13 Holiday Movies You Must See

13 Must Watch Holiday Movies
 “SO MANY THINGS TO WATCH, SO LITTLE TIME,” me, just about every holiday break. This is when I attempt to cram 300 hours of TV time into three days. And because we all know this is mathematically impossible, We took the time to compile our favorite holiday movies (and some honorable mentions because we definitely fought over narrowing the list). Read on and be prepared to spend the rest of this holiday season hunkered down on your couch with a cocktail (made with Purity Vodka, of course) in hand in front of the TV.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is truly my favorite Christmas movie of all time. Adult Ralph Parker is remembering back to a Christmas season when he was nine years old living with his parents and his younger brother Randy in the northern Indiana town of Holman. Then largely known as Ralphie, he, like most kids, loved Christmas, his favorite time of the year. He often fantasized about things that he knows now would never happen, but that within a kid’s mind is totally plausible. That Christmas was memorable for: his contest-obsessed father winning a prize for the first time in his life, that prize which would be the bane of Ralphie’s mother’s existence; his father’s seemingly never-ending battle with the furnace in the house and the neighbor’s pack of dogs; his mother’s attempts to get Randy to eat, he at a stage when he never ate anything voluntarily; Ralphie’s changing view toward the Little Orphan Annie radio program and commercial advertising; Ralphie and his friends Schwartz and Flick’s changing battle with Scut Farkus and Grover Dill, their primary bullies; the triple dog dare Schwartz issued to Flick; and Ralphie’s new relationship with Lifebuoy soap. But most memorable was what he wanted more than anything for Christmas: an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle, aka a BB gun. As it looked increasingly like he was not going to get this prized gift, Ralphie went about trying to manipulate and outwit those he thought would either be the decision makers or influencers of that gift, namely his parents, his teacher, Miss Shields, and the big guy at the North Pole, even if he was in the form of a less than empathetic department store version.

The Family Stone

The Family Stone is another movie I’m digging, largely because it epitomizes exactly what I think Christmas is. To me, Christmas will always mean going home. It means cooking the same family recipes year after year, playing games around the fire, queuing up old holiday movies, and running into old neighbors and high school flames. Christmas means last minute shopping, grabbing drinks at the local pub, engagements, and waiting for the snow to fall. And yes, sometimes it can mean family drama. But that’s all part of it.

All of these things and more take place when the Stone family—a sizable group of seven—reunites like they do every year at the home they grew up in with their significant others in tow, including the oldest son’s awkward new girlfriend played perfectly by Sarah Jessica Parker. And while it’s the family dynamic that moves the plot along, there’s a solid dose of romantic comedy charm mixed with major heartstring tugging to keep you laughing and crying throughout the 90 minutes.

My favorite detail? How the house itself appears completely unchanged from when all the siblings grew up there…from smudgy fingerprints around light switches to dated decor and old family photos on the walls. It’s the perfect representation of how the holidays evolve as the “kids grow up,” and families grow and change, but with the perfect amount of nostalgia for tradition. 

Meet Me in St. Louis

Musical lovers, rejoice! Nominated for four Academy Awards, Meet Me In St. Louis follows the four Smith daughters in the year leading up to the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. Split into seasonal chapters (with nine musical numbers), the primary focus of the film is centered around Esther Smith’s (Judy Garland) love for the boy next door. While Christmas is only the focus for 1/4 of the film, it brings to light the magic of the holidays as they were when people attended fancy balls and dinner every night was a formal affair. Watching Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (which was written for the movie) is truly a beautiful scene. 

Home Alone

All it takes is the first few chimes in Home Alone’s theme song before I’m totally consumed by childhood nostalgia. And sure, adulthood hasn’t been that great to Macaulay Culkin, so let’s all just take a moment and remember him in his glory days. Kevin McAllister has a lot of skills: making his family disappear, lip-syncing in the mirror, using the dog door to pay the pizza delivery guy, cooking a Christmas dinner feast (“Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.”—aka what I repeat to myself every night before dinner), and of COURSE, setting booby traps. And while it’s highly entertaining to watch Kevin trick would-be burglars Harry and Marv, the true gem of Home Alone is Old Man Marley, who ends up being Kevin’s kindred spirit instead of the scary neighbor next door. Just thinking about the church scene is giving me SO MANY FEELINGS. BRB, crying softly in the corner. 

