David E. Talbert
The film opens in the 1970's with a montage of Walter and Grace Meyers throughout their relationship. They fell in love and got married, raising four children together. In present day 2016, Grace passes away, leaving Walter all by himself now that his adult children have left the house. It's now ten months later and five days before Christmas.
We catch up with the Meyers children - oldest daughter Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) is married to egocentric basketball player Lonnie (JB Smoove). Oldest son Christian (Romany Malco) is running for a congressman position and is married to Sonya (Nicole Ari Parker), and they have two kids, Cameron (Alkoya Brunson) and Dee (Marley Taylor). Rachel (Gabrielle Union) is a single mother to Niya (Nadej Bailey) and tries to maintain an independent image while trying to finish law school. Youngest child Evan (Jessie Usher) is a star college football player, and his mother's death has affected him the hardest out of all the siblings.
Walter is preparing to have the family over. He does some volunteer work at the homeless shelter just like Grace did, and he attempts to bake her famous sweet potato pie, though he hasn't gotten the hang of it yet. He is visited by Grace's sister May (Mo'Nique), who is ready to help her brother-in-law get the family together. Christian and his family are the first to arrive.
However, he's brought his campaign manager Andy Brooks (John Michael Higgins) on the trip to take care of business so Christian can stay with the family. Rachel and Niya arrive, and Rachel is greeted by an old schoolmate, Malachi (Omar Epps). He offers to help Rachel with her bags, but she takes it as him undermining her capabilities, so she willingly struggles to carry both bags into the house. Cheryl and Lonnie show up, and we see that Rachel and Cheryl have a rocky relationship. May cooks dinner for the family that night, but everyone is grossed out by the food. This ignites the first of many arguments between the siblings.
Evan comes home in the middle of the argument. Rachel and Cheryl storm up the stairs until their father stops them. May adds to it by scolding them for behaving badly. The next day, the family goes to church where they sing gospel songs.
Later that night, Lonnie tries to fix a Santa decoration on top of the house for the kids. It seems to work at first, but the thing short-circuits, and Santa's head flies off, scaring Dee. Lonnie then falls off the roof. It's now three days until Christmas. The family starts to get lively when they play their favorite songs, leading to everyone dancing. Even Walter gets in on the fun.
They later put up the Christmas tree. Evan then starts to get sad when he misses his mom, so he goes to hang out with his buddy Eric (D. C. Young Fly). Evan has been taking prescription pills as recommended by his coach, and Eric has a hookup for more.
Christian goes out with Brooks and does some promotional campaigning as he is interviewed by a local news station. Lonnie goes to a supermarket and runs into an employee named Jasmine (Keri Hilson), who is an admirer of his. She puts the moves on him and later invites him to the stockroom where they have sex. Rachel continuously runs into Malachi, and every time he tries to help, she brushes him off.
Niya talks to her mom about how sometimes, it's okay to let a guy be a hero when he wants to be. She mentions having her own boyfriend, to Rachel's surprise, but she won't say anymore. The family gathers for some touch football. It's all fun and games at first until Lonnie gets too aggressive and almost hurts Evan, which upsets Rachel and the others. Christian learns that his campaign team is involved in a re-zoning in the community, which means that the homeless shelter, among other places, will be badly affected.
He tells Brooks to not go public with this until after the holidays. Rachel goes to the supermarket and meets Jasmine. She mentions her new lover (Lonnie) and shows Rachel pictures of their little tryst. Rachel decides to invite Jasmine over for Christmas to spite Cheryl. Rachel sees Malachi again, leading to an argument because she is so uptight. She explains that she was upset because he took another girl to prom in high school when he originally wanted to go with Rachel, even though it was her that bailed on him. She says she overheard one of Malachi's buddies make a comment on how it was gonna be easy for him to take Rachel to bed that night.
Malachi says he broke the guy's nose for that. He and Rachel keep arguing until they kiss. On Christmas Eve, the sisters try to make their own meals, but both end up getting burnt, and they naturally blame each other for it. As they try to make the food again, they find Grace's little box of recipes.
They decide to make something on their own, and they end up bonding. When Rachel sees how Cheryl has problems of her own, she calls Jasmine and rescinds her invitation. Walter reads the morning paper and finds out about Christian's campaign's re-zoning plan. Walter confronts his son about this, telling him that they are supposed to help others, and if they can't, they should at least try not to hurt them. When Walter tries to make the sweet potato pie again, Dee comes by and mentions that Grace always used to smile when she was making it, noting that Walter hasn't been smiling much lately. It is Christmas Day. The family (plus Brooks and Eric) are gathered at the table for their meal. As Rachel and Cheryl start arguing, Evan reveals to the family that he found documents that Walter kept as he is trying to sell the house, to everyone's surprise.
Evan leaves in a huff, just as Jasmine shows up (she never listened to Rachel's message). Rachel and Lonnie both freak out. Despite their efforts to hide the affair, Jasmine shows the family the pictures of her and Lonnie and exposes his lies in front of Cheryl. Cheryl calmly gets up and leaves the room, only to return with a rifle and chase Lonnie out of the kitchen. Walter and May stop Cheryl from nearly blowing Lonnie's brains out. Cameron then runs out with the phone to tell the family that something happened to Evan. Evan has been hospitalized from a car accident after taking one too many pills. Walter sits in the room with him and notes how badly Evan misses his mom.
Evan breaks down in tears because he wasn't there for his mom when she was sick, but Walter tells him that he was where Grace wanted him to be. Rachel apologizes to Cheryl for inviting Jasmine. Cheryl forgives her and admits she was a bit overbearing. She asks Rachel to help her out with her divorce. Christian bails on his campaign team and joins Walter in volunteering at the homeless shelter to feed the poor. Rachel finds a note from Cheryl with a check for $20,000 to help her through law school.
Moments later, Malachi is outside wearing a tux and standing next to a limo with a boombox playing music to invite Rachel to make up for the prom night they never had. Rachel runs back into the house, making Malachi think she rejected him, but she comes out wearing her prom dress. They kiss and go have a night together. Walter is sitting in the kitchen by himself until May joins him.
He is still visibly hurting knowing that this is his first Christmas since Grace passed on, but May assures him that he gave her sister a happily ever after. They then try Walter's sweet potato pie for the first time since he took it out of the oven. To their surprise, it turns out to be delicious. They invite the rest of the family to go downstairs and join them for a taste..