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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hawaii chapter.

Christmas is right around the corner, which means more movie nights with pajamas and hot cocoa! But the critical question is, which childhood holiday movie is the best? Here, I’ll be digesting The Polar Express, Elf, The Santa Clause movie series, the Home Alone movie series, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas and ranking all five from the best of the best to the least of the best, with 5 being the least of the best and 1 being the best of the best.

We have the Home Alone Series running a strong 5th place

Now, although this movie was released in 1990, it continues to be relevant. If you don’t know what Home Alone is, you truly have not experienced Christmas the way you should’ve, and I am so sorry that you didn’t. “Well then, why is it in fifth place?” You got me there. Okay, my decision to put Home Alone at five is most definitely a controversial one, but hear me out.

Home Alone is based on this really large family who always seems to lose track of one child, Kevin (who is considered the brat of the family), when going on their family winter trips. When Kevin finds out that he’s away from his family, he tries to survive on his own while his family scrambles to get their way to him. This series contains 5 movies (3 movies too many). The first two movies are solid. The last three are just money grabs at this point. Which is why I’ve placed the whole series at five. 
Furthermore, in my opinion, I feel like Home Alone does not really bring out the Holiday Spirit. It’s definitely nostalgicof childhood Holiday Spirit, but it does not evoke that feeling for me. They’re great movies to watch, but not necessarily Christmas-oriented. It’s only a Christmas movie because the timeline of the movie always takes place during Christmas. But again, very great movies and definitely worthy of watching.

Ranking at number 4, we have The Santa Clause

Released in 1994, this movie plays on the many questions we’ve asked ourselves as kids when investigating the mysteries of Santa Clause: Does he ever die? What happens if he’s injured or dies while on the job? What does the North Pole look like? How does Santa visit every house in the world all in one night? There are so many holes in the story of Santa Clause, but this movie fills all of them. 

A divorced man, Scott, has custody of his son on Christmas Eve. That night, they heard footsteps on the roof, and immediately, Charlie, his son, spectates that Santa has arrived. Now Scott is a grumpy man. He does not believe in Santa, as most adults do, and yelled at the man on the roof. Santa falls and dies, his body disappearing and only leaving his coat behind. Scott looks through this coat and finds a business card. He puts the coat on, and he is transported to the North Pole where an Elf explains that Scott has to take Santa’s place before next Christmas. 

The movies follow his journey of having 2 lives: as Santa, and as a regular human being.

This movie really hit every button for me as a kid, which is why I’ve included it in this top 5 list. It answered every question I had about Santa to the point where I still believed in him until 7th grade. It was that convincing. Plus, I’ve always wondered what Santa’s life was like in between Christmases, and this movie answered it perfectly. Definitely a great movie that speaks on coming of age, family dynamics, moving on, healing, and (most importantly) Santa’s adventures! This definitely puts you in the holiday spirit and strongly screams Christmas.

Third, we have Elf!

When someone asks me what my favorite Christmas movie is, I always say this one. It just makes me feel good. Released in 2003, Elf is about a human boy who was accidentally transported to the North Pole and was raised as an elf. Santa named him Buddy. Buddy goes out to New York, in hopes of finding his real parents.

I’ve put this movie third because Will Ferrell was perfect for this role. It is such a funny Christmas movie because we watch a man-elf try to maneuver in the human world. You just have to watch it to know what I mean. It makes me so happy watching this movie, and it definitely puts me in the Holiday mood.

Second Place is The Polar Express

The Polar Express is HER! Like, this movie is so iconic. Released in 2004, this movie is about a boy who jumps on a train to the North Pole. He learns about himself and is put on an adventure that young children would probably never experience. Which makes it so iconic. To be real, I was afraid of this movie as a child at some parts, but all in all, it was always a movie I thought about as an adult when Christmas time rolls around. It definitely brings out the Christmas Spirit in you and also answers some mysteries about Santa as well. It’s an inspirational movie, following an amazing adventure.

And First Place would be How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Now, this may be controversial as well, but How The Grinch Stole Christmas has many good things about it. It is incredibly funny in my opinion, and as an adult, the Grinch is so relatable and such a mood. Released in 2000, this movie follows the character development of the Grinch as well as (obviously) how he stole Christmas. It puts you in the Holiday Spirit and can be re-watched all the time without it being boring. Which is why I’ve placed it in first place.

Just because I’ve ranked these movies, it does not mean they’re not the worst or the best of all time. They’re all so worthy of watching and will bring everyone in the family together. And if not, these movies will definitely have you feel the Holiday Spirit. Family and Holiday Spirit are what Christmas is all about after all!

Jessa Tadeo

Hawaii '24

Howzit! I'm Jessa, a self-proclaimed music enthusiast, born and raised on O'ahu. I'm in my third year majoring in Social Work and I love to go on way too many coffee runs.