The Ultimate Family Christmas Movie List


The Ultimate Family Christmas Movie List

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Here are the ratings, release years, running times, and descriptions for 38 Christmas movie classics. Yes. That’s right, 38!

If you don’t own these holiday staples and don’t want to research where they are or fight the crowds, simply click on the image of the movie and you’ll be directed to get your movies delivered right to your door (most of them for $5-$10!)

I always put on these movies in the background while I’m decorating, enjoying holiday treats, or spending some quality time snuggled up with the family.  All of these films will give you the warm fuzzies!  Dive right in!  Happy Holidays!

  • Elf

PG (2003) 1 hr 37 min

Starring: Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart, James Caan

Since this movie came out almost 15 years ago, it has become a staple in most homes.  Join Buddy the elf on his adventure from the north pole to find his real father in New York City.

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Live Action)

PG (2000) 1 hr 44 min

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski

This imagining of Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas tale brings the colorful characters of Whoville to life.  Enjoy watching little Cindy Lou Who make the Grinch’s heart grow 3 sizes.

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated)

Unrated (1966) 26 min

Starring: Boris Karloff

If you love the classic tale but have small ones with a short attention span, spring for the tale told in less than 30 minutes!

  • The Santa Clause

PG (1994) 1 hr 37 min

Starring: Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold

Get wrapped up in the clause with Scott Calvin as he inadvertently takes out Santa on Christmas Eve and gets roped into doing the job himself!

Can you believe this classic is almost a quarter of a century old?!

  • The Santa Clause 2

G (2002) 1 hr 44 min

Starring: Tim Allen. Elizabeth Mitchell, David Krumholtz

Dive deeper into the Santa “clause” as Scott Calvin finds out he needs to find a Mrs.

  • The Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause

G (2006) 1 hr 37 min

Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell

Meet the Counsel of Legendary Figures and Jack Frost as he plans to take over Christmas in this time bending, alternate universe story unwinds.

  • Muppet Christmas Carol

G (1992) 1 hr 25 min

Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire

Join the whole Muppet gang as they bring the classic Charles Dickens story to life in true Muppet Fashion.  Songs, dances, and amazing puppetry will keep your little ones drawn in.

  • Polar Express

G (2004) 1 hr 40 min

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks

Journey to the North Pole on the wildest express train your imagination can fathom.  The classic book was brought to life with ground-breaking animation and teaches lessons of bravery, friendship, and the spirit of Christmas.

  • Frosty the Snowman

TV-G (1969) 25 min

Starring: Jimmy Durante, Billy De Wolfe, Jackie Vernon

The greedy magician tries to steal the magical top hat that brought Frosty to life.  This quick classic is wonderful for those short attention spans.

  • Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town

TV-G (1970) 48 min

Starring: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn

The stop-motion origin story of Kris Kringle will answer questions about why Santa comes down the Chimney, why stockings are hung, and why Santa comes on Christmas Eve.

  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

TV-G (1964) 47 min

Starring: Burl Ives, Larry Mann, Billie Mae Richards

This stop-motion classic gives a back story to the song of the same name.  What happens between all of the other reindeer calling him names and all of the reindeer loving him?

  • The Little Drummer Boy

Not Rated (1968) 25 min

Starring: Jose Ferrer, Paul Frees, June Foray

The not-so-well known stop motion TV classic brings the song to life.  A young boy takes out his frustrations on a drum and meets three wise men on an important journey.

This is a great short one to watch on a night that you set up the nativity scene.

  • Home Alone

PG (1990) 1 hr 43 min

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

Kevin McCallister is left behind during the family vacation.  Watch Kevin protect his house from the Wet Bandits, Harry & Marv with booby traps while his family fights to get back home.

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

PG (1992) 2 hr

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

The year after Kevin is left home alone during the family vacation, he finds himself separated from his family yet again…in the bustling streets of New York City with none other than Harry & Marv.