Miracle on 34th Street

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: When I say Miracle on 34th Street is one of my favorite movies of all-time (I may or may not watch it in July if I’m just having a bad day…) I’m picturing the 1994 version with Mara Wilson. I KNOW. I get a lot of flack for this, but convincing a 4-year-old to watch a black and white movie is kind of a lost cause, so you can see why I was raised on the remake. That being said, I champion both versions of the movie as one of the best for the season. My favorite quote? “I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I’m a symbol. I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If you can’t believe, if you can’t accept anything on faith, then you’re doomed for a life dominated by doubt.” Cue the tears. It gets me every time. 


The Holiday

Two of my favorite things (Nancy Meyers and Christmas, of course) come together to make one of the best and most well-decorated holiday films around: The Holiday. That perfect little cottage in the Cotswalds and the gorgeous estate in LA are what interior design dreams are made of, so even if you’re not about the love stories in this film, you can’t not fall for the decor. I’ve wanted to spend Christmas in a cottage in the English countryside since the first time I saw it. But really, you’ll fall in love with Jack Black (didn’t see that coming, did you?) and Jude Law is sort of a mess in a lovable dreamboat kind of way. And Kate Winslet as Iris Simpkins with her broken heart is something so many of us can relate to. If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. These love stories are slightly unrealistic but that’s what makes them so romantic. 

Christmas Vacation

Watching Christmas Vacation was a family tradition as far back as I can remember. Is it inappropriate for young children? Yes. Did that ever stop by Dad from watching it every day in December? Absolutely not. You’ll find a little bit of each of your family members in the dysfunctional Griswold family and relate to everything from the grandma giving you a quarter to that weird salad your great aunt brings but you pretend to eat anyway. Plus, the yuppy family next door that’s too hip for Christmas will remind you that despite how absolutely INSANE your family celebrations are…you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

The Polar Express

The Polar Express is the best, most magical embodiment of Christmas as a child. It’s the classic children’s book brought “to life” through CGI animation with everyone’s favorite, Tom Hanks, portraying almost all of the adult characters. From the moment the magical train pulls up outside the main character’s home to the instant he meets Santa at the North Pole and is gifted “THE FIRST GIFT OF CHRISTMAS!”, you feel the holiday spirit from your head to your toes. I realize that sounds like the cheesiest thing ever, but I’m telling you–it’s that good. And the music… oh the music! Josh Groban’s apropos theme song “Believe” is the icing on the cake. Best enjoyed with a cup of cocoa in plaid pajamas. 

The Santa Clause

Before Tim Allen’s voice in the “Pure Michigan” commercials brought me to tears (listen here and be prepared for emotions), I was enamored with a different Tim Allen—the one who accidentally kills Santa, puts on his suit, gains 45 pounds in a week, grows a beard, and stumbles through a year of playing Mr. Clause in preparation for next year’s Christmas. And the whole thing is kind of ironic, considering Scott Calvin (aka Tim Allen aka The Santa Clause) is totally on the “naughty list.” Something about seeing the grumpy guy get in the Christmas spirit—with help from his adorable son Charlie—and prove to his ex-wife and her new husband that he is in fact a good egg makes this one of the most fulfilling flicks of the season. Also, can we talk about the CD player in the sleigh that actually dispenses cookies and hot cocoa? We’ll take that in our cars for the upcoming winter commutes, please. 

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of the holidays, so my favorite Christmas Day tradition is to watch It’s A Wonderful Life (which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year) and take a moment to reflect on what is most important: those we love. Centered around selfless family man George Bailey, we watch as George experiences what life would be like for those he loves had he never existed. My favorite part of this movie is that it forces you to stop for a second and remember all of the good things in life, regardless of your struggles. And we can all benefit from Clarence’s advice: “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends”. 

Love Actually

Every year I anxiously await the opening monologue of this classic holiday movie. You know the one I’m talking about: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” Ugh. It’s just so good.

As a self-proclaimed sap, I live for the romantic storylines in Love Actually that follow these 10 characters through the holidays, the heartbreaking moments, and finally, the happy endings. (And before you start, don’t even try to point out how unrealistic it is that Jamie falls in love with a woman he can’t even hold a conversation with. Now isn’t the time to get pragmatic.)

While You Were Sleeping

Some might not think of While You Were Sleeping as a holiday movie, but I beg to differ. It is (in my opinion), one of the most underrated holiday movies out there. The heartwarming story of Lucy Moderatz, a single 20-something who recently lost her father and is destined to spend Christmas on her own in Chicago, saves a young man’s life and quickly becomes a part of their family. Sure, the story is a bit cheesy, but it’s about watching people become family and how sometimes, when things seem less than ideal, they can end up being better than you imagined.


