How The Grinch Stole Christmas - 1966
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The best Christmas movies for kids to watch this year

Settle in with one of the best kids' Christmas movies and a cup of cocoa. This lineup is nothing short of holly jolly!


We know what you’re thinking: ‘Best kids Christmas movies? Aren’t all Christmas movies basically for kids?’ Oh sure, plenty are. But assuming every film with a yuletide theme is good for the young ones is where parents can get in trouble. You may end up streaming a movie where Santa Claus is a serial killer, or a Hallmark romcom that’ll bore them into a stupor, or something like Edward Scissorhands that’s going to leave them asking a lot of uncomfortable questions.

So, no, the phrase ‘Christmas movies for kids’ is not as redundant as it might sound. And clearly, picking the right movie to get the smallest members of the household into the holiday spirit requires both care and wisdom. These 25 movies, though, are like hot cocoa for the wee ones’ souls. Want to get on your child’s nice list? Stream one of these, and your stocking will runneth over.


🎅 The 50 best Christmas movies of all-time
🎁 The best Christmas specials of all-time=
🎄 The best animated Christmas movies for the whole family
🤣 The 35 best family comedies for your next movie night
👶 The best movies for toddlers
👪 The 50 greatest animated movies to watch as a family

The best kids' Christmas movies

  • Film

This oddball origin story of Santa Klaus is the first animated feature from Netflix, and features Klaus (Oscar-winner J. K. Simmons), a large, bearded man with a knack for toymaking but who doesn't have much interest in children, Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), the worst postal carrier ever and Alva (Rashida Jones), a cynical teacher. They live in Smeerensburg, the unhappiest place on Earth. If it sounds like a grump-fest, well yes, that's the setup. But don't worry: Icy hearts melt, and even Smeerensburg can find joy. Rated PG. 


3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Second only to Muppet Treasure Island (sorry, we’re biased), Jim Henson’s The Muppet Christmas Carol retells the famous tale with characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy. The musical—set in the Victorian era—features Michael Caine as Scrooge among puppets. Did we mention that Gonzo plays Charles Dickens? Rated G. 

4. A Boy Called Christmas (2021)

Nikolas – a young boy who has clearly never seen Game of Thrones – heads to the dangerous snowbound north to find his missing dad in this cockle-warming but never cutesy Father Christmas origin story. Adapted from Matt Haig's novel, its unalloyed joys include a cast of Brit thesps (Maggie Smith, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent), Kristen Wiig hamming it up as Nikolas's mean aunt and Stephen Merchant voicing a sassy mouse called Miika. It'll be a Christmas favourite for years to come, so why not gather the family round and break your duck – sorry, goose – now.


No one wants to be alone on Christmas – except young Kevin McCallister, who hopes for his family to disappear after they banish him to the attic the night before a big international trip, then wakes up the next day to find his wish granted. His staycation in his giant suburban Chicago home is the ultimate little kid fantasy come true. At least, until a pair of burglars show up at the door. Rated PG. 

It takes a truly brilliant performance to sell the concept of middle-aged man who believes he’s one of Santa’s elves. But there are few roles as custom-made for each other as Will Ferrell and Buddy the Elf. After spending his entire life in the North Pole, Buddy returns to New York City to reunite with the human father (James Caan) that gave him up for adoption. ‘Fish out of water’ comedy rarely works this well – it’s one of the true holiday classics that appeals equally to every age group and demographic. Rated PG.


For 30 years now, Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s stop-motion classic has been helping spooky kids make the interminable transition from scary season to merry month, bridging the gap between Halloween and Christmas with much more success than Jack Skellington himself. In the midst of an existential crisis, the Pumpkin King discovers there’s more to life than frights, and hatches a plan to bring a little holly-jolliness to the residents of Halloweentown: by kidnapping Santa Claus. Some of the visuals are certainly a bit freaky for the wee ones, but the story itself is too silly and sweet to cause actual nightmares. Rated PG. 

8. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The reigning king of Christmas movies, Frank Capra’s poignant fable stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man with big ambitions (and a bigger heart) who defers his dream of leaving small-town Bedford Falls, but makes personal sacrifices that create a staggering ripple effect of inspirational goodwill on Earth – a great message for young viewers watching at home. He even helps an angel get his wings. Rated PG. 


Dr. Seuss' beloved holiday killjoy returns for another round of curmudgeonly Christmas misery in this animated take from the studio behind Despicable Me. While the town of Whoville anxiously awaits December 25, the grouchy, green fella – voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch – uncovers a way to ruin it for everyone. He attempts to pose as Saint Nick, steal Christmas from the Whovillians and finally put an end to the most wonderful time of the year. Looks like someone's tinsel is in a twist! Rated PG. 

10. A Christmas Story (1983)

‘You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!’ All nine-year-old Ralphie wants is an official Red Ryder BB gun – and the only things standing in his way are a pink bunny suit, a leg lamp and a tongue sticking to a flagpole. Humorist Jean Shepherd’s short stories are the basis of this sassy sentimental brew. And who knew that duck was actually Chinese turkey? Rated PG. 


That small-hearted villain from Mt. Crumpit goes down to Whoville for some seasonal spoiling—only to discover that Christmas cheer can never be stolen. Spooky thespian Boris Karloff is the inspired narrator for this delightful TV special, a faithful rendition of the rhyming classic that will have everyone singing “Da hoo doray.” This fan-favorite family Christmas movie is not to be missed. Not rated. 