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

TV-G (1965) 25 min

Starring: Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford, Bill Melendez

Charlie Brown accepts the position as Christmas pageant director while he struggles to get past the materialism of the season and seeks help from his friends in order to understand the true meaning of Christmas

  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

Not Rated (1999) 1 hr 6 min

Starring: Kelsey Grammar, Wayne Allwine, Russi Taylor

A three part special.  “Donald Duck Stuck on Christmas” Donald’s own “Groundhog Day” experience. “A Very Goofy Christmas” Goofy’s journey to Max believing in Santa.  “Minnie & Mickey’s Gift of the Maggi” Mickey and Minnie recreate the ironic story about giving all you have.

  • Beauty and the Beast: An Enchanted Christmas

G (1997) 1 hr 12 min

Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, Tim Curry

When Belle finds out that the beast hates Christmas, she decides to decorate and celebrate against his wishes.  Forte, an enchanted pipe organ, has more meaning to his master as an enchanted object than as a human and plans to rid the castle of Belle.

  • The Snowman

G (1982) 26 min

Starring: David Bowie

Raymond Briggs’s book brought to life in simple animation. Christmas Eve brings a boy’s snowman to life and they journey to the North Pole to meet Santa Clause.

  • Father Christmas

Not Rated (1991) 25 min

Starring: Mel Smith

Another Raymond Briggs book brought to life.  Father Christmas vacations in France, Scotland & Las Vegas before returning home to get back to work.

  • Arthur Christmas

PG (2011) 1 hr 37 min

Starring: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy

The answer to the iconic question of how Santa gets the presents all delivered in one night with a dysfunctional family full of hijinks behind it all.

  • The Nutcracker

Not Rated (1977) 1 hr 18 min

Starring: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland

Tchaikovski’s score is brought to life when Clara’s grandfather, a magician and toy maker brings a nutcracker as a gift to a Christmas Eve party.  Clara’s evening brings about a battle, dancing snowflakes, dancing candy, dancing fairies…dancing everything, it’s a ballet.

If you have an aspiring ballerina on your hands, grab this and let them get inspired for auditions!  I have this on VHS as watch it every year.

  • Christmas with the Kranks

PG (2004) 1 hr 39 min

Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Akroyd

When the kids are finally out of the house, the Kranks parents decide to skip Christmas all together, until their daughter makes a surprise visit.

  • Jack Frost

PG (1998) 1 hr 41 min

Starring: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross

A traveling singer struggles with spending time with his son and tends to break his promises. One year after he dies in a car accident, he comes back as a snowman and is given the chance to do all the things with his son that he missed out on.

Although this one is rated PG, if you’re not ready to discuss death with your little ones, skip it.

  • An Elf Story

Not Rated (2011) 23 min

Starring:Leslie Bellair, Brendan Dooling, Evie Eikhoff

Chippy is assigned to a family and finds his job difficult.  With a little help from Santa, the boy he is assigned to believes.

If your kids are all about their elf on the shelf, let them enjoy this short based on their favorite Christmas tradition.

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

PG (1993) 1 hr 16 min

Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

Jack, king of Halloween Town discovers Christmas Town and and tries to take over the holiday.

This is rated PG, however, little ones who don’t do well with Halloween may have trouble with this one.

  • Jingle All The Way

PG (1996) 1 hr 29 min

Starring: Arnold Schwartzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman

A mattress salesman and a mail man are both fathers hunting for a Turbo Man action figure on Christmas Eve and every store in town is sold out.

  • Ernest Saves Christmas

PG (1988) 1 hr 35 min

Starring: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark

Silly Ernest is at it again but this time he joins Santa in the search for his successor.  Failure will result in no Christmas!

  • Deck The Halls

PG (2006) 1 hr 33 min

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristin Chenoweth

A town’s resident Christmas man and his family prepare for their favorite time of year when a new family, the Halls, move in across the street.  Mr. Hall wants his house to be seen from outer space.  So begins the rivalry of Christmas decor.

  • White Christmas

Not Rated (1954) 2 hrs

Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney

A successful song and dance duo become romantically involved with a sister act.  The four travel to Vermont for a booking and find out that the owner is an old friend who is in dire need of help.

