I’m at my most content when all my to-do list involves is watching every last one of the best holiday movies before New Year’s Eve. While everyone else is attending holiday parties, decking the halls, and getting after their Christmas shopping, I’m happily hibernating indoors. You can catch me curled up on the couch of my family’s home covered in blankets and pressing play again and again to the movies that give me all the warm and fuzzy feels. 

I’ll paint you an even clearer picture of my ideal Christmas weekend: fuzzy socks, endless cups of hot chocolate, and yes, spending all day in my pajamas. The only thing that can make it even more perfect? This list of the best holiday movies below. I’ve rounded up everything from the classics (hi, Frosty) to the Christmas-themed rom coms that’ll make even the Scrooges among us believe in love. Scroll through to see if your favorites made the cut—and let me know if there are any must-sees I need to add to my watch list.

Feature image by Kristen Kilpatrick for Camille Styles.

Read on for all the best holiday movies you’ll be marathoning from now until January.

Holidate, 2020

In need of a feel-good movie that doesn’t require too much emotional investment? (There’s a time and a place to watch Titanic, and a random Tuesday in December might not be it.) Holidate takes the idea of holiday season rom-com tropes and turns them on their head. Tired of being single on holidays (particularly at the height of cuffing season), two strangers agree to be each other’s default plus-ones for all the many celebrations and events throughout the year. As we can all correctly imagine, feelings develop and true love is confessed. Predictable, sure. Soul-satisfying in the most accessible way possible? Definitely.

Standout line: “You’d be surprised at the quality of men you can meet at the mall.”

Available on: Netflix

The Princess Switch, 2018

Before I get into it, a small disclaimer that you need to add both the second and third movies in this series to the all-day holiday movie marathon—you’ll be happy you had. If you thought Vanessa Hudgens hit her cinematic peak with High School Musical, it’s time to think again. The Princess Switch is the sort of absurd, far-fetched storyline that primes me to believe in a little holiday magic. Doppelgangers who meet at an opportune time? A successful career as a baker in Chicago? A Christmastime trip to a prestigious baking competition in the Kingdom of Belgravia? The Parent Trap meets The Princess Diaries meets everything I ever asked Santa for Christmas. You’ll thank me after you press play.

Standout line: “You can never have too many cats.”

Available on: Netflix

Let it Snow, 2019

File this under movies to watch when you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up. While I’m happy not to have to relive my high school years, it is admittedly fun to vicariously live through the fictionalized lives of Gen Z teens. Based on the young adult novel by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle, Let it Snow tracks the love lives and friendships of a group of midwestern high school seniors on Christmas Eve. It’s sentimental, cheerful, and an all-around heart-warming movie to watch. 

Standout line: “Have you ever been with someone, and you stay up until like 4 a.m. just talking about everything, and you’re just like, I can’t believe I get to exist at the same time as you?”

Available on: Netflix

Klaus, 2019

There’s something about the holidays that makes me crave a good old animated family film. While it only came out a couple of years ago, Klaus already feels like a Christmas classic. There’s very little I love more than alternate takes on narratives we all know and love, and Klaus reimagines the story of Santa Claus to perfection. To summarize: A postman in an island town forms an unexpected friendship with a reclusive toymaker. Do I need to say much more? Oh, and for the film buffs out there, the cast is fantastic: Jason Schwartzman, J. K. Simmons, Joan Cusack, and Rashida Jones?! All my favorites, all in one soul-satisfying movie.

Standout line: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

Available on: Netflix

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, 2020

I’m going to come out and say it: I can’t really get on board with musicals. I know, I know: I should expect a lump of coal in my stocking, but there’s something about the spontaneous cut to a song that always feels a bit… unnecessary. But man oh man, when Jingle Jangle came out last year, I quickly changed my tune. Optimistic and uplifting, Jingle Jangle tracks the story of a once-successful toymaker whose granddaughter swoops in to save the day by bringing a sense of hope back into his life. Get ready for all the songs to be stuck in your head.

Standout line: “I think it’s time for a new story.”

