Christmas in the Movies: My Personal Guide of Classics to Celebrate This Season

Nothing brings the magic of the season into our hearts quite like a great holiday movie. Although they vary in shapes and sizes, something they all have in common is the use of nostalgia, joy, togetherness, and dysfunction. In my house, Christmas traditions have always started on November 12. It’s not really the day itself that is so special but the season of anticipation before the big day. Movies are a significant part of our holiday traditions, and there are a very select few that make the list each year. There is something about a good holiday classic that brings the family together when all bundled up around the fire. Some new and many old enjoy this list of holiday favorites!

  1. 1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

    A family staple, this comedy tells a story of what many of us experience over the holidays, or maybe how we feel anyway! Summing up the most wonderful time of the year and all the anxiety, masochism, bewilderment, and warm-fuzzies any extended clan gathering ignites like a match thrown in a sh*t-filled sewer.

  2. 2. Home Alone

    KEVIN! Only John Hughes, a master of fulfillment, could have tackled such an eccentric movie. Hughes stuffs Home Alone with lots of funny details including Harry's gold tooth, gangster movies, the freaky shovel guy, every trap in the mad-house--and does all of these like a giddy kid on Christmas morning. This film will leave your bellyaching and your heart smiling! 

  3. 3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

    This was my Uncle’s all-time favourite. Our sweet, titular hero Charlie Brown finds himself feeling the holiday blues and questioning the true meaning of everyone’s favourite day of the year. When the Peanuts gang steps in, Charlie plans to direct his own Nativity play. 

    Fun Fact: ABC has shown A Charlie Brown Christmas every year since its original broadcast in 1965, making it the longest-running animated TV special in history—and it’s really no surprise why!

  4. 4. Christmas in Connecticut

    This classic gift wraps criss-crossed relationships, gender dynamics, and burning desire into a romantic, holiday romp. Stanwyck and Morgan require no mistletoe to embrace their endlessly watchable chemistry, bringing you that warm fuzzy holiday feeling.

  5. 5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

    The War on Christmas is alive, and averted, in this 1947 classic. Societal consumerism must be damned, George Seaton's fanciful story of Kris Kringle, and the trial to prove his true identity, is an ode to the power of believing in something bigger than ourselves.

  6. 6. The Polar Express

    Like his 2009 Christmas Carol, director Robert Zemeckis rendered Chris Van Allsburg's illustrated family classic into a dazzling mix of magic and surrealism. Through the magic of motion-capture, Tom Hanks takes on the role of The Boy, the Train Conductor, and Santa Claus, who all suffer from the holiday mistiness, but beam with excitement and cheer.

  7. 7. It's a Wonderful Life

    A performance that transforms from teenage swagger into adult despair with discomforting ease, Stewart personifies everything hopeful and dreary about the holiday season. He's the joy of Christmas morning and the gloominess that inevitably arrives at the end of the season for many. Potraying the true meaning of Christmas, this one will indefinetly bring a happy tear to your eye.

  8. 8. White Christmas

    Grandpa calls this one  “the fruitcake of Christmas movies”: meaning a holiday standard that you either love or hate. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney bring you a musical sequence, a mix of charm, and love; what’s not to like?

  9. 9. The Sound of Music

    With grandma, the holiday season isn’t complete without this beautiful love story. The sound of music immediately takes me back to sitting on the couch with grandma, the smell of hot cocoa lingering in the air. Another staple in our family, let Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer waltz away with your heart.

  10. 10. The Shop around the Corner (1940)

    Pick up your pen and paper! This mannered romantic comedy from the legend Ernst Lubitsch will take you back to simpler times. With snickers and sorrow, this unwraps with a certain wintery stillness that's missing from most Yuletide offerings.

There really is no better way to decompress over what can be a stressful holiday than by losing yourself in a great festive flick, especially when you are surrounded by loved ones!