Nothing says family togetherness like binge-watching as a household! If your family is anything like mine, it’s easy to bond together over various movies and specials! If you have a smaller family, or would prefer to be alone, that’s perfectly fine too! So, pop some popcorn, grab a fuzzy blanket, put on your Santa hats and enjoy! Here are my top ten picks for what to watch this holiday season!
- Jack Frost (1979)
Jack Frost is the less known stop-motion holiday special, because it doesn’t specifically center on Christmas. It focuses on the immortal winter sprite Jack Frost, who decides after falling in love with a woman named Elisa, to become a human. His boss, named Father Winter, decides to let him try to earn a human life if he can gain a house, a bag of gold, a horse, and a wife by Spring. This heartwarming special is a hidden gem that it seems almost nobody has ever heard of, and is well worth watching.
- Grandma Got Ran Over by A Reindeer (2000)
In the many Christmas specials I’ve seen over the years, a version where Santa Claus gets sued for a hit-and-run stands out uniquely in my mind. This story follows Jake Spankenheimer, a Christmas lover in a family of skeptics except his grandmother. The family owns a general store in town that Jake’s cousin, Mel, wants to sell to the richest man in town. However, after a horrible accident on Christmas Eve when Grandma disappears, Jake searches to find her. The good news is, spoiler alert, he does! The bad news is, it’s because Santa Claus had to nurse her back to health after his reindeer sleigh ran Grandma over. Now, cousin Mel wants to sue Santa, and risk there being no Christmas at all! If you’re looking for a cartoon special that will be completely unexpected, then look no further!
- Gremlins (1984)
For those of us who enjoy a good thriller or scary movie, this is a pretty good film to help that craving! Gremlins is a movie about Billy Peltzer, who acquires a cute Mogwai as a Christmas present from his father. He names the Mogwai Gizmo. However, Gizmo has three strict rules to follow to take care of him: 1. Do not let him in the sunlight. 2. Do not get him wet. 3. Never, ever feed him after midnight. When Billy manages to break every rule, he starts to discover this cute creature is far more terrifying than he thought! So, for everyone who misses a nice scare during this holiday season, here’s the scariest gift of all… responsibility!
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)
I have always enjoyed a nice origin story, so one based on how the iconic Santa Claus came to be is just up my alley this holiday! This is another stop-motion special to explain how regular toy-maker Kris Kringle becomes the magical Saint Nick, along with explaining how his reindeer flies, how he met the elves, how he fell in love with Mrs. Claus, and why he picked Christmas to be his busiest day of the year! For all the questioning kids in your life wondering how such things are possible, let this movie explain it all!
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)
One of the most iconic Christmas programs of all time, this is a stop-motion special that follows Rudolph, a reindeer born with a special red nose. It shows how he goes from a bullied underdog into a Christmas hero, along with the help of his friends. If you want the chance to feel like a child again, this is for you!
- The Santa Clause (1994)
This early 90’s film follows Scott Calvin, a divorced lawyer with a young son and no sense of Christmas spirit, when he accidentally sends everyone’s favorite jolly man off the roof, he unknowingly has taken Saint Nick’s place. Though Scott tried to avoid his jolly duties, neither the North Pole nor his son are letting him off so easy. It’s a delightful treat about finding yourself in the most unexpected ways, and to remember that seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.
- Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is my lingering taste of Halloween, my favorite Holiday, to last into the last month of the year. Tim Burton’s masterpiece is a long-time celebrated classic that has been able to bridge both holidays together to enjoy for months, rather than only a short few weeks. While Burton has previously stated that it is indeed a Christmas film, I think I speak for all fellow Halloween lovers when I say, “I don’t care,” and continue to watch it during the Christmas season anyway.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This has been a classic my grandparents, parents, siblings, and I have been enjoying for decades. The classic question of an alternate universe where we aren’t in it has been fascinating to people for a very long time, and the story of George Bailey set at Christmas time explores this in the most heartwarming way! George, who has been going through a rough time in life, makes a wish that he had never been born. George’s wingless guardian angel, Clarence, gives him his wish and lets him discover that the result isn’t at all what he thought it’d be. It’s a great movie that reminds everyone, especially at this holiday season, how our lives affect so many others’ and to always value that fact.
- Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
For as long as I can remember, the Grinch has been a cartoon that I’ve been binge watching on repeat before the term ‘binge watching’ has been coined. It’s signature song hasn’t failed once to get me excited and singing along! One of my childhood nicknames by my father was “Stink, stank, stunk.” To which I’d fondly return by singing, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Britt,” If you’d like to show a movie to your younger siblings or children, this would be the first cartoon that comes to my mind. So, enjoy this classic after a nice Christmas dinner eating roast beast! (Or, as some uncultured swine may call it, brisket.)
- A Muppet’s Christmas Carol (1992)
The happiest retelling of a classic I have seen so far in life, with musical numbers and great commentary from long beloved Muppet characters. This has held a special spot in my family for every year since probably before I was born, I can’t remember a Christmas where my family didn’t watch this and sing along to the colorful characters. If you watch only one Christmas film to get you in the holiday spirit, this is the number one movie I’d recommend!