Available on: Netflix

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000

While I’m a firm believer that nothing can beat the animated original, this version of the Dr. Seuss story comes incredibly close. We’re likely all familiar with the narrative: Just outside of Whoville lives a green, hairy creature who wants nothing more than to ruin Christmas for all the holiday-loving Whos. This version brings a whole lot of humor to the classic tale and is honestly my favorite holiday movie to watch with a crowd. It’s sure to entertain both adults and older kids alike.

Standout line: “Now you listen to me, young lady! Even if we’re *horribly mangled*, there’ll be no sad faces on Christmas.”

Available on: Netflix and Amazon Prime

Home Alone, 1990

90s kids, it’s time to delight in our mutual love of this movie. It’s endlessly quotable and full of some of the easiest-to-recall jokes and quotes. The hijinks are ridiculous, the narrative wildly implausible, and it involves a whole lot of the sort of adjacent-to-reality fantasy that only feels appropriate around Christmas time. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (trust me), and you’ll wax nostalgic about Macaulay Culkin’s glory years.

Standout line: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”

Available on: Disney+ and Amazon Prime

Love Actually, 2003

While folks claim to love to hate it, there’s really no denying that Love Actually is the best movie to snuggle up to during the holiday season. It’s festive, it’s funny, and it’s full of charm (with Hugh Grant as the main character, how could it not be?). It’ll make you want to hold the ones you love close and fall even harder in love with the undeniable magic this time of year brings.

Standout line: “But the truth is, I’m in love and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Available on: Netflix and Amazon Prime

A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965

Something to know about me that I suspect might be true for at least a few others: I start playing the Charlie Brown Christmas album every year without fail beginning November 1st. Perhaps it’s a bit premature, but when the weather requires some serious layering, you can bet I’m cozying up with all things Charlie Brown—this film included. This is a great one to watch as a family when multiple generations are home for the holidays. Ageless, timeless, and sure to delight.

Standout line: “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

Available on: Apple TV+

The Holiday, 2006

Full disclosure: You can catch me watching this movie on a random Saturday evening in July. Because, if I’m being honest, Nancy Meyers is always in season. The premise can’t be beat: Needing a break from their respective love lives, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap houses for the holidays, each getting more from the exchange than they expected. While all the L.A. scenes make me want to head to the beach ASAP, you’ll be wanting to model your holiday decor after Kate Winslet’s cute and charming English cottage.

Standout line: “You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you’re behaving like the best friend.”

Available on: Netflix

Miracle on 34th Street, 1994

Go around the table at any holiday gathering, and everyone will likely have grown up watching Miracle on 34th Street. While the mid-century version will go down in the cannon of Christmas movies to watch, rewatch, and rewatch again, the 1994 remake stars the always-recognizable Mara Wilson (of Mrs. Doubtfire fame) and was written and produced by John Hughes (whom we can all thank for Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink). Oh, and for the record, there’s no better Kriss Kringle than Richard Attenborough.

Standout line: “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind…and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.”

Available on: Hulu and Amazon Prime

Frosty the Snowman, 1969

Frosty, you have my heart. If you ever need a quick solution for getting into the holiday spirit, here it is. Clocking in at a modest 25 minutes, you can easily fit this into an afternoon between cookie baking and gift wrapping. The magic of the season is very much so alive in this imagination-driven movie.

Standout line: “I suppose it all started with the snow. You see, it was a very special kind of snow. A snow that made the happy happier, and the giddy even giddier. A snow that’d make a homecoming homier, and natural enemies, friends, natural. For it was the first snow of the season. And as any child can tell you, there’s a certain magic that comes with the very first snow, especially when it falls on the day before Christmas.”

Available on: YouTube

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, 1998

Nothing says the late 90s quite like a film that stars Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Many love this movie for its nonsensical plot. (Truly, how many college students do you know who have had to make their way to New York after being dumped in the desert? I can only name JTT.) There is something about the quintessential road trip plot that brings a welcome bit of adventure to these winter days spent mostly at home.  However, full warning that if you’re planning a cross-country trip home for the holidays, you might want to save this one until you’re cozy, warm, and fully-settled at your parents’ house.

Standout line: I might just have to slug you from time to time simply because I find the prospect of driving across the country with you incredibly stressful.”

