on christmas eve last year i realized i should write a post with all of my favorite holiday movies, but by the time i had my realization it was too late for the 2021 holiday season. this year i made sure to start this post in plenty of time to get it published for december so that we can watch all the holiday movies our hearts desire.
below is my list of the movies i watch every year in the lead up to christmas. i alternate order apart from the two i watch on christmas eve and christmas day, and sometimes i’ll watch others if they are on tv or if the mood strikes, but these are my tried and true rewatches that never fail to get me in the holiday spirit.
a charlie brown christmas.
this one never fails to get me a little sentimental, and it always reminds me to think about others during the lead up to christmas. it’s a great reminder that the christmas season isn’t about the gifts but rather about spending time with the people you care about. available to stream on apple tv+
a christmas story.
one of my favorite christmas traditions is 24 hours of a christmas story on tnt / tbs. i know it started as a joke in the 90s, but so many people loved it that the networks have continued airing it and now it remains on in the background at my parents’ house all day long on christmas day. when i lived abroad i purchased the movie on itunes so i could carry on the tradition from anywhere, and i will be watching it this year as i celebrate christmas in nyc. i know the entire thing by heart and it never fails to make the day just a little bit brighter. airs every year on tbs but is also available to stream on hbo max and there’s a sequel that just released with grown-up ralphie that also on hbo max!
i have always loved die hard, but it didn’t become an annual watch for me until a few years ago. i was under the weather on christmas eve one year and put this on the tv, and ever since i watch it on christmas eve. the last few years my mother, brother, and i have watched it together, and every year my mother tries to claim she’s never seen it. yippee ki-yay. available to rent or purchase on amazon prime / available to stream on hulu with add-ons
this is one of my favorite feel-good movies to watch every year. what’s not to love about will ferrell as a human raised in the north pole and let loose in new york city right before christmas? it’s chock full of quotable quotes, great music, new york at the holidays, and a happy ending. sometimes i watch it in the middle of the year, just because. available to rent or purchase across multiple platforms
what child of the 80s and early 90s didn’t dream of fighting bad guys and protecting their home like kevin mccallister? because i know it wasn’t just me. it’s essentially like having a holiday sports movie with a hero to root for and festive music. available to stream on disney+
home alone 2: lost in new york.
same premise as above, but set in new york city? sign me up. do i watch this one more than the original? most definitely yes. do i hope to retrace as many of kevin’s steps this year now that i live here? i think we already know the answer to that one is also a yes. one of my favorites. available to stream on disney+
miracle on 34th street.
there have been a few remakes of this one, but i love the classic 1947 black-and-white with natalie wood and maureen o’hara. when i was a kid this movie was my definitive proof that santa exists and truthfully it still is. available to stream on disney+.
national lampoon’s christmas vacation.
when i was in undergrad a few friends and i would watch this the sunday we all got back from thanksgiving break, and i have mostly kept up the tradition in the years since. it’s a great one to kick off the holiday season and has so many great scenes and lines. “why is the carpet all wet, todd?” “i don’t KNOW, margo”. i mean, come on. it’s classic. available to stream on hbo max
the santa clause.
this is one that i feel like sometimes gets lost in the mix of all the holiday movies, but any film that gives me the gem “seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing” is a great one. available to stream on disney+
trapped in paradise.
to this day i do not know how my brother and i discovered this movie. i suspect we rented it from the video store by our childhood home, but at this point it doesn’t really matter. what matters is that it’s amazing. three brothers [nicolas cage, jon lovitz, and dana carvey] attempt to rob a bank on christmas eve and wind up getting trapped in the town of paradise while hijinks ensue. like i said: amazing. available to stream on prime video
i know this isn’t an exhaustive list, but i also know time gets short during the holidays and i always think i’ll watch more movies than i can fit into my schedule. also my father will be upset that i didn’t include the jonathan taylor thomas classic i’ll be home for christmas on my list, but if you feel like watching it you can stream it on disney+.
so tell me: which movies would you add to my list?