Best Holiday Family Movies

Published by Catherine Durkin Robinson on

Here are some great movies to enjoy with eggnog, hot cocoa and popcorn. Classics or recent favorites, animated or live action, these made our list of best holiday family movies.


Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Starring: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Stan Francis, Janis Orenstein (voices)

Based on the popular song, a young, red-nosed reindeer is cast out of the North Pole for being different. He partners up with an elf and while dodging the Abominable Snowman, they discover an island of misfit toys and seek help from Santa.

The Polar Express

Starring: Tom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye (voices)

Based on the popular children’s book, a young boy who doesn’t really believe in Santa Claus takes a magical train ride to the North Pole. Along the way he learns the magic of believing.

Elena of Avalor: Festival of Lights

Starring: Aimee Carrero, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jenna Ortega (voices)

Elena learns how to celebrate Chanukah.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Starring: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer (voices)

A heartwarming cartoon classic about the true meaning of Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey (voices)

The pumpkin king of Halloween Town is bored. When he finds Christmas Town, he tries to create his own version.


Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad (voices)

Anna and her friends try to save their home from the infinite winter caused by her sister, the queen.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Starring: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn (voices)

Through the narration of a mailman, this is Santa Claus’s origin story. It also tells the entertaining tales of Santa-related traditions.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Starring: Boris Karloff (voice)

We all know the story, don’t we?

An American Tail

Starring: Cathianne Blore, Dom DeLuise, John Finnegan (voices)

A mouse named Fievel and his family emigrate from Russia to the United States by boat and a fierce storm throws Fievel from the ship. He still manages to get to New York and finds some friends who help him search for his family. One of those holiday family movies you can watch all year long.

Live Action

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, Anika Noni Rose

A talented toymaker is heartbroken by a betrayal and his lovely granddaughter helps him find happiness in this delightful musical.

Jingle All The Way

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson

This is about a father’s quest to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. Chaos ensues.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Starring: Jim Carrey, Molly Shannon, Anthony Hopkins

Dr. Seuss’s Christmas tale comes to life. Enjoy this all-star cast, amazing special effects and comedy.

Home Alone

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara

After 8-year-old Kevin misbehaves the night before a family vacation, his mother makes him sleep in the attic. Then he’s accidentally left behind by his family the next day and must protect his family’s house from two burglars on Christmas.

The Preacher’s Wife

Starring: Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington

An unhappy preacher’s wife gets counsel from a charming guardian angel.

Christmas with the Kranks

Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd

Things get chaotic when the Krank Family decides at the last minute to celebrate Christmas.

The Star

Starring: Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant, Gina Rodriguez

After a successful escape, one brave donkey and his team of friends team up for an adventure.


Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel

As a toddler, Buddy was transported to the North Pole and raised by Santa’s elves. As an adult, he wants to connect with his biological father in New York City.

The Black Candle

Starring: Maya Angelou (narrated)

This isn’t always considered one of the best holiday family movies. But it’s an uplifting and inspiring documentary about Kwanzaa traditions, community, and culture.


A Christmas Carol – 1938

Starring: Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart

Considered the first and best, this movie is the most faithful version of Charles Dickens’ classic novel.

White Christmas

Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen

A song-and-dance duo takes their show to Vermont.

Holiday Inn

Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Virginia Dale

A musical comedy about a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel.

Miracle on 34th Street

Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart

Kris Kringle replaces a drunk Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Then he starts claiming to be real and gets institutionalized. A lawyer must defend him and prove he’s real.

A Christmas Story

Starring: Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley

Ralphie tries to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that he needs a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

Meet Me in St. Louis

Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor

Four sisters learn about life and love before the 1904 World’s Fair.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire

A fun version of A Christmas Carol, this time reimagined by the Muppets. With original songs!

It’s a Wonderful Life

Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

George Bailey, a selfless and kind-hearted man, wishes aloud that he had never been born. Clarence, an angel without wings, shows him how life would have been without him. This is often voted number one for holiday family movies.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis

The Griswold family certainly have had some troubled vacations. This time it’s a Christmas getaway and funny nonsense erupts.

For older kids


Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton

On Christmas Eve, a cute little creature wreaks havoc on a young boy and his family’s celebration.

Last Christmas

Starring: Emma Thompson, Emelia Clarke, Henry Golding

Based on a George Michael song, and against the background of a beautifully decorated London, a couple meet and try to inspire a better Christmas.


Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe

A funny, snarky modern-day version of A Christmas Carol.

While You Were Sleeping

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher

Lucy invents a relationship with a guy after she saves his life. He’s in a coma and she really falls in love with his family.

Eight Crazy Nights

Starring: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider (voices)

Davey Stone gets in trouble after making some very bad choices. He gets one last chance at redemption — community service as the assistant referee for a youth basketball league.

Categories: Parenting Tips


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