Is your house brimming with the magic of Christmas and the holiday season? When the tree has been trimmed, and all the gifts have been wrapped, it's time to put the kids into those Christmas jammies to snuggle up with the perfect family Christmas movie. Don’t let picking the wrong festive flick turn you into a Grinch.
Unlike the naughty list, this holiday movie list is filled with positive messages, classic tales, and just the right amount of seasonal cheer. So, pop some popcorn and enjoy a family movie night with one of these Christmas classics perfect for kids.
Buddy the Elf will keep the whole family in stitches. Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema
1. Elf (PG)
Buddy the Elf never quite fit in at the North Pole as a human raised as one of Santa’s elves. When he discovers that his real, human father is on the naughty list, Buddy heads to New York City to set things right. Everyone will laugh their way through this 2003 family Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell.
2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Older tweens and teens will love this Chevy Chase, 1980s classic story of the Griswold family trying to throw a picture-perfect Christmas. With tons of slapstick humor, 25,000 Christmas lights, and a few surprise guests, nothing seems to be going the right way for poor Clark Griswold.
3. It's a Wonderful Life (PG)
This 1940s feel-good flick has a love story, redemption, angels, and a bowl full of life lessons that will make your whole crew feel warm and fuzzy. Watch as George Bailey and Mary Hatch fall in love, raise a family, and then face down financial hardship before the community comes together to help each other.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (G)
Filled with positive messages that focus on the religious story of Christmas, this 25-minute TV flick is perfect for the youngest celebrants in your home. Charlie Brown is sad that people have made Christmas too commercial. So, when Lucy asks him to direct the holiday pageant, Charlie Brown seizes the opportunity.
Go on a magical adventure with a boy and a snowman in The Snowman. Photo courtesy of Snowman Enterprises
5. The Snowman
This nearly wordless animated film is based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book of the same name, The Snowman. At just 26 minutes, it's a visual delight. The snowman comes to life and takes a young boy on a magical adventure up to the North Pole for a party.
6. Yes, Virginia (TV-Y)
“Yes, Virginia. There IS a Santa Claus!” When an 8-year-old little girl goes on a quest to prove Santa’s existence, she is inspired by small acts of kindness from the most unlikely of places. Kids will delight in the 2009 version of this animated Christmas movie voiced by the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Bea Miller.
7. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (G)
Danced by the New York City Ballet, this televised production of the world-renowned George Balanchine’s Nutcracker production is a perfect way to introduce a younger audience to the world of dance. The narration makes it easy to follow along with this dazzling production.
Curl up with your little ones for The Muppet Christmas Carol. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures and Jim Henson Productions
8. The Muppet Christmas Carol
This preschooler's retelling of the Dickens’ classic tale about redemption features the whole Muppets gang: Gonzo, Kermit the Frog, and Miss Piggy. Of course, there are a few Christmas Carol remakes on this list, but this is the only one that features your fuzzy Muppet friends.
9. Meet Me in St. Louis (not rated)
Your whole family will enjoy this classic MGM Musical. The movie depicts all four seasons in the life of the Smith family living in turn of the century St Louis. It is filled with several catchy tunes; however, none as memorable as Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
10. Miracle on 34th Street
When little Susan doesn’t believe in the existence of Santa, it takes a very special Santa at Macy’s to change her mind. Although your kids may be turned off by the lack of color and flashy special effects in the circa 1947 flick, this movie is the quintessential family Christmas movie that will likely win over even the youngest of hearts with its seasonal sweetness.
Take a wondrous trip to the North Pole with The Polar Express. Photo courtesy Warner Brothers/ABC Family
11. Polar Express
“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” Based on the book by the same name, The Polar Express movie, starring Tom Hanks, depicts the pure magic of Christmas. When a young boy questions the existence of Santa, the Polar Express roars onto his street and whisks him away to the North Pole for a night filled with wonder.
12. Scrooged (PG-13)
Tweens and teens may get a kick out of this throw-back from the 1980s starring Bill Murray as a workaholic who has put his job in television above everything else. Striving for perfect ratings, he neglects his family, friends, and loved ones earning him a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past.
13. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (PG)
This animated tale is a classic Christmas movie for a reason! How the Grinch Stole Christmas has all the elements of a great family Christmas story: playful rhymes, a grouchy Grinch who doesn’t feel the Christmas sprinting, and a village of Whos determined to save the day.
Cheer on Kevin as he takes on robbers and wins in
Home Alone. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox
14. Home Alone (PG)
As a parent, Home Alone depicts my biggest nightmare (and probably every parent's!): leaving a family member behind for the holidays. But kids love to cheer and laugh along with middle-child Kevin as his Christmas dream of “wishing my family would just disappear,” comes true, leaving him home alone to defend the house against a set of witless, would-be robbers.
15. The Santa Clause (PG)
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a toy company executive, startles Santa into a fatal fall leaving only the famous red suit behind. When he puts on the red suit to finish up Satna’s annual trip, Calvin discovers that he is legally obligated to be the jolly man in red, according to the “Santa Clause.” So he and his son Charlie head off in the sleigh for a serious adventure!
16. While You Were Sleeping
Lucy, a toll token collector for the Chicago L train, has developed a crush on a handsome stranger. When she saves him from certain death, a case of mistaken identity ensues in this sweet romantic, holiday comedy.
17. Trolls Holiday (PG)
This TV short brings a certain sparkle (and singing and dancing) to the holiday movie scene.
Queen Poppy and her kingdom try desperately to find a replacement holiday for the Bergens to celebrate. You know, one that doesn’t involve eating Trolls!
Watch this short to see Olaf search for a new holiday tradition in
Olaf's Frozen Adventure. Photo courtesy Walt Disney Animation and Pixar
18. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (G)
Olaf really wants to find a new holiday tradition for his friends Elsa and Anna. This short from Disney inspires family discussions on what your own traditions mean during a season made up of more than just one holiday.
19. Rise of the Guardians (PG)
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman join Jack Frost for an action-packed adventure. Although not an obvious Christmas classic, this movie is one of those rare gems that appeal to the entire family.
20. Prancer (G)
Jessica believes in the magic of Christmas, so when a reindeer with an injured leg winds up on her farm, she knows he is one of Santa's helpers. Watch as this determined kid nurses the reindeer back to health, along with someone's holiday spirit.
21. Mickey's Christmas Carol (G)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol, part of the Classic Short Films Animation Collection, depicts the classic Dickens’ tale with some Disney magic. At just 26 minutes, it's perfect for your littlest mouse fans.
22. Frosty the Snowman (G)
The magic of winter and children's imaginations come to life with this animated 1969 children's movie about a certain snowman.
This triple dog dare will keep you on the edge of your seat in
A Christmas Story. Photo courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
23. A Christmas Story (PG)
This family comedy follows a 9-year-old boy in the 1940s as he pines for a BB gun, avoids a bully, and enjoys the holiday with his brother and sweet, but overbearing parents.
24. Eight Crazy Nights (PG-13)
An animated Adam Sandler and his famous Chanukah song star in this holiday movie that has plenty of crudeness the teens will like. Don't worry, the story is all about his need to reform and repent, so there will be plenty of learning moments, too.
25. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (G)
Bullied by his peers, Rudolph, a young reindeer (the most famous of all!), turns a handicap into an asset for Santa and his sleigh. Of course, the young buck finds self-confidence along the way. Kids will delight in the classic story done in stop-motion.