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The Ultimate Christmas Movie Guide

Christmas is quickly approaching and if you haven’t already begun watching Christmas movies, now would be a good time to start. Many movies are widely considered Christmas classics such as Elf, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and many others. But there’s a whole week until Christmas and there’s room for so many more on your docket this holiday season. I like to consider there to be several main categories for Christmas movies, all of which are valid and necessary for your collection of Christmas movies. 

  1. Golden-Age Classics 

These tend to not be as popular among our generation but I cannot get enough of these lately. These movies all came out between the 1930s-1960s and are usually musicals depending on their starring actors. Some of these have also been remade in the later part of the 20th century but the originals always reign supreme. Here are some of my favorite examples: 

Holiday Inn (1942):  

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) 

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) 

A Miracle On 34th Street (1947) 

White Christmas (1952) 

Babes in Toyland (1961)  

  1. Animated Classics 

Gotta give some credit to the Christmas movies that started it all. For me, the Rankin & Bass clay-mation movies are EVERYTHING. I also had to give a nod to Peanuts because let’s face it, their holiday specials are supreme.  

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) 

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) 

Frosty The Snowman (1969) 

Santa Claus is Coming To Town (1970) 

A Year Without Santa Claus (1974) 

  1. 80s-00s Classics  

I say classics loosely for this category, because while we may have grown up with these films, they aren’t considered “old” to our parents’ generation. To me, this is where the bulk of standard beloved Christmas movies come from. One could even say the craft was mastered.  

Scrooged (1988) 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) 

Home Alone (1990) 

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992) 

The Santa Clause (1994) 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) 

The Santa Clause 2 (2002) 

Elf (2003) 

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) 

  1. Christmas Rom-Coms  

Of course, we have the beloved romantic comedy– but make it Christmas. As if Christmas wasn’t already romanticized, these movies have taken Christmas romance to a whole new level– and do so tastefully (skip Hallmark).  

While You Were Sleeping (1995) 

Love, Actually (2003) 

The Holiday (2006) 

The Best Man Holiday (2013) 

Happiest Season (2020) 

  1. New Christmas Comedies  

Good movies in this category are far and few, but I think I’ve come up with a brief list of the ones worth watching with a lot of good laughs. The Family Stone can lie somewhere in between rom-com and comedy so I looped it into this category, although it can be a little heavy at times. 

Bad Santa (2003) 

The Family Stone (2005) 

Love the Coopers (2015) 

The Night Before (2015) 

  1. Netflix Christmas Movies 

Now these are all definitely up in the air and open for interpretation. While most of the Netflix movies of today are hit or miss, these are worth seeing for yourself. Some fall into the rom-com category, but may not be on the same caliber as the rest and thus need their own category.  

A Very Murray Christmas (2015) 

A Christmas Prince (2017) 

The Princess Switch (2018) 

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) 

The Knight Before Christmas (2019) 

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020) 

Love Hard (2021) 

  1. Is it a Christmas movie? 

Last but not least is the great debate, are these really Christmas movies– who’s to say? My two thoughts on this are 1) it must take place wholly or partially on Christmas 2) it must contain a Christmas theme. I think some of these movies apply, some of them don’t, but it couldn’t hurt to loop them into your watching when prioritizing the rest of the movies on this list.  

Gremlins (1984) 

Die Hard (1988) 

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 

Little Women (1994 or 2019) 

Frozen (2013)

Frozen II (2019)  

With winter break quickly approaching it may be overwhelming to try and complete finals successfully while also putting aside time to get into the holiday spirit. Putting on a movie can be one of the easiest de-stressors for yourself and you can check one of these off your to-watch list. I’ll be giving it a try… will you? 

Caroline is currently a junior Communication Studies major with minors in Arts & Entertainment Management and History at Pace University in New York City. She specializes in writing about movies, television, music, and all things pop culture and thanks HerCampus for the chance to let her do so. Feel free to check out her Instagram @carolineggerman!
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