39 Great Family Christmas Movies Picked by Parents

It’s December. The weather outside is frightful. It’s time to put on a Christmas Movie! We asked Mykidstime parents to recommend their favourites. Here are 39 Great Family Christmas Movies picked by parents and if you see any of these on TV over the holidays, be sure to record them!

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#1. A Christmas Carol

a christmas carolJim Carrey and Colin Firth star in this animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic novel.

Scrooge is a Victorian-era miser who is mean to all his employees including Bob Cratchitt and is then taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, known for the Back to the Future series of films.

#2. A Christmas Story

This holiday film follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, who spends most of his time dodging a bully and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Often at odds with his cranky dad but comforted by his doting mother, Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.

#3. Annie

annieEleven-year-old Annie has been living in an orphanage her whole life run by cruel Miss Hannigan. After unsuccessful escape attempts, Grace Farrell comes to take the child home to live for 2 weeks with billionaire Oliver Warbucks during Christmas.

The plucky orphan worms her way into the hearts of the staff and Mr. Warbucks and even the president of the United States.

But Miss Hennigan has one more trick up her sleeve…

#4. Arthur Christmas

arthur christmasEveryone knows that, each Christmas, Santa delivers presents to every last child on Earth. What everyone doesn’t know is behind the scenes is a high tech operation to help Santa accomplish the feat.

When the unthinkable happens and Santa misses one child out of hundreds of millions, someone has to save the day. It’s up to Arthur, voiced by James McAvoy, Santa’s youngest son, to deliver a present to the forgotten child before dawn on Christmas morning.

#5. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas lights may be twinkling red and green, but Charlie Brown has the Yuletide blues. To get in the holiday spirit, he takes Lucy’s advice and directs the Christmas play. And what’s a Christmas play without a Christmas tree? But everyone makes fun of the short, spindly nevergreen Charlie Brown brings back – until the real meaning of Christmas works its magic once again.

In this clip, Linus explains what Christmas is all about:

You might also enjoy 5 of the best christmas movies for families and Make your own home cinema

#6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

chitty chitty bang bangSiblings Jeremy and Jemima skip off school and meet the beautiful Truly Scrumptious, who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts (played memorably by Dick Van Dyke) and his various oddball inventions, including the family’s noisy rebuilt car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

One day at the beach, Caractacus tells Truly and the children a fanciful fable about the villainous Baron Bomburst who has evil designs on the Potts family car.

Did you know that the film’s script was written by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes? The song “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” was nominated for an Academy Award.

You may also like 50 of the Best Family Movies Of All Time & in Checklist Form

#7. Christmas in Connecticut

christmas in connecticutElizabeth Lane, played by Barbara Stanwyck, is a single food writer living in New York whose fictional articles about her Connecticut farm with her husband and baby are admired by housewives across the country. In her columns, she describes herself as a hard working farm woman, taking care of her children and being an excellent cook.

But this is all lies. In reality she is an unmarried New Yorker who can’t even boil an egg and the recipes come from her good friend Felix. The owner of the magazine she works for has decided that a heroic sailor will spend his Christmas on *her* farm. Miss Lane knows that her career is over if the truth comes out, but what can she do?

#8. Christmas with the Kranks

Luther Krank, played by Tim Allen and his wife Nora played by Jamie Lee Curtis have just waved goodbye to their daughter who is heading for the Peace Corps in Peru. Luther sees a Caribbean cruise poster in a Chicago travel agency window, and he begins to plan the trip and he comes up with an idea that if they skipped Christmas, they could go. He will save money by foregoing the tree, party and decorations. His neighbors think he is mad and want him to at least put Frosty the Snowman on his roof for the local decoration contest. So a battle begins between the Kranks and their neighbors.

Then out of the blue Blair calls and tells her parents that she is flying home for Christmas with her fiancée. They have 24 hours to prepare Christmas, put up the decorations, get ready for the party!

#9. Elf

elfThis was the film that was most recommended by Mykidstime parents, clearly a popular one!

Will Ferrell plays Buddy who was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. As he becomes older and taller, he starts to cause havoc and finally he is told the truth.

He sets off to New York in search of his real father, who turns out to be Walter Hobbs played by James Caan who is a cynical businessman. Buddy moves in with Walter’s family and the chaos starts.

“Elf..all the way! Can’t wait to watch December, when it’s time..” Louise K-Y

#10. Fred Claus

fred clausFred Claus, played by Vince Vaughn, has lived his entire life in his brother’s very large shadow. He is the troublemaker and the polar opposite of his saintly sibling Nicolas (aka Santa Claus).

