Nora and Luther Krank are in for a Christmas alone this year. Their daughter Blair is going away on a Peace Corps assignment in Peru over the holidays. After looking at how much money was spent last Christmas, the two decide to skip Christmas and instead attend a ten-day cruise over the holidays. This decision is considered less-than-ideal by the Kranks' friends and neighbors which render them the neighborhood scrooges. All takes a turn for the hectic side, however when Blair announces a surprise return home with a Peruvian finacee for the annual family Christmas party. Mr. and Mrs. Krank have only 12 hours to form a perfect family Christmas with no preparation.