Christmas movies are a tradition in our home during the holidays, and we have a few favorites that we return to year after year. Here’s our list of the 25 Best Christmas movies for yourself and your family.
When the snow is falling, and the air is crisp, one of the joys of the holiday season is curling up on the couch with a family favorite Christmas movie.
From heartwarming to hilarious to harrowing, these timeless Christmas classics have become part of our annual Christmas traditions.
If you’re a fan of Christmas – like I am – you’ve probably already seen most of these movies, but I think you may find a hidden gem or two inside this list. Perhaps you’ll even find a new favorite Christmas movie that you and your family can enjoy!
Or perhaps you’re new to the joys of holidays movies and every single one of these will be a delightful new experience. If that’s the case, I envy you for being able to enjoy all of these for the very first time.
I’m not sure I could ever rank these movies in order of preference, because I love them all, and so does the entire family. Plus, even if I tried, I feel like that preference would change each year because there’s something special about each and every one of these movies.
I have included links to these fantastic Christmas movies on Amazon just in case you wish to purchase our rent the film. I am in Amazon Associate, so any purchases you make could result in a small commission being paid to me, which will help fund this website.
Our Family’s Favorite Christmas Movies
To help guide you in your search for Christmas Cinema Spirt, here are 25 of our family’s favorite Christmas movies… in no particular order.
That’s one movie for every day leading up to Christmas, so you can think of it almost like a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar?
So curl up, grab some Christmas cookies and some popcorn, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have over the years.
One Magic Christmas
Mary Steenburgen heads this cast in a touching film about a Christmas Angel (Harry Dean Stanton) who must go to great lengths to remind a tired and cynical mother about the true meaning of Christmas.
Miracle on 34th Street
This classic film from 1947 stars a very young Natalie Wood and silver screen legend Maureen O’Hara in this touching tale about a department store Santa who is not exactly what he appears to be… or maybe he is? It’s not just one of the best Christmas movies of all time, it is also one of my personal favorite Christmas movies.
An updated version was released in 1994, but I am sorry to say that – despite a solid attempt and some excellent acting – it didn’t have nearly the same level of charm as the original.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Another one of my all-time favorites and arguably THE best Christmas movie ever, this Jimmy Stewart classic rings ALL the right bells for me (literally!).
This movie has become so ingrained in our culture – and is referenced in so many other films and TV shows (including Married with Children), that if you haven’t watched it yet, you absolutely must!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
If you’re looking for more of a Christmas chuckle than a Christmas cry, this movie delivers all of the antics you would expect from National Lampoon & Chevy Chase.
One of the sweetest animated Christmas movies ever made, this one is sure to touch your heart and bring a tear (or several) to your eye. Narrated by Randy Travis, this countrified Christmas story tells the tale of a talking cow who dreams of becoming one of Santa’s reindeer.
A bit of an Anti-Christmas movie that turns into a Christmas movie, this down and dirty movie stars Billy Bob Thornton as a miserable conman who poses as Santa in order to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But does the Christmas Spirit get the best of him?
You’ll have to watch to find out! However, I would suggest that you watch this one with adult’s only, as it is NOT a family friendly Christmas movie!
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Leave it to the Muppets to put a unique twist on the Charles Dickens classic tale!
You may think that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, but I beg to differ. After all, that ill-fated party at Nakatomi Plaza takes place on Christmas Eve!
If you want something a little bit different to break up your marathon of the best Christmas movies, this is an excellent choice!.
All I Want for Christmas
Ethan Randall (who later became Ethan Embry) and Thora Birch star as a brother and sister who go to incredible lengths to make a little girl’s Christmas wish come true. Unfortunately, that Christmas wish is to reunite her divorced parents.
Although panned by critics, this is movie is full of family-friendly fun.
When a human who has been raised by Santa and his elves finally returns to New York, everybody is in for an adjustment period.
But it’s Christmas time, and – as Buddy would say:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A classic “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” Christmas story featuring all of your favorite Peanuts characters.
A little known bit of trivia, this was actually the first TV special based on the popular Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schultz.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey takes the lead in this live-action version of the classic Christmas tale about the Grinch who tries to ruin Christmas for the citizens of Whoville.
The story of a Christmas-hater who learns the true meaning of Christmas is a classic, and the Grinch has become an iconic image of Christmas.
However, if you prefer the animated classic version, you can check it out here.
When a busy family heading out on vacation accidentally forgets one of their children at home, he is forced to fend for himself and protect the family home against a couple of bungling burglars.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
The classic Dickens tale about a miserly man who must be taught the meaning of Christmas by dealing with three ghostly visitations is tackled by the dynamic team of Robert Zemeckis (who helmed Back to the Future) and Jim Carrey.
The Santa Clause
What do you do when you accidentally kill Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? You’ll find out if you watch this comedy classic starring Tim Allen.
The Polar Express
When it was released in 2004, this animated Christmas movie featuring the voice talents of Tom Hanks about a young boy who embarks on a magical journey to the North Pole quickly became a Christmas classic.
A Christmas Story
Another Christmas classic, but in an entirely different way, this 1983 film is about a young boy’s attempts to convince everyone that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift – despite their fears that he’ll shoot his eye out.
Much like Die Hard, this movie is a departure from your traditional Christmas movie. Ok, I’m kidding, this Bing Crosby classic is about as Christmassy as you can get!
And, of course, it featured one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?
If you don’t, and you want to see the True North Pole Story of Rudy’s humble beginnings, you have to watch this Christmas Classic.
Our final entry in the Christmas Carol inspired Christmas movies, this 1988 version stars Bill Murray as the titular character in a comedic re-imagining of classic bah-humbuggery.
A modern classic that features a young Andrew Lincoln (Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes) among a star-studded cast, this romantic comedy gives you a little bit of love for the holiday season.
And that’s Bill Nighy, not Bill Nye the Science Guy (I always get those two mixed up!!)
Family dysfunction is at the forefront of this Christmas comedy about a bickering couple who are taken hostage by a burglar on Christmas Eve. Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey each have brilliant moments throughout this hilarious Christmas comedy.
For those who want a bit of fun and a bit of fright during the holidays, you can’t go wrong with this 1984 classic Christmas movie about a small town that gets overrun by not-so-cute furry little creatures.
The Family Stone
You can call this “The Clash of the Titans: Family Christmas Edition”. When a career-oriented New Yorker heads to New England to spend Christmas with her boyfriend’s family, family drama – and hilarity – ensue. The all-star cast includes Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, and Claire Danes.
Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)
This touching movie tells the true-life tale of a spontaneous cease fire that broke out between Scottish, French and German troops in the trenches of World War I on Christmas Eve.
Enemies leave their weapons behind for one night as they band together in brotherhood and forget about the brutalities of war. Diane Krüger, Daniel Brühl, and Benno Fürmann lead this first-class international cast in a truly powerful, must-see film.
A Christmas Movie Advent Calendar
Although you can watch these Christmas movies in any order you would like, I thought it would be fun to put them together into a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar, with one movie per day from December 1st until Christmas Day!
Click on the image to see the full size version in case you want to save this for yourself!
These Christmas movies will give you a month full of Christmas fun, laughter, and tears!
Did I Miss Your Favorite Christmas Movie?
If you have a personal or family favorite that wasn’t on this list, let us know in the comments below!
And, of course, a list of Christmas movies would not be complete without at least a small call-out to the massive collection of Christmas movies that Hallmark has managed to accumulate over the last few years!
Love them or hate them, these Christmas movies have become almost as much a part of Christmas as pine treas and mistletoe!