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10 Best Holiday Movies

Updated on July 28, 2020

Enjoy the Best Holiday Movies

The holiday season is about more than just shopping and drinking loads of eggnog. At our home, we enjoy the best holiday movies every year. A big bowl of popcorn and It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol are as much holiday traditions here as putting up the Christmas tree!

Tired of watching Christmas Vacation year after year? (my kids love that one, by the way, and it IS on the list of my top 10 best holiday movies.) If you want some other ideas of the best holiday movies to enjoy, I've wrapped them all up for you here!

So, take a break from shoveling the driveway or addressing greeting cards. Head to the RedBox, download them through Netflix, or even find them on many "on-demand" channels.

Why not enjoy one of these classic Christmas movies today? Give yourself a little present.

All tuckered out from holiday movies!
All tuckered out from holiday movies!

The Muppet Christmas Carol

No, I am not embarrassed to admit that my favorite holiday movie is the 1992 film, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Starring Michael Caine as Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Muppets make you laugh and cry in this version of the holiday classic.

Our favorite lines in the movie are, "light the lamp, not the rat!" and "If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour."  ... "Even the vegetables don't like him!"

We love how the genius of the Muppets combines culture with humor.  The Muppets Christmas Carol is hilariously entertaining, while importing major life lessons.

One of the more poignant facts about The Muppet Christmas Carol is that it was the first major Muppet project after the death of creator Jim Henson in the late 1980s.

A Muppet Christmas Carol

Elf

There really is no other movie on earth that I can watch several times a month and never tire of! Elf, starring Will Ferrell and James Caan, is hilarious and so childlike that it can make us all believe in the magical mystery of Christmas, like no other movie of this era.

The film itself has some hysterical scenes and memorable lines. While you are cracking up, you might not realize that Elf has some very important lessons. Wait... is this a serious movie, too.  Childlike innocence is captured in a beautiful manner. Believing in Christmas transcends us all, no matter our age, race, creed, or even height!

If you haven't seen Elf, you really must take a few hours and enjoy this classic Christmas movie. Tell them Santa sent you....

Elf - Funniest Clips

Home Alone (Original)

What if you woke up one morning and everyone in your home was gone?

So begins the original "Home Alone" film starring Macaulay Caulkin, playing an 8-year old boy who awakens after his family and extended family all have boarded a plane to Europe for Christmas vacation. Left to his own devices, Kevin wards off two burglars, while also experiencing the magic of Christmas, all by himself.

I really cannot believe that the film is 20 years old. It seems like not that long ago I was watching Home Alone in theaters. Today, my own children are Kevin's age. They think its hilarious that he gets to jump on the bed, slap aftershave on his face, order pizza and eat a huge bowl of ice cream with no adults to tell him otherwise.  And just wait until the bad guys try to break in. Hilarity ensues!

If you haven't watched Home Alone for a few years, pull out this Christmas classic movie and enjoy a few belly laughs, as well as a few tears.

Home Alone (1990) Original Trailer

Its a Wonderful Life

Really, you cannot have a top "anything" list of holiday movies without the classic film, Its a Wonderful Life.

Jimmy Stewart later claimed that this 1946 movie was his favorite, of all the ones in which he acted. It was also the favorite of director Frank Capra. But did you know?

It was actually a box-office flop at the time of its release, and only became the Christmas movie classic in the 1970s due to repeated television showings at Christmas-time when its copyright protection slipped and it fell into the public domain in 1974 and TV stations could air it for free. [Republic Pictures restored its copyright claim to the film in 1993, with exclusive video rights to it. Currently, it can be shown only on the NBC-TV network, and its distribution rights belong to Paramount Pictures.

Surely, you know of the general story line of "Its a Wonderful Life" ? Basically, its like A Christmas Carol, but from another perspective. George Bailey (James Stewart) is on the brink of suicide, even though his life is wonderful and filled with blessings. However, his guardian angel, Clarence, shows him how life would have been in the small town, had George never lived.

Its a Wonderful Life shows a frightening, nightmarish,view of the world that helps to bring George back from self-destruction. He returns to the idyllic, small-town world that he left, with renewed faith and confidence in life itself.

Hence, the film's title: It's a Wonderful Life .

Auld Lang Syne from Its a Wonderful Life

The Polar Express

When this movie first came out, I found it hard to believe that The Polar Express, a children's picture book made into a full-length feature movie, would be that good (or that popular). But this 2004 film tugs on your heartstrings and helps you recall the magic of Christmas as a child.

Starring Tom Hanks as the conductor of the train, the film originally showed on both the big screen and in eye-popping IMAX format.

If your children are wondering about Santa Claus, or seem to be making up their minds, this one is a definite family feature to enjoy together.  Can you still hear the jingle of Santa's sleigh bells?

The Polar Express

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Maybe it shows my age, but I remember when National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was first released.... and I was old enough to see it without my parents worrying too much.

Chevy Chase is the classic comedian - just perfect for a holiday movie like this one. Playing off his wife, kids and extended family, "Christmas Vacation" shows just how many things can go wrong when you decide to stay at home for the holidays.

Funny lines from the movie include: "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" and "Is your house on fire, Clark? ... No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights."

awwww, yes, don't we all just love Christmas?!

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Trailer

A Christmas Story

Too many classic scenes from A Christmas Story - all of them entertaining and worth watching again this season. I cannot decide which one is my favorite: the "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" refrain (no BB guns for Christmas), the piggy footed pajamas, or the tongue stuck to the frozen pole.

Ralphie is the perfect kid Christmas movie character for this film based in the 1940s. He's a soft, glasses-wearing nerd with perfectly combed hair - clearly a momma's boy. The movie is both poignant and a little dark.

Will Ralphie get the Red Ryder BB gun he so desperately wants for Christmas? Watch and find out!

Classic Scenes from A Christmas Story

White Christmas

I'll admit that the plot of White Christmas leaves a little to be desired. But the singing and dancing is what its all about! It is a Bing Crosby holiday movie, after all!

I love the costumes, the Irving Berlin music, and the witty reparté between the main characters. Starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger, the 1954 film is one that you can enjoy, time and again.  In fact, this film spans all the generations in my family.  From 7 to 87, everyone loves White Christmas.

White Christmas is a musical treat - fun, light and a bit romantic. Perfect for a trip down nostalgia lane.

Bing Crosby Sings White Christmas

Miracle on 34th Street

I'm going with the original 1947 edition of Miracle on 34th Street, which won three Oscars, and not the re-makes. This classic Christmas movie contains the line that you now hear every year, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

After the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, a series of events leads people to wonder whether a department store Santa is actually the real man from the North Pole.

Is the old man insane, or is he magical?  Even if you know the plot and the ending, Miracle on 34th Street is such a holiday classic, you'll love watching it again.

Miracle on 34th Street Trailer

The Santa Clause (original)

The first of a trio of movies starring funny-man Tim Allen as a "tag-you're-it" Santa Claus, is the best of the bunch. When Santa falls off the roof to his demise in front of Scott Calvin and his young son, the small print on a tag (in legalese, the "Santa Clause") requires Calvin to take over as St. Nick.

Before he realizes what has happened, Calvin is putting on weight, growing a white beard, and finding it hard to resist becoming the man in the red suit. Everyone around him is curious as to what is happening, and disbelieving of Calvin's explanation that he is - in fact - Santa Claus.

Tim Allen was at the height of his comedy career when this movie came out in 1994. This film is both very funny and family friendly.  If you haven't seen this holiday movie in a while, its time to put it back on your good list.

The Santa Clause

What is Your Favorite Holiday Movie?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Stephanie Marshall

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