The Best Family Christmas Movies List for a Mom-Approved Movie Night

The Christmas season is the perfect time to get family and friends together for a family movie night.

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to watch a bunch of Christmas-themed movies?

Like most women I know, I’m a sucker for a cheesy Hallmark Christmas special, but my husband and kids are not.

So I created this comprehensive list of various Christmas movies we’ve watched across the years that the whole family can enjoy.

You’ll find some old classic Christmas movies, as well as some newer favorites.

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This post may contain affiliate links.

You can also grab my Christmas movie night invitation ticket if you wanted to make it a fun event with friends. It’s a great way to make the night a little more special and to create anticipation for your Christmas party.

Christmas Movie Night Invitation Printable Ticket, Editable Christmas Party Invite, Ticket Stub, Movie Ticket Template, with envelope - INSTANT DOWNLOAD

I’ve written a popular post about clean binge-worthy Family TV shows, so I wanted to make this list as wholesome as possible too. 

In my 20’s I watched movies like the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Scrooged. I tried watching them again as an older adult with kids and was really turned off by the blatant coarseness. So those didn’t even make the list.

Unfortunately, a bunch of ’80s and ’90s movies are like that.

Before we watch any movie in our house I tend to look up reviews on Common Sense Media or Plugged In just to understand what I’m getting into.

I’d encourage you to do the same for any movie on this list.

So rather than a free-for-all list, I decided to create 3 sections. Great family Christmas movies I can recommend with no reservations, the holiday movies that may require some parental guidance (maybe wait until kids are older), and great Christmas animated shorts.

Within the sections, the movies are in no particular order.

If you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned please leave it in the comments.


List of Christmas Movie Fun for the Whole Family

These movies have no real questionable content (no sex or language) and I would have no reservations watching any of them with anyone. Some still have PG ratings (usually for some mild violence, mild romance, or something scary) so you may want to check them out first if you have younger kids.


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The Santa Clause 2 and 3

Rated G – (2002-2006) – Watch on Disney Plus

Wait, where’s the first movie?

Well, the first Santa Clause movie is unfortunately in my other section for parental guidance. But the Santa Clause 2 and 3 are fun and contain no potentially objectionable materials other than Christmas magic. 

In The Santa Clause 2, Santa must get married to keep on being Santa and in The Santa Clause 3 Santa has to battle Jack Frost who put the freeze on Christmas.

These movies are entertaining even if predictable, and will make for an enjoyable holiday movie night.


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Klaus

Rated PG (2019) – Watch on Netflix

I was surprised to see a PG rating on this movie, but there is some mild violence as the villagers fight each other. It could be a little scary for the littles.

But Netflix has a winner in Klaus. The story is heartwarming and fun. You just may cry.

To try to shape his son into a man, Jasper’s dad sends him to a remote village with the task to successfully open a post office or be disinherited. Jasper finds himself in a bind as all the villagers hate each other and have no need to send mail or packages.

He meets a woodsman ex-toymaker (Klaus) who became a recluse after the death of his wife.  Jasper and Klaus end up helping each other and the villagers establish a new lease on life.


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The Grinch

Rated PG – (2018) – Buy on Amazon

I must admit I’m taking my kids’ word on this one as I haven’t seen it yet. But they absolutely loved this animated movie. They found it sweet and endearing. I’ll update when I watch it.


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The Christmas Project

Rated PG – (2016) – Buy on Amazon

The Christmas Project is a hidden movie comedy gem. It’s very kid-friendly and clean with just some mild bullying and mild romance.

The Buckleys have a yearly Christmas tradition of “elving,” secretly giving gifts to people who are lonely and/or needy. But this year the needy family ends up being their son’s Matthew school nemesis.

This movie is funny, heartwarming, and teaches empathy and charity.

You’ll want to start your own elving tradition after you watch it for sure and I love movies where the parents are well portrayed. It’s a winner in my book!


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The Christmas Project Reunion

Rated PG – (2020) – Watch on Amazon Prime Video

The Buckley family comes back 4 years later. The kids are now teenagers and Mathew doesn’t want to go to elving anymore. 

A well-made sequel to the first movie that’s geared more towards the teenage crowd and deals with dating. There is some quick kissing but the movie is still wholesome and fun. After watching it you’ll wish you had an uncle Steve too.


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White Christmas

Rated G – (1954) – Watch on Netflix

I have a friend who has a White Christmas Movie party every year.  It’s her favorite Christmas movie and I understand why.

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, dancing, romance, comedy, and a slew of what became Christmas song classics. What more could you ask for to get into the Christmas spirit?

If you’ve never seen it, this musical has been on Netflix for years and I hope it stays.


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Miracle on 34th Street

Rated G (1947 and 1994) – Buy on Amazon

Both versions of Miracle on 34th Street are sweet and well made.

