The Thornberrys are spending Christmas Eve in the Namib Desert in Africa, and have just received a box from Nigel's mother, containing the kids' Christmas presents (dolls for Eliza and Debbie, and new clothes for Donnie) and a Christmas goose to have for dinner (complete with her own recipe). Marianne suggests to Nigel that it's time they start decorating. When he goes to get the decorations from the commvee's storage kit, Eliza and Debbie say they're in a compartment on the other side. While Nigel and Marianne look on the other side, Eliza and Debbie open the storage unit in which they've been keeping their present for their parents - a battery-operated camera warmer.
After Eliza finds a new hiding place for it inside the commvee, the Thornberrys start decorating the commvee and a nearby tree ("It'll be easier to decorate than last year's cactus"). Then, as Nigel begins preparing the Christmas dinner, Eliza and Darwin then go down to the Skeleton Coast to find some seashells and a starfish to decorate the tree. Just then, they encounter a mother ostrich who can't get her eggs warm enough to hatch due to the cold wind. Eliza tries wrapping her scarf around the eggs, but the wind blows it away. She then asks Darwin to help the ostrich sit on the eggs ("I better not hear any of you laughing in there") while she goes back to the commvee. Without being noticed by the others (except for Donnie), Eliza sneaks the camera warmer out and brings it to the nest, placing the ostrich's eggs inside it like an incubator. The ostrich tells Eliza that hopefully they'll have hatched before the end of the day, so Eliza figures she should be able to get the camera warmer back to present it to her parents.
Later, back in front of the commvee, Debbie says to Eliza that they should probably get to wrapping up the camera warmer while their parents are busy, but Eliza tells her that she took it out earlier, claiming she went to wrap it, but she lost it on the way back. Frustrated, Debbie says she's going to go look for it herself, so Eliza, trying to stall for time, tells her to look in the desert. Eliza and Darwin then head for the coast to see if the ostrich's eggs have hatched, but they get distracted by the sight of a zebra being cornered by some jackals. Eliza jumps in front of the jackals and scares them off with her flashlight. Afterwards, the zebra explains that the jackals got him separated from his herd, and he doesn't know where to find them. Eliza ties her flashlight to the zebra so that the jackals won't come after him again, but the flashlight slides off and breaks. She and Darwin bring the zebra to the now fully-decorated commvee, hoping there's another flashlight they can use. Unfortunately, Nigel and Marianne have already taken out the flashlights when they went to shoot some footage of the elephants. Thus, Eliza and Darwin instead opt to coat the zebra with the Christmas lights from the commvee's display, allowing him to scare off the returning jackals ("Boy, when the herd sees me like this, they'll laugh their stripes off!").
After the zebra leaves, Eliza tries to fix up the display on top of the commvee when suddenly Nigel and Marianne return (along with Debbie, who's still peeved about the missing camera warmer) and ask what happened. Eliza fibs to them, saying that a pack of sand grouse got tangled in the lights and flew off with them before she could get them loose. As her parents and siblings split up to go chase down the sand grouses, Eliza feels bad about lying to them. Darwin tries to cheer her up, when a hungry lion suddenly appears and starts chasing Darwin around (and also threatens to eat Eliza along with him), getting the lights from their Christmas tree tangled around himself in the process. Eventually, Eliza manages to tame the lion's appetite by feeding him everything from her family's planned Christmas dinner. After chowing down on it all, the lion apologizes for attempting to eat them and leaves, ready for a nap.
Nigel, Marianne, Debbie, and Donnie then return and see the mess around their commvee, and Eliza finally fesses up to them what really happened to their stuff. Fortunately, Nigel and Marianne are just glad to know that their younger daughter is okay and managed to save their pet chimp. But although her parents aren't mad about the loss of their gifts, decorations, and dinner, Eliza still wishes she could make it up to them, and then figures out a way. Shortly after, Eliza then brings her parents and Debbie out to the lake, where the animals she helped today have gathered; the mother ostrich's eggs have hatched, the zebra has reunited with his herd, and the lion is still tame. Darwin then leads the animals in crooning "Jingle Bells", and the elephants that Nigel and Marianne were trying to get footage of earlier return as well. The baby ostriches then bring back the camera warmer for Eliza to present to her parents, and the Thornberrys all wish a merry Christmas to each other.
The episode made its home video debut on The Wild Thornberrys: A Thornberry Christmas VHS and The Wild Thornberrys: Wild Holiday Adventures DVD, both of which were sold exclusively by National Geographic in June 2004. The VHS also included the episode "On the Right Track", while the DVD featured it with the episodes "Happy Old Year" and "Family Tradition". The Christmas special was later included on The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 manufacture-on-demand DVD set, sold exclusively on Amazon.com in 2010.
After Shout! Factory obtained the rights to release retail DVDs of the show, the episode was featured on the company's The Wild Thornberrys: Season Two, Part 2 DVD set, released on April 24, 2012. This DVD set was re-released as part of Shout!'s The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series box set on December 1, 2015.
|Lacey Chabert|| Eliza Thornberry|
|Jodi Carlisle|| Marianne Thornberry|
|Tim Curry|| Nigel Thornberry|
|Michael Balzary|| Donnie Thornberry|
|Danielle Harris|| Debbie Thornberry|
|Tom Kane|| Darwin|
|Tim Conway|| Zebra #1|
|Howard Morris|| Lion #1|
|Kathy Najimy|| Ostrich #1|
- The Wild Thornberrys Wiki: Have Yourself A Thornberry Little Christmas
- "Have Yourself a Thornberry Little Christmas" at TV.com
- "Have Yourself a Thornberry Little Christmas" at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- "Have Yourself a Thornberry Little Christmas" at the Internet Movie Database