The holidays are a tricky time for many. There are those that love every single, solitary thing about them. Then there are those who can take them or leave them. No matter who you are...Man, woman or child, there are no doubt moments of incredible joys and also incredible doldrums.
This is where our list of kids Christmas movies comes in. It aims to be very positive. The hope is that by reading a list such as this we will feel unity, harmony and long to return to these films year after year with our families. Especially the little ones.
Even though this is a holiday movie list, it is both eclectic and filled with the standards we have come to expect. You can't have a list without Home Alone or A Christmas Story. However, films like Get Santa, while not as well known, certainly deserve their place on this list, too. We've dug deep into IMDB to find the very best.
The fact that we are focusing on Christmas movies for kids doesn't simply limit this list to kids movies. Kids is a broad term. Many of these Christmas movies teach life lessons that will last all year long. Quite simply, there's something for everybody.
So sit back, bundle up, put on a kettle of tea or a cup of hot cocoa, gather the loved ones around and dive into the best family movies ever made for kids of all ages. Some of these titles may spark a new interest in the holidays. Other films are sure to bring back fond memories of more innocent times. Whatever the case, this list is bound to make you feel something and feeling is what the holidays are all about.
A Christmas Story
Set in the 1940s this film is centered around Ralphie (Peter Billingsley - who would go on to produce Iron Man!) and his desire to own a BB gun. Ralphie is the perfect blank canvas for the unusual cast of characters that this film presents. Filled with loads of holiday cheer and warmth, A Christmas Story is a film for all time.
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) doesn't want to be around his family during the holidays. So when they leave him at home things aren't that bad. Then his house becomes the object of two burglars desire. Not only does Kevin have to save his house, he's gotta make right by his family. Home Alone is one of those classic Christmas movies for kids. Considering it's from the 1990s that is really saying something.
The Santa Clause
The premise of this story is uniquely dark. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally makes Ole Saint Nick shuffle the mortal coil. Well, you can't just cancel Christmas so Calvin dons the red the suit, grabs the reindeer and sets about giving gifts to the world. The premise of the movie is a bit hokey but this film ultimately has its heart in the right place. Kids and adults can watch this movie together and laugh for completely different reasons.
Elf isn't just a perfect holiday movie. It's the perfect movie period. This film is one of the best kids christmas movies because it is a comedy about a man who is too big to live among the elves he loves. So he sets off on a journey to the U.S.. His goal? To find his family. Ultimately, he finds a lot more and a lot more is what the holiday season hopefully has in store for everyone.
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney lend their voices to this 48 minute stop motion gem. This film deals with the origin of Santa Claus, how he got the name Kris Kringle, and ultimately how the jolly red guy came to deliver gifts to people all over the world. Structured around a solid story, young people will love the intricate stop motion work that is all over this film. At the same time, their parents will recall a classic from a time gone by.
Miracle on 34th Street
A man claims to be the jolly man in red. He also claims to deliver gifts and fly around with reindeer. Of course, everybody thinks he is insane. A young lawyer comes to his defense by trying to show that he, indeed, is who he says he is. Christmas is all about belief. Belief in yourself, belief in miracles and belief that you'll get the gifts you want. This film is truly a miracle for all who view it. It has stood the test of time to cross generations. This is what makes it one of the best kids Christmas movies
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
You've got a Christmas movie that sees its main character doing everything they can to ruin the holiday. Ron Howard deftly directs this tale of Whoville by putting images on screen that we've never seen before. Jim Carrey is pitch perfect as the green goblin of a character who wants nothing more than to ruin people's favorite holiday.
Santa Claus has a few issues is in this offbeat tale from director Christopher Smith. First off, Santa mysteriously shows up in the garage of a stranger. Secondly, he's crashed his sleigh. Lastly, (and probably most important) Santa is on the lam from the authorities. So, a father and son have to team up to keep Christmas afloat. When a film combines the holidays with a family yarn, that can be a recipe for success. Get Santa strikes all the right notes for a Christmas movie while at the same time resonating with kids and adults.
This race against time holiday yarn may be a newer film but it is no less classic. In this film we see the son of Santa Claus, Arthur, tasked with the job of getting a gift to a girl that somehow never showed up. Making Arthur's job even tougher is the fact that he has two hours to make this happen. As far as Christmas movies for kids, Arthur Christmas fires on all cylinders. Why? Well, kids know that Christmas is a one night only affair. They also go into the holidays with a certain degree of expectation. Arthur Christmas tackles all of that and that is why it is one of the best kids Christmas movies ever.
Frosty the Snowman
This is one of those kids Christmas movies that is undeniably perfect for the season. With a voice over by Jimmy Durante no less, this 1969 gem is 25 minutes of snow covered perfection. It centers around a snowman that is alive and the people that wish to do him harm. Thankfully, he has the aid of a young girl that wants to help him. A true holiday classic! Ah-cha-cha...
