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This year's best holiday ads bring a whole lot of laughs

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I just love commercials. Funny, poignant, emotional - I like them all. And I'm not alone. Throughout the year, a group of my colleagues and I send each other emails with links to a commercial we may have seen over the weekend or that we've seen mentioned in the news somewhere. Over the years, these commercials have brought us to tears (think Sears and their Military Heroes campaign), impressed us beyond belief (how does Macy's manage to get all of these A-listers together at once!), or simply had us in stitches (a few of those below).

With television still serving as a major outlet for consumers to gather information, as well as entertain themselves, retailers still rely heavily on the tube for much of their holiday marketing. In fact, according to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association's latest survey, more than one-quarter of consumers said television/broadcast influenced them to shop at a particular retailer this holiday season, up from 22.0 percent last year.

Throughout the recession, we saw many companies make emotional appeals to families across America. Macy's reminded us that "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" and Folgers Coffee's commercial about a special brother/sister Christmas reunion had even the toughest of us choking up as we remembered the real meaning of the holidays. This holiday season, retailers went all out with laugh-out-loud, belly-busting hilarity. In our book, they're all winners!

For consumers, however, there are a few top winners that stand out. According to RAMA's 2011 Favorite Ads survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 31.7 percent of consumers said Target had the best holiday television commercial, followed by Walmart (22.8%), Macy's (6.7%) and Best Buy (5.0%). And, nearly two in five said they were actually motivated to shop from a particular retailer because of their commercial.

Below are just a few of the commercials from this holiday season so far. Grab your tissues - because you may just laugh yourself into tears!

Best Buy's "Game on Santa" pits mom against Santa, showing she too can impress her family with inexpensive unique gift ideas, though Fido might still want something from Santa.

Walmart's "The Christmas Sweater" - Bill Cosby would be proud!

Macy's uses the appeal of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber to bring on laughs - and promote their midnight opening on Black Friday.

My colleague Ellen Davis found Target's Nutcracker commercial so funny, she had to rewind it at home.  See for yourself.