My 10 All-Time Favorite Christmas Movies

There’s something about watching those Peanuts characters belt out “Hark the Harold Angels Sing” that puts me smack dab in the holiday spirit. Not that I need much help – I’m a huge sucker for all things holidays. Christmas carols, shopping, wrapping presents, the movies, decorating. I love it all. There are tons of holiday movies out there but there are a handful that I could (and do) watch over and over (and over) again come December. Just about all of them are very well-known but there is a surprise in the list that you may have not heard of and is one of my favorites. Does anyone else flock to holiday programming the way I do?

My top-10 favorites, in no particular order:

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Probably my favorite if I had to choose. It’s so simple but an absolute classic. From the  poor little bare tree to the pageant and all the characters singing in the end, it just embodies the holiday spirit for me.

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

This is one of those shows that just makes me feel good. It’s old-school claymation. And while I find the notion of “island of misfit toys” a little weird and slightly disturbing, I just love seeing Rudolph’s nose light up and him saving Christmas. It never gets old.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The original. Definitely the original. I actually can’t judge the new one because I’ve never seen it. (Have you? Is it good?) Re-makes of old classics like the Grinch sometimes make me cranky and then I boycott them. Same thing with Willy Wonka. Nothing wrong with the original. The remake totally creeped me out. Anyway, LOVE the original Grinch. A must-watch for me!

4. Elf

Elf definitely ranks up in the top three of my favorite holiday movies. It was on what appeared to be a loop last weekend after Thanksgiving, and while I never sat down to watch it from start to finish, I caught pieces of it as many times as I could. It makes me belly laugh. I love belly laughing.

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It seems that everyone either loves or hates this movie, and I positively love it. It makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch it. It’s on my must-watch list when I am wrapping presents or baking.

6. A Christmas Story

Although I admit that I am not as enamored with this movie as I was when I was younger, it’s still a staple for me. I love the TBS 24-hour marathon on Christmas Eve. I’ll never tire of seeing the little brother get his tongue stuck on the flag pole or watching the dad ogle his leg lamp. A definite classic!

7. One Magic Christmas

This is the surprise movie that isn’t as well-known as the others. I’m pretty sure my parents taped this off of the Disney Channel when we were kids and we would watch it every year. The past few years I have caught it on the Hallmark Channel during December, but usually in the wee hours of the night, so I finally bought the DVD. It’s a really touching story that centers around finding Christmas spirit. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend!

8. Love Actually

I probably watch this one the least often, but it’s still a favorite and great for popping in on a snowy night when you want to curl up with some hot chocolate.

9. The Holiday

This movie makes me feel good whenever I watch it, but particularly so around the holidays. It’s sort of ironic because I’m not a huge fan of Jack Black or Cameron Diaz, but I just adore this movie. A great story about letting go of the familiar and embracing an adventure.

10. A Muppet Family Christmas

What can I say? I’m a child of the ’80s and the Muppets were a part of my upbringing. They give me the warm fuzzies. And throw in Sesame Street? Can’t beat it!

And now a shameful confession: I have never seen classics like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life. Eek, what kind of Christmas-lover am I? I need to get to watching those this year! I have never seen The Polar Express either, but it’s on this weekend and I’ve already set my DVR!

What are your favorite holiday movies?


33 Responses to “My 10 All-Time Favorite Christmas Movies”

  1. Amanda on December 2, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Miracle on 34th Street is definitely on my list – it is FANTASTIC (the old black and white version of course). I like A Wonderful Life too, but I don’t watch it as often. As far as the Jim Carey Grinch movie, I love it. They definitely took some liberties, but it was only a 30 minute movie, so can you blame them? Cindy Lou Who is wonderful and makes me feel all Christmas-y 🙂 Lat year, I saw White Christmas on Broadway and loved it – I’ll be watching that movie this year!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Ooh I need to add White Christmas to my list too!


  2. Tania on December 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I am making it a point to watch Miracle on 34th Street this year because I too have never seen it. Hint: It’s on ABC Family on the 21st at 6pm followed by Polar Express = ) Have you seen Prancer? That is one of my favorites.


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Tania, I totally forgot about Prancer! I have seen it, and I set my DVR for both Polar Express and Prancer 🙂


  3. Julie @SavvyEats on December 2, 2010 at 8:57 am

    My number one favorite is White Christmas. Love it.

    Other favorites? Elf, Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, Miracle on 34th Street (the old and the new versions) and Home Alone!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      You know, I always associate Home Alone with Thanksgiving because I always remember it being on TV Thanksgiving night when I was a kid.


  4. Angie (Telly's Tasty Tidbits) on December 2, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I’ve never seen One Magic Christmas – I love Christmas movies so I’ll have to check it out! Also – my list would not be complete without Home Alone – LOOOOVE it!


  5. Melissa on December 2, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I’m so glad that The Holiday made your list! I always decorate to that one. 🙂 I’m also a huge Elf fan & Miracle on 34th Street gets me everytime, too!

    Love that you’re doing this page now, Michelle! Is it weird that I read through your post yesterday & the “about” section & think we could totally be friends in real life??? Seriously, so much in common!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      I watched The Holiday last night – I love it! And no, not weird at all! Friends 🙂


  6. Abby on December 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Muppet Family Christmas is one of my favorites too! We still have it on VHS and I try to watch it every holiday season. It’s made even better by the 80s commercials on the tape. Also, you’re not the only one who hasn’t seen Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life. I just got around to seeing A Christmas Story for the first time last year.


