Peek Into Our Christmas: Favourite Holiday Movies

There is something so festive about holiday movies. You can watch Les Misérables or Beauty and the Beast any time of year. But Home Alone oozes holiday vibes – it is set at Christmas, after all – and I believe it requires twinkle lights and cozy blankets to truly be appreciated (bonus points if hot chocolate and candy canes are involved).

While I do love a good Hallmark movie, I won’t be listing those here (though I did really enjoy Ice Sculpture Christmas a few years back, FYI).

Today I’m going to talk about our family’s tried-and-true holiday classics. The movies we revisit each year, with characters that feel like long-lost friends. We curl up together and, even though we remember all the nuances of the plots (yes, Marv and Harry are going to end up being carted off to prison) we hold our breath at scary bits and we laugh at the funny jokes and we sing along to the songs we know by heart.

Without further ado, here are a few of our favourite holiday movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if you might find some overlap with well-loved classics in your household.

  • HOME ALONE | My parents were very careful about what media was consumed in our house growing up, yet we watched Home Alone every year. I do think we were watching the TV version, which likely edited out a few of the unsavory parts? I continue to mute a few sections because, well, my kids don’t need to hear or see clips from Angels with Dirty Faces (I’m looking at you: Merry Christmas you filthy animal). We also like Home Alone 2 and Home Alone 3, and the kids chuckled quite a bit during the latest release – Home Sweet Home Alone – but nothing quite beats the original.
  • DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966) | We watch this animated classic every year. It is amazing and I love it more with each re-watching. I have so many memories of this “movie” from Christmases of yore and the kids would be getting lumps of coal in their stockings if they didn’t join me on this bandwagon (thankfully they have, without coercion).
  • THE GRINCH | This was the first movie the kids saw in theatres and it did not disappoint. I am such a huge fan of the 1966 version (see above), but this reboot really did live up to all my expectations. Heartwarming and heartbreaking in all the right ways. It’s also very quotable; for example, “I myself use chocolate explosion” gets repeated regularly in our household and is sure to guarantee a laugh.
  • WHITE CHRISTMAS | Oh, White Christmas, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. I feel like this is either a you-love-it or you-hate-it movie? I happen to love it, but I think a lot of this stems from sentimental attachments to the film from my youth. It also helps that I’ve paired it with a movie-viewing party with one of my best friends each December and I look forward to this night every year. I’ve seen this movie so many times (but now limit it to ONLY ONCE A CHRISTMAS SEASON), and each year when we start watching it, I can’t believe it wasn’t just yesterday we sat down to watch it for the previous year. *Update: this very special movie event is happening tonight. Tonight!! Cue the cozy blankets, warm mugs of decaf chai tea, and singing along to our hearts content.
  • CHARLIE BROWN’S CHRISTMAS | We watch this each year…and each year I find it both awkward and sad (some of the characters are just plain mean) and wonderful. Hearing the Christmas story presented so clearly and in such a wonderful way never ceases to delight.
  • MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET | I have to admit I’m partial to the 1947 version. Just a classic feel-good story, but with lots of twists.
  • ELF | There’s potty humour. There’s awkward family relationships. There’s Zooey Deschanel’s voice. There’s Will Farrell as a human snowball-throwing machine. What more could you want? We just went and watched this movie over the weekend at a local theatre (who is hosting free weekend movies over the Christmas season). So fun.

some other options

Last year The Santa Clause series (with Tim Allan) and Christmas Chronicles (a relatively new set of releases from Netflix) were both hits with the kids, and they watched Merry Christmas Mr. Bean for the first time and it got lots of chuckles as well. I grew up watching Ernest Saves Christmas, though I have to admit it didn’t seem as funny when I re-watched it as an adult?!

I have never seen The Christmas Story but know it’s a classic and I’ll finally get to meet Ralphie and his crew at another of those aforementioned free movie screenings over the holiday season. I’m looking forward to it!

Now tell me – are there any must-see holiday movies in your household?

Header photo by Samira Rahi on Unsplash

13 thoughts on “Peek Into Our Christmas: Favourite Holiday Movies”

  1. I am looking forward to our kids being old enough to enjoy movies! I’ve tried watching some with Paul and he is so sensitive that the smallest things scare him. 🙁 I am going to see if he will watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though. I think that should be tame enough for him. He’s a little young to appreciate my favorites, like Miracle on 34th Street (I love the old school one AND the updated one). I also loved Christmas Vacation but he’s way too young for that! Ha! I just got an email from Amazon about all the different holiday movies on Prime so I will have to see if there is anything kid appropriate. We’ll have to try to find Charlie Brown Christmas because I think that would be perfect for Paul. I haven’t watched it in years but will likely notice the same issues you noted!