Jingle All the Way
Fathers everywhere rejoiced when this film was released. First of all, they got to see themselves as Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a dad who has promised his son he will get him the most sought after toy on the market. However, he's got to battle everybody else who wants that toy. Sure, in the internet age this story is a bit dated (in a reboot the dad would probably have done his Black Friday shopping in July!), but it's still something that young people and old people can find joy in watching.
It might seem odd that a creature feature would make a holiday list for kids but that is precisely what Gremlins does. When a teen is given a new pet named Gizmo, who has very specific rules for his care, a small town is beset with problems when those rules are not followed to the letter.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
This 1966 film is whimsically crafted and it's the kind of thing young people will devour. I don't care if you are 6 or 66, this television short resonates. The beauty of "kid's films" is that these things are evergreen. They always have a place in a kid's viewing realm. They don't care if it's summer or winter. Entertainment is key, however, this story of a curmudgeonly green guy attempting to hijack Christmas from Whoville, takes on added resonance this time of year. Truly one of those Christmas movies that kids and adults must share.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
What are the odds that a child can be left alone twice? The title for this film pretty much says it all. Kevin is lost in New York but he's got some credit cards and the Wet Bandits after him again. As the Bandits plot a major bank heist, it is up to Kevin to thwart their efforts. Nothing screams holiday movie like Christmas in New York. Kids are sure to love this tale that ultimately shows us what the holidays are all about.
It's A Wonderful Life
This timeless classic is a true Christmas movie gem that tugs at heart strings of all ages. In life we all make mistakes. At one point or another, we all think the world would be a simpler place, a better place, if we weren't in it. Well, George Bailey is having the worst Christmas Eve ever. He's going to end it all... then an angel named Clarence steps in and shows George what life would've been like without him. Kids might bum out about the idea of watching a black and white film but, once they get passed that, they will be in all the way.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is something that we learn about as kids. As this character is forced to face himself through visits by three ghosts, kids, at a young age are shown just how important the little things are. For young people, to see those things on screen in this 1951 classic is nothing short of a necessity. In a day and age when social media seems to rule all of our lives, A Christmas Carol is a great film for adults and children to share. It truly shows everyone what truly matters in life. That is something young children can't learn enough about.
This holiday classic may be from a time that kids deem ancient history, but White Christmas is a musical that should have them singing in their pajamas. This story of two song and dance acts joining forces to save an Inn in Vermont, is filled with Holiday cheer and excitement. The comedy flows like hot coco and sugar cookies, and this film should enhance everyone's Christmas mood. In this time when so many things seem divided, this is one of those kids christmas movies that teaches a strong lesson about working together.
Ernest Saves Christmas
Jim Varney made Ernest famous and he's at his level best in this Christmas movie with a kick. Santa Claus is looking for a successor and Ernest has been tapped to aide in this process. Kids loved Ernest in the 1980s and they're going to love him in 2016. This holiday film is whimsical, fun and just right for this special time.
Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas
Christmas movies for kids seem like easy things to put together. Having a movie to spin it off from should make matters easier, right? Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas shows it needs to be done well or not at all. Why? Well, kids need to see the humanity in the animated characters that they revere. In this film Belle and Beast are at odds over Christmas. Belle is into it and Beast is not. Making matters even more tricky is the pipe organ, Forte, being upset about what Belle is doing the castle. So, with Beast not into the holiday, and Forte looking to upend her, Belle has to figure out how to still make this holiday special. Ultimately, young people will see that despite tremendous odds, character counts and a positive mental attitude will win the day. That is why makes this film really special.
A Muppet Christmas Carol
Take the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miser who learns the true meaning of Christmas, "Muppetize" it, and that gives you one of those amazing Christmas movies everybody loves. With something for kids and parents, this movie is appropriate at any point during the Holiday season. And with Michael Caine as Scrooge, you know that this is a tale that has been done right!
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Very few films can truly capture the holiday spirit. Somehow, this whimsically drawn, 25 minute, "kids" film does just that and darn it... makes a statement in the process. Basically, Charlie Brown is upset about all the commercialism happening around the holidays. However, this films isn't negative and that's what makes it one of the best kids christmas movies. It is perfect for people of all ages and it honestly seems to get better the more times you watch it.
The Nightmare Before for Christmas
This weird, cozy and deliciously subversive Christmas/Halloween mash-up is based on characters created by Tim Burton. As too be a expected with holiday themed material, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a kids Christmas movie without being a kids Christmas movie. The story is simple, Jack Skellington rules Halloween Town. Then he comes across a place called Christmas Town and it just isn't something he can grasp. Filled with amazing images, groundbreaking stop-motion action, and whimsical dual holiday flare, kids (and adults) have been loving this tale since it was released in 1993. With the holidays fresh upon us, it seemed right to remind a new generation of this very fact.
