My List of Must-Watch Christmas Movies for Families

When I think of the holidays, I think of time off, kids out of school, and spending time with family. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle, and it can feel really busy. But one of my favorite activities growing up was cozying up on the couch with my sister and parents and watching a Christmas movie…or three.

My kids are still a little young to sit through a whole movie, but it’s definitely a tradition I can’t wait to start with them. 

family watching favorite christmas moviesThe Best Christmas Movies for Families

Here are some of my favorites:

Home Alone (PG)

A Christmas classic. Home Alone continues to be a favorite movie of mine. Parents of a certain age have most likely seen this one. Young Kevin McAllister’s family accidentally leaves him home alone for days, and he finds himself outwitting two burglars. Available on Disney+ and Freeform 25 Days of Christmas.

The Santa Clause (PG)

It’s weird when Christmas movies from your childhood can now be considered “classic.” But that’s what I’d call The Santa Clause. Tim Allen plays a divorced dad who finds himself becoming the next Santa Claus and adventure ensues.
Available on Disney+ and Freeform 25 Days of Christmas.

The Polar Express (G)

Based on the children’s book of the same name, it’s the story of a young boy who sees a mysterious train stop outside his window on Christmas Eve. He’s invited aboard by the conductor (Tom Hanks) and embarks on a journey with other children to visit Santa at the North Pole.
Available on HBO Max.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (G)

This is probably my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. It’s classic and quirky and takes a kind of melancholy tale and makes it a lively Christmas musical comedy. It’s a fun take on the Charles Dickens story with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Available on Disney+.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The 1966 version gives instant nostalgia when it comes to the Grinch. You can literally recite the book as the animation unfolds. There have been two subsequent movie updates: a live-action version from 2000 with Jim Carrey as the Grinch, and an animated version from 2018, from the same studio as The Minions.

Related: Looking for more family-friendly movies? Check out this list!

Elf (PG)

Who doesn’t love Elf? This is a fun Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf. Buddy was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised among Santa’s elves. When he feels like he doesn’t quite fit in with the elves, he sets out to search for his father in New York City.
Available on HBO Max and Hulu.

Miracle on 34th Street (1994, PG)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never seen the original 1947 version in its entirety. However, I love the 1994 version. It’s one of my top 10 Christmas movies. A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man named Kris Kringle claiming to be Santa Claus, is in fact the man himself.
Available on HBO Max.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (TV-G)

A 1970s stop motion animation classic. It tells the origin story of Santa Claus as a baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of the Kringle family.
Available on Freeform 25 Days of Christmas.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (TV-G)

This is one of my favorite old-school Christmas classics. I can still hum the Cold Miser and Heat Miser songs (if you know, you know). It’s another stop motion animation about the year Santa decides to take Christmas off. Mrs. Claus enlists two elves to find proof that people still believe in Santa Claus.
Available to rent on Google Play, Apple TV, Amazon Prime.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV-G)

Make sure your kids watch A Charlie Brown Christmas at least once. Let’s not let the term “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” lose its meaning for the next generation. Saddened by the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning of Christmas.
Available on Apple TV+.

Frosty the Snowman (TV-G)

Based on the Gene Autry song of the same name, it’s the story of Frosty, the snowman who comes to life with the help of a magician’s hat.
Available on Freeform 25 Days of Christmas.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (G)

In this telling of A Christmas Carol, Mickey Mouse is Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck is Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s a cute version of a classic tale that’s digestible for littles.
Available on Disney+.

A Christmas Story (PG)

A beloved Christmas classic narrated by the adult Ralphie, recounting the memory of Christmas when he was nine years old, and all he wanted in the whole world was a Red Ryder BB gun.
Available on HBO Max & Hulu.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (PG)

If you missed Jingle Jangle last year, be sure to add it to your list. It tells the story of a toymaker whose creation is stolen by his apprentice, and his granddaughter sets out on an adventure to get it back. It’s beautiful, colorful, fun, and includes great original songs. Available on Netflix.

The Christmas Chronicles (PG)

This Netflix original is about two kids who accidentally crash Santa’s sleigh and then have to save Christmas. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are charming as Santa and Mrs. Claus. It’s a fun Christmas adventure for the whole family.
Available on Netflix.

What are your must-watch Christmas movies? 

Catie is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in San Diego, and moved to North Texas after getting married in 2009. They have lived in Collin County since 2017 and welcomed their son to the world in 2018. She likes to call herself a "naptime entrepreneur" working during her toddler's naps as a personal branding photographer - creating visual content and branded images for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners. In her limited spare time, you'll find her reading a mix of fiction, parenting, and business books, daydreaming about traveling to Europe, giving some attention to their dachshund named Kevin, and watching classics on Disney+ with her husband.

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