Celebrating Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year, which I am completely ok with. But for my family, we don’t get into the Christmas spirit until we watch our favorite Christmas movie. Ok, I get into the Christmas spirit starting in July, when Hallmark starts their Christmas in July movies. But the husband and kiddo need the movie Christmas Vacation to get their holly jolly spirit going. Here are my 25 must watch Christmas movies that are sure to get you in the Christmas mood.
How Do You Watch Christmas Movies
What is your favorite way to watch Christmas movies? Do you sit on the couch with a cozy blanket and hot cocoa or coffee? Or are you decorating your home while the sounds of jingle bells are coming out of the TV and sing along? I do both, or sometimes, I’ll start creating some fun Christmas crafts.
1. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – 1989
This movie is my family’s all-time favorite Christmas movie. We started watching Christmas Vacation in the late 90s and never stopped. Watching Christmas Vacation at least 3 – 4 times a year has become our family’s absolute favorite thing to do. We can recite all the lines and know where all the ooohs and ahhhs are going to happen. This movie is such a family favorite, that if you hang around with us at all, you will hear us randomly use lines in our everyday conversations. “I don’t know Margo” is probably our favorite one to use.
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
There’s more to A Charlie Brown Christmas than just the movie. This tradition brings back so many family memories for me. I can’t think of any Charlie Brown movie without thinking of my wonderful Aunt Diane. She and my Uncle Stan love everything Snoopy-related, especially this movie. A Charlie Brown Christmas originally came out in 1965, yep, before I was even born.
3. Christmas With The Krankes – 2004
The best scene in Christmas With The Krankes has to be the botox scene. I’m laughing right now thinking about it. This is a cute Christmas story of a soon-to-be empty nest couple whose daughter goes off to college. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are hilarious in this movie, along with Dan Akroyd and many more. The parents decide not to do Christmas this year and instead go on a cruise. Then the daughter decides to come home for Christmas and bring her new boyfriend. The town rally’s to help them create the best Christmas ever for their daughter.
4. A Christmas Story – 1983
Ok, I have mixed feelings about this movie. I know I am supposed to love it, but who doesn’t love this Christmas tradition? Well, I’m not a huge fan, but I had to put it in because of the few scenes that my family refers to every now and then. It is a beloved Christmas movie, so much so that they came out with a sequel this year, 40 years after the original movie hit the theater.
5. Jingle All The Way – 1996
This movie was my son’s absolute favorite when he was little. I mean come on, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and Rita Wilson. And of course the late Phil Hartman. It follows an overzealous mailman and a dad who works so much that he forgot to get the one toy his son really wanted, and of course has been sold out for months. Jingle All The Way came out the year after our son was born, and we still watch it every year together.
6. Small Soldiers – 1998
We bought all the characters and watched this movie over and over and over again with our son. We still repeat lines from this one, though we haven’t watched it in a few years. It’s the story of the son of a toy store owner, who tries out some new action figures that just came in. The Commando Elite versus The Gorgonites. But months prior to their arrival, a toy company believed it was onto something when it embeds the latest government military technology in a series of action figures. This enables them to talk, walk, and fight. The power of these toys is underestimated, and the two opposing sides of the toy line start thinking for themselves and engaging in real combat! The Commando Elite vow to wipe out the Gorgonites in a suburban neighborhood. Alan, his neighbor Christy Fimple, (on whom he has a massive crush) with the help of the kind Gorgonites, must protect his home and family from the Commandos. It’s really a great movie to watch and is barely a Christmas movie, but I had to add it.
7. Die Hard – 1988
So much controversy around this movie. Is it or is it not a Christmas movie? I think it is, but you be the judge. It’s a story of a New York City police officer trying to save his estranged wife and several others taken hostage by terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
8. Miracle on 34th Street – 1947
I’ve only seen this one time, and yes, it’s a beautiful Christmas story, just not one I have to watch every year. It’s a story about a divorced New York mother who hires a nice old man to play Santa Claus at Macy’s. She is startled by his claim to be the genuine article. When his sanity is questioned, a lawyer defends him in court by arguing that he’s not mistaken.
9. It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946
Probably the most beloved Christmas movie of all time, and remade numerous times. It’s A Wonderful Life is the heartfelt story of an angel that is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.
10. All The Home Alone Movies 1 – 4 – 1990
Ok, so if you haven’t seen this movie, you better buy it right now and watch it. This is definitely a must-see every Christmas. And I really enjoyed the newest addition to the series, Home Alone 4. The original story starts out as an eight-year-old troublemaker, Kevin, who must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.
11. Elf – 2003
Ok, probably the most fun and crazy Christmas movie since Christmas Vacation. Elf is the story of a man raised as an oversized elf. Buddy the elf travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs, who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit.
12. Scrooged – 1988
This one almost doesn’t make my list, but because Bill Murray is in it, I let it slide. It’s a great take on the story of a selfish, cynical television executive who is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.
13. The Santa Clause – 1994
I love anything with Tim Allen in it. He is a fellow Michigander after all. I love this movie, and I love that they are making a new one this year. It’s a cute story a man that inadvertently makes the real Santa fall off his roof on Christmas Eve. Then he finds himself magically recruited to take Santa’s place.
