11 "Don't Miss" Holiday Movies for Your Next Family Night

Watch one - or watch them all.

There’s nothing cozier than a snowy day spent under a mountain of blankets watching the best holiday movies. Our family likes to spend the months of November and December watching as many holiday-themed flicks as we can, and luckily there’s a lot to choose from.

Below I’ve listed some of our family favourites, a mix of vintage classics and contemporary holiday films that the entire family can enjoy. I’ve also included a helpful age guide, as suggested by Common Sense Media.


Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

Great for kids ages 3 and up

This vintage classic about an outcast reindeer is sure to entertain your youngest holiday movie enthusiasts. Rudolph isn’t like all the other reindeers, but he soon learns that being different doesn’t mean he’s less than - and his difference is also his strength.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Great for kids ages 3 and up

This children’s classic features the loveable Peanuts characters in a heartwarming Christmas special. A Charlie Brown Christmas does include religious themes and the nativity story, and makes a perfect addition for families looking for a more traditional holiday film.


All I Want for Christmas is You (2017)

Great for kids ages 4 and up

A recent addition to the holiday cannon, Mariah Carey’s iconic song of the same name is brought to life on screen. Carey narrates as the grown-up “Mariah,” who fondly remembers her childhood and the first winter owning her mischievous but loveable puppy.


Prep & Landing (2011)

Great for kids ages 5 and up

This holiday mini-film might be overlooked for running a compact 22 minutes, but this is a perfect 'before bed' flick to enjoy throughout the holidays. Prep & Landing takes a look at two elves preparing homes for Santa’s arrival, and offers a lot of heartwarming moments in one small package.


Arthur Christmas (2011)

Great for kids ages 5 and up

This animated tale offers a fun adventure that the whole family will enjoy. Santa forgets to deliver a gift on Christmas Eve, and his young son Arthur and a band of misfits work together to deliver the last gift to its rightful recipient - but not without some bumps along the way.


The Polar Express (2004)

Great for kids ages 6 and up

This somewhat creepily-animated holiday flick isn’t for everyone, but we’re big fans in our house. Based on of the smash hit book The Polar Express, this film deals with a young boy who is questioning his belief in Santa, and enjoys a wild ride with a group of kids on The Polar Express the night before Christmas.


Elf (2003)

Great for kids ages 7 and up

The month of December isn’t complete without at least one viewing of this contemporary holiday classic. Will Ferrell stars as “Buddy,” a human man who was raised as an Elf in the North Pole. Buddy discovers that his real father lives in New York, and he’s on the naughty list. What ensues is a hilarious adventure that we all want to relive again and again, every year.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Great for kids ages 8 and up

Jim Carrey offers an iconic performance based off of the wildly popular Dr. Suess book of the same name. The story of the Grinch who hates Christmas is sure to warm the hearts of all family members, even the Grinchy ones. Families who enjoy braving the theatres might also want to watch the latest animated holiday release, The Grinch (2018).


A Christmas Story (1983)

Great for kids ages 8 and up

One of my personal childhood favourites, A Christmas Story may appear ancient to its youngest viewers. Nine-year-old Ralphie desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, but this holiday classic is really about a family coming together for Christmas. Viewers beware: there’s some salty language in this one.


The Santa Clause (1994)

Great for kids ages 9 and up

Perfect 90s nostalgia is alive in The Santa Clause. Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, an out of touch single dad turned reluctant Santa. When an elderly Santa slips off of Calvin’s roof and dies, a new Santa must take his place - and the new recruit has no choice in the matter. This story deals with some heavy family dynamics, but it’s a heartwarming tale for families with kids who can handle some of the more mature themes.


Home Alone (1990)

Great for kids ages 10 and up

What childhood isn’t complete without the experience of watching Home Alone? Mega child-star Macaulay Culkin plays “Kevin,” an eight-year-old boy who embodies every middle-child stereotype. This incredibly unrealistic family comedy centres on a little boy left at home while his entire family leaves for vacation. Kevin must defend himself and his home against a duo of criminals who attempt to break into his home. Oh, and it all happens during Christmas.


Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based out of Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe & Mail. 

Brianna's budget-savvy ways has attracted media attention, and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe & Mail and The Guelph Mercury. In April 2016 Brianna will be featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less, alongside co-writer Brooke Burke. You can find Brianna's website at Brianna Bell Writes.