Buddy the Elf, the movie’s 6’3″, tights-donning hero played by the great Will Ferrell, is basically who I want to be come Christmas (well, aside from the outfit). His hobbies include spreading cheer, passing out hugs, and singing songs because…why not? It’s fun to sing! The movie delivers memorable line after line that has viewers laughing out loud from beginning to end. Here are a few favorites:

“I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR.”
“I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite!”
“So, good news—I saw a dog today.”
“Not now, Arctic Puffin!”
[singing] “I’m singing!! I’m in a store, and I’m singing!”

…all flawlessly delivered as only Will Ferrell could say them. And the North Pole set is a real-life version of the beloved claymation movies we watched as kids—and includes several favorite characters. It’s instant cheer if you’re looking for a laugh during the holidays.

The following are more Christmas movies I love and needed to mention: White Christmas, The Grinch, Prancer, Muppet Christmas Carol, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Home Alone 2, Four Christmases, Santa Claus is Comin To Town, Christmas Carol, The Family Man, Rudolph, Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooged, Holiday Inn, and Jack Frost.

Courtesty of The Every Girl

What is your favorite holiday movie? I’d love to know!

Thank you so much stopping by; I love having you hear. Have a glass of wine and stay a while. And as always, have a beautiful day.

Happy Holidays!


  1. December 6, 2017 / 11:06 am

    This is my favorite time of year for movies. Elf and a Christmas story are probably the top two that we watch every year.

  2. Komal
    December 6, 2017 / 11:34 am

    I have never seen meet me in at Louis! Looks like a good one. Love actually is one of my faves!

  3. December 6, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Elf and Miracle on 34th Street are sooo good! I also need to rewatch Love, Actually – it’s been so long since I’ve seen it!

    Great list of movies – now to find the time to watch them all! lol

  4. December 6, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    I really need to expand my Christmas movies. I’ve only seen Home Alone and The Santa Clause on this list. I do love The Santa Clause, though, it’s one of my favorites!

  5. December 6, 2017 / 1:55 pm

    This makes me realise how many Christmas movies I never watched growing up. My niece is obsessed with Home Alone, she’ll watch any of them as many times as she can all year round haha. I really love Edward Scissor hands.. maybe not the usual Christmas movies but it does make me think of Christmas at the end!

  6. December 6, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    These are some of my absolute favorites! You’ve inspired me to watch one of these this weekend : )

  7. December 6, 2017 / 5:36 pm

    I have seen a few of these! Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually and the holiday! I rewatch Love Actually this weekend! Such a good movie!

  8. December 6, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    I have to save this! Thank you for posting your suggestions on the list, wI will checkout all of these!

  9. soonjoo
    December 6, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    Haha I love your movie list! Home Alone is something I love to watch. It is such a traditional fun family Christmas movie!

  10. December 6, 2017 / 11:14 pm

    Wow awesome list. I have already watched some of these movies and they are my favorite.

  11. Joanna
    December 7, 2017 / 2:37 am

    When I was little, Home Alone would not miss on the TV for any Christmas. I do like Love actually though and I can’t wait for the second one to be released soon.

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:41 am

      I didn’t know there would be a Part Two!!! That’s awesome! Thanks for that deet!

  12. December 7, 2017 / 3:29 am

    Home Alone, Christmas vacation are my kids all time favourite and recently I have watched A bad mom Christmas totally loved it.

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:41 am

      Christmas Vacation is absolutely HILARIOUS!!!! Glad your kids are fans of ‘our’ movies too!

  13. December 7, 2017 / 4:08 am

    I know how cliche this is but I swear by Love Actually! It’s just such a great movie 🙂 I also love any movie with Judy Garland <3 Great list!

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:39 am

      Thank you so much Maria! Love Actually is a pretty awesome movie!

  14. Thena Franssen
    December 7, 2017 / 7:35 am

    I look forward to The Christmas Story and Elf every year. I own them, and just get giddy over the thought of watching during the holidays!

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:38 am

      I can’t wait to hunker down with the family and watch A Christmas Story!!!

  15. Jhoan
    December 7, 2017 / 8:15 am

    Great movies here! Even better when seen with family and friends.

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:36 am

      I totally agree! Family and friends – snacks and cocktails!

