Best Christmas Movies To Watch With Your Family

There’s so much to watch on TV during the holidays it can be hard to choose, but there are some that have become traditions in themselves. Here are some of the best available. Most can be streamed on Amazon, either free with a Prime membership or for a minimal rental fee, if they’re not going to be broadcast twenty times between now and January. Sit back and relax and enjoy the show, they truly are for all ages.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated) (1966)

Yes, there’s a live-action version, and yes, there’s a new computer-animated Grinch movie, but the 1966 classic is the one to snuggle up to and watch with the family. With a story by Dr. Seuss, animation by Chuck Jones, narration by Boris Karloff, and songs performed by legendary singer Paul Robson – every Who down in Whoville knows that this is a superstar lineup. And at only half an hour, it’s the perfect length for smaller viewers.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

There are too many versions of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic, but this one has something for everyone in the whole family. Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit against Michael Caine’s Scrooge, narrated by Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo the, um, whatever he’s supposed to be. With a hummable score by music legend Paul Williams, this is a great way to introduce kids to one of the greatest works of literature. One of The Jim Henson Company’s finest productions.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

The first animated Peanuts special, the one that set the tone and the bar for the other seven hundred that came after it. The vignette-style episodic storytelling, free form jazz soundtrack, and actual children’s voices for the characters seems like a recipe for disaster, but it’s actually the secret of its success.

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Based on a children’s book of a misheard lyric (instead of “all of the other reindeer”) this animated film stars Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive, a peppy little Jack Russell terrier who is sure she can fill in when one of Santa’s reindeer suffers an accident. Produced by Matt Groening’s The Curiosity Company, this is a lovely show to share hot cocoa over. Three cheers for Olive!

The Polar Express (2004)

A triumph of rotoscope CGI, Tom Hanks stars as the Conductor of the aforementioned train, which picks up kids all over the world for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the North Pole. When he picks up a skeptical boy who doesn’t believe in Santa, you know someone’s going to spend Christmas Eve on a train to adventure.

Miracle on 34th Street (1946)

This movie has also been made into several versions but do not be fooled: the first one is the one worth watching. Starring Edmund Gwenn and a young Maureen O’Hara, yet another skeptical child is going to be in for a big surprise. In this case, the surprise is that the department store Santa she goes to might secretly be the real one! Originally in black-and-white, it’s also available in a colorized version.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970)

Of all the Rankin-Bass stop motion holiday specials, this is the king of Christmas. Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire tell the story of Santa and his secrets: how do reindeer fly? Why does he go down the chimney? And who is Mrs. Claus? Join Santa on his inaugural flight and let Christmas commence!

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

A Jim Henson production for HBO, this is a charming story about a poor otter and his family who are bound and determined to win a Christmas talent show. This show was off the air for a while due to legal reasons, since originally the show was hosted by Kermit the Frog, but now it’s back in its original form and is even in limited release in theaters this year courtesy of Fathom Events.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Frank Capra probably never realized this film would be so many families’ traditional “Christmas around the television” movie. A broken man who has lost everything wishes he had never been born, and an angel comes down to prove him wrong. It’s full of memorable movie quotes like “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” and “why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?” and “out you two pixies go, out the door or through the window!” Why not add it to your holiday tradition schedule, if it isn’t already there?