Available on: Disney+ and Amazon Prime

Elf, 2003

I could write books about why this is the perfect holiday movie. Will Ferrell pulls out all the stops for a performance that’s both endearing and absolutely hilarious. Plus, Zooey Deschanel is the sort of irresistibly irreverent love interest who’s a perfect counterpart to Ferrell’s adorable naïveté. Perhaps I’m alone in saying it too, but I can’t help but crave an elf’s four main food groups (“candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup”) every time I watch this movie. Of course, there are far too many quotable lines to count, but see below for my (and I imagine quite a few others’) favorite.

Standout line: “Son of a nutcracker!”

Available on: Hulu

It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946

Jimmy Stewart = icon. In his role as George Bailey, a self-sacrificing family man, Stewart is visited by his guardian angel who shows him what the world would be like if he hadn’t been born. While the subject matter skews heavy at times, this movie offers up an important reminder of the impact even simply our presence alone can have on family, friends, and the community members around us.

Standout line: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Available on: Amazon Prime

Four Christmases, 2008

Now here’s a Christmas-themed plot that’s more than a little relatable. After their holiday vacation plans fall apart, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon have to spend Christmas Day bouncing around between a bunch of family gatherings that each involve their fair share of crazy relatives. Of course, the extended time spent with family means plenty of opportunity for jokes, sentimental moments, and a healthy bit of self-reflection.

Standout line: You really can’t spell ‘families’ without lies. Try it.”

Available on: Amazon Prime

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989

This is the movie that reminds us all that the holidays, while magical, are nothing short of imperfect. If you’re concerned about keeping up with the Joneses and having a tree that’s trimmed to perfection, watch Christmas Vacation for a little permission-giving comedic relief. Chevy Chase is at his best, and you can enjoy a little Johnny Galecki as Rusty Griswold before his Big Bang Theory fame.

Standout line: “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

Available on: HBO Max and Amazon Prime

The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992

The classic Christmas story, muppet-ified. It does justice to the original Dickens novella, but makes it accessible for the whole family to enjoy. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and more of everyone’s favorite Muppets offer up a heartwarming performance that’ll make even young viewers glued to the screen.

Standout line: “There are two things in this life I hate: heights, and jumping from them.”

Available on: Disney+ and Apple TV

A Christmas Story, 1983

I’m proud to say that everyone in my family is fully capable of recalling from memory our fair share of A Christmas Story quotes. The dramatized narration (“In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenity, that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”), the Americana elements woven throughout, and the pure picture of childhood holiday innocence makes this movie a go-to year after year. And if you have an irrational fear of getting your tongue stuck to a flagpole in under-30-degree weather, know you’re not alone.

Standout line: “NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a “triple dare you”? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.”

Available on: HBO Max and Amazon Prime

This Christmas, 2007

Is there ever a more appropriate time for a little family drama than the holidays? After a four-year hiatus, the Whitfields are getting together for a big family reunion, and of course, the theatrics begin to build as secrets come out. Trials and tribulations are overcome, and without giving anything anyway, I’ll say that if you like your endings wrapped up with a bow, here’s your pick. P.S. I’d give the soundtrack five stars.

Standout line: Melanie ‘Mel’ Whitfield: So, technically, you slept with Santa?

Kelli Whitfield: Well, I didn’t know he was Santa at the time… but technically, I guess I did.

Available on: Amazon Prime

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

The original that I, and most everyone else, can’t get enough of. Made in the mid-60s, the animations are humble and wonderfully old school (as some of the best Christmas movies are). While the Jim Carrey version is 100% deserving of its spot on the list as well, this direct translation of the beloved storybook is a low-commitment choice that’s short enough for an after-dinner weeknight treat.

Standout line: “Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

Available on: Peacock

The Santa Clause, 1994

The wildly-popular first movie in a line of plenty of successful sequels, The Santa Claus follows the story of Scott Calvin, your average Joe who has to take over Santa’s deliveries when he accidentally knocks the real St. Nick off his roof on Christmas Eve. Now a Christmas staple in many households, The Santa Clause is funny, entertaining, and packs plenty of old-fashioned holiday spirit.