The Polar Express
This ground breaking, motion capture tale confused a lot of people upon its release. Some saw it as lacking a heart and soul (that's kind of a problem when you're making a holiday movie). Others simply didn't know how to take it. Also, it seemed like for the budget spent, they could've made this thing live-action and not had to worry about the heart and soul thing. However, this tale of a boy going to the North Pole, and the important life lessons he learns along the way, has endured and is now seen as one of the best kids Christmas movies. It is rich with life lessons. At the same time it is filled to the brim with a richness that belies motion capture technology.
The Year Without Santa Claus
With Mickey Rooney voicing Ole Saint Nick, kids are going to be enthralled from the jump. The set-up here is that Santa has a bad cold and just isn't feeling like venturing out and delivering presents this year. However, some of Santa's elves spring into action as they are determined to show him just how much people need Christmas. In a time where we are living in (and with) a lot of uncertainty, young people depend on the Holidays to provide some semblance of normalcy. This 51 minute film strikes all the right chords and will show kids that adults have feelings too. Again, a movie from 1974 might not seem like a mandatory Christmas movie for kids. However, no kid wants to miss Christmas and no kid should miss this movie.
The very name of this film denotes the holidays, right? Okay, I could describe this tale of Elsa, Anna and the infinite winter, but what adult and kid is not familiar with this film? What person in the developed world hasn't heard the song, "Let It Go"? Frozen is the most holiday of holiday movies and, to be honest, it's actually perfect for any time of year. Christmas movies come and go but this one seems destined to endure.
Meet Me in St. Louis
New York is synonymous with the holiday season and that city looms large here. Judy Garland top-lines this film about the Smith daughters who have to leave St. Louis for the big city. Warmth oozes out of every frame of this film. Vincente Minnelli has directed a lush, picturesque tale that, though from a different time, resonates today as a holiday classic.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
At 47 minutes, this animated tale of a lovable reindeer who is just trying to find his place in the world, is nothing short of holiday perfection. If you are an adult or kid who isn't captivated by this film or the tale it is telling, you might want to rethink your holiday cred! In fact, you might want to think about how much you really enjoy kids christmas movies! Very few holiday films have the ability to transform and transfix like this one does.
Mickey's Magical Christmas
Mickey Mouse and the Holidays... they just seem to go together, right? Thats my take on things. Mickey and his buddies are having a Christmas party when they get snowed in. As you can guess, the true meaning of the season is revealed as Mickey and his friends have a blowout for the ages. A film for the whole family that works on EVERY level.
Curious George A Very Monkey Christmas
29) Curious George A Very Monkey Christmas - Curious George is getting ready for the big day but he can't decide what to give the man in the yellow hat. Will they be able to find out or will Christmas pass them by? It's about time that Curious George's name was mentioned with this special day. This might be one of the most unsung Christmas movies for kids. It just didn't have the budget that a lot of the films on this list do. This wonderful movie highlights the giving aspect of Christmas. This often seems to get lost amidst much of the other goings on.
The Dog Who Saved Christmas
30) The Dog Who Saved Christmas - Dean Cain should be in every holiday movie, shouldn't he? Also... how can you knock a dog that is voiced by Mario Lopez? This Christmas movie is basically Home Alone with a canine. A family gets a new dog that doesn't seem to be that tough. However, when burglars attempt to rob the home, the dog shows what he's made of. A fun film that is great at capturing the lightness of the holidays. Is it one of the best kids Christmas movies? We'll leave that for you to decide, but dogs and Christmas just seem to go together.
Having a Vacation movie on a list of holiday films for kids might seem a bit odd. However, this is one of those Christmas movies that falls into the PG-13 bracket so it seems safe enough. The story is simple, the Griswold family is putting on a family shin-dig. Things get a lot crazy when the whole family shows up and nothing goes as planned. With plenty of site gags to make really young kids stay interested, Christmas Vacation is, at it's core, a fun movie for the whole family. That it plays perfectly into this holiday season is just another gift under the tree that is this holiday list.
Eight Crazy Nights
This holiday yarn is voiced by Adam Sandler. He plays the role of Davey Stone. Down on his luck, Stone finds redemption via community service as he tries to change who he is amidst the holiday season. People have said that the title of this film refers to Chanukah. Whatever the case, we need more films showing the diversity of the Holidays. Eight Crazy Nights does its level best to do this while also telling a meaningful, soul searching tale.
What'd you think? Did we put you in the holiday spirit? Or, do you want to stuff some stockings with lumps of coal and give them to us? Some people love the holidays while others hate them. Hopefully this list put something resembling a smile on your face!