Holiday Movies to Binge with Your Kids
By Tracey Dowdy
The New York Times recently published an article titled How Many Christmas Movies Is Too Many Christmas Movies? There are nearly 100 new releases in 2019 alone the Hallmark Channel has added to their annual Christmas movie roster by 20% over the last two years. That’s nothing compared to Lifetime that has more than quadrupled its output and Netflix has doubled its number over that same time period.
Whether or not you think we’ve jumped the shark with holiday titles like Santa’s Little Helper featuring WWE superstars The Miz and Paige or the straight-to-DVD A Christmas Story 2, the good news is there are thousands of great holiday movies to binge with your kids when the weather outside is frightful.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure isn’t a full-length movie but a short featuring everyone’s new favorite snowman – sorry Frosty – Olaf, from Disney’s Frozen. When Anna and Elsa discover they don’t have Christmas traditions, Olaf takes it upon himself to find the best traditions and save this first Christmas for his friends.
Author Ezra Jack Keats’ charming picture book The Snowy Day comes to life in this animated holiday special. Young Peter goes on a magical, snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. Along the way, he meets his friend Layla and chats with friends and shopkeepers in his neighborhood.
There are three options for the Grinch, and really, you can’t go wrong with any of them. The original animated version from 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, of course, a classic, narrated by none other than Boris Karloff. Jim Carrey’s wacky How the Grinch Stole Christmas from 2000 has become a modern classic, and 2018’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch helmed by Benedict Cumberbatch has already become a family favorite.
Arthur Christmas, Santa’s well-intentioned but ridiculously clumsy son, sets out on a mission with his grandfather to get a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than two hours. It’s got an all-star cast of some of your favorite UK actors and both you and your kids will love its madcap humor.
Based on Chris van Allsburg’s book of the same name, The Polar Express follows the story of Hero Boy who sets out on a magical adventure to the North Pole on Christmas Eve via the Polar Express, and along the way learns about friendship, bravery, and the true spirit of Christmas.
There’s Old School Will Ferrell, but there’s also Elf Will Ferrell. Thank goodness for that, because Elf is certainly one of the funniest holiday movies that both you and your kids can enjoy. When he suddenly discovers he’s human, not an elf as he grew up believing, Buddy the Elf decides to leave the North Pole and travel to New York City in search of his real father.
No holiday list is complete without Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and just like with the Grinch movies, you have options. The Muppet Christmas Carol featuring Michael Caine as Mr. Scrooge is a staple at my house. Jim Carrey’s version uses motion capture technology, and of course, you can introduce your children to the old black and white version with Alastair Sim, though some of those ghosts may be frightening to small children.
A Christmas Story is one of those movies that not only sparks nostalgia but is highly quotable. From “You, ’ll shoot your eye out” to “I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!” there are countless moments in the movie that will have the whole family laughing.
If you’re a fan of Halloween and Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the holiday movie for you. When Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion among his friends and neighbors.
I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Jim Henson, and Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is among my favorites. With a “Gift of the Magi” vibe, Muppets – including Kermit as narrator, and singing woodland creatures, it doesn’t get much sweeter or more nostalgic than this.
Well, that is unless you’re talking a Charlie Brown’s Christmas or one of Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday specials. In fact, did you know that 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running special on television? Well, it is! This is the year to introduce your kids to your friends Frosty, The Little Drummer Boy, Jack Frost, and Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.