Standout line: “Charlie, stay away from those things. They’re reindeer, you don’t know where they’ve been. They all look like they’ve got key lime disease.”

Available on: Apple TV

Jingle All The Way, 1996

While gifting experiences and non-material presents is becoming more and more common today, there was certainly a time when finding the perfect gift could come at a price. Take, for example, protagonist Howard Langston’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) frantic hunt to find the toy of the year, Turbo Man, for his son. Chaos, of course, ensues, but there’s plenty of screen time offered up to send home the message that quality time and love are at the heart of the holiday.

Standout line: “I’m of the mind set you can never do too much to make a child‘s Christmas magical.”

Available on: Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964

A bold statement, but I’ll make it anyways: For me, the holidays might as well be known as the season of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Powerful lessons surrounding what makes us different and special abound and the sheer joy this movie offers up is unmatched. After all, aren’t we all misfit reindeers at heart?

Standout line: “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a talking snowman before?”

Available on: Amazon Prime

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987

John Hughes knew a thing or two about making holiday movies. While this relatively-early Steve Martin film is full of hilarious one-liners and jokes, it also takes a thoughtful approach to discussing topics like homelessness and loss. If you’ve ever gotten caught up in the saga known as trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll find this 80s flick incredibly easy to relate to.

Standout line: “When am I ever gonna wake up? I wish you were here with me right now. But I guess that’s not gonna happen. Not now, anyway.”

Available on: Amazon Prime

This post was originally published on December 21, 2019, and has since been updated.

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Comments (15)
  1. 1
    Geneva December 22, 2016 at 6:41 am

    You’re missing my favorite movie – Christmas in Connecticut! Try it if you’ve never seen it! Happy holidays!

    Reply
  2. 2
    Cheri December 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I love Family Stone. I watch it on Christmas Eve. My mom watches While You Were Sleeping.

    Reply
    • Amanda Naito December 2, 2021 at 1:26 am

      Agreed!!

      Reply
  3. 3
    Gigi December 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    My favorite is White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

    Reply
  4. 4
    npharney December 22, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    It’s all about the 90s Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas for me

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

    Reply
  5. 5
    Samantha Lee December 23, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I hadn’t seen The Holiday in so long because I thought I lost it. Finally found it and watched it a couple nights ago, and it is still SO GOOD. But my favorite Christmas movie will always be The Santa Clause. 🙂
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

    Reply
  6. 6
    keith January 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

    I’ll be curled up on the couch of my family’s

    Reply
  7. 7
    Fortune Dushey December 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Best movies!!

    Reply
  8. 8
    Lucie December 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Just seeing this post is making me so happy! Such classic Christmas movies! My favorite have to be Love actually and The Holiday!
    Lucie,

    http://thefrenchpier.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  9. 9
    Melanie McNatt December 17, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Christmas with the Kranks….. Best Man Holiday…. Family Stone is the BEST

    Reply
  10. 10
    Teena December 22, 2019 at 11:36 am

    My favorite “holiday” movie is While You Were Sleeping. I know, it’s not technically. But it’s set at Christmas time and the message is so on point. When I saw it a decade ago, I was into the rom-com part. But I just watched it with my teen sons and this time the message of making a family really hit me. Btw, teen sons loved it! There are so many funny characters that it wasn’t too rom-com for them.

    Reply
  11. 11
    valerie December 4, 2020 at 6:24 am

    My number one is White Christmas! And then It Happened on Fifth Ave. If you haven’t seen it, it is a hidden gem.

    Reply
  12. 12
    Renee Coursey December 9, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Thank you for sharing your list. My husband’s favorite is “A Christmas Story” which usually streams for 24 hours on Christmas. My favorite is “Love Actually”, I love all the different stories in one. The original “Miracle on 34th Street” from 1947 with Maureen O’Hara as the mother and a very young Natalie Wood as the daughter is wonderful. Have a very blessed and sparkly Christmas.

    Reply
    • Nicole November 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm

      The Family Man is a household favorite. A great time to remember to be thankful for your life, just as it is.

      Reply