  16. Ashley Weasley
    December 7, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Home Alone is my favorite Christmas movie! This would be fun!!! I’ll be checking all your list.

    • December 7, 2017 / 9:35 am

      I absolutely LOVE Home Alone!

  17. Angela Cardamone @marathonsandmotivation.com
    December 7, 2017 / 11:11 am

    This is a great list! Elf and Love Actually are 2 of my all time favorites at Christmas!!

  18. December 7, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Great list of movies with some I have not seen or thought of as holiday specials. I have to see Holiday, The Family Stone and Love Actually and see if they become regulars.

    • December 7, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Yes, that’s a good one!!!

  19. December 7, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    These are some great films. I especially love The Holiday and Miracle on 34th street!

  20. December 7, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    Oh wow! your list awakes so many memories! I definitely do not watch much tv during the holidays, I don’t know why we don’t have such a tradition.

  21. December 7, 2017 / 5:38 pm

    This list is spot on! My favorite is The Santa Clause, but Meet Me in St. Louis is definitely up there!

  22. Kim
    December 7, 2017 / 8:51 pm

    These are such great Christmas movies!! I love Home Alone and Elf 🙂

  23. December 7, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Out of all this home alone is my favorite. Love how he sets them up lol

    • December 8, 2017 / 9:56 am

      Joe Pesci was always my favorite character in that movie!

  24. December 7, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    My favorite is Home Alone 1, 2 and 3 and Elf on this list. But I need to watch some of the other movies and enjoy.

  25. December 8, 2017 / 12:07 am

    I have seen the majority of movies listed here. These are wonderful and full of entertainment, especially during the holidays. I would love to see “It’s a wonderful life” movie.

    • December 8, 2017 / 9:55 am

      Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings! Love it!

  26. December 8, 2017 / 2:05 am

    I think all of these I have seen, and most are on my holiday list. A Christmas story I don’t watch too much because I really don’t enjoy it. And while I like While you were Sleeping, i don’t generally think of it as Christmas movie. If I were to watch one over and over right now, it would be Love Actually. And you miss a couple classics like Grinch or Christmas Carol.

    • December 8, 2017 / 9:46 am

      It’s hard to imagine anyone not liking A Christmas Story. And I LOVE Love Actually! The Grinch and Christmas Carol is listed at the bottom of the blog post. I’m a fan of those two as well! Happy Holidays!

  27. Nicole F
    December 8, 2017 / 2:58 am

    A Christmas story is always #1 on my list! I love when they have the all day marathon on Christmas!

    • December 8, 2017 / 9:44 am

      And I thought I was the only one who enjoyed the all-day marathon of A Christmas Story!

  28. December 8, 2017 / 9:14 am

    Awesome choices for the Holidays! I can never get tired of watching Elf with the kids! It’s one of our favorite Christmas movies!

    • December 8, 2017 / 9:43 am

      I think everyone LOVES Elf!!! Such an awesome movie!

  29. December 8, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    I haven’t seen a couple of these so I’ll definitely have to look out for them. My favorites though are ELF of course and Home Alone, both classic!!

  30. December 8, 2017 / 2:06 pm

    I loved watching Serendipity and Sleepless in Seattle as a part of our Holiday Tradition. From your list, some of my favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone, The Santa Clause, The Polar Express and Miracle on 34th Street!

  31. December 8, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    This is so amazing list of movies, I have seen a few of them but they are so good that I can watch them every year during the Christmas and holiday season. Polar Express is my favorite.

  32. Bobbi
    December 8, 2017 / 6:10 pm

    I really love the Santa Clause movies. They are always a must watch!

  33. TColeman
    December 8, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I love holiday movies! This is such a great list of some good ones.

  34. Glenda
    December 8, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    I love watching all these holiday movies. The Polar Express is my favorite.

  35. December 9, 2017 / 9:44 am

    I really love the home alone movie. All of parts are all great. I will watch the rest of the movies here.

  36. December 10, 2017 / 7:02 am

    Family Stone I found awesome for it’s vintage looking actors. They are beautiful. And your list is awesome! Plus the first picture of you in which you shine!

  37. December 11, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Yay! Tis the season for Christmas movies. This is truly my fave time of the yr.

  38. December 12, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    I’m so embarrassed to say that I’ve only watched Home Alone! Haha, if you are looking for a festive NEW movie, The Greatest Showman, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Murder on the Orient Express are pretty good films!

  39. December 15, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    So many classic movie choices. I can’t wait for 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

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