Activities

30 holiday movies for the family

Curl up with the kids and a cup of hot chocolate while you enjoy these Christmas holiday classics as a family.

By Laura Grande

30 holiday movies for the family

30 holiday movies for the family

Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Probably at the top of most kids’ Christmas viewing list, Home Alone (and its sequel) is centred on the holiday misadventures of Kevin McCallister. Whether he’s fighting with his older siblings or laying booby traps around his house, Macaulay Culkin continues to charm audiences in his breakout role as the kid who outsmarts the bad guys.

Home Alone: amazon.ca, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, amazon.ca

30 holiday movies for the family

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

The quintessential holiday classic, this animated short from Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz reflects on the true meaning of Christmas. A jaded Charlie Brown — turned off by all the commercialism of the season — takes it upon himself to direct his school’s Christmas pageant and, in the process, rediscovers his holiday spirit.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001)

After being snowed in on Christmas Eve, Mickey hosts a Christmas party for all of his Disney friends in hopes of cheering up Donald Duck, who seems to have lost his holiday spirit. Characters like Ariel, Beast, Aladdin, Pinocchio and even Timon and Pumbaa, are guests at the party, and Mickey and Minnie decide to show them clips of funny, unseen footage to lighten the mood. It’s the perfect film for any Disney lover who wished for all of their favourite characters to be under one roof (literally). 

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30 holiday movies for the family

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000)

Whether you prefer the original animated classic or the 2000 live-action remake starring Jim Carrey, this timeless tale of a cranky green hermit who plans to steal Christmas from Whoville is perfect for your family holiday tradition.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Elf (2004)

A man raised as an elf at the North Pole embarks on a journey to the U.S. to discover his birth parents and learn more about the world he left behind as a baby. Since Will Ferrell is the star, expect both wacky antics and overly enthusiastic holiday cheer.

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30 holiday movies for the familyPhoto via Indigo

A Christmas Story (1983)

You’ll shoot your eye out — or crack up laughing — with this Christmas comedy. Set in the 1940s, young Ralphie attempts to charm his way into getting a Red Ryder BB Gun by reassuring his parents, teacher and Santa himself that it’s the ideal gift for a young boy.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Annabelle’s Wish (1997)

This adorable holiday tale is of a young calf named Annabelle (Kath Soucie) who dreams of being one of Santa’s reindeer. She lives happily on Charles’ farm with many other animals, but her best friend is Charles’ grandson, Billy, who lost his ability to speak because of a barnyard fire. This film teaches an amazing lesson of true friendship, never losing faith and that, if you try (and wish) hard enough, anyone can achieve their dreams.

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30 holiday movies for the family

The Santa Clause (1994), Santa Clause 2 (2002) and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

An instant holiday classic when it hit theatres almost 23 years ago, the first film in the Santa Clause trilogy is arguably the best of them all. When Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, he is thrust into the spotlight as the new Santa when he puts on the magical red suit. The second film in the series is based eight years after the original, and Scott, er, Santa, faces some challenges: his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), is on the Naughty list, and he finds out he must marry someone by Christmas Eve or he can’t be Santa Claus anymore. In the third film, Santa must diffuse Jack Frost’s (Martin Short) plans to take over the North Pole.

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30 holiday movies for the familyPhoto via amazon.ca

Shrek the Halls (2007)

If you have stir-crazy kids who don’t want to sit through a full-length film, this is the perfect 30-minute alternative: a Christmas special of the movie, Shrek. Set after the plot of Shrek the Third, it’s Christmas time at the swamp, and Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is urging Shrek (Mike Myers) to organize a fun Christmas. Shrek attempts to have a quiet holiday with Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their kids, but instead, the rest of the crew, including Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Gingy, join in for the fun.

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A still from the animated kids' movie Shrek

The Polar Express (2004)

Based on the classic Chris Van Allsburg book, this Christmas classic infuses holiday cheer and childlike wonder with groundbreaking motion capture technology. Tom Hanks plays six characters, including the Conductor, who takes a skeptical young boy aboard his magical train to visit Santa at his home in the North Pole.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Frosty the Snowman (1969) & Frosty Returns (1992)

This animated television classic has been a Christmas staple for decades. When a mysterious magician attempts to steal the magic hat that allows Frosty to walk among people, Frosty enlists the help of his young friend, Karen. Years later, a sequel with different characters was made to this family favourite about the return of everyone’s beloved snowman, voiced by John Goodman.

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30 holiday movies for the family

A Christmas Carol (2009)

As a more up-to-date (and un-animated) take on the 1938 classic, Disney’s version of A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, is a must-see with the kiddies. The three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take Scrooge on a journey to transform his attitude about Christmas from humbug to humble.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

One of the most recognized and beloved holiday features, this timeless animated television tale of the adventures of Rudolph and his glowing red nose is best enjoyed wrapped in a blanket with your kids and cups of hot chocolate.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

If you didn’t see this one while growing up, it’s definitely worth a first-time watch with the kids. It stars everyone’s favourite Beauty and the Beast characters in a Christmas setting, but when Beast forbids Christmas, Belle, along with Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip, have to convince him that it’s a good holiday. We even get to meet some new characters, like Angelique, the Christmas angel.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Since the beginning of time, immortal Guardians, including Santa Clause (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), have kept children around the world happy and safe from darkness. When an evil force named Pitch Black (Jude Law) threatens the fate of all the Guardians, Jack Frost (Chris Pine) must help them to defeat Pitch’s plans before the children stop believing.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994)

