Christmas with the Kranks is about a couple struggling with the fact that they are going to be spending Christmas without the daughter for the first time. Luther and Nora Krank are experiencing empty nest syndrome after their daughter Blair leaves for a Peace Corps assignment. The Kranks had previously been very big into Christmas, spending thousands of dollars on gifts and decorations each year. However, with Blair gone, Luther and Nora are not feeling much holiday cheer. Luther ultimately comes up with the idea to skip Christmas entirely and take a cruise.
While the Kranks are initially excited about the idea, the neighbors are disappointed in the decision. The Kranks are expected to be part of the holiday festivities, and their decision to take a cruise is met with much criticism. The neighborhood even takes steps to force the Kranks to celebrate Christmas, but the couple refuses to cooperate.
On the day the Kranks are preparing to leave for their cruise, their daughter surprises them with a phone call that she is coming home for Christmas with her new boyfriend. She wants the boyfriend to see all of the effort that Luther and Nora go through to make Christmas special. Instead of telling her the truth, Luther and Nora decide to throw together a celebration at the last minute, which results in utter mayhem.
Even though Blair is now home, Luther is still not in the holiday spirit and nearly ruins Christmas dinner with an inappropriate toast. As he goes outside to sulk, he talks with one of his neighbors whose wife is battling cancer. Luther realizes that life is too precious to spend time thinking of one's self and should be celebrated with friends and family.
In the spirit of generosity, Luther gives his neighbors the cruise tickets so they can enjoy one last vacation. Ultimately, the spirit of Christmas guides Luther, picking him up when he is at his lowest.