During the holiday season, loved ones gather together in order to exchange presents, eat festive foods, celebrate the season and, of course, watch Christmas movies. Everyone has their favorite, and there are tons of options out there. For anyone who needs some family friendly suggestions, though, we have got it covered.
From animated classics and laugh-inducing comedies to stories that teach valuable lessons each time they are watched, these 10 flicks have been celebrated and enjoyed for years and years. And while new and exciting films may have since been released, it is always smart to go back to these.
10 The Grinch
Dr. Seuss published How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957, and three notable film versions of this popular and heartwarming holiday story exist.
There is the animated one from 1966, which featured Boris Karloff; there is Ron Howard’s adaptation from 2000, which starred Jim Carrey; and there is The Grinch, a 3D computer-animated one that came out in 2018, which has voices provided by actors and actresses such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams.
9 Home Alone
In 1990, Home Alone came out, and it featured Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, who was left home alone during the holidays. At first, he was a bit scared and shocked, but he soon embraced the situation fully… until two burglars showed up and changed up his plans.
This movie was nominated for awards, it was the highest-grossing live-action comedy movie in the U.S. and of all time until 2011, and it was the highest-grossing Christmas-themed movie until 2018. It was also followed by Lost in New York, Home Alone 3, Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House and The Holiday Heist, and the entire franchise will be rebooted through Disney+.
8 The Polar Express
A truly great holiday film is one that is full of magic, so The Polar Express certainly belongs on this list! Based on a book of the same name from 1985, this came out in 2004.
From the unique animation style and the featuring of Tom Hanks to the inspiring story and the amazing train itself, which goes to the North Pole, this is a fan favorite; family members of all ages will enjoy seeing what happens next, singing along and imagining what it would be like to visit Santa’s home base.
7 Jingle All The Way
Parents can relate to the struggle of trying to find the perfect popular toy for kiddos during the holiday season, and that is what is playing out in Jingle All the Way.
This funny flick was released in 1996, and it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Martin Mull and Jim Belushi. Schwarzenegger’s character, Howard, spends his Christmas Eve tracking down a Turbo-Man action figure, since that is what his son wants under the tree that year, and the journey to find one is hilarious and then pretty moving actually.
6 Miracle On 34th Street
One of the most well-known Christmas movies is Miracle On 34th Street, and there are two versions to watch and love.
The first one came out back in 1947, with Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood. The next one came out in 1994, with Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson. Both focus on a department store Santa Claus who says he is the real deal, and this is proved in such a cool way.
5 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a song that everyone knows, and it was first a poem that was written in 1939. It then became a song, thanks to Johnny Marks. And in 1964, the stop-motion television special that everyone also knows first aired.
This is an essential part of the holiday season: It features the reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh. It teaches an important lesson. It motivates people to chase their dreams (just like Hermie the Elf did!). And it shows off a classic animation style.
4 The Santa Clause
Another fan favorite family friendly film is The Santa Clause. This was released in 1994, and it starred Tim Allen as Scott Calvin. It gave a very special view into Santa’s job and workshop, and it was followed by The Santa Clause 2 in 2002, as well as The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause in 2006.
These sequels showed the progression of the main characters, which was neat, but they didn’t have that initial spark like the first one did. That being said, if only one can be watched this year, make sure to enjoy the first one!
3 The Year Without a Santa Claus
In 1974, another stop-motion animated special came on TV, and while it is not as popular as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, it is one to add to that must-watch list: The Year Without a Santa Claus.
This is actually based on a book of the same name, which was written by Phyllis McGinley in 1956. As the name suggests, this work told what would happen if Santa was not around during Christmastime. One of the most notable moments from this special, though, includes two other main men... Snow Miser and Heat Miser, who are classic characters with catchy tunes!
2 A Charlie Brown Christmas
Peanuts, a comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, got a TV special in 1956; yes, A Charlie Brown Christmas features well-known characters like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Pig-Pen and Lucy, but it also features a memorable message on the true meaning of Christmas.
This special won awards, it brought about a super popular soundtrack, and it is played several times each year during this festive season. It is one of those that is quick and easy to watch, as well as one that reminds people of what is truly important.
And, of course, there is Elf from 2003. There is the star-studded cast, which includes Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Bob Newhart. There is the child-like view of New York City (the scenes with chewed gum, revolving doors and shopping malls, for example).
There is comedy, which shows off just how talented Will Ferrell is. There is so much to like about this movie, and for many, it is the best Christmas story ever. So, when gathering around with loved ones this year, remember to save some time for Elf.