Eventually Fred’s bad behaviour catches up with him and he is sent to jail. His only recourse is to turn to his brother. Over Mrs. Claus’ objections, Nicholas agrees to help his brother on one condition: that he come to the North Pole and earn the money he needs by working in Santa’s Toy Shop.

The trouble is that Fred isn’t exactly elf material and cut out for creating toys and spreading good cheer. With Christmas fast approaching, could Fred jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year and ruin Christmas?

“Fred Claus. I love the scene where they all run to.the globe to watch the children opening their toys. Makes me cry every time :-)” Rosalyn H

Recommended Read : 50 Best Ever Family Movies

#11. Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin stars in this family Christmas classic as an 8 year old boy Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left at home by himself when his family goes to France for Christmas. He then has to defend his home from 2 comical burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, while learning the true story behind his “scary” next-door neighbour.

Meanwhile, his Mum spends the time trying to get back home to him, ending up taking a ride with John Candy and his tuba playing band to get back to him for Christmas.

Directed by John Hughes, director of “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”.

#12. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

home alone 2Following on from the successful Home Alone, this time The McCallister family is preparing for another family trip to Florida. Kevin isn’t happy as there aren’t any Christmas trees in Florida.

Kevin loses track of his father at the airport and mistakenly gets on a plane headed for New York City while the rest of the McCallisters fly to Florida. Now alone in the Big Apple, Kevin cons his way into a room at the Plaza Hotel and begins his usual antics.

Then Kevin discovers that the Sticky Bandits, played again by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, are yet again on the loose attempting to rob an elderly man’s toy store just before Christmas.

You may also like 10 Great Kids Movies Every Family Should Have

#13. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

The original animated version of this tale of a grumpy loner “The Grinch” (voiced by Boris Karloff) who decides to steal Christmas away from the Who’s of Whoseville who live in the valley below is a delight with songs and cute scenes.

Recommended Read : Lots more festive ideas in our Christmas Section

i saw mommy kissing santa claus#14. I saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus

Late one night, 8-year-old Justin sneaks downstairs and sees his mother kissing Santa Claus. Fearing that his father will divorce his mother, Justin snaps a photo of the two and sends it to the North Pole to get Santa in trouble with his wife, an attempt to keep Santa from returning to the family’s house.

Justin also does every bad thing he can think of, knowing that Santa gives toys only to good boys and girls.

#15. It’s a Wonderful Life

Perhaps one of the top named Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, who having a bad time just before Christmas wishes he has never been born.

An angel played by Henry Travers is sent to Earth to make George’s wish come true but he starts to show George how many lives he has changed and impacted and how they would be different if he wasn’t there.

Make sure you have a box of tissues at hand as the ending really is an emotional one!

“A cliché but I always watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Classic.” Alison K

jack frost#16. Jack Frost

Michael Keaton plays an aging rocker Jack Frost who tours and doesn’t spend much time with his wife or young son Charlie. A year after Jack’s tragic death in a car accident on Christmas Day, Charlie plays a mournful tune on his father’s harmonica.

Much to his surprise, the elder Frost is magically brought to life as a snowman on the family lawn.

Given a second chance, Charlie and Jack struggle to make up for lost time.

#17. Jingle All The Way

jingle all the wayWorkaholic salesman Howard Langston, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, always disappoints his son. After yet another disappointment, he promises to get Jamie the hottest toy of the season, Turbo-Man even though it’s Christmas Eve and the toy is practically sold out.

As he hunts down the elusive gift, he runs into mailman Myron, another father on the same quest.

With the clock winding down, Langston starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas.

#18. Mickey’s Magical Christmas

When a huge snowstorm leaves everyone stranded, Mickey and all of his guests at The House Of Mouse, including Pooh, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel and many more of his old and new friends, break out the cookies and hot chocolate to help Donald mend his tattered Christmas spirit.

The fun starts when Minnie pulls out their favorite holiday home movies and everyone starts to reminisce. Their magical memories soon put everyone in the Christmas mood, even grumpy Donald, who ultimately becomes the star of the evening.

#19. Miracle on 34th Street

If you can get a hold of the older version, we think it’s slightly better.  The tale of an older gentleman called Kris Kringle, working as a Santa in Macy’s Department Store who claims to be the actual Santa Claus.

As this rather amusing trailer says, the film really is Hilarious! Romantic! Charming! (and we think men and boys should like it too!)

“The original Miracle on 34th Street, a must see every Xmas!” Maria B-M

#20. Muppets Christmas Carol

With a great performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge, not to mention the old familiar Muppets characters such as Miss Piggy and Kermit, this is a lovely retelling of the old Dickens tale.

Younger children might find the scenes where Scrooge awaits the Ghosts of Christmas past slightly scary but once the ghosts arrive they are not scary characters.

Nice songs too, we particularly like the vegetables in this song!