    I try to watch The Holiday at some point during the Christmas season. I love that movie so much!

    1. I do think that most movies/kids shows have very scary elements in them! I know I’ve written about this before, but my kiddos seem to have a pretty high tolerance (higher than me)!

      Charlie Brown is quite tame and likely the least scary of everything we watch at Christmas?

      I haven’t watched The Holiday in several years but used to make sure to watch it annually!

  2. thanks for the suggestions. we’ve watched a couple over the years but so many more to explore. it really makes the season festival!

  3. It’s a Wonderful Life is probably my all time favorite!!! The message is just too good. It’s so up my alley, with him learning the deeper meaning of life, pondering how one action affects another….the angel….I just love it. I also LOVE the latest version of The Grinch. “This is the loudest snow ever!!” haha…that part had my kids in stitches. We’ll definitely watch that again this year. I also love Miracle on 34th Street.

    1. I was just telling a friend tonight that it has been YEARS since I watched It’s a Wonderful Life. I do love to re-watch the same movies each year, but also feel like I’m itching to change things up a bit. I’m excited to see A Christmas Story for the first time (it’s such a cult classic, and I’ve never seen even a single clip from it) and should add in It’s A Wonderful Life. Since it’s been well over a decade since I saw it last, I have a feeling it will feel like I’m watching it for the first time.

      We LOVE The Grinch. The music. The animations. I just think it is such a great, great movie and definitely a new classic. I have never watched the Jim Carrey live-action version and refuse to do so. It looks so angry and dark – the opposite of what I want from the grinch!

  4. Yes to all of these! When our oldest was a toddler (before DVD’s were all the rage, LOL), we made a VHS that had Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch all playing back-to-back. Oh, we watched that tape several times a week, I think. Now, she’s 27 and her brother (24) and sis (22) don’t care for those as much, but we do watch Home Alone (the original, mostly), Santa Claus, and Elf when we have everyone together.

    1. I grew up on VHS and have great memories of all those classics.

      We just watched the original Home Alone over the weekend (and the new one, as well – not as good, but still funny)!

  5. We love Home Alone and Elf, try to watch it every year during the holiday season. On Christmas Eve/Day we ALWAYS watch “It’s a wonderful life” and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (it’s an old classic that my husband grew up watching).
    Other favorites include “The Holiday”, “A Fitzgerald Family Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas”, “Love Actually”, The Polar Express”, “The Family Stone”, and have you watched “Jingle, Jangle” on Netflix last year? That was delightful and might become an annual favorite.

    1. Some great ideas! I’ve never watched (or heard of) Jingle, Jangle. I’ll add this to my list! I’ve also never heard of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, but it sounds like something that would be right up my alley.

      It has been at least a decade since I watched It’s A Wonderful Life, and I really do want to make sure I see it again this year.

      I watched The Holiday every Christmas for years; it’s one of my favourites, but I’ll admit I’m a bit “meet-cuted” out! I know loads of people that LOVE The Family Stone…but I just didn’t get it?

  6. Our family usually takes turn picking a Christmas movie to watch each Saturday in December. We always start with Elf.
    I usually choose either Love, Actually, Little Women (the 1996 version, though the newest one might make it into rotation), or While You Were Sleeping.
    The nine year old picks Meet Me in St. Louis. I’ll have to try White Christmas with her; she loves movie musicals.
    The two littles are too little to pick, so we usually pick for them. There is always one cheesy Christmas rom-com, sometimes the opera version of The Little Prince, and often A Christmas Story (So looking forward to the re-make on HBO this year!) and Home Alone.
    After the kids are in bed, the Husband and I usually watch Die Hard.
    Then we watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.
    Not a Christmas movie, but the Husband used to watch Scent of a Woman every Thanksgiving morning, before the Macy’s Day Parade, and once we got together it became part of my day too. We haven’t done it recently because we’re not sure if it is quite appropriate for the kids, but you know… upon reflection, I don’t think it’s anything that the kids should be kept from, honestly.

    1. Everyone seems to be on team “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Peer pressure – I’ve got to add this back into rotation!!! It has been too long.
      This will be my first year to see A Christmas Story and I’m so excited to see it in a theatre setting (our local theatre is screening a series of classic holiday movies for free in December)!
      I also want to watch the new version of Little Women. I might read the book with the kids first – we’ve been reading books/watching the accompanying films – but I’ve heard really great things about the latest iteration and haven’t seen it yet.

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