Top 10 Best Family Christmas Movies of All Time

Deck the halls with PG ratings.

Best Family Christmas Films Gonzo

Well, folks, Halloween and Thanksgiving have both come and gone, finals are coming up, and many family members are about to travel to reunite with their loved ones. Christmas is just around the corner!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions, is watching Christmas movies. Those wonderful, heartwarming adventures that emphasize love and Christmas cheer have become a cultural mainstay, with new classics added each year.

However, a little paradoxically, not all Christmas movies are family-friendly. Shuddering through too many sexual innuendos while sitting next to your parents (or children) is never fun.

So for those of you with kids and relatives, here are a few Christmas movies you ought to consider for the holiday season.

10. The Santa Clause Trilogy

Best Family Christmas Films Santa Clause

Do you ever wonder how Santa became Santa? How he gets around the world in one night? How he even has flying reindeer? These three films answer all those questions and more.

Starring Tim Allen as jolly, old St. Nick himself, The Santa Clause tells a story about how a man struggling with a divorced wife and son who looks up to him becomes Kris Kringle. It’s a bit of a shocker to see such a small man like Allen gain so much weight in so little time, but that’s part of the adventure. The Santa Clause 2 is all about Allen having to find a Mrs. Claus or else he loses his position in the North Pole. It’s my personal favorite out of three, particularly for how charming and heartwarming it is. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is easily the weakest of the three, but still a decent ride nonetheless. This time, Jack Frost is looking to take up the mantle of Santa Claus and dethrones Allen by reversing events in the past.

All in all, a solid trilogy of lovable films.

9. The Polar Express

Best Family Christmas Films polar express

The Polar Express is a much more inquisitive film that may sit better with older audiences, but is still enjoyable by children. The animated film stars a boy named Jack as he somehow ends up on a magic train that takes him to the North Pole. Along the way, he questions whether or not Santa is real, and comes to figure out what he truly believes at the end of his journey.

Apart from some slightly creepy character models, the animation is gorgeous and top notch. Not only that, Tom Hanks’s character is memorable and fun to watch. There are even a few songs that will leave you tapping your toe a week after you’ve seen the film. (I had a hard time getting Hot Chocolate out of my head.)

8. Home Alone

Best Family Christmas Films home alone

This is a classic, of course. Accidentally left alone at home when his family departs for vacation, Kevin McCallister comes in contact with two bumbling idiots who intend on robbing his home. With some quick thinking, a few tricks up his sleeve, and a whole lot of wit, Kevin takes charge in defending his home and keeping it safe for when his family returns. Note: There is also a sequel where he gets lost in New York, and it’s good too.

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Best Family CHristmas Films Nightmare Before Christmas

Arguably one of Tim Burton’s best films (next to Batman of course), The Nightmare Before Christmas is a creepily charming tale full of unique characters and a memorable story. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, finds no fulfillment in his spooky job. So once he discovers what Christmas is, he goes on a quest to become Santa Claus before Christmas Eve.

Despite his good intentions, Jack’s actions lead to some frightening moments for children across the world, while the real Santa is being held by the disgustingly jazzy Boogeyman. Some would say that this a Halloween film rather than a Christmas film, but it really depends on who you ask.

6. Frosty the Snowman

Best Family Christmas Films frosty the snowman

Now we’re really getting into some classics. Frosty the Snowman is not a particularly long or thought-provoking film, but it is Christmas at its finest. If you’re not familiar with the story (i.e. if you live under a rock), there are some kids who built a snowman and named him Frosty. When a magician’s hat comes flying their way, they slap it on top of old Frosty, and poof! He comes to life. Then we spend time with Frosty as he parades around the city with a group of kids trailing behind with joy. However, once he realizes that the town will get warm eventually, Frosty embarks on a journey to the North Pole with a little girl at his side while being chased by the greedy magician who wants his hat back.

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Image #: 904522 "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the longest-running holiday special in television history, celebrates its 40th anniversary broadcast on Wednesday, December 1, 2004. CBS /Landov

This was my favorite Christmas movie as a kid. We all know how it goes. A tiny reindeer gets mocked because of his bright red nose, and ends up leaving the North Pole with an elf who can’t make toys. After they combat a yeti that strangely resembles my father in the mornings, they end up on the Island of Misfit Toys. After bonding with them, Santa eventually finds Rudolph and brings him back to the North Pole. Then when a blizzard strikes on Christmas Eve, Santa puts Rudolph at the front of his reindeer, shining the way so that toys can be delivered to children around the world. It’s one of the best Christmas films ever, and it’s even better for your kids.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

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As soon as anybody mentions this lovable experience, all I can imagine is Schroeder playing away on his piano the famous tune, Linus and Lucy. This was Charles Schulz’s first attempt at bringing his beloved comic strips to life, and he more than succeeded. Dealing with themes we can all relate to, such as commercialism of Christmas, and putting oneself above others really makes this film stand out. These points are further hit home with one of the most recognizably miniscule Christmas history. Christmastime is here.

3. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Best Family Christmas Films Muppet Christmas Carol

Of all of the adaptations of Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol novel I’ve ever seen, The Muppet Christmas Carol still stands not only as one of the most accurate, but the absolute best. By using music to enhance their storytelling, just like the best of all Disney films, this Muppet film is as catchy as it is emotional. Michael Caine is one of the best Ebenezer Scrooges to date, and he does a great job at portraying the heartbreak that he so horribly experienced. Having Gonzo and Rizzo narrate was also an excellent touch.

2. Elf

Best Family Christmas Films elf

There weren’t big expectations for a Christmas film starring Will Ferrell, but my oh my were we wrong. Elf is one of the best Christmas movies ever to be created. Jon Favreau (who would later direct the Iron Man films) pulls out all the stops in this cheerful ride. Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf (what’s your favorite color?), a human who was adopted by an elf. Once he realizes that he isn’t an elf he travels to New York in search of his biological father. Ferrell’s performance is outstanding as the childish-minded Buddy, growing accustomed to life in the big city while still spreading his beloved Christmas cheer.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Best Family Christmas Films how the grinch stole christmas

Argue with this if you want, but How the Grinch Stole Christmas is possibly the best family Christmas film of all time. Based on the book of the same name, the unlovable Grinch comes down to Whoville to attempt to take away everything related to Christmas, only to find that it’s not about the gifts or the decorations. Not only is it a delightful, funny movie, it will also teach young minds that it doesn’t matter what you get, it’s about who you’re with. Not to mention, it has one of the catchiest songs of all time, Mr. Grinch.

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