Christmastime has come to Jellystone Park and while Yogi and his buddy, Boo-Boo, hibernate through it, as they do every winter, a group of their friends (made up of Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy) are brought by Ranger Smith to spend the annual Christmas Carnival at the Jellystone Lodge. Upon arrival, however, the group find out that this may be the last Christmas they celebrate in the lodge when the manager, Mr. Dingwell, tells them that because of a series of strange occurrences last year, business is virtually nonexistent and the owner of the lodge, Sophie Throckmorton, is likely to sell it so a freeway can be built. A chance at saving the lodge does appear when they are told Mrs. Throckmorton is coming to stay for the Christmas Carnival and if she enjoys herself she may not sell the lodge.
The group's ensuing revelry manages to wake up Yogi and Boo-Boo from their hibernation. Upon finding out that it's time for Christmas, they decide to stay awake to celebrate. Ranger Smith, fearing that Yogi's antics could ruin efforts to save the lodge, refuses to allow the bears to stay, and chases them down to force them back to their cave. During that time, Yogi saves Mrs. Throckmorton and her bratty nephew, Snively, from an avalanche caused by Herman the Hermit, a Christmas-hating character who wants nothing more than to ruin the Christmas Carnival. The act of heroism endears Yogi to Mrs. Throckmorton and keeps Ranger Smith from forcing Yogi back to his cave for risk of upsetting her. So begin Yogi's efforts to celebrate Christmas, but among Herman's sabotage, Snively's pranks, Ranger Smith's eager desire to get rid of Yogi should trouble arise, and his own instincts, will Yogi be able to make it to Christmas?
Preceded by 1979's Casper's First Christmas, in which Yogi and friends helped the friendly ghost celebrate his first Christmas. Followed by 1982's Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper and 1991's "Santa Claws!", the series finale of the Younger and Hipper prequel series Yo Yogi!, where they now had heard of Christmas well before this special.
Yogi's First Christmas provides examples of:
- Accidental Hero: Yogi manages to continually save Mrs. Throckmorton by sheer coincidence throughout the special.
- Adult Fear: At one point, Herman sets up a smoke bomb to draw Ranger Smith away. The ranger thinks he's seeing a forest fire and immediately charges off.
- Dis Continuity: Yogi and Boo Boo both appear in Casper's First Christmas the year before, so this can not possibly be their "first" Christmas. The song "Coming Up Christmas" is even reused from the previous special (see Plot Hole below).
- Disney Acid Sequence: The Villain Song descends into this briefly with marching devil silhouettes.
- Frameup: Snively does this when he gives Yogi his aunt's skates for the skating contest and Ranger Smith thinks that Yogi stole them.
- The Grinch: Herman the Hermit.
- HeelFace Turn: Snively and Herman have a profound change of heart after being invited to the lodge Christmas party.
- Inspector Javert: Ranger Smith has shades of this. He is quick to act on any evidence that Yogi is causing trouble, not even taking the time to properly question him over it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Snively complains that Yogi won the figure skating contest by dumb luck. The thing is he's not wrong, as Yogi's routine was largely just a clumsy effort to escape Ranger Smith sending him back to his cave.
- Ranger Smith as well. He wants to send Yogi back to his cave, by force if necessary, because he's worried that Yogi is going to cause trouble while Mrs. Throckmorton is at the lodge. Considering that this is the bear who steals picnic baskets, it's hard to fault him.
- Mythology Gag: Part of The Huckleberry Hound Show theme song can be heard while Huck does his ski jump attempt.
- As was also a habit songs from previous Christmas specials returned and in some cases sung by different characters.
- Plot Hole: Boo-Boo can be heard singing during the opening song even though at that point he's still hibernating with Yogi. This being really strange due to the fact the song was returning from Casper's First Christmas but has Doggie Daddy now singing Quick Draw's lines yet doesn't have someone else sing Boo Boo's lines.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Ranger Smith. He does want to send Yogi back to his cave and is a little trigger happy about doing so but won't act without justifiable cause and relents when evidence winds up being false.
- Mrs. Throckmorton intends to sell the lodge, but isn't unreasonable about it and gives everyone a chance to talk her around. When she changes her mind, she not only keeps it open but decides to invite orphans over to have a nice Christmas there every year.
- Santa Claus: Of course he shows up, did you think he's miss Yogi's first?
- Villain Song: Herman the Hermit gets one called "Mean, Sour, Crafty, And Cruel". Snively joins in on the chorus at the end.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ranger Smith initially wants to take Yogi back to his cave out of concern that he [Yogi] could cause trouble, which might get the lodge torn down, and relents when proven wrong.