#21. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

national lampoon christmas vacationAs the holidays approach, Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is perfect, from the tree to the decorations.

However, things never run smoothly for Clark. His obnoxious cousin, Eddie and family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property.

And to make matters worse, Clark’s employers are about to renege on his holiday bonus which he is counting on.

#22. Nativity

nativityMartin Freeman plays a British primary teacher Paul Madden who is in charge of producing the school’s nativity play. He is competing against the posh rival school and unfortunately finds himself boasting that his ex-girlfriend Jennifer (Ashley Jensen) a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show with a view to making a film.

But they haven’t spoken for years. And naturally parents and children get over-excited and desperate for fame.

Will Paul manage to lure Jennifer over to make everyone’s Christmas come true?

#23. Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton’s amazing film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same routine every year frightening people in the “real world.”

When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role.

But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.

#24. One Magic Christmas

one magic christmasIn One Magic Christmas, Mary Steenburgen, plays mum Ginny, who is having a difficult time feeling Christmassy due to her husband’s unemployment and the fact that she is just a grocery store clerk.

Her daughter Abbie goes to deliver her letter to Santa Claus and meets Gideon, an angel, who wants to show Ginny the true meaning of Christmas.

It’s not just presents and materialistic things, but the people she cares about.

#25. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

rudolph the red nosed reindeerSam the snowman tells the story of a young red-nosed reindeer Rudolph who is thrown out of the reindeer games because of his red nose. He teams up with Hermey and elf who wants to be a dentist and Yukon Cornelius the prospector. They set off on an adventure and find the Abominable Snowman and find a whole island of misfit toys.

Rudoph vows to see if he can get Santa to help the toys, and he goes back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. But Santa’s sleigh is fogged in.

But when Santa looks over Rudolph, he gets a very bright idea…

#26. Santa Claus the Movie

This heartwarming Christmas classic is the story of a master toymaker who discovers a magical kingdom of elves in the North Pole and with the help of toy-making expert elf Patch (played by Dudley Moore) becomes Santa Claus.

In the present day, Santa Claus has become overwhelmed by the workload and the disgruntled Patch heads to New York City, and becomes mixed up with a dastardly toy tycoon’s plans to take over Christmas.

And so begins Santa’s greatest adventure of all – to rescue his faithful elf and to save Christmas for all the children of the world!

“Can’t beat Santa Claus The Movie either. It was the first movie I saw in the cinema. Love it!” Joan H

#27. Saving Santa

saving santaWith dreams of being an inventor, opportunist and eccentric elf Bernard D. Elf is made to feel a fool yet again when his innovative creation to bring back people’s favourite Christmas memories back to life fails miserably. However he is then presented with the perfect opportunity to prove his worth, when Santa is kidnapped by the evil Neville Baddington, and his demanding mother Vera, who have their heart set on discovering Santa’s big secret: how he delivers presents across the world in just one night.

However Bernard knows how he does it, using a time travelling device to ensure all children wake up on Christmas morning with their presents under the tree. The elf decides to use this to his advantage, as he plans on going back in time and preventing the abduction from ever happening, and save Santa – and Christmas – for the entire world

#28. Scrooge

scroogeEbenezer Scrooge played by Albert Finney, is rich, stingy and grumpy and the very definition of a miser. On Christmas Eve, however, Scrooge is in store for a rude awakening when he is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, played by Alec Guinness, who informs him that he is going to be visited by three ghosts, including the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present.

The first one, the spirit of Christmas past, recalls his miserable youth when he lost his only love due to his greed. The spirit of the Christmas present shows him the poor situation of employee Bob Cratchett’s family and how joyful life may be. Finally the the spirit of future Christmas shows his fate.

Scrooge is forced to reassess his situation and his character.

#29. Sleepless in Seattle

After the death of his wife, Maggie, Sam Baldwin, played by Tom Hanks moves from Chicago to Seattle with his son, Jonah. 18 months later Sam is still grieving. When Jonah calls in to a talk-radio program to find a new wife for his father, Sam grudgingly gets on the line to discuss his feelings.

Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), a reporter in Baltimore, hears Sam speak and falls for him, even though she is engaged to the straight-laced Walter. Annie dreams of a love life like the movie An Affair to Remember (1957) and she even writes to Sam proposing they meet atop the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

#30. The Christmas Shoes

This 2002 movie intertwines two stories, the first involves Maggie Andrews, a young music teacher who is terminally ill (the result of heart failure), and her son Nathan who tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for her before she dies, and who collects empty cans to raise the money.

The second story involves Robert Layton, a lawyer who’s marriage to his wife Kate is failing. Things come to a head during Christmas and when Robert’s mother passes away, he begins to reconsider how his life is going.