It is not Christmas to me until I hear Bing Crosby sing White Christmas and this spectacle brings it to life.

  • Holiday Inn

Not Rated (1942) 1 hr 40 mins

Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds

A successful singer leaves the business in order to settle down on a farm with an inn only open on the holidays.  Once he finds himself with too much time, he begins writing shows for each holiday celebration.  Mystery and a love triangle cause mayhem followed by Bing Crosby singing none other than White Christmas.


  • Miracle on 34th Street

Not Rated (1947) 1 hr 36 min

Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne

A last minute Santa replacement for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade turns out to be a hit and is quickly recruited to become the store Santa for the season.  Kris Kringle believes himself to be the real Santa Claus but is not met with approval.

  • It’s a Wonderful Life

PG (1946) 2 hrs 10 min

Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

An angel is sent from heaven to save George Bailey from his contemplated suicide.  The angel shows George what the world would be like if he had never been born.

  • A Christmas Story

PG (1983) 1 hr 34 min

Starring: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin

A young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his family, his teacher, and Santa himself that what he wants most for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun.

Movies for Mom, Dad, and the teenagers

The following films are filled with some more adult-aimed content.

Enjoy some quiet time with your significant other after the kiddos have gone to bed or when they are at Grandma’s house.

While You Were Sleeping

PG (1995) 1 hr 43 min

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher

A Chicago transit authority token taker falls for a stranger more and more every day.  He is knocked unconscious onto train tracks, she risks her own life to save his.  When he hospital staff won’t let her see him, one of the nurses claims that she is his fiance in order for her to gain access.  The man’s family hears word of their fake engagement, and she is quickly welcomed into their home for the holidays.

Definite chick flick.  If your husband hasn’t seen this one, perhaps have a girls night with some wine and some 90s-tastic Bill Pullman

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

PG-13 (1989) 1 hr 37 min

Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki

Family joins the Griswolds in their home for Christmas.  Mishaps, mayhem, and madness occur within their home while everyone just tries to survive the holidays as Clark waits for his Christmas bonus.

Great if you have teenagers, but there’s some language to be weary of.

  • The Holiday

PG-13 (2006) 2 hrs 18 min

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black

Two women both troubled by the men in their lives swap homes for a home exchange vacation over the Christmas holiday.

Chick Flick alert.  Plenty of humor, a lot of bedroom talk.  Great for a ladies night in.

  • Four Christmases

PG-13 (2008) 1 hr 28 min

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall

Brad and Kate are in a happy relationship and have no intention of marriage or children.  Each year at Christmas, they come up with an excuse and head off to an exotic location for vacation.  When a fog rolls in and ruins their vacation, they suddenly end up having to do what they try to avoid every year, visit all 4 sets of their divorced and re-married parents in one day.

  • Scrooged

PG-13 (1988) 1 hr 41 min

Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe

While a cynical TV executive is putting together a live portrayal of A Christmas Carol at his station, he, himself, is visited by the ghosts of past, present and future to help him change his ways and get into the Christmas spirit.

#39 Bonus: Adult Only Movie

  • Love Actually

R (2003) 2 hr 15 min

Starring: Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Kiera Knightly, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thorton, Rowan Atkinson,

Warning: nudity & language

This British classic follows the life of 8 very different couples that are all intricately intertwined the month before Christmas.  Follow the heartbreak, love stories, and drama as it unfolds.

Definitely to enjoy on a night the kids are out of the house!

The Ultimate Family Christmas Movie List Ratings Descriptions release dates run times magical mama blog

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    1. Thank you! I’m so glad! That’s one of the reasons Christmas is my favorite! Constant cozy feelings and nostalgia!

    1. Thank you! It’s true! Something about the season just makes it so cozy and warm! I’m so glad you like it! I hope your family gets to enjoy a bunch of these flicks this year!

    1. Thank you! I adore them all and they’re already filling up my TV screen most nights. They’re such feel-good flicks, I try to enjoy them as many times as possible!

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