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12 of Our Favorite Holiday Movies

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Between baking cookies, trimming the tree and last-minute gift shopping, many of us will rejoice in the time we get to finally curl up on the couch drinking hot cocoa with our family and friends. While mastering the art of a holiday couch potato, many of us will be situated in front of the TV too, watching some of our favorite holiday movies. From timeless classics to animated features, watching movies centered around the holidays not only become tradition, but gives an incredibly heartwarming and tender affect for the season.

Spend these cold Christmas nights basking in the warm glow of your television set with friends and family. In no particular order, our staff shares a few of their favorite holiday movies that you are bound to enjoy this festive season.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

{Image Credit: Paramount Pictures}


This film has been a favorite in my family since before I was born. I was raised on the ideals of George Bailey, Bedford Falls, and Clarence’s advice that “no man is a failure who has friends.” Although it was a box office failure in 1946, this film still creeps its way into my all time favorites list. So, it’s really no contest to also be a favorite Christmas movie. Thematically, it almost completely avoids the topic of the Christmas holiday, which might be why it has remained so popular in a present world divided by the plural holidays. Still, the backdrop of December 24th set the stage for a great adventure that one man must take inward to find his individual worth, reminding us all of how our actions impact the people around us.


My favorite Christmas movie is It’s A Wonderful Life. Being completely transparent: I am ashamed at how few Christmas movies I have seen! For no specific reason I’ve just never gravitated towards Christmas movies aside from the standard childhood clay animated ones that I watched growing up. I even disliked It’s A Wonderful Life the first time I watched it with my mom when I was a young girl. But I continued to watch it every year with her because it’s her favorite (and I was going for the best-daughter-ever award that I’m still waiting on). As I got older and began to not just follow the story but understand it’s significance and heartbreak, I started to appreciate it more. Now it’s not only my favorite Christmas movie, but one of my favorite movies of all time. It makes me cry, smile, and laugh multiple times throughout and I can’t imagine a Christmas without seeing it. With this being said, I feel like I can’t answer this question without mentioning The Holiday. It’s not going to be a classic Christmas movie, or probably even one that people associate with the day very much, but it sure is an unassuming, funny charmer that I tend to watch a lot!

A Christmas Carol (1951)

{Image Credit: Renown Pictures}


My sister did musical theater growing up and was in a rendition of it so it has always held a close place in my heart. Nothing wrong with seeing an old man get warmed by the spirit of Christmas and love! Plus they’re one of the few holiday movies that The Muppets did, so if that isn’t a sign of a fantastic Christmas movie I don’t know what is!

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

{Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures}


Why is this my favorite Christmas movie? Because Muppets are awesome, obviously. But in all seriousness, this is the only version of A Christmas Carol that has made me cry (or that I’ve enjoyed for that matter), for which it gets major props in my book. The musical numbers are all great, with the highlight for me being “Marley and Marley” sung by Statler and Waldorf. The movie also holds up well over the decades and doesn’t come off as cheesy when viewed as an adult, but has just the right amount of nostalgia attached to it. Though there are many other Christmas movies that I love, none of them quite hold the same place in my heart as The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Scrooged (1988)

{Image Credit: Paramount Pictures}


While I could have answered with my absolute favorite It’s A Wonderful Life, that’s too much of a given if you know me. Since the holidays can become depressing and dark for some, Scrooged starring the immaculate Bill Murray is a great festive movie that truly puts emphasis on how there’s more to life than what you see. This funny modernization of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is quite the dark comedy. Murray playing the cocky television producer a-hole Frank Cross is perfect and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are incredible with very extreme personalities. Bobcat Goldthwait (the crazy dude from Police Academy) as the shy (yet again, crazy) co-worker is a highlight too. The ending in particularly will put a smile on your face (who doesn’t love Al Green’s collaboration with Annie Lennox, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart“?). This film also features a funny but mostly callous Christmas Special spoof called “The Night The Reindeer Died” (very Die Hard, by the way) with Mrs. Claus opening her closet to an array of AK-47 assault rifles with Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man!), followed by a hilarious commercial for “Bob Goulet’s Old Fashion Cajun Christmas”. This is not a film that gives you the warm and fuzzy feels this season, but it’s still a good one that is worth watching this Christmas.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

{Image Credit: Warner Brothers}


I don’t like sad or sentimental holiday movies so this one being funny just does it for me. I have had so many laughs watching it over the years with my brother. It’s our family tradition.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

{Image Credit: MGM Television}


My favorite Christmas movie is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”—the cartoon version. I have been watching this movie about every Christmas since I can remember and it is (in my opinion) a true holiday classic. Plus, the main song never gets old.

