chef, the Christmas Turkey, the Snowman, Rowlf the Dog, Animal, Camilla the Chicken, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, Scooter, Statler and Waldorf, Sam the Eagle, Rizzo the Rat, the Newsman, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Beauregard, Dr. Teeth, Lips, Maureen the Mink
- Muppet Show Background Characters
- Droop, Lew Zealand, Foo-Foo, Link Hogthrob, Marvin Suggs, A Muppaphone, Louis Kazagger, Pops, Crazy Harry, Bobby Benson, Nigel, Chester Rat, Masterson Rat, Tatooey Rat, Yolanda Rat, Penguins, Chickens, Rabbits, Deer, Squirrel, Raccoon
- Sesame Street Characters
- Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Ernie, Bert, Count von Count, Cookie Monster, Grover, Kathleen the Cow, Herry Monster, Guy Smiley, Two-Headed Monster, Honkers
- Sesame Street Background Characters
- Sherlock Hemlock, Biff, Sully, Forgetful Jones, Prairie Dawn, Simon Soundman, Fred the Wonder Horse, Osvaldo, el Gruñón, Elmo, Clancy, Big Jeffy, Old McDougal, Anything Muppets, Sesame Street Monsters
- Fraggle Rock Characters
- Sprocket, Gobo Fraggle, Wembley Fraggle, Red Fraggle, Mokey Fraggle, Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt, Large Marvin Fraggle, Fraggles
- Muppet Babies
- Executive Producer: Jim Henson
- Producers: Diana Birkenfield and Martin G. Baker
- Directors: Peter Harris and Eric Till
- Writer: Jerry Juhl
- Puppet designers: Ed Christie, Joanne Green, Larry Jameson, Rollie Krewson, Tom Newby, Richard Termine
- We Need a Little Christmas
- Jingle Bells
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Sleigh Ride
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- Here We Come A-Caroling
- Deck the Halls
- The Christmas Song
- Pass It On
- Home for the Holidays
- Christmas Carol Sing
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas