Over 40 Holiday Movies That Will Make Your Christmas Special

By Melissa Shrader Editor/Publisher Fort Collins Macaroni Kid December 4, 2023

What makes a holiday is the things you see, feel, do together. One tradition I love in our house is to find a show or movie to watch. We get out the popcorn, maybe make a themed meal to go with a particular movie. We've had meals from the various movies below that were creative and fun to make up the ingredients too. 

Appropriate for All Ages

The Snowman (G) On Christmas Eve, a young boy builds a snowman that comes to life and takes him to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas. 

The Gruffalo (NR) A cunning mouse goes for a walk in the forest, and outwits a succession of predators.

The Stick Man (NR) Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three, and he's heading on an epic adventure across the seasons. Will he get back to his family in time for Christmas?

The Happy Elf (TV-Y) Highlighted by Harry Connick, Jr. as the animated narrator, "The Happy Elf" tells the story of Eubie the Elf, one of Santa's helpers whose overly enthusiastic, rose-colored view of the holiday season is put to the test when he sets out to bring Christmas joy to a dreary town called Bluesville.

The Snowy Day (TV-Y) Based on the award-winning book by Ezra Jack Keats. Peter goes on a magical, snowy walk to his Nana's house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner.

Charlie Brown Christmas (TV-Y) (G) Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas.

Mickey's Christmas Carol (NR) The classic Disney animated characters play the roles in this animated retelling of the Charles Dickens masterpiece.

Frosty The Snowman (TV-Y) (G) A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (TV-Y) (G)  A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

Arthur Christmas (Rated PG) So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? With an exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole, of course! But this year Santa's son, Arthur, has an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.

Home Alone (Rated PG) Macaulay Culkin stars as the 8-year-old kid who accidentally gets left behind by his family during Christmas break and has to protect his home from bumbling burglars. It will be as popular with your kids as it was in the 90s!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Rated PG) Jim Carrey stars as the green creature with a small heart in this hilarious full-length feature film directed by Ron Howard. 

Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Not Rated) This classic from the 1950s stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. It's full of old-fashioned, wholesome dancing and music.

Miracle on 34th Street (Not Rated) The real Santa Claus is hired to play himself at Macy's Department Store in New York City. His gentle, joyous spirit and magical powers soon transform those around him, including a little girl and her mother.

The Polar Express (Rated PG) A young boy lies awake in his room one snowy Christmas Eve when a train — The Polar Express — stops in his front yard and the conductor invites him aboard. What unfolds is an extraordinary adventure and a journey of self-discovery that shows the boy that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Tom Hanks is the voice of many of the characters.

For Older Kids & Tweens

Holiday Inn (NR) At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer.

Jingle All The Way (PG) A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. However, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

The Christmas Bunny    (PG) The Christmas Bunny is the story of a Michigan family, facing tough economic times, who take in a withdrawn foster child, Julia (Sophie Bolen). Convinced she's unlovable, Julia dreams of becoming "real," like the Velveteen Rabbit in her treasured storybook video. When a real-life rabbit is injured by her foster brother in an accident, Julia meets the Bunny Lady, a local recluse who cares for people's cast-away pets, and both their lives are changed by the encounter.

Planes Trains & Automobiles (R) A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving with an obnoxious slob of a shower curtain ring salesman as his only companion.

White Christmas (NR) A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.

Christmas With The Kranks (PG) With their daughter away, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holiday at the last minute.

A Christmas Story (Rated PG) In the town of Hammond in the 1940s, Ralphie wants just one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder B.B. Rifle. But his mother, his teacher, and even Santa all tell him, "You'll shoot your eye out." Ralphie fears he'll never get the BB gun for Christmas, but there may be a surprise in store for him.

Elf (Rated PG) Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa's sack and ended up at the North Pole where he was raised by elves. As an adult, Santa permits him to go to New York City to seek out his roots. Unfortunately, his birth father is on Santa's Naughty List, his 10-year-old stepbrother doesn't even believe in Santa, and everyone in the Big Apple seems to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Buddy sets out to win over his family, and save Christmas too. Starring Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel, and James Caan.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Rated PG-13) Third in the National Lampoon series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal with a holiday with their in-laws. Starring Chevy Chase.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Rated PG) Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington is bored with his job and feels that life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. Then he stumbles upon Christmastown and promptly decides to make the Yuletide his own. Written and produced by Tim Burton.

The Santa Clause (Rated PG) A divorced father's strained relationship with his son begins to mend after a strange accident transforms him into the new Santa. Starring Tim Allen and Judge Reinhold.

It's a Wonderful Life (Not Rated) George Bailey is a small-town man whose life seems so desperate he contemplates suicide. As he prepares to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel intercedes, showing him what life would have become for the residents of his hometown if he had never lived. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

Mature Teens & Adults

Bad Santa (R) A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid.

Jack Frost (PG) Jack Frost is a made-for-TV stop motion animation feature. Buddy Hacket narrates the story as the voice of groundhog Pardon-Me-Pete. The spirit of winter, Jack Frost (voice of Robert Morse) falls for a young woman named Elisa (voice of Debra Clinger). 

Fred Claus (PG) Fred Claus, Santa's bitter older brother, is forced to move to the North Pole to help Santa and the elves prepare for Christmas in exchange for cash.

Love Actually (R) 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.

Die Hard (R) An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

The Holiday Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

Disney's A Christmas Carol - (Rated PG)  Animated version of the classic Dickens' story.  Some scenes may still be haunting for younger viewers

The Holiday (Rated PG-13) Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

Four Christmases (Rated PG-13) Happily committed-but-unmarried couple Kate (Reese Witherspoon) and Brad (Vince Vaughn) find their exotic Christmas vacation plans canceled unexpectedly. Instead, they end up visiting all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day.

Joyeux Noël (Rated PG-13) This French film is based on the true story of a group of front-line soldiers who engaged in an unofficial cease-fire on Christmas Day during World War I. It won many international awards and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film.

Love Actually (Rated R) This classic romantic comedy features an all-star cast that includes Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and many others. There are eight stories featuring eight interconnected couples, each navigating through the holidays — a joyous time for some and a lonely time for others — in their own way.

The Ref (Rated R) A dysfunctional family is abducted by a thief (the very foul-mouthed Denis Leary) after a robbery on Christmas Eve and he is forced to play referee to their endless bickering. 

Scrooged (Rated PG-13) Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" gets an update. It focuses on a television executive who exploits the holiday season to boost ratings. The cast of stars includes Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Bobcat Goldthwait, and John Forsythe.

Trading Places (Rated R) Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) is a petty crook, Louis (Dan Aykroyd) is a successful stockbroker, and they are both the victims of a twisted bet made by a couple of millionaire brothers. It's an 80s classic that is as funny now as it was then.