The Christmas season is nowhere near complete without rewatching your favorite holiday films. As a kid, I had my go-tos — “Miracle On 34th Street,” “The Santa Clause” — but as time went on (and more movies came out), my list grew and grew and then grew some more. I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark and Lifetime lately and I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every holiday movie they’ve released in the past 5+ years … they’re so incredibly cheesy, but what can I say, I like cheese! (This list is Hallmark and Lifetime-free, by the way. Also, no “Love Actually,” “Diehard,” or “Home Alone 2” … sorry, folks).
Grab some hot cocoa, a warm blanket and snuggle up on the couch with one of these holiday classics. And let me know your favorites in the comments below!
1. “Miracle On 34th Street” (1994)
When I think of my favorite holiday flick, this classic (ahem, remake) is the first to come to mind. I grew up watching it with my mom and it’s my favorite to come back to every December. As a kid, I saw myself in six-year-old Susan Walker’s life and character (apart from the whole not believing in Santa thing). I think that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much.
Plot: Young Susan Walker and her mother, Dorey, don’t believe in Santa Claus. Dorey hires a man named Kris Kringle to play Santa for Cole’s department store … and he just so happens to believe he’s the real-life Mr. Claus. When Kris Kringle is set up and arrested, Dorey’s boyfriend, Bryan Bedford, rallies support for the white-bearded, self-proclaimed St. Nick.
Starring: Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Richard Attenborough
2. “The Santa Clause” (1994)
If you’re a ‘90s kid, there’s no way you haven’t seen this Tim Allen-classic. Every year, I’d slide the VHS tape out of the white box and press play on the VCR. (Did I just age myself?) The movie had 2 sequels, but none compare to the original. Twenty-four years later and I still wonder how good that hot chocolate was that little elf Judy handed Scott — didn’t it look incredible!?
Plot: Divorced dad and businessman Scott Calvin has custody of his son, Charlie, on Christmas Eve. When they find a man dressed as Santa on their roof and he’s accidentally killed, the father and son duo are transported to the North Pole. Upon arrival, the head elf informs Scott that he must take on the role of Santa in time for Christmas. Say what!?
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold
3. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)
I first watched this movie just a few years ago (I know, I know, where have I been?), but the minute I did, it jumped way up on my list. Starring the iconic James Stewart as George Bailey, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is considered one of the best films ever created. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must!
Plot: When George Bailey is about to jump from a bridge on Christmas, his guardian angel, Clarence, intercedes and shows him what his town would’ve been like if it hadn’t have been for George’s help through the years. With the help of Clarence, George soon realizes all he has to be grateful for … and that it’s a wonderful life, after all.
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Henry Travers
4. “The Holiday” (2006)
Can you believe this movie is 12 years old already? I’m usually not a fan of movies with an all-star lineup, but this one is pretty dang incredible (also, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You,’ but that’s not Christmas-y so … ok, back to ‘The Holiday.’) But seriously: Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and the incredibly attractive Jude Law (I think it’s the glasses. No offense, Jude.) … what more could you ask for! Every time I listen to “Mr. Brightside,” I see Cameron Diaz dancing around frantically in my head thanks to this movie. Grab some hot chocolate, your Mr. Napkin Head and snuggle up for this holiday flick.
Plot: When English Iris finds herself unlucky in love, she decides to swap homes with Californian Amanda for the holiday. While cottage-living Iris finds herself in a Hollywood mansion, Amanda embraces life in a quaint English village. Through their vacations, both ladies meet love interests that make them believe in love again.
Starring: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black
5. “Elf” (2003)
How could this not make this list? Will Ferrell’s Buddy the elf has become an iconic Christmas character. I’m not usually a comedy person, but ‘Elf’ does it tastefully. Literally. Did you see just how much sugar he doused his spaghetti with? I feel like I consumed 2,000 calories just watching the movie.
Plot: Will Ferrell plays Buddy, an elf who was raised by Santa’s elves after being sent to the North Pole by accident in infancy. When he learns of his true origins, Buddy travels to New York in search of his father — a disgruntled businessman who is the polar opposite of jolly. His father reluctantly welcomes Buddy into his life and Christmas chaos ensues.
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel
6. “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)
I know a new version is in theaters, but I can’t help putting the live-adaptation I grew up with on my list. When I think of the Grinch, Jim Carrey’s face comes to mind. (Not like his normal face … his green, Grinchy face … ). Also, how did I not have nightmares after watching this as a kid? Looking for Grinch gifs at 12:20 a.m. was a bad idea.
Plot: In this retelling of Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch whose sole mission is to ruin Christmas for everyone in Whoville. When the green grouch meets charming six-year-old Cindy Lou Who, his view of the holiday begins to change.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen
7. “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)
Put Tim Allen in a Christmas movie and BAM, it’s a hoot. Jamie Lee Curtis and Allen make the perfect holiday pair in this festive comedy about two empty-nesters who decide to forgo the holiday festivities for a cruise … until they hear their daughter will be home for Christmas after all. Check this one out for your dose of Christmas chuckles.
Plot: When their daughter announces she won’t be home for the holidays, Luther and Nora Krank ditch their Christmas traditions for a Caribbean cruise. Their Christmas-obsessed neighbors are less than thrilled with the Krank’s boycott, but once their daughter decides to come home after all, they all must rally together to give her a Christmas to remember.
Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, M. Emmet Walsh
8. “Jack Frost” (1998)
This one is definitely underrated. I haven’t watched it in years, but it’s a winter classic that shouldn’t be missed. Also, Michael Keaton! Kelly Preston! Grab a box of tissues — you’re going to need it. (My eyes are weeping just writing all of this).
Plot: Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, an aging musician who never had much time for his wife, Gabby, and son, Charlie. When Jack tries to make it back for Christmas one night, he tragically passes away in a car accident. A year later, his spirit is brought to life as snowman on his family’s lawn.
Starring: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross
We interrupt your regularly scheduled gif-viewing for the “Jack Frost” trailer because
no gifs from the 1998 movie have been found in the deep, deep depths of the world wide web.