Holiday Movies

watch a movie in front of the fireplace with popcorn - holiday movies, Christmas movies

The other day I was asked about my favorite holiday movies to watch. That question made me realize that other than some of my childhood favorites (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc.), I don’t watch the same ones each year.

So, I decided to compile a list of holiday movies we’ve enjoyed over the years – partly to share this link with those who ask and partly to remember which ones to look up for availability and re-watching.

(Last updated: January 2024)

And now, in no particular order, are holiday movies we’ve loved (or at least enjoyed watching while consuming adult beverages):


8-Bit Christmas (2021) – This movie brings back memories from the ‘80’s. If you’re not a fan of the 80’s, then enjoy this fairly original plot for a holiday movie.

About a Boy (2002) – What is family? Before Nicholas Hoult played Beast in X-Men and Dracula’s servant in Renfield, he starred in this snarky but touching film with Hugh Grant.

Arthur Christmas (2011) – How exactly does Santa deliver all of the gifts in one night?

Candy Cane Lane (2023) – It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a holiday movie with a nearly original plot. This one comes pretty close.

Genie (2023) – We have everything in this movie: snow, lights, a little kid, a couple with marriage problems and a genie. It’s a 21st century fairytale.

Elf (2003) – Will Ferrell stars in a movie that usually graces top 25 lists. It contains a bit of coarse language, but I classified it as family since it’s watchable with kids. Or should it go under hijinks?

The Polar Express (2004) – This is a gorgeously animated film.


Romance / Hallmark-ish

A Castle for Christmas (2021) – This movie reminds me of Under the Tuscan Sun, but with Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes…in Scotland…for Christmas.

Best Christmas Ever (2023) – Mostly predictable. A few heart-touching moments (can’t tell you when they happen, otherwise it’ll ruin it). It’s enjoyable to watch while sipping on spiked hot chocolate.

Falling for Christmas (2022) – I’ve never watched a movie on the Hallmark channel, but I’m guessing it would be like this one. It’s definitely not my favorite but we watched it because I wish Lindsay Lohan well in her career comeback and quest to live a better life.

Love Actually (2003) – There are almost too many characters and stories in this one, but it makes for a fun Christmas vignette-a-thon.

Love Hard (2021) – I’m not really into movies about guys who live in their parents’ basements, but this one is different. The lead actors in this film are not movie stars. This is an indie project, and maybe that’s why I’m rooting for it.

Last Christmas (2019) – What’s not to enjoy when Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke and Emma Thompson team up for a story about love and loss, set during Christmas, with a soundtrack by the late, great George Michael?

Serendipity (2001) – The basis of the plot begins at Christmas, so I’m counting this as a holiday romance.

The Holiday (2006) – Of course it’s sappy! But it involves a once-popular concept from yesteryear: swapping homes for a vacation. Plus there’s snow. In England.


Hijinks / Adventure

4 Christmases (2008) – If you have to split time between family members during the holidays, you’ll enjoy this.

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (2014) – It sure didn’t rank high critically, but it does star Robin Williams, Candice Bergen, Joel McHale, Oliver Platt, Wendi McClendon-Covey and Lauren Graham.

Eight Crazy Nights (2002) – Adam Sandler stars in this animated film about a young man who gets arrested on the first night of Hanukkah. Will he

Hawkeye (2022) – Just when I’d grown tired of the slew of Marvel Universe movies, we decided to take the plunge and watch this limited series about Hawkeye attempting to live as a civilian and come to peace about the death of his best pal, Black Widow. Of course, complications ensue. Will he make it home in time for Christmas?!?

Home Alone (1990) – Even though this movie is about a little kid, I felt like this is more hijinks than family. I’m open to suggestions.

Jingle All the Way (1996) – A Dad is desperate to deliver on the Christmas goods.

Mixed Nuts (1994) – Before political correctness and getting cancelled, there was Mixed Nuts.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – What would Christmas be without the Griswolds?

Nothing Like the Holidays (2009) – I realize that the holidays aren’t a time for reality, but sometimes you need a dose of it amidst all of the snowy fairytales.

The Apartment (1960) – This movie about hanky-panky during the Christmas holidays won the Oscar for best picture and stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – You can shake things up a bit with a Halloween movie at Christmas. Or is it a Christmas movie at Halloween?


Rated R Hijinks / Adventure

A Bad Moms Christmas (2017) – Underneath the profanity and zaniness, there is actually a good story.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011) – Harold and Kumar grew up. Or did they?

Bad Santa (2003) – Nothing says “joy to the world” like debauchery and inappropriate dialogue. Cheers!

Die Hard (1988) – It’s the movie that launched Bruce Willis’s movie superstardom. I know people debate over this, but how is this not a Christmas movie?!

Lethal Weapon (1987) – The movie that launched a lucrative franchise for Mel Gibson and Danny Glover takes place during Christmas.

Office Christmas Party (2016) – Same reason as Bad Santa.

Reindeer Games (2000) – What could possibly go wrong during a Christmas Eve heist?

The Holdovers (2023) – Three people unlikely to ever hang out together wind up in an interesting life situation over the Christmas holidays in 1970. It’s Dead Poets Society meets Good Will Hunting. Rated R for the profanity, the hijinks is in the form of situations and smart dialogue. This is definitely a character study that can still be applied today.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) – I love Geena Davis as an action hero! This story about a seemingly matronly schoolteacher takes place during the Christmas season, which, in my book, qualifies it as a holiday movie! (And one of my favorites at that.)

The Night Before (2015) – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie star in this holiday tale full of hijinks and shenanigans. This movie is nothing tremendous, but it does make for a fun low-brow Friday evening.

Violent Night (2022) – This David Harbour flick is from the producers of John Wick. That should pretty much tell you what kind of adventure this will be.



A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – We watch this every year.

A Christmas Story (1983) – “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” “It’s fra-jill-ee!”

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – It’s hard to choose a favorite version: 1966, 2000 or 2018.

Frosty the Snowman (1969) – “Happy Birthday!”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) – Black and white is the only way.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – I realize there are other versions, but this is the one I grew up with.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

White Christmas (1954) – I know it’s Christmas when I hear Bing Crosby’s rendition of the title song on the radio.


A Christmas Carol renditions

A Christmas Carol (1951)

A Christmas Carol (all the others)

A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Scrooged (1988) – Bill Murray in a Christmas movie – what’s not to love?


Still on My List to Watch

A Madea Christmas (2013)

Kurt Russell Santa movies

Surviving Christmas (2004)

The Best Man Holiday (2013)

This Christmas (2007)


Let me know in the Comments section below what your favorite holiday movie is!


Need more ideas for holiday movies? Check out the top 100 Christmas movies from RottenTomatoes and the best Hanukkah movies from Parade Magazine.



Pour yourself a glass of eggnog, put on those fuzzy slippers and enjoy!


For movies related to other holidays, occasions and places, see my lists of favorite movies here.


For the complete guide to having time to watch all of these movies so you can truly relax over the holidays, check out The Great Escape: A Vacation Planner for Busy People Who Want to Take a Real Break from Work & Life



About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead?The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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