Sure, Frozen has very little to do with Christmas, but its wintertime setting and story of family bonds make it all but essential when the mercury starts to drop – and frankly, we’d rather hear ‘Let it Go’ than 90% of Christmas carols at this point anyway. Holiday-movie purists will do will to pair the feature with the short film Olaf's Frozen Adventure, in which the beloved snowman goes on a quest to learn about people's holiday traditions in order to make Christmas extra special for the long-sheltered Anna and Elsa. Rated PG.


Chris Van Allsburg’s enchanting children’s book made its way to the big screen as an animated flick in 2004, drawing a new generation in for even more family fun. As the story goes, on Christmas Eve, a young boy finds a train parked outside his house—The Polar Express—which is headed to the North Pole! He finds out he’s been picked to receive the first gift of Christmas, and he asks for only one thing: a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. But what happens when he tries to take the bell home with him? Rated G.

Whatever you do, do not confuse this family-friendly fantasy with the schlocky slasher of the same name and same general idea – it’ll ruin Christmas for everyone. In this one, young Charlie’s late father is reincarnated in the form of a snowman with the voice of Michael Keaton, who uses his extremely limited time back on Earth to bring his son to terms with his death and reinvigorate Charlie’s love of the holidays. It’s… weird, and the CGI is pretty creepy, but hey, at least no one gets impaled by an icicle. Rated PG. 


15. Miracle on 34th St (1947)

Is that bearded fella really Santa Claus? Macy’s hires gentle Kris Kringle to be its department store St. Nick, but his stellar commitment to the job (as well as insistence on being the genuine article) has all the kids in awe. Unfortunately for Kris, many considered his wonderful behavior and magical affect quite unusual—so unusual that he actually ends up at Bellevue! Will he be freed and his reputation redeemed? You’ll just have to watch to find out. Rated G. 

This smart and very British 3D animation from the Aardman stable opens with one of life’s great questions: how does Santa visit so many homes so quickly? The answer, it seems, is a high-tech army of elves dispatched, SAS-style, from a silent spaceship disguised as a cluster of stars. But it never used to be like this, not before Santa’s eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), modernized the operation. Nevertheless, one parcel slips through the net, so it’s left to Santa’s sensitive younger son, Arthur (James McAvoy), and the retired, grumpy Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) to deliver the package using reindeer and sleigh. All of which inspires a frenzied inter-continental dash and one too many padded-out mishaps. What makes this festive fantasy engaging is the savvy way in which it debunks cold efficiency in favor of more wholesome values. Rated PG.


17. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Why it took until 2018 for someone to cast Kurt Russell as Santa is a mystery, but thank Klaus Netflix did so in this slight but lovely live-action tale of two kids determined to capture the St Nick on camera. The sequel one-ups that inspired casting by bringing in Goldie Hawn as Mrs Claus. Somewhere, a Netflix exec is surely thinking of ways to entice Wyatt Russell and Kate Hudson into elf costumes for a threequel. 

18. Noelle (2019)

Quickly forgotten after Disney+’s launch, this warm comedy stars Anna Kendrick as the daughter of St Nick, who seeks to make an impact on the season while toiling in the shadow of her brother/heir apparent Nick (Bill Hader). It’s an all-star affair – Billy Eichner, Shirley MacLaine and Julie Hagerty further populate the North Pole – and the kind of old-school Christmas comedy they simply don’t make anymore.


19. Jingle All the Way (1996)

Arnold Schwarzenegger faces his most harrowing enemy yet: the holiday shopping crowd. The Governator in his “family comedy” period is desperate to get the last remaining Turbo-Man action figure on Christmas Eve—even if it means fighting a Santa with candy-cane nunchucks. The contorted mix of action-hero hijinks and lowbrow jokes is just silly enough to make all the members of your family smile. Rated PG. 

What would you do if Santa was injured on your roof? Typically his December 24 journey goes according to plan, but not when he arrives at Scott Calvin's. After Saint Nick's slight injury, Scott is forced to assume his role. (Some interesting insurance plan, huh?) Scott's son Charlie is totally thrilled with his pop's new job title, but his mother and her new boyfriend are trying to convince him otherwise. Rated PG. 


21. A Christmas Carol (1951)

Humbug! Deliciously malevolent Alastair Sim plays Ebenezer, the grouchy miser who endures various visions of Christmases Past, Present and Future in the world’s last-ditch effort to save him from being a true scrooge forever. Will he give his faithful clerk Bob Cratchit the raise he deserves? Save Tiny Tim from a cruel fate? Treat his neighbors with any respect whatsoever? Learn to love Christmas? His marathon evening of soul-searching ends with a surprising decision, and while the film holds a rather dark plot, it’s ability to warm the hearts of all ages solidifies its role as one of the best holiday movies of all time. Not rated.

Buy Now

Clara wants nothing more than to unlock her late mother’s box. She didn’t realize that key she receives at holiday party actually unlocks the door to new realms. Who wouldn’t want to take the journey alongside Clara through the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets? Things get dicey in the fourth realm, but you’ll enjoy tagging along for the ride. Rated PG. 


25. Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001)

A necessity for any mouseketeer in your life, Mickey's Magical Christmas focuses on what happens when Disney's most beloved characters are stuck inside because of a snow storm. Rather than feel blue about being trapped indoors, the crew decides to throw a Christmas party, though it's going to take some work to ensure that Donald Duck gets out of his Scrooge-like funk. Rated TV-G.


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