We’ve made it to the end of 2020, we’ve done the Thanksgiving thing of finding the few bright spots in a crummy year, and now it’s time to amp up the Christmas spirit to full blast and see if we’ve been nice enough to get a brand-new Normal Year for 2021.
Whether you’re trying to make extra magic this year for your family, you need your kids occupied while you finish up year-end projects for work, or you just want some escapism into a world where snow and Santa solve every problem, pop on a Christmas movie from this list. It’ll spread a little Christmas cheer – the only thing we want to be catching right now.
Animated Christmas Movies
These movies are enjoyable for the whole family but will hold the attention of little ones who can’t hold still for live-action productions just yet.
- The Grinch (Netflix): The 2018 animated feature, starring Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent, is fleshed out, funny, and way less creepy than the live-action film. This is a Who-ville I’d want to live in.
- The Polar Express (rent): Based on the book (and despite being located in the Uncanny Valley where animation is just too close to real to be appealing), this now-classic movie inspires us all to believe.
- Klaus (Netflix): A good option if you’re not in the mood for over-the-top cheer. This one’s gritty and original and won’t make parents want to leave the room.
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (Disney+): An easy sell for kids already indoctrinated into the Mickey Mouse fan club. This movie is actually three separate stories, so it’s easy to break up.
Christmas Movies For Kids
You’ll probably be watching these on repeat because your kids love them so much. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Elf (Hulu premium, Amazon Prime premium, Starz): The Christmas season isn’t complete for me if I haven’t watched Elf a few times. A human raised as an elf goes to New York to find his dad and marvel at the size of the toilets.
- Noelle (Disney+): This story about Santa’s jolly but spoiled daughter and his son that doesn’t want to be Santa came out last year, but is already making its way onto the annual playlist.
- Christmas Chronicles (Netflix): This well-loved 2018 movie about a girl and her big brother trying to catch Santa got a sequel this year, perfect for a double feature.
Millennial Nostalgia Christmas Movies
These are the movies you remember fondly from childhood that your kids won’t appreciate as much as they should.
- Home Alone (Disney+): Let your kids watch this as a lesson on how to be independent (and why you should never wish your family away).
- A Christmas Story (Hulu premium): Incredibly quotable and watchable over and over again, this movie makes me nostalgic for a time I wasn’t even alive for. We’ve all got a little Ralphie in us.
- The Santa Clause (Disney+): Anytime you get to see the way the North Pole works or watch Tim Allen in a fat suit, it’s magic.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney+): Michael Caine and Kermit are the Christmas combination we didn’t know we needed. And now I really sympathize with Miss Piggy when Scrooge shows up with a giant uncooked turkey and a town’s worth of guests for her to feed.
- Jingle All the Way (Hulu premium): I’m not even sure this is a good movie, but I can’t pass up Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad fighting over a doll.
Classic Christmas Movies
Get ready to feel warm and fuzzy (and maybe fast-forward through the slow parts).
- It’s a Wonderful Life (Amazon Prime): The pay-off at the end of this movie will keep you coming back year after year.
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994 versions on Disney+): Whether you choose Natalie Wood or the Matilda actor as your precocious tot of choice, you’ll believe in Santa by the closing credits.
- White Christmas (Netflix): A story about war buddies, a couple love stories, and long-awaited snow combine in this classic musical. (Skip the pointless rehearsal scenes in the middle, though!)
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If You Don’t Have Hallmark Channel
If you need some feel-good, inane predictability (me, I do!) but don’t have the Hallmark Christmas Channel to keep on 24/7, there are some good love story options streaming. No spoilers, but the small-town girl is probably going to get her guy.
- A Christmas Prince (Netflix): Down-to-earth journalist in disguise meets prince.
- Christmas Inheritance (Netflix): Heiress in disguise meets down-to-earth artist.
- The Princess Switch (Netflix): Down-to-earth baker in disguise meets prince after switching places with a princess.
- The Holiday Calendar (Netflix): A magic calendar helps a photographer fall in love with an old friend.
- Christmas in the Smokies (Netflix): A threat to her family’s berry farm helps a woman fall in love with an old flame.
- Christmas Wedding Planner (Netflix): A Christmas wedding helps a woman fall in love with her cousin’s old flame.
- While You Were Sleeping (Disney+): A transportation worker falls in love with the family of an unconscious man. OK, this is a real movie, and a good one, with real stars, but if you run out of made-for-TV movies, you might move to this Sandra Bullock rom-com.
- The Holiday (Philo): This film has plenty of A-list actors and much better production value than a Hallmark movie, but it’s almost cheesy enough to get you your fix. Two women switch houses and meet men, at Christmas.
For the Grown-Ups
Save the good stuff for when the kids are asleep, whether it’s action, grown-up laughs or some light horror.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Philo): Get inspiration for your lights display and be happy you can’t have a house full of extended family members this year.
- Scrooged (Philo): It’s not Christmas without some version of A Christmas Carol, and this modern version might be more palatable if you’re not feeling very Dickensian. And if you want to double up on your Bill Murray, combine it with A Very Murray Christmas.
- Die Hard (HBO Max, Cinemax): Don’t argue; this is a Christmas movie. Take a break from the endless cheer and watch some Germans with machine guns get taken down by one barefoot American.
- Krampus (Hulu premium): This comedy-horror movie, where Krampus unleashes demon toys on those who’ve lost their Christmas spirit, isn’t for your little ones. But you might not have to buy them any toys this year if you let them watch it…
Whether you like your Christmas movies scary or merry, whether you let movie marathons play all day or pick just a couple as special treats, I hope you have a relaxing, healthy holiday season full of joy. If we all just get in the Christmas spirit, wish really hard for snow, visit our small hometown to save our family business, and fall in love with a prince, maybe we can turn this year around.