These Are the 14 Best Christmas Movies to Watch This Holiday Season

published Dec 23, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Family watching movie in home theater.
Credit: Monkey Business Images/

These days there are likely more holiday movies on your watchlist than there are days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, thanks to the advent of festive Netflix rom-coms and an endless array of decades-old classics. The good news is, we’ve narrowed down 14 of the best Christmas movies of all time to suit the mood and age group of your holiday gatherings.

Whether you’re seeking to please everyone at family movie night (yes, it’s possible!) or gathering with friends in your living room, here’s exactly what to watch this holiday season. 

1. For An All-Ages Gathering: “The Santa Clause”

Movie nights are essential when you’re hosting the whole extended family and just need a break from active entertaining. However, choosing the right Christmas classic may feel like another headache. We love “The Santa Clause” for a multi-generational gathering because it’s appropriate for the little ones while still supplying plenty of laughs for the adults. Plus, Charlie’s mom, Laura, offers plenty of fab ‘90s fashion inspo. 

How to Watch: Stream on Disney+

2. For a Heartwarming Classic: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

The oldest film on our list, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is an emotional journey through the lens of George Bailey, a lovable but disheartened character that is in need of some serious Christmas cheer. This film is a great pick for lovers of old movies or those who are seeking a fresh sense of holiday spirit themselves this year. 

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

3. For a Nostalgic Laugh: “Home Alone”

This festive film by the legendary John Hughes is a favorite among kids and parents alike, making an excellent nostalgic pick for a mixed crowd. While we would watch the movie just to ogle the McAllister family home for 90 minutes, Kevin’s antics, the tender moments, and the reminders of how important family is — in all its imperfections — create the perfect recipe for a light-hearted movie night. The sequel is pretty great, too. 

How to Watch: Stream on Disney+

4. For a Cozy Family Night: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

From the festive soundtrack to the iconic characters, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is one of those few cartoons you can actually get the whole family to watch during the holiday season. Finally, something grandpa and your five-year-old cousin can agree to watch. 

How to Watch: Stream on Apple TV+

5. For Those Craving Some Juicy Romance: “Love Actually”

This early 2000s British rom-com remains a perennial favorite for its A-list cast and varied relational storylines. Whether it’s a girls’ night in, a cozy date night, or a couples’ gift exchange, this one may offer a nice change of pace from the more traditional holiday films. 

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

6. For a Transportive Christmas in New York: “Miracle on 34th Street”

If you can’t make it to New York City this Christmas season, make sure to watch the 1994 version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” though the original version is also worth carving out time for. Scenes of the Macy’s Day Parade and the city all decked out for the holidays will have you dreaming of a long weekend there next year. Plus, it’s a real heart-warmer!

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

7. For A Night of Endless Laughs: “Elf”

Maybe it’s because we only watch the film during the holidays, but “Elf” manages to crack us up year after year. This is a great family pick that will appease all ages, and it provides a fun way to unwind after endless Christmas parties and gift-wrapping on top of life’s daily tasks. 

How to Watch: Stream on HBO Max or Prime Video

8. For the Post-Bedtime Gang: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Once the little ones are asleep, it’s finally time for the adults to take over the TV. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” has been a holiday favorite for more than 30 years, and we think it pairs perfectly with a glass or two of spiked eggnog. 

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

9. For Encouraging an Impromptu Sing-Along: “White Christmas”

From the gorgeous costumes to the immaculate singing voices, “White Christmas” is sure to put anyone in the mood to join in the chorus with Bing Crosby and the gang. The cozy, vintage Vermont setting is the perfect backdrop for a wintry evening spent with loved ones and some Christmas goodies. 

How to Watch: Stream on Netflix

10. For Those Seeking Some Christmas Magic : “The Polar Express”

Based on the beloved children’s book, “The Polar Express” offers an enchanting holiday journey through the eyes of one lucky child. Kids and parents alike are sure to feel a jolt of Christmas spirit after watching this movie together. 

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

11. For Action Aficionados: “Die Hard”

Okay, okay, so this one’s not exactly your classic feel-good Christmas film, but it’s a favorite of the guys and may offer a nice reprieve from all the rom coms and animated films you’ve been watching. Plus, choosing this one for movie night will give you leverage when it comes to convincing your partner to watch the following pick with you next weekend.

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

12. For a Festive Friends’ Night In: “The Holiday”

This star-studded film from Nancy Meyers has become a modern classic, thanks to its clever storyline, endearing characters, and of course, Meyers’s penchant for creating incredible sets — there’s even an Instagram account dedicated to them. Call your pals and start up a batch of mulled wine for a much-needed escape from busy holiday schedules.

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

13. For A Christmas Morning Backdrop: “A Christmas Story”

“A Christmas Story” is one of those polarizing holiday films that you either love or hate. Regardless, TBS made it the perfect background for opening gifts and sipping coffee for many of us growing up with its 24-hour Christmas Day marathon. Have this one playing during the morning’s festivities for a bit of nostalgia that will also keep some family members entertained until the next activity.

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video

14. For a Cozy Take on a Literary Classic: “Little Women”

While not a traditional Christmas movie, the 1994 version of “Little Women” is full of holiday spirit. This film is all about the cozy factor and offers plenty of heartwarming moments. The all-star cast really shines in their iconic roles, from Christian Bale as Laurie to Winona Rider as Jo, and the same goes for Greta Gerwig’s recent adaptation.

How to Watch: Stream on Prime Video