Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas is a one-hour Christmas special which first aired on HBO in 1977. The special first aired on a broadcast network on ABC on December 15, 1980. The songs were written by Paul Williams, beginning a long series of Muppet collaborations that also included The Muppet Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
In this one-hour musical Christmas special, Kermit the Frog narrates the story of Alice Otter and her son, Emmet, who live along the river in the village of Frogtown Hollow. Ma and Emmet struggle to make ends meet through odd jobs and projects for neighbors and villagers, but this Christmas they dream of having enough money to buy each other a special gift. Known for their musical abilities, the Otters are encouraged by their friends to enter a local talent contest. The mother and son reminisce about Pa Otter, who serves as the inspiration for them to enter the show.
Without each other's knowledge, Ma and Emmet prepare for the contest in the hope of winning the fifty-dollar prize to buy Christmas gifts for each other. Emmet performs as a member of the Frogtown Jubilee Jug Band and Ma Otter sings a solo number, but both face tough competition from a hard rock group formed by a gang of woodland creatures who call themselves the Riverbottom Nightmare Band.
The special utilizes a number of different puppetry methods. The main puppets used are the usual Muppet hand puppets, but the characters are frequently represented by marionettes as well. It also utilizes the Bunraku and Black Theater techniques. This is also one of the first Muppet productions to use radio control puppet effects, designed by Faz Fazakas.
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas also featured extensively platformed-up sets, all created with great attention to detail. Jim Henson explained:
Emmet Otter was the first time we had gotten into those kind of elaborate sets where we had floors in the interiors and we would take a wide-angle shot with characters coming up through holes in the floor. Or we'd cut into the set and remove the floor and have the characters moving through space in waist shots. That was the most elaborate production we had gotten into at that point. Frog Prince had been platformed-up and The Muppet Show was always platformed-up, but in Emmet Otter... we'd go right into a scene. We'd have the whole set in three dimensions... rigged so we could pop parts and come out through the openings, which is really time consuming... 
John J. O'Connor gave the special a very positive review in The New York Times on December 15, 1980 for its ABC airing: "Jim Henson and the Muppets are on a dazzling winning streak these days... Mr. Henson has produced and directed one of the most charming Christmas specials of the last several years... Once again, Mr. Henson's creations verge on the marvelous, perfectly capturing the Wind in the Willows aspects of Emmet Otter's story... These really are the nicest folk on the river -- and on prime-time television."
In 1983, four Muppet Home Video titles were released under the heading "Tales from Muppetland," by Silver Eagle Records. They were Hey Cinderella!, The Frog Prince, The Muppet Musicians of Bremen and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. In addition to VHS, these titles were released on Betamax and RCA SelectaVision CED discs.
1983 also saw the release of the 4 programmes in the UK by RCA/Columbia Pictures Video (forerunner to Columbia Tristar Home Video) again under the Muppet Home Video banner. There were 2 volumes each containing 2 programmes. Volume 1 contained Hey Cinderella and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas; Volume 2 contained The Frog Prince and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. These programmes appear to be the same versions as released by Silver Eagle Records in the US.
Disney's Buena Vista Home Video released Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas on VHS in 1996.
In 1998, Columbia Tri-Star Home Video released Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas under its new "Jim Henson Home Entertainment" line, and in 2001 released the same version on DVD.
In 2005, HIT Entertainment released an Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas: Collector's Edition DVD featuring "Never-Before-Seen Footage", an in-depth documentary and other new bonus features.
Muppet Home Video 1983 VHS
Mayor Fox: Welcome if you will, George and Mellisa Rabbit! [Rabbits dance] Possum: Well, It's gonna be a long night.
Columbia Tri-Star Home Video 1998 VHS / 2001) DVD
HIT Entertainment 2005 DVD
The Collector's Edition DVD released by HIT Entertainment in 2005 contained yet another variation of the special. All the scenes with Kermit were cut, including the opening scene of Kermit riding a bike. Aside from Kermit's scenes being edited, the special is the same version presented on the Columbia Tri-Star release. However the alternate scenes changed and missing are included in the "Deleted/Altered Scenes" reel bonus feature.