What better way to celebrate the holidays with your family than a good old-fashioned movie night! I’ll be your favorite made it onto my list of 20 best Christmas movies to watch this holiday season — and that you’ll find a new one to love too.
These movies aren’t all about getting stuffed on Christmas cookies or about the familial meltdowns that happen at so many family gatherings. Enjoy the crazy movies as well as the sappy ones. This post contains affiliate links.
20 Best Christmas Movies of All Time
Love Actually – 10th Anniversary Edition: Feel the love this holiday season with the Love Actually 10th Anniversary Edition! Funny, charming and heartwarming, this delightful romantic comedy follows eight couples whose lives intersect shortly before Christmas. Headlined by an incredible roster of stars, this beloved film also features early movie appearances by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), January Jones (Mad Men) and Thomas Sangster (Game of Thrones). From the makers of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill, it’s the perfect companion for every Christmas.
It’s a Wonderful Life (60th Anniversary Edition): George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence. Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all of his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget suicide?
The Santa Clause: 3 Movie Collection: Superstar comedian Tim Allen delivers the perfect gift as he stars as the big man, himself, in three warm and wonderful movies about discovering the true magic of Christmas. See how it all began with Disney’s original classic, and hop on Santa’s sleigh for an exciting ride filled with belly laughs and family fun. Christmas gets a little nuttier when Scott Calvin unknowingly inherits the role of the legendary St. Nick. His ordinary life snowballs into a hysterical series of outrageous events as he fills out his Santa suit, meets the future Mrs. Claus and faces his ultimate test against the mischievous Jack Frost. With a blizzard of bonus features and three magical movies, this box set is hours of holiday entertainment your whole family will enjoy again and again.
Elf: This hilarious Christmas film tells the tale of a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts on Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf. Years later Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York City to find his true identity.
Scrooged: High-spirited high jinks on Christmas Eve put Frank Cross (Bill Murray) in a ghostly time warp in this hilarious take-off of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Cross, who has made the meteoric rise from the depths of the mailroom to TV network president, is mean, nasty, uncaring, unforgiving and has a sadistic sense of humor – perfect qualities for a modern-day Scrooge. Before the night is over, he’ll be visited by a maniacal New York cab driver from the past, a present-day fairy who’s into pratfalls and, finally, a ghoulish, seven-foot headless messenger from the future.
Home Alone: The Complete Collection: Part of a 4-movies series, Home Alone started it all. Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) has become the man of the house, overnight! Accidentally left behind when his family rushes off on a Christmas vacation, Kevin gets busy decorating the house for the holidays. But he’s not decking the halls with tinsel and holly. Two bumbling burglars are trying to break in, and Kevin’s rigging a bewildering battery of booby traps to welcome them!
Miracle on 34th Street: Six year old Susan has doubts childhood’s most enduring miracle Santa Clause. Her mother told her the “secret” about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn’t expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special departement stare Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Now digitally restored and remastered with state-of-the-art technology, The Nightmare Before Christmansis deeper, darker and more brilliant than ever — just as Tim Burton originally envisioned it. Can Christmas be saved? Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: The comic misadventures of the beleaguered Griswold family continue in this latest “Vacation” outing, the third and most successful of the series.
A Christmas Story: This delightfully funny holiday gem tells the story of Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) a 1940’s nine-year-old who pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present.
The Holiday: Iris (Winslet) is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda (Diaz), realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance.
White Christmas: Two talented son-and-dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business. While the song White Christmas was out before this film, the movie made it an American favorite.
Trading Places: Taking place during the holiday season, the fun begins when the rich and greedy Duke Brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) wager a bet over whether born loser Valentine (Eddie Murphy) could become as successful as the priggish Winthorpe (Dan Akroyd) if circumstances were reversed.
While You Were Sleeping: Lucy, a lonely subway worker, she becomes smitten with a handsome stranger. Right before the holidays, she (Sandra Bullock) saves his life after he’s been mugged and fallen into a coma, his hilariously offbeat family mistakes her for his fiancee! Soon, the mix-ups escalate as Lucy fabricates a life between herself and a man she’s never met! And when Lucy falls for his charming brother (Bill Pullman) the situation really gets uproarious as she’s forced to make a choice between the two!
Joyeux Noel: JOYEUX NOEL (Merry Christmas) tells the true-life story of the spontaneous Christmas Eve truce declared by Scottish, French and German troops in the trenches of World War I. Enemies leave their weapons behind for one night as they band together in brotherhood and forget about the brutalities of war. Diane Krüger (Troy), Daniel Brühl (Good Bye Lenin!) and Benno Fürmann (The Princess and the Warrior) head a first-rate international cast in a truly powerful, must-see film.
The Shop Around the Corner: Part of TCM’s Greatest Holiday Classic Films Collection, The Shop Around the Corner stars James Stewart as a Budapest store clerk who finds himself feuding with his co-worker, Margaret Sullavan, only to unknowingly fall in love with her.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer bring Christmas’ best-loved grump to life with the help of the irrepressible Jim Carrey as The Grinch. The Grinch is a celebration of the holiday spirit no home should be without! Why is The Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and The Grinch’s world upside down, inside out… and funny side up in her search for the true meaning of Christmas.
Bad Santa: The baddest Santa ever comes to town with the hilarious Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, and John Ritter! Ill-mannered store Santa Willie Stokes (Thornton) is really a safecracker with a holiday tradition of making one big score every Christmas Eve with his clever Elf-partner-in- crime Marcus. But this year’s heist-fest could be completely foiled by a snoopy store manager (Ritter), savvy mall detective (Mac), sexy Santa fan, and an innocent 8 year old misfit who thinks the intoxicated and felonious Willie is the real Santa he seeks.
The Muppet Christmas Carol: The Muppet’s rendition of Charles Dickens’s classic tale puts a unique twist on a favorite holiday story.
Polar Express: No list would be complete without the Polar Express! A doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. A true classic with today’s kids!
Bonus Holiday Movie:
Die Hard: New York City Detective John McClane becomes the only hope for a small group of hostages, one of whom is his estranged wife, trapped in a Los Angeles high-rise office building when it is seized by terrorists on Christmas Eve.
Looking for some great Christmas picture books to read with the family this holiday? Check out my personal recommendations for 20 Christmas Books for Children.