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

      Isn’t it funny to watch old VHS tapes and see the commercials? Blasts from the past 🙂


  7. Melanna on December 2, 2010 at 11:21 am

    last year I saw White Christmas and Holiday Inn for the first time and now they have both been added to my yearly watching list. I want my sister to learn the “sisters” song so we can sing it together.
    I’m a sucker for the truly classic, so I love Its a wonderful Life and the original Grinch. This year I want to introduce my 2.5 year old to some of the great ones from my childhood. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but as a child I LOVED Babes in Toyland. Though now I fear I won’t like it as an adult. I don’t find it on TV as readily, so this also suggests it might not be all that good.
    I have never seen Elf and therefore am determined to watch it this year!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      You must watch Elf! I’ve actually never seen Babes in Toyland. I’ll try to check it out!


  8. Allison on December 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    White Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and The Year Without a Santa Claus are always, 100%, on my list every year. I love those movies.


  9. Cookin' Canuck on December 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Rudolph, The Grinch (cartoon, not Jim Carrey) & Charlie Brown are definitely on my list. I’d also have to include Frosty the Snowman and The Polar Express.


  10. Kristin on December 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I’m also a sucker for Christmas movies of all kinds. I love the ones that come on TV as well as classics like White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, The Bishop’s Wife…and newer classics like While You Were Sleeping, Elf, Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity, The Holiday. I have SO many movies to try and watch before Christmas (and a husband who doesn’t like to watch them with me – Scrooge though he can be about Christmas movies, he does love It’s a Wonderful Life. I, too, have never seen it all the way through). Happy Christmas movie watching!


  11. Kim on December 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    LOVE the Grinch and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Other movies on my list: All I Want for Christmas, Home Alone, The Santa Clause, Holiday Inn, White Christmas


  12. Darla on December 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Fantastic list!! Love that the first three are cartoons, and Elf and The Holiday are certainly my newest favorites, plus, I can’t go a Christmas without watching Ralphie in A Christmas Story, but I have to say that I am so thrilled that you have One Magic Christmas on your list! I’ve watched that since I was a little girl too, and whenever I mention it to friends, they’ve never heard of it, but my sisters and I all love it. Another great 80’s film is Santa Claus: The Movie…but I think most of that is more about nostalgia for me!

    Definitely have to add White Christmas (with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) to the list), along with A Muppet Christmas Carol. I love Christmas!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      Yay! So happy to find someone else who has seen One Magic Christmas! Such a wonderful movie. And yes! Santa Claus: The Movie – I loved that! Just searched for it on the DVR and recording it over the weekend!


  13. Robyn on December 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    i have a stack of what i call my new christmas classics:
    1. little women (1994 version with winona ryder + christian bale)
    2. love actually
    3. the holiday
    4. serendipity (not christmas-y per se, but i always watch it this time of year
    5. just friends (ryan reynolds, amy smart, anna faris, HILARIOUS)


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Just Friends is such a cute movie!


    • Kathleen on August 29th, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Okay, Michelle, I love your list. Most are on. My own, BUT, you have to check out The Bishop’s Wife. This is an old movie with Carey Grant , I can’t even describe it, but for me, it defines Christmas magic. In the movie Carey Grant is an angel. It just isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched this and Miracle on 34th St. It drives my husband mad. Love it!


  14. Sandy on December 2, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    1. Love Actually
    2. Elf
    3. White Christmas
    4. It’s a Wonderful Life
    5. Any of the “cheesey” Christmas movies they show on ABC Family Channel during their 25 days of Christmas (ex – Holiday in Handcuffs, Christmas Do-over, etc)


  15. Erin on December 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    This is an awesome list! I just sent it to my husband telling him we need to watch all of these this month. I also haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life. I tried watching once and just got bored 🙂 ha! My favorite is always Love Actually. and I have a soft spot in my heart for Prancer…


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Aw, enjoy Christmas movie watching with your husband! 🙂


  16. Janene on December 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I like all of those . . . we are especially big Elf fans (Nate’s all time favorite MOVIE – we watch it in June). I also love The Santa Clause ~ my nephew made me watch that once a day the summer I baby sat him…so it reminds me of a little Connor (who is now 12).

    White Christmas is also a must for sentimental reasons more than the actual movie. What can I say…I’m a sap! hehehe


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      I love that you watch Elf in July! 🙂


  17. Lori on December 3, 2010 at 6:40 am

    I love all those Christmas shows and try not to miss any when they are on. It always brings me back to my childhood. I too like watching the ABC Countdown to Christmas and the Hallmark Channel Holiday Programming. Two good movies are The Christmas Card and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. If you get a chance, check it out.


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

      Thank you for those recs, I will definitely check them out!


  18. Marci on December 4, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I would say mine would be “Meet Me in St. Louis” starring Judy Garland. Love, love that movie!


    • Michelle on December 5th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

      I have never seen that one either, I am adding it to my list!


  19. Denise on March 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I know, it’s March, but I was cruising your site and thought I would add a movie to the list. It is a favorite of my sons from his childhood. Jack Frost with Michael Keaton. It can be a tough one to find, but I finally bought it a few years ago to add to our Christmas movie collection.


  20. Dave on April 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Many of mine are on your list, as well. One that isn’t is The Christmas Toy, which is another Henson production from the ’80s. I’m also fond of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, which PBS re-airs from time-to-time in the holiday season. Finally, my kids and I can (and, I think, have) watched Christmas Vacation on every day of the year.


Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)