‘12 Dates of Christmas’ is a reality dating show drunk on holiday cheer

Chad Savage, a 29-year-old from New York City, had one thing on his Christmas list this year: true love.

And so, ho-ho-hoping to find The One, he signed on to co-star in a new holiday-themed reality show from HBO Max called “12 Dates of Christmas.” It premieres on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, and follows three aspiring lovebirds as they search for a perfect match to bring home to celebrate Christmas with their families.

For Savage, the prospect of appearing on a reality show was more daunting than arriving on his parents’ doorstep with a virtual stranger. “My family, they’re just all my best friends,” the Pennsylvania native told The Post. “It was a comfort.”

Savage stars alongside Faith — a 25-year-old from LA — and Garrett, a 29-year-old from New York City. For the filming, the trio were flown to a magical-looking castle in Austria, where the halls were decked out with festive decor. There, they each went on 12 cozy dates, with the ultimate goal of cuffing up for the holidays. The show — from Sam Dean, the showrunner behind Netflix’s viral hit “Love Is Blind” — is like “The Bachelor,” but with more sweaters and flannel.

"12 Dates of Christmas"
“12 Dates of Christmas”HBO

Savage, who lives in the East Village, was cast on Hinge. He said that at first, “I didn’t know if I wanted to go through something like that,” but was compelled to take a chance because he “loves” Christmas.

The sales director had never been to Austria before, nor lived in a castle. “I’ve never seen something so spectacular. The decorations, the ambiance, the history of it, [like] ‘The Sound of Music,’ ” he remembered. (Fans of the 1965 musical movie might actually recognize the castle, which was used for the exterior shots for the Von Trapp family home.) “It was super magical.”

“12 Dates of Christmas”HBO

“12 Dates” filmed in Europe for three weeks at the start of 2020, from February to early March, right before the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the region.

For festive flirtations, the three leads take their dates skiing, to baking classes and even to a masquerade ball. They also do “carol-oke” — that’s karaoke to old Christmas tunes, drink cocktails in the hot tub, and pause for kisses underneath the mistletoe. “Hands down, my favorite date was dog-sledding,” Savage said. “I can’t even describe how happy I was.”

"12 Dates of Christmas"
“12 Dates of Christmas”HBO

Still, he said the castle “kept you on your toes,” because new love interests showed up without warning. Juggling women was new for Savage: “I’m a one [girl] kind of guy,” he said. “I’m a really big believer in being kind.”

He struggled with rejecting dates and, inevitably, hurting their feelings. “It was difficult, I went through it,” he said. His tuxes tell the story: “I started the show at a 42 jacket size, ended a 39.”

Despite the challenges, Savage said he’s “proud” of his work on the show, as “it involves people from different orientations and cultures and races.” Co-star Garrett, for instance, is gay, and so his romantic life involves other men.

He also said that blending the spirit of the holidays with reality dating is a match made in TV heaven. “It’s the lights, it’s the way that natural light reflects [on] the snow, it’s the music,” he said of the seasonal magic. “Growing up as a kid, [Christmas] was something you were so excited about. When you bring a relationship into the mix, you want to share the excitement with them.”

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