In Atlanta, Georgia Mabel "Madea" Simmons (Tyler Perry) has been talked into getting a job at a local store by her great-niece Eileen Murphy (Anna Maria Horsford). Madea gets fed up with the customers and starts speaking rudely, causing herself to get fired on her first day. She then asks for her paycheck, but her boss tells her they will mail it. Infuriated, Madea steals a dress and some money from the cash register, then leaves.
Meanwhile, Eileen's daughter, Lacey Williams (Tika Sumpter), who is working as a teacher at a small school in Alabama and married to a white man named Connor (Eric Lively), has many problems on her hands: the school does not have enough money to fund its annual Christmas Jubilee. This angers the townsfolk, thus pressuring Lacey to have her ex-boyfriend, Oliver (JR Lemon), fund the school through his business. Lacey also wants one of her students, Bailey McCoy (Noah Urrea) to sing in the Christmas Jubilee. Stuck with many issues to deal with, she tells her mother that she will not be able to come home for Christmas. Eileen, determined to see her daughter for Christmas, decides to pay Lacey a surprise visit. She brings Madea, who is hesitant at first, with her, and has Oliver, who is on his way with a contract for the sponsorship, as their ride, as Eileen feels that Lacey and Oliver could still be a couple. The trio then head to Alabama, where Lacey lives. Following a short run-in with the Ku Klux Klan, the trio eventually make it to Alabama. This makes things awkward, since Lacey was not expecting her mother to come see her, and Eileen has never wanted Lacey to marry a white man. Lacey has made her mother believe that Connor is the "farm help" at her house.
Lacey's student Bailey is the son of Tanner McCoy, who Connor has had issues with since childhood. Connor is threatened by Tanner not to plant corn, which he wants to do, saying he will beat him up, as he did frequently when they were children, if he is not coerced.
Lacey goes to the meeting with the school principal, Oliver, and the town mayor to go over the contract for Oliver's representatives' sponsorship of the jubilee. While she is out, Madea looks after Lacey's class. Bailey walks into the class late and begins to get bullied by the other students. Madea tells the class to leave Bailey alone and that they need to learn to be nicer to people. When Madea turns around to write her name on the chalkboard, one of the students steals her purse. Madea tells the students a modern day version of the story of the first Christmas, in order to keep the class busy. When Madea realizes that her purse is missing, she tries to then tell the children the story of Easter, but then loses her temper half way through the story and demands that somebody find her purse. Meanwhile, with the contract glazed over and signed, the town and school now have the money they need. Lacey then prepares to return to her class, but is interrupted by Oliver, who gives her a kiss. While she tries to tell Oliver that she is married and is not interested in getting back together with him, her and the principal discover that Madea has tied the girl that stole her purse to the cross decoration in the classroom.
Connor's parents, Buddy (Larry the Cable Guy), and Kim (Kathy Najimy), arrive at Connor and Lacey's house, as they have come to visit him for Christmas and are told that they must not mention that he and Lacey are married, as they do not know that Eileen has never wanted Lacey to marry a white man. Meanwhile, Eileen decides to get a Christmas tree and cuts down one with a yellow ribbon wrapped around it in the backyard, not knowing that Kim planted the tree in memory of her deceased father. When Eileen learns of this, she expresses no remorse, upsetting Kim. That night, Eileen walks in on Buddy and Kim, seeing Buddy with a sheet over his head, convincing her that Buddy is in the KKK. Now scared, she bars the door to the room that she and Madea are sharing.
The next day, while helping Connor with the farm animals, Madea reveals to Connor and Buddy that she knows Connor and Lacey are together (but not that they are married). When Connor informs Madea of this, also stating that Lacey is planning to tell Eileen about their marriage on Christmas day, Madea warns that Eileen will become upset.
While at the school that same day, it is discovered by the mayor and several towns people - including Tanner McCoy - that Oliver's representatives require that if they are going to sponsor the jubilee, it must be a holiday jubilee. This means that there may not be any references to Jesus, God, or the Bible.
The company that is sponsoring the event is Sheldon Construction Company, which caused the jobs of many of the citizens in the town to shut down. Angered at these facts, Tanner and the other citizens convince the mayor to fire Lacey. This upsets Bailey, and he complains to his father, who does not take what his son says into consideration.
Later that day, Buddy and Kim learn of Eileen's beliefs and become offended. Kim threatens Eileen, causing Eileen to try and kick Connor's parents out of the house. Madea forces Lacey to confess the truth to her mother and reveals that Eileen despises white people because her husband left her for a white woman when Lacey was 2 years old; she has lied about the story and said that a white man killed her husband. She also reveals other truths that Eileen has hidden from her daughter. Hypocritically angered by the lies she has heard, Eileen packs her bags and sits outside of the house, hoping for a taxi to come by and pick her up. Buddy, Kim, and Madea try to convince her to come back into the house, but to no avail. The three give up on Eileen, resulting in her deciding to walk into town and take a bus back to Atlanta.
Connor walks into he and Lacey's bedroom and finds Lacey sitting on the bed, thinking about all that has happened to her that day. Lacey reveals that Tanner caused her to lose her job, setting Connor off. He storms out of the house in a fit of rage, gets into his truck and heads off to Tanner's house, Buddy riding along. While walking to town, Eileen discovers Tanner in his truck, which has been crashed and knocked upside down. Eileen helps Tanner out of the truck before it explodes. Connor and Buddy drive up to this. Connor punches Tanner in the face and demands that Eileen get into his truck. He tells Tanner to stay away from him and Lacey and says that he is planting the corn that Tanner told him not to plant. Connor, Buddy and Eileen then drive away, while Tanner, now with a change of heart, walks back to his house.
Back at Connor and Lacey's house, Eileen finally accepts Connor and Lacey's marriage. However, not everything has yet been settled, as Tanner and his wife pull up to the house. Connor at first demands that they leave his property, but Tanner apologizes for the things he has done and thanks Eileen for saving him. After the reconciliation, Connor asks Tanner if he wants to help him with the corn, to which Tanner gratefully says yes.
At the Christmas Jubilee, Lacey thanks the Sheldon Construction Company for helping to sponsor the event. Bailey sings, with his parents cheering him on. Lacey also reveals to Oliver that she is married to Connor.
The soundtrack for the film was released in stores by Motown Records November 25. This was the first soundtrack to a Tyler Perry film since 2010's For Colored Girls and the first Madea soundtrack since 2006's Madea's Family Reunion and 2008's Meet the Browns. It featured Smokey Robinson, Mariah Carey, Brian McKnight, James Brown, KEM, Boyz II Men, Kelly Rowland, Jeremih, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Pearl Bailey, Ashanti, Mprynt & Kevin Ross.
A Madea Christmas was panned by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 18% rating, based on 33 reviews, with the consensus: "It boasts a few laughs, but overall, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas ranks among Perry's least entertaining or substantive works." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 28 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
A Madea Christmas was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 25, 2014. The DVD contains a first look at the opening of the upcoming animated feature "Madea's Tough Love".