The Best Holiday Movies and TV Shows That Will Bring the Family Together This Season

One of the best parts of the holiday season is honoring that annual tradition of watching all of your favorite holiday movies with your family and loved ones. There’s nothing like good old-fashioned togetherness to put the sparkle in your holidays, whether you spend your time prepping the big meal, doing good together, or reminiscing over a festive flick.

When you’re ready to curl up in front of the TV, we’ve got your cheat sheet for the most festive movies, holiday specials, and episodes of your favorite TV shows that promise to get the whole family in the holiday spirit. So light a fire, cozy up with your loved ones, and go ahead and Netflix (or Disney+ or Apple TV+) and holiday.


Want to really get in the holiday spirit? Music Box Theater, a historic movie theater in Lakeview that frequently gives back to the community, has two upcoming Christmas movie marathon events. Alternative Christmas, on Dec. 11 and 17, features “Love Actually” and “Elf.” Their beloved 36th Annual Christmas Sing-a-Long, playing Dec. 4-24, features classics “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


Timeless Classics

“Miracle on 34th Street”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

The ultimate Christmas classic from 1947 sees Santa show up at Macy’s. The 1994 update is streaming on Hulu.

“White Christmas”

Streaming on Netflix

This 1954 Christmas classic follows the tale of two war buddies chasing after a pair of singing sisters — and features the eponymous classic holiday song, crooned by Bing Crosby himself.

“A Christmas Carol”

Streaming on Starz

While there are a lot of cinematic versions of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale, the 1984 version with George C. Scott is a firm favorite, though it’s also worth checking out the 1951 classic version as well, available for purchase on Amazon.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

This list would not be complete without including the best holiday movie of all time.

“A Christmas Story”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

This nostalgic 1980s flick is a long-time favorite, set at Christmas in Indiana in the 1940s as young Ralphie campaigns to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

“Babes in Toyland”

Streaming on Disney+

Watching this classic will bring a flood of memories back. Thanks, Disney+!

Comedy Movies

“Christmas with the Kranks”

Streaming on Netflix

In this comedy, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis have to put Christmas together last minute and hilarity ensues.

“Jingle All the Way”

Streaming on HBO

This holiday-favorite revolves around a workaholic dad, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who goes to great lengths to buy his son the hottest toy of the season.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

This holiday favorite sees Chevy Chase in top form as the Griswold family attempts to have a normal family Christmas, which quickly descends into a series of comical chaos, of course.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Streaming on Disney+

The year was 1998 and Jonathan Taylor Thomas was on the cover of every teen magazine. As you can guess, this led to every teen flocking to the theater to see the heartthrob as he races from California to New York for Christmas to win his father’s Porsche.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” 

Streaming on Netflix

Based on the classic Dr. Seuss story, the film stars Jim Carrey in an endearing and hilarious live action version of this beloved book.

“Elf” 

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc.

Will Ferrell is as funny as ever playing a child raised as one of Santa’s elves who then returns to New York City to find his place in the world. Antics ensue.

“The Santa Clause”

Streaming on Disney+

Tim Allen was born to play two roles: Tim “The Toolman” Taylor and Santa Claus. You can also stream the (less-than-stellar) sequels on Disney+, too.

“Home Alone”

Streaming on Disney+

It’s Christmas when the McCallisters leave Kevin alone for the holidays, and there’s no more entertaining viewing than watching him outsmart the pair of dopey crooks who attempt to break into his family’s house. “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is also available.

“Santa Claus: The Movie”

Rent on iTunes

What happens when Santa’s top toymaker leaves the North Pole to work for a toymaker in New York City? Starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow, this 1985 movie is generally under-the-radar, but we bet there is someone in the family that will fondly remember it.

Soon-to-Be Classics

“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch”

Streaming on Netflix

Released last year, our moody and fur-covered Grinch is somehow cuter than ever. The same story has a fresh take, and we bet the whole family will love it.

“The Christmas Chronicles”

Streaming on Netflix

We’re betting this holiday film starring Kurt Russell as Old St. Nick will quickly become a classic.

“Noelle”

Streaming on Disney+

Anna Kendrick and Shirley MacLaine are the holiday duo we didn’t know we needed. It’s campy and silly, but you’ll catch yourself watching it again and again.

Heartwarming Tales

“Love, Actually”

Streaming on HBO

This British ensemble rom-com from the creators of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” is a feel-good romantic holiday movie to the max.

“Prancer”

Streaming on Hulu

In this 1989 movie, a young girl who still believes in Santa Claus finds a wounded reindeer in the forest. I’m betting you can guess who that reindeer ends up to be.

“Jack Frost”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

Grab the tissues for this one. After his death, a father played by Michael Keaton finds himself inside a snowman. He reunites with his son to make up for lost time.

“All I Want for Christmas”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

After a young girl asks Santa to reunite her separated parents for Christmas, her brother schemes to make her wish come true. Full of ’90s movie stars we loved, this movie is a family favorite.

Festive Animations

“Frosty the Snowman”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

What are the holidays without Frosty? Nothing can beat this classic from 1969.

“A Christmas Carol”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon, YouTube, Apple, etc.

This Disney animated version of the timeless classic stars Jim Carey.

“Klaus”

Streaming on Netflix

A postman finds himself stationed in the North Pole, where he discovers Santa Claus is real.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

One the kids will love to watch, and the adults will love to get all nostalgic over.

“The Polar Express”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, etc. 

In this computer-animated holiday flick, Tom Hanks voices seven characters, including Santa Claus.

“Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas”

Streaming on Disney+

Our favorite animated mouse and his friends team up for this beloved animated classic.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Streaming on Disney+

This Halloween/Christmas hybrid by Disney has a cult-following, and it’s easy to see why.

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video

A 1960s animated favorite based on the Christmas carol, remastered for 2016.

“The Muppet Christmas Carol”

Streaming on Disney+

How could you pass on this Muppet favorite, based on the Dickens tale?

Must-See Holiday TV

“Friends:” “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)

Streaming on Netflix

There are many “Friends” holiday episodes to pick from and this tops the list as our favorite. Who could forget Santa’s Tex-Mex friend, the Holiday Armadillo?

The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

With guest stars galore, this kitschy musical special is so fun to watch, even if you’re not a Kacey Musgraves fan (but warning, you will be!).

“Seinfeld:” “The Pick” (Season 4, Episode 13)

Streaming on Hulu

In this episode of one of the most influential sitcoms ever, Elaine accidentally reveals too much in her Christmas card.

“A Very Murray Christmas”

Streaming on Netflix

Bill Murray, his celebrity friends, and lots of singing — how could you not love this special? Cameos include George Clooney, Maya Rudolph, and Miley Cyrus.

“The Office:” “Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)

Streaming on Netflix

In a fan favorite episode of “The Office,” Michael makes the team play “Yankee Swap” with their Secret Santa gifts.

“Parks and Recreation:” “Citizen Knope” (Season 4, Episode 10)

Streaming on Netflix

Ultimate gift-giver Leslie gets the best gift ever in this favorite episode.