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The holiday season this year will be different from years before. At such an abnormal time, we have to turn to tried-and-true methods to get into the holiday spirit. One thing that hasn't changed is our love for holiday movies! The comfort they bring is both a welcome distraction and a stress reliever this season. Here are seven of my favorite movies to enjoy during December!  


Elf is a lighthearted and happy comedy to begin this list – a welcome break from everything going on this year. Watching Buddy the elf magically bring the Christmas spirit to his grumpy father and other New Yorkers is cathartic and sweet, and his antics make us question what’s truly important to us during these times. Full of laughter, this true Christmas classic is always number one on my list. It’s a great movie to watch with your family or, now, virtually through Zoom with the people you wish you could be with. It’s truly a movie that helps keep the holidays alive.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is another classic film, which I put on the list because I can’t help but feel like the Grinch myself this year! This season feels so different and strange without big parties and seeing your friends and the glamour of the holidays, but How the Grinch Stole Christmas has us reflect on our new reality. 

The adorable Cindy Lou Who, and the way all of the Whos celebrate the true meaning of Christmas is a fitting lesson for today; I encourage everyone to watch this movie at least once this season – it’ll remind you of what's important, and it’s a nice outlook to have right now. 

A Christmas Carol 

Disney’s take on the famous Charles Dickens tale is definitely darker than I expected, but I find comfort in the simplicity of a story that many of us know so well. With so much changing every day, the familiarity of this story feels warm and welcoming. Watching Scrooge realize his mistakes and the consequences of his actions makes all of us question our choices.

However, the film is also a testament to the fact that anyone can change, and that gives me hope. It’s one of those movies that you can watch over and over again and still feel inspired when it’s over.

Home Alone

I think all of us have imagined what would happen if our parents forgot us and we could have the same adventures as Kevin. He lives every child’s dream, indulging us in a fantasy world where, as kids, we could do anything we wanted without worrying about our parents. 

Kevin creatively escapes burglars and ends up capturing them, on top of realizing the importance of family during the holidays. When he sets up a fake Christmas party by himself, it seems bizarre – but honestly? He might have had the right idea! Maybe this year, I’ll get dressed up and have a fake party in my house just like Kevin – just for the holiday spirit. 

The Polar Express

This movie is one I’d watch on Christmas Eve with my parents, huddled in blankets around the television. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that The Polar Express has left its mark on the holiday film canon. The most magical scene to me will always be the end, when the main character and his sister listen to Santa’s bell and their parents can’t hear it – it’s a reminder to believe in childhood magic even when other people don’t – and honestly? It’s just a nice movie to watch with some cookies and someone you love. Wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and comfortable socks, watchingThe Polar Express provides a sense of tranquility we all need.  

A Christmas Prince

Let’s be honest – who isn’t a sucker for holiday romance? And especially when you add royalty to the mix? This one’s a no brainer. 

A more recent film on this list, A Christmas Prince follows protagonist Amber, a journalist reporting on fictional Prince Richard’s coronation and the royal family drama. 

With an interesting mix of misunderstanding and love, this movie combines the Christmas spirit with family drama, all while staying lighthearted and positive. Full of plot twists and laughs, this is one of my favorite holiday girls night movies. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas 

And finally, I can never forget the ultimate crossover between Halloween and Christmas. As it follows Jack Skellington go to such disastrous lengths to bring Christmas to Halloweentown, this movie confronts the ultimate argument – Halloween or Christmas? – in a fun and entertaining way for everyone. It's definitely has a darker vibe than the other movies on this list, but it's a worthy holiday quarantine watch. 

These movies are sure to spark some joy into your holiday celebration. Remember to be kind to yourself and stay safe; I hope you have a great holiday, however you celebrate! 

Mahaa Ayub

U Penn '23

Mahaa is a sophomore studying health and societies. She is interested in global health and charity work, specifically tutoring and helping West Philly kids.
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