Robert’s and Nathan’s paths cross on Christmas Eve at a local shoe store. Nathan learns that he is five dollars short of the money needed to buy his mother the shoes. Robert gives Nathan the money needed to complete the purchase and Nathan is able to buy the shoes for his mother and give them to her before she dies.

#31. The Night They Saved Christmas

the night they saved christmasAll is not well at the North Pole. An oil company risks ending Christmas forever by using dynamite in the Arctic to find drilling sites.

Santa Claus organises his elves in an effort to appeal to corporate executive Michael Baldwin, his environmentally attuned wife, Claudia (played by Jaclyn Smith) and their children.

Santa enlists the aid of Claudia and her children to convince her husband that the first site is where the oil they want is. Along the way, Santa explains all his secrets in delivering presents all around the world.

#32. The Polar Express

The Polar ExpressAlthough slightly strange in its choice of motion-tracking computer animation rather than more standard animation, this story of a doubting boy boarding a midnight train going to the North Pole is actually one of our favourites.

The exciting train ride, the characters in it, and the great message of joy throughout make it one to watch over and over again.

The Train Conductor is voiced by Tom Hanks.

“This film never fails to captivate the kids when we put it on”, Aoife

#33. The Santa Clause

the santa clauseTim Allen plays divorced dad Scott who has custody of his son on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives.

Charlie is proud of his dad’s new job, though Scott’s convinced it’s a dream.

Until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably, even for his sudden love of junk food…

Now he has accepted it, there’s just one problem: how to keep it secret from his disbelieving family?

#34. The Snowman

the snowmanOnly 27 minutes long, this Academy Award Nominee (Best Animated Short Film, 1982), is wordless.  has only animation and the famous “Walking in the Air” song sung originally by choirboy Aled Jones.

It will cast a spell of enchantment as you watch the young boy’s snowman come to life and take him on a magical flying visit to the North Pole.

Watch out for the freezer scene 🙂

#35. The Sound of Music

The hills are alive… Doe a Deer… Raindrops and Kittens…

Based on the real life story of the Von Trapp Familiy singers, this is a musical and heartwarming story. Starring Julie Andrews as Maria, a tomboyish nun-in-training who becomes governess to the 7 children of widowed naval captain played by Christopher Plummer.

The children are unhappy and resentful of the governesses that their father keeps hiring and have managed to get each of them to leave. When Maria arrives, she is initially met with the same hostility, but her kindness, understanding and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives, including the Captain’s. They begin to fall in love.

Set against the backdrop of the Nazis arriving in Austria, this is a great Christmas movie for all the family.

white christmas#36. White Christmas

This 1954 film is most famous for the self-named song, “White Christmas”.

It stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as ex-soldier song and dance act who team up with sister act Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen to help their old WWII commander out by performing a Christmas Show at his Vermont country inn.

A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

#37. The Wizard of Oz

the wizard of ozAnother classic film often shown at Christmas time is The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland who plays Dorothy. When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy  and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical land of Oz. Their house lands on the Wicked Witch and Glinda the good witch gifts her ruby red shoes to Dorothy to wear to protect her.  She advises her that the Wizard of Oz is the only one who can send her home again.

Dorothy and Toto follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard and en route they meet a Scarecrow that needs a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage.

When they finally meet The Wizard he asks the group to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West. Will Dorothy and her friends overcome this final obstacle?

#38. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

willy wonka and the chocolate factoryMykidstime Parents recommended the original Gene Wilder version of the movie.

Charlie Bucket lives with his very poor mother, father and 4 grandparents. He is so poor that he usually only gets 1 chocolate bar every year on his birthday despite living within “smells-reach” of the mysterious Chocolate Factory.

One day he finds money in the street and buys another chocolate bar thereby winning the last of five coveted “golden tickets” with the chance to tour the nearby Chocolate Factory. He and his grandpa go on the tour and meet Willy Wonka, eccentric owner and the mysterious Oompa Loompas.

Roald Dahl wrote the original book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and also wrote the screenplay for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

#39. You’ve Got Mail

you've got mailA remake of the 1940 movie “Shop Around the Corner” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan (and is on Time’s All-Time 100 Movies), You’ve Got Mail brings Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together again as romantic leads.

Struggling boutique bookseller Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) hates Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), the owner of a corporate Foxbooks chain store that just moved in across the street. Meanwhile they have been corresponding over the internet without knowing who either of them are.

They can’t stand each other in person but over the internet they are very attracted. He finds out who she is but she doesn’t know. Eventually Joe learns that the enchanting woman he’s involved with is actually his business rival. He must now struggle to reconcile his real-life dislike for her with the cyber love he’s come to feel.

Have you got a favourite Christmas movie for the family?  Share it with us in the comments below!

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls