In our family, Thanksgiving is the official kickoff of the Christmas season. We don’t listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, or decorate the house until after Thanksgiving. Watching my favorite movies throughout the holiday season is one of the things I enjoy most. It’s not like I’m going to watch Elf in April, so it’s a treat reserved for this special time of year. In no particular order, here are my top ten, tried and true favorite Christmas movies.
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I know I said “in no particular order,” but technically Home Alone ranks at the top. It’s a little weird because the movie itself doesn’t have that much to do with Christmas, but because I grew up only watching it during the holidays, it feels Christmas-y to me. My sister and I always watched it on Thanksgiving, and now that we live in different cities, we still try to watch it together when we’re together before Christmas.
The Family Stone (for adults)
This one is perfect for when I want to experience all the holiday feels. Apart from the very awkward dinner scene (which I sometimes skip) there are so many endearing moments in The Family Stone. It gets you with all the quirks that come with being part of a family, the pain of love that’s not quite right and the subtle sweetness of love that is right.
Do I even need to explain this one?! Will Ferrell as an elf in a way that only Will Ferrell could possibly be an elf. It’s corny in the ways that all Christmas movies should be and it makes you revel in the joy of the Christmas spirit. I cry every time the people singing in the park make Santa’s sleigh fly. Plus there are so many perfectly quotable lines! You know you’re thinking of one right now.
I love this movie. There’s a remake, but don’t watch it until you’ve watched the original. Kris Kringle is working at Macy’s during the holiday season, ends up in some trouble and a lawyer has to prove to a New York City court that he is the real Santa Claus. If you’ve always thought this one was just an old movie, you need to give it a chance because it’s a classic.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (for adults & older kids)
I’m not even sure how old I was the first time I watched Christmas Vacation, but probably too young to get a lot of the best jokes. Chevy Chase kills me. If for some reason you’ve never watched this because you thought the other Lampoon movies were ridiculous and stupid, then you need to give it a chance. This one is so much better than the others.
Again with all the feels. Tim Allen brings a certain level of cheese, but the overall message is so sweet that I can get past some mediocre jokes. My oldest has started to question the existence of Santa Claus and I really want her to watch this one this year, but I worry that some aspects of the movie might confuse her more. The verdict’s still out on whether the kids get to see it, but I’m watching it for sure.
This is another instance where I prefer the original to the remake. The song alone makes this version superior, but there’s also something nice about just sticking to the Dr. Seuss story as it was meant to be told. While the Jim Carrey remake is certainly creative, there’s too much other stuff going on to really get the point.
This is one of our family favorites. It’s a charming story (originally aired in 1970) of how Santa Claus came to be. It answers many of the most common questions about Santa – why does he come down the chimney? Why do we hang stockings? It’s narrated by Fred Astaire and has some great songs to accompany the storyline. My kids always look forward to watching it together.
Based on the popular book of the same name, The Polar Express is a vividly imaginative cartoon depiction of a boy riding a train to the North Pole. The book is fantastic, but in this case, I actually felt like the extra storyline in the movie actually added to the original story. Tom Hanks does a wonderful job as the voice of multiple characters in the movie, giving each just the right touch of magic and the animation is really well done.
Love Actually (for adults)
So again, this movie isn’t technically that much to do with Christmas, but it takes place during the five or six weeks leading up to Christmas. Following the stories of several interconnected characters, you get a lot of funny moments and some of the feely-feels too. It’s one of those movies that just makes you feel good.
There are so many good Christmas movies to choose from. What are your favorites??