Emory and Eleanor Vanderbilt take pride in hosting their big annual Christmas Eve party for family and friends, but this year's gathering will be a life-changing event. While a snowstorm prevents most of their friends from attending, their daughters are certainly adding "life" to the party with their problems and sibling rivalry. Jocelyn, the oldest, harbors a hidden secret; Samantha's marriage is in danger; Sarah's dream of becoming a missionary is diminishing; and Esther, the youngest, rebels against almost everyone and everything, especially designer clothing! Arthur, the beloved family butler, adds cryptic humor, as does Howard, Jocelyn's meek husband who likes to cross-stitch. Soon a police officer arrives announcing the need to use the Vanderbilt home as a temporary shelter for three homeless people. They include Mrs. MacEntyre, who claims she's a descendent of royalty; Elijah, a philosopher; and Lanona, an ex-hairdresser. They bring their own brand of fun to the neurotic family, and any dream of an elegant evening turns into the reality of an offbeat, but warm celebration. In the midst of the chaos, relationships are mended and new friends are made. The true meaning of Christmas is revealed in the act of giving, not of gifts but of oneself. About an hour.