14. The Christmas Chronicles – 2018
Ok, not your traditional Christmas movie, but I really like this one. It’s new to the must-see list, but it’s definitely worth the watch. It’s a story of a sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.
15. Love Actually – 2003
This movie has gained some hype this year. With Hugh Grant’s dance making Tik Tok viral status, to the 20-year anniversary being this year. The story follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
16. How The Grinch Stole Christmas – 1966
There have been a few remakes of this movie, even a live-action version with Jim Carey. But the original story of A grumpy hermit hatching a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville is a tear at your heartstrings much watch for Christmas.
17. Surviving Christmas – 2004
Ok, so maybe not the best Christmas story out there, but my love for Ben Affleck and James Gandolfini makes this movie a must-watch in my book. It’s a story about a lonely, obnoxious young millionaire who pays a family to spend Christmas with him.
18. Serendipity – 2001
Not just one of my favorite Christmas movies, but one of my favorite movies of all time. John Cusak is hands down my favorite actor, and this love story hits that sweet spot for me. I always believe that everything happens for a reason, and this movie proves it. This love story is about a couple who search for each other years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated. They are convinced that one day they’d end up together.
19. Frosty The Snowman – 1969
Ok, tell the truth, you sang the song after reading the title, right? I know I always do. This beloved Christmas cartoon is one of the only cartoons I can’t miss. The story of this snowman wanting to have fun and live life is what I truly believe is how life should be. It’s a story about a living snowman and a little girl who struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman’s magic hat.
20. Four Christmases – 2008
If you want a fun and silly Christmas movie, then this is the one for you. The story is about a couple who struggles to visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas. This one really resonates with me as my husband’s parents and my parents were divorced.
21. Jack Frost – 1998
So this movie is one of my top 5 best movies ever. Like John Cusak and Ben Affleck, I love anything with Michael Keaton in it. There are only a few movies that have ever made me cry, and this is one of them. It’s a heartfelt movie about a father who can’t keep his promises and is killed in a car accident. One year later, he returns as a snowman who has the final chance to put things right with his son before he is gone forever.
22. White Christmas – 1954
So I have to admit, I don’t think I have ever seen this movie, but the line in Christmas Vacation made me add it. You know the line I’m talking about. This is a story of a successful song-and-dance team who become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. It stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, yep, now you know the line from Christmas Vacation.
23. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – 1998
My favorite Christmas song is I’ll Be Home For Christmas, so of course, I had to add this movie. It’s a fun story about a college student who faces an impossible journey when he is left stranded in the desert, thousands of miles from home, with no money and only a few days left until Christmas.
24. Holiday In Handcuffs – 2006
This movie is one of my Aunt Diane’s favorite Christmas movies, so of course, I had to add it. This story follows a struggling artist that is working as a waitress and kidnaps one of her customers to take home to meet her parents at Christmastime.
25. Fatman – 2020
Ok, so this story is very dark but has a great message. Mel Gibson has been kicking out movies like crazy, and I think he did a great job with this one. This rowdy, unorthodox Santa Claus is fighting to save his declining business. Meanwhile, Billy, a neglected and precocious 12-year-old, hires a hitman to kill Santa after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking.
My 5 Favorite Hallmark Christmas Movie Favorites
Until I wrote this article, I had no idea you could buy Hallmark Christmas movies on Amazon. Well, I know what I want for Christmas this year. Here are my top 5 Hallmark Christmas movies. There are so many more that I love, and watching them reminds me of being with my mom at Christmas. I love that you can watch them on the Hallmark channel nonstop starting in October. I hope you get the chance to catch these and all of the Hallmark Christmas movies.
1. Let It Snow
- A self-defined Grinch, Stephanie begins her stay at Snow Valley Lodge immune to Christmas sentiment. But as the lodge’s festive traditions provide the Christmas Stephanie never had growing up with her distant father and begins to fall for Brady, the lodge’s guide, she begins to discover a Christmas spirit that she never knew she had.
2. Christmas Getaway
- Hoping to spend the holiday relaxing, a travel writer takes a traditional Christmas vacation for the first time. Through a mix-up on the rental site, she finds herself double-booked for the holidays with a widower, his young daughter, and his mom. What begins as inconvenience blossoms into much more
3. 5 Star Christmas
- When a travel writer shows up unexpectedly at their dad’s B&B, the Ralston family all pretend to be guests in hopes of a good review. Lucy falls for guest Jake but can’t share her secret.
4. Christmas At Holly Lodge
- Sophie Bennett, the owner, tries to convince a developer that the lodge would be a bad investment.
5. A December Bride
- Aspiring interior designer Layla is dreading the Christmastime wedding of her cousin who’s marrying Layla’s ex-fiancé. Although Seth is the one responsible for introducing the bride and groom, Layla begrudgingly accepts his offer to be her date, as she’s out of options. Seth gets carried away at the reception and announces they’re engaged, forcing a mortified Layla to keep up the pretense.
What is your favorite Christmas movie? Or maybe you have a list like me. I hope you and your family have a Very Merry Christmas.