It’s a wonderful story about a little girl in New York City who doesn’t believe in Santa and the journey that changes her mind.

The original movie is a black and white classic but the newer remake is worth watching too.


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The Polar Express

Rated G – (2004) – Buy on Amazon

I must admit it’s not my favorite movie but the kids give it 2 thumbs up and watch it most years. My teenage daughter just told me “How can you not like it??? It’s the Polar Express!!”

The plot is simple. A kid who doesn’t know if he believes in Santa boards a train to the North Pole.

I remember thinking “This kid just boarded a train with a stranger!”… hmm… I haven’t seen it in years though so I’ll watch it again and come back to update this review.


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The Christmas Candle

Rated PG – (2013) – Watch on Amazon Prime

God still does answer prayers is the main focus of this sweet movie.

Taking place in 1890 a new progressive pastor who does not believe in miracles comes to a small town where every 25 years the legend is that an angel touches one candle and whoever lights it and prays gets their prayer granted.


The candle maker has the responsibility to give the candle to the neediest person in the village, but this year, he trips and tips all the candles over into a jumbled mess. Now no one knows which one is the miracle candle.


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The Star

Rated PG – (20176) – Buy on Amazon

A good Christmas comedy movie about Jesus! What??!?

The Star tells a sweet and definitely imaginative version of Jesus’ birth from the point of view of animals while remaining somewhat faithful to the main biblical narrative.

Of course, there are lots and lots of creative liberties. But the animals are hilarious, Mary and Joseph are sweet, and the main story is, after all, the real meaning of Christmas.


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The Muppet Christmas Carol

Rated G – (1992) – Watch on Disney Plus

If you’ve never watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, you must immediately remedy this holiday injustice.

You’re in for a great family night as this hilarious movie is full of clever references and gags sure to amuse older audiences as well as younger children. 

It is, of course, the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) and his employee Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog (It’s bizarre to list Kermit the Frog as an actor)) and a team of bookkeeping rodents… Wait, no rodents in the original story?… What a shame. 😂


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Santa Buddies – The Legend of Santa Paws

Rated G – (2009) – Watch on Disney Plus

Ahh! The Buddies movies!

There are a bunch of them and they’re all fun, wholesome, well-made movies with a surprising array of well-known actors.

Of course, it’s about talking dogs and the storyline is predictable but even as an adult those movies will keep you entertained. The kids will eat this one up.

Santa Buddies is full of Christmas cheer and even stars Christopher Lloyd. I totally recommend it for families with little kids.

And if you can’t get enough, there are 2 more Christmas Santa Paws Buddies movies on Disney Plus for you to enjoy.


Christmas Movies we love to watch with older kids

All these movies have a bit of questionable content and may need some parental guidance. Or if you have VidAngel, you can stream most of these without the questionable scenes.


The Christmas Chronicles

Rated PG – (2018) – Watch on Netflix

The first time I saw this Netflix movie I knew it would become a classic in our house.

While trying to catch Santa in action, a brother and a sister accidentally make Santa’s sleigh crash. They then have to spend all night trying to save Christmas.

Kurt Russel makes a fantastic, no-nonsense Santa in this fun adventure movie that will keep you entertained right up until the end.

Parents of young kids should know that the kids are a bit bratty in the beginning and there is some mild swearing like an incomplete s-word and a couple of “h—” and “d–mit”. There also are some drinking references. All that earned the movie their PG rating.


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The Christmas Chronicles 2

Rated PG (2020) – Watch on Netflix

Not as good as the first movie but still a fun movie full of adventure. It definitely has not as much potentially objectionable content as the first movie. Santa does kiss Mrs. Claus though and the kids are still a bit bratty.

Kate runs away to the North Pole where a naughty elf plans to cancel Christmas.


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Elf

Rated PG – (20036) – Buy on Amazon

I’m not sure Elf needs much of an introduction.  But if you’ve somehow been living under a rock for the last almost 20 years, the story is about a boy being raised by elves in the North Pole and finally realizing, as an adult, that he’s not like the other elves.  

He then goes on an adventure to find his biological father in New York City, falls in love, and helps to save Christmas.

Elf is a sweet and funny movie that we watch almost every year now. 

We did wait until the kids were older to introduce them to the movie though. Buddy the Elf was conceived in a pre-marital romance, there are a couple of questionable comments (a writer talks about getting some ”action”) and a questionable scene or two (Buddy the Elf buys a slinky teddy for his dad not knowing what it’s for).


Jim Carrey as the Grinch is a fun interpretation of the famous Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch stole Christmas”. 

Most of the slapstick comedy is hilarious and the sweet Cindy Lou Who will melt your heart with her determination to