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Favorite Christmas Family Movies: Holiday Films for Kids

Published by Terrilyn Quitugua

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Join the family together this holiday with a fun, kid friendly movie festival. Choose an age appropriate film that will entertain and express the joy of the season. Pop some popcorn, munch on freshly baked Christmas cookies, and enjoy relaxing during this fun indoor activity.

Selecting a Family Holiday Movie

Choosing an appropriate film for family viewing can be a difficult task. This is especially true for families with children in multiple age ranges. A teen will most likely not be interested in watching the same movie that his preschool aged sister enjoys, while a more adolescent oriented story line may not be thematically appropriate for a young child. For lists, synopsis/reviews, and other information, try online movie websites such as the Internet Movie Database.

Make sure to look at movie ratings, and the reasons behind the ratings. Different families have diverging ideas on what is acceptable for children of a certain age to view and hear. Given the vast number of holiday movies available, try to avoid those that contain adult language, certain mature subject matter (such as overly romantic scenes or nudity), or violence. Additionally, be cautious of films that may ruin the Santa myth for young children.

Classic Christmas Movies

There are many movies that film buffs would consider to be classic holiday stories. The majority of these classic Christmas movies are family friendly, but some may not appeal to younger children. Use common sense when selecting an appropriate family film.

It is also advisable to explain to a child why an older classic film is in black and white. With current special effects and movie technology, many young children have become accustomed to viewing colorful, realistic film images. A black and white movie may appear strange to them, therefore it should be addressed beforehand.


Suggestions for classic Christmas movie viewing include:

  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947): A department store Santa claims to be the real Kris Kringle.
  • Scrooge “A Christmas Carol” (1951): The retelling of the Dickens classic featuring the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a man on the edge on Christmas Eve. This film is more appropriate for the older child (i.e., adolescent) and adults.
  • A Christmas Story (1983): A newer classic, this movie tells the story of Ralphy and his family as they celebrate Christmas in the 1940’s.

Favorite Character Holiday Movies

Many young children have a favorite character that they love to see in movies, television shows, or books. These movies focus on characters from children’s literature and television.

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): The Peanuts gang celebrates Christmas with a pageant, as the bumbling Charlie Brown chooses (what his friends think is) the wrong tree.
  • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): The much celebrated children’s author brings this scrooge-like Christmas tale to life on the cartoon screen.
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964): Burl Ives narrates this story about Santa’s famous reindeer, Hermey the Elf, and their adventures running away form the North Pole.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends – Thomas’ Christmas Wonderland (2002): A must see for any young train (or Thomas) lover.
  • SpongeBob Square Pants: The Sponge Bob Christmas Special (2000): A great choice for the older child who has outgrown the preschool focused characters.

Christmas Movies for Older Children and Teens

The movies in this category may appeal to the older child, adolescent, and even adults in the family. Many of these titles contain subject matter or language that is not appropriate for young children. Use parental discretion when selecting one of these films as a family holiday movie.

  • Elf (2003): Will Ferrell is hilarious as an oversized elf who leaves the North Pole to find his father.
  • The Santa Clause (1999): The first in a series of Tim Allen movies that tell that story of a regular father who turns into Santa.
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): Chevy Chase and his fictional clan have a dysfunctional, yet entertaining Christmas.
  • Home Alone (1990): Macaulay Culkin stars as an eight-year-old boy who has been left alone over Christmas vacation.

Watching a Christmas holiday movie as a family can be a fun winter activity. Research the movie before viewing it to make sure that it will be interesting, entertaining, and appropriate for the children in the family. Select a movie listed in this article, or try one of the many other holiday films that are available.

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