Home Alone (1990)

{Image Credit: 20th Century FOX}


The idea of a young kid being left at home while two burglars try to break in at Christmas takes me back to my childhood. I’m not a big fan of Christmas anymore, but this makes me remember when I was!

Love Actually (2003)

{Image Credit: Studio Canal}


My favorite thing about this movie is the different types and degrees of love that the movie shows us. While yes, there are multiple stories of people falling in love and finding what seems to be “The One”, there are other degrees too—childish crushes, familial love, friendship. And not everyone gets a happy ending – we get to see how, sometimes, love doesn’t actually conquer all. Relationships and feelings don’t always work out and make everything perfect. The movie has a great cast of characters, and though it did seem to initiate the trend of “multiple celebrities and story lines all in one movie together”, it’s also the best of those sorts of movies. It has great music, it’s funny, and it’s a movie that’s stuck with me ever since it was released in 2003. I watch it every year!


I like Love Actually because it’s a Christmas movie that doesn’t feel like a Christmas movie. I appreciate the dated references in it, the way all of the threads wind up together in the end, and it’s a movie I watch year over year.

White Christmas (1954)

{Image Credit: Paramount Pictures}


It’s such a classic film. My family watches it every year on Christmas Day, usually after all the festivities and it’s the perfect excuse to turn everything off and just enjoy something together. Bing Crosby’s voice is one that we associate with Christmas music in general and some of the lesser known songs in that film are fantastic. (For example: “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” by Rosemary Clooney always gets me.) And, spoiler alert, but there’s a happy ending. What’s not to love?

Elf (2003)

{Image Credit: New Line Cinema}


Because how can you not help but love a grown man who believes he’s an elf, eats spaghetti with syrup, and would beat up a mall Santa in the honor of the real big guy? Buddy the Elf navigates the tough streets of New York City during Christmastime with wide-eyed optimism and arms-wide-open friendliness, all while delivering many iconic one-liners (“You sit on a throne of lies!”, “Smiling’s my favorite!”, “Son of a nutcracker!”, “I am a cotton-headed ninnymoggins!”). Year after year, this heartfelt and hilarious movie makes me smile, laugh (like real belly-aching, side-splitting laughter), cry, and remember why I love the holiday season so much. Plus, Zooey Deschanel stars in it, and she sings! On that note, the greatest lesson learned from Elf is “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)


Picking a favorite holiday movie is hard! There’s so much to choose from, even to someone like me who’s only seen holiday movies from last 2 decades. I was very torn between my many favorites (Elf! Gremlins! Home Alone!)  but I’m going to have to go with The Nightmare Before Christmas. A 90’s gem from that time when Tim Burton still had fresh ideas and wasn’t contractually obligated to cast Johnny Depp in everything. This movie is magical, romantic and jolly without being too saccharin. So yeah there’s a really creepy boogeyman and children get shrunken heads as presents but in the end Santa fixes everything; the main characters find love in a wonderful scene and everybody is happy—Merry Christmas! Bonus points for beautiful stop motion animation and super catchy songs.

A Christmas Story (1983)

{Image Credit: MGM Pictures}


It’s simple, funny, clean, Midwestern, and fun. It is not a movie that will beat you over the head with a boring and antiquated Meaning Of Christmas moral. It is not so joke laden that it sacrifices story either. It is a story of a young boy who hopes for a gift he probably won’t get, but he hopes, because Christmas gives us that hope. It’s about growing up, but again without a moral about growing up. It just shows us what a young boy in the Midwest suburbs thinks and feels around the most exciting time of the year for a young boy in the Midwest suburbs. It’s got good feels and quotable lines. It’s not loud or sing-song-y. It’s just a charming tale.

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What are some of your favorite holiday movies? Share with us in the comments below.

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5 Comments on “12 of Our Favorite Holiday Movies”

  1. Andrew Rogers December 23, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    I’ve seen some of these (Elf, Love Actually, Christmas Vacation) and loved them, but not all of them. Christmas is my favourite holiday, so I’ll definitely have to look up the others!

  2. commonplace blogger December 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I can’t get enough of “Home Alone” or “Home Alone 2”. DeShawn’s comment about no longer being a fan of Christmas but remembering when he was sums it up for me too. It doesn’t even have to be November or December for me to watch these movies. Great choices.


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