Whether you prefer the classic or the 1994 version with Matilda star, Mara Wilson — the storyline remains mostly the same. An elderly man by the name of Kris Kringle takes over for a drunk Santa Claus in a department store, and is soon believed by most people to be the real deal. Except a little girl needs more proof of his authenticity, making this the perfect family film for those who need a boost of Christmas spirit.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Frozen (2013)

Of course this ever-popular Disney film is on our holiday watch list. For those who haven’t seen it, Frozen is an animated story about two sisters, Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) of Arendelle. Elsa, who has the ability to freeze anything (and anyone) she touches, flees the castle after being outed, and Anna sets out on a journey to find her sister. Along the way, she meets Kristoff and Sven the reindeer, who help guide her up the mountain to where Elsa is hiding. But don’t worry, the film is a perfect balance of serious and funny, with the help of comedic relief in the form of Elsa and Anna’s childhood snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad). Although the movie isn’t in typical Disney fashion of true love between Prince and Princess, it does focus on the power and importance of a different kind of bond: the love between two sisters. 

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30 holiday movies for the family

Jingle All The Way (1996)

It’s Christmas Eve and Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is on a difficult mission. In trying to make things up to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), he promises to buy him the most-wanted Christmas present: Turbo-Man. The toy turns out to be a lot harder to track down than he thought, and along the way he meets Myron the mailman (Sinbad), who’s on the same mission. This comedic holiday film mixes the hilarity of last-minute shopping with a reminder of what Christmas is really about.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Arthur Christmas (2011)

What happens when Santa Claus forgets to deliver presents to one kid in the entire world? It’s up to Arthur (James McAvoy), Santa’s youngest son, to save the day! Come on, you didn’t think that Santa could successfully visit every home on the planet in one night without some help, did you?

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30 holiday movies for the family

Jack Frost (1998)

This one is a bit of a tear jerker at the end, but it’s totally worth it. When Jack (Michael Keaton) dies in a car accident, he leaves behind his wife Gabby (Kelly Preston) and son, Charlie (Joseph Cross). A year later, a sad Charlie builds a snowman that looks like his father, and he plays Jack’s harmonica before he goes to sleep. The harmonica has magical powers and brings Jack back to life in the form of a snowman. This funny, yet touching, journey of a son and his lost father is a perfect family movie to snuggle up to.

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30 holiday movies for the family

The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

This animated stop-motion Christmas special is based on the tale of an orphaned drummer boy named Aaron, who has lost faith in humanity after losing his parents. The movie follows him and his animal friends, Baba the lamb, Samson the donkey, and Joshua the camel, as they find themselves on a life-changing journey to Bethlehem.

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30 holiday movies for the family

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The perfect mixture of Halloween and Christmas, Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation follows Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon/Danny Elfman), pumpkin king of Halloweentown. But Jack has become bored of the same old scare routine, and finds himself in awe when he stumbles upon Christmastown, all cheery and bright. He plans to control Christmas by kidnapping Santa Claus in order to take his place, but not everything goes as planned.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Christmas With The Kranks (2004)

Since their daughter, Blair, is away for the holidays, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to skip Christmas and go on a Carribean cruise. That is until Blair decides to come home after all, and the Kranks find themselves scrambling to pull together a last-minute Christmas celebration while having to deal with their neighbours that are on a mission to win the “Best Decorated Street” competition.

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30 holiday movies for the family

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Since the Muppets’ play a constant role in pop culture, now would be the perfect time to (re)introduce your kids to this holiday hit! This funny and charming take on the iconic Charles Dickens tale features Michael Caine as the miserly Scrooge and a band of merry Muppets who help him rediscover his Christmas cheer!

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30 holiday movies for the family

Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws (2009)

This is the fourth movie in the Air Buddies series. Puppy Paws, son of Santa Paws, is reminded what the true meaning of Christmas is, with the help of adorable pals, Budderball, Rosebud, B-Dawg, Buddha, and Mudbud.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

This Mickey-fied spinoff of Charles Dickens’ epic tale is perfect for classic Disney lovers who just can’t get enough. Of course, other Mickey characters, like Scrooge McDuck, Goofy and Jiminy Cricket, make appearances, too!

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30 holiday movies for the family

Fred Claus (2007)

Bitter Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) has to move to the North Pole with his kid brother, Nicholas (Paul Giamatti), a.k.a. Santa Claus. He helps with making the toys to repay St. Nick for bailing him out of jail, but the hilarious trouble he gets into along the way make his brother not so jolly.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Gremlins (1984)

This may seem like a misplaced Halloween movie, but it’s actually a PG-rated film with a holiday setting and comedic plot. When Billy receives a new pet named Gizmo for Christmas, it seems like the perfect gift. He’s a furry little creature, called a mogwai, that’s cute and cuddly. Well that’s how it seems at first, until Billy starts to break the three rules that should not be broken: don’t get the mogwai wet, make sure not to expose it to sunlight, and do not feed it after midnight. 

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30 holiday movies for the family

Eloise at Christmastime (2003)

Based on the book from 1958, the film stars six-year-old Eloise (Sofia Vassilieva), who lives in The Plaza Hotel and is always causing mischief. She keeps herself busy in the adult world while waiting for her mother to return from Paris, and even her nanny (Julie Andrews) can’t seem to get a hold on her enthusiasm. The little troublemaker finds her fun in playing tricks, being a super-sleuth and by playing matchmaker for two people who seem destined for each other. 

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30 holiday movies for the family

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Starring Fred Astaire as the narrator, S.D. Kluger, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town guides the viewers through the journey of Santa Claus (Kris Kringle) and how his traditions got started.

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30 holiday movies for the family

Read more: 30 fun festive activities 10 holiday movies for mom and dad 12 holiday season events and activities in Toronto for families

This article was originally published on Nov 10, 2016
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