By Kristin B. Sizemore

It’s that time; time for Christmas carols, hot cocoa, Christmas plays, and wrapping gifts! It’s also time to cuddle up with your loved ones under a cozy blanket and watch a good Christmas movie. Here’s my list of what not to miss this Christmas Season.

20. A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas Story, 1983

Although, thanks to the annual 24-hour marathon, I’m a little burned out on this one, I can’t not include it. This tale of Ralphie and his disfunctionally normal fam never fails to provide humor, fantasy, and nostalgia. A big thanks to this film for the quotable line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

19. Frosty the Snowman, 1969

Frosty the Snowman, 1969

This film features a lovable Frosty who is naïve, yet sincere. We love to despise Professor Hinkle, the Magician, and root for Karen and her love for Frosty.

18. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989

I think we’ve all alternated between being thankful the Griswalds are nowhere near our Christmas festivities and wishing we could have them over for Christmas Dinner, just once. The cast is amazing, the writing is incredible, and hilarity ensues, even as we near 30 years of watching this classic comedy.

17. Going My Way, 1944

Going My Way, 1944

If you’ve never watched this classic film, don’t let another Christmas season pass before you do. You can never have too much Bing Crosby and he is excellent in this nostalgic story. The music is outstanding, the acting is noteworthy, and if you don’t tear up when Bing sings “Tura Lura Lura“, you may not be human.

16. Elf, 2003

Elf, 2003

No matter how much you will yourself to not thoroughly enjoy this silly, indulgent movie, you will fail! The plot is insane. The humor is corny. Bob Newhart is as obnoxious as ever. But, against all odds, this modern film will quickly become one of your favorites. If that makes you a cotton-headed ninny-muggings, so be it.

15. Holiday Inn, 1942

Holiday Inn, 1942

What more could you want than Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in a charming tale of two frenemies navigating the holidays, always at odds over a girl? Nothing. You could want nothing more. Bing plays a stable, loving teddy bear who embarks on a holiday-themed business venture aimed at peace and quiet. Fred’s character is an unreliable playboy who can’t resist taking advantage whenever the opportunity presents itself. Irving Berlin’s music is phenomenal, as is to be expected. To beat it all, the classic Christmas song, White Christmas makes its debut in this film.

14. Prancer, 1989

Prancer, 1989

I’m always surprised by how many people have never seen this movie! Meet Jessica, a lovable, lonely, Christmas-loving little girl who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it, but finds just enough hope in her heart to inspire a little Christmas magic. With Sam Elliott as the dad, Cloris Leachman as the crazy neighbor, and one of the hit men from the Godfather as a lovable veterinarian, this Christmas film will not disappoint. Note: Screen this movie before sharing with your kids, not because of inappropriate content, but because of a question Jessica wrestles with that you may not want your children to ponder this Christmas.

13. The Santa Clause, 1994

The Santa Clause, 1994

Not only will this movie give you a whole new appreciation for the letter “E“, but you will love, love, love Tim Allen as an unlikely Santa. This well-rounded Christmas film will have you laughing, crying, and craving hot cocoa. I’m not a huge fan of the sequels, but the original in this series is definitely a favorite.

12. Christmas With the Kranks, 2004

Christmas with the Kranks, 2004

This modern classic is adapted from John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas. Although the book is definitely better in comparison, which is typically the case, the movie stands on its own two feet. You will literally lol quite frequently as you watch Tim Allen’s Luther and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Nora make a grand attempt to skip Christmas. From Botox fiascos to tanning catastrophes, there’s never a dull moment with this seemingly mundane couple.

11. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, 1966


Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

Who could be a grinchier Grinch than Boris Karloff? No one. If you’ve only seen the modernized adaptation of this Dr. Seuss classic, you’re missing out. The narration is the book itself and, in my opinion, Dr. Seuss just can’t be improved upon. This classic, heartwarming film will stir up your Christmas spirit. Crude humor and questionable innuendo is thankfully absent in this classic retelling of a masterpiece.

10. Miracle on 34th St., 1947 & Miracle on 34th St., 1994

I love both versions of these films for different reasons! I couldn’t chose between them!

Miracle On 34th St., 1947


The 1947 version of this Christmas classic features Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and a young Natalie Wood. This movie feels like a holiday standard and encourages us to believe!

Miracle On 34th St., 1994

This adaptation of the tale of a little girl who finds the will to believe is simply magical. Mara Wilson makes you fall in love with little Susan all over again. Dylan McDermott and Elizabeth Perkins as Bryan and Dorey, respectively, bring the underlying love story to life in a whole new way. My favorite scene explores the building chemistry and affection between the two characters. There’s Christmas scenery everywhere. Kenny G is playing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. You’ll feel that odd little romantic feeling where your heart drops to your stomach and butterflies flutter.

9. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town!, 1970

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town!, 1970

I love movies that are inspired by songs! Fred Astaire, as a postman, narrates this charming story of our favorite North Polian who goes from outcast to saint. Did I mention that Fred Astaire is the narrator? Don’t miss this enduring classic!

8. White Christmas, 1954

White Christmas, 1954

Although we may always wonder what could have been if Fred Astaire could’ve accepted the role of Phil Davis, we’re somehow glad we’ll never know. Danny Kaye is the perfect irresponsible, yet endearing, friend to play opposite of Bing Crosby’s steady, loyal, and reliable Bob Wallace. You’ll sing. You’ll dance, and maybe break your neck if you try to imitate some of Vera-Ellen’s moves. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find complete happiness as Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney not only play characters who fall in love, but whom also duet.

7. Home Alone, 1990 & Home Alone 2, 1992

Even though each of these movies can stand on their own merit, they’re sharing the #8 slot, because, well, I was trying to keep it at 20.

Home Alone, 1990

I still remember the disdain of movie critics for this film prior to its release to the public. It wasn’t believable. Kevin wasn’t lovable. The film would crash and burn. The film was offered to America, and just like that, the masses proved once again that they have a mind of their own. We loved Kevin, even though he was a brat. We liked his family. We adored Marv and Harry, Kevin’s arch rivals. We loved that John Candy surprised us in a cameo role as a polka musician. We learned that your mom always loves you, toothbrushes aren’t free, things are not as they appear, and that Santa will not, in fact, visit you at the funeral home.

Home Alone 2, 1992

It seemed like a stretch, even to the most avid Home Alone fans, that Kevin could somehow find himself in similar straits yet again. I’m not typically a fan of sequels, so I was definitely a skeptic. Much to my surprise, Home Alone 2 did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectation. The separation of Kevin from his family was feasible. Marv and Harry were as simultaneously lovable and despicable as ever. Kevin’s time at the Plaza Hotel is hilarious and the actors who make up the staff make this film even better than the original installation of the Home Alone series. We learn that, not only does Mom always love you, but also that she knows you better than anyone.

6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

This has been my favorite children’s Christmas film for as long as I can remember. Based on the song originally recorded by Gene Autry, this claymation classic brings the tale of the little misfit reindeer to life. Add Hermey as a misfit buddy and Yukon Cornelius as a kind-hearted gold/silver-loving guide and you’ve got the kind of film that is watched for decades to come. As if you needed another reason to love this holiday classic, Burl Ives sings and narrates as a snowman!

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965

A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965

Poor Chuck! He’s so disheartened by the commercialization of Christmas. Charlie Brown’s search for the true meaning of Christmas is truly touching. When Linus delivers the Christmas scriptures, I always tear up. It’s the story of true love, the truth of the ages, told by little Linus. I also love the little, pitiful Christmas tree!

4. A Christmas Carol, 1938

A Christmas Carol, 1938

This classic film, featuring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, is my favorite adaption of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I love the Muppet Christmas Carol. I love the 1984 A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. Still, none can compare with this film, in my opinion. The casting is perfect. It feels magical and transformative. It is everything A Christmas Carol should be.

3. It’s A Wonderful Christmas, 1946

It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

Once you meet George Bailey, you’ll never forget him. He teaches us some important lessons and, thanks to Clarence, a well-intentioned yet clumsy angel, learns a few himself. Life can be hard. Sometimes dreams don’t come true. Loyalty is essential to integrity. Love is the greatest dream of all. Depression and stress can literally make you want to jump off a bridge.

2. The Nativity Story, 2006

The Nativity Story, 2006

This movie does so much for the true story of Christmas. It peels back the fantasy and rose colored glass that so many view the birth of Jesus through. We see the circumstances of our savior’s birth and the story of His earthly parents brought to life in a biblically and historically accurate way. This movie will change your life. Wait for your heart to swell as Joseph desperately tries to find shelter for a young, frightened girl who is about to give birth in a crowded town, far from home.

1. The Preacher’s Wife, 1996

The Preacher’s Wife, 1996

This Christmas film has it all; Jesus, church, the challenges of life in a pastor’s family, the Georgia Mass Choir, a cameo from Lionel Ritchie, Denzel in a gray suit, and Whitney. You’ll laugh, cry, sing, and be just a little said when all is well.

Honorable Mentions

  • A Muppet Family Christmas, 1987-The only reason this feel-good movie isn’t included on my list is because it’s incredibly difficult to find.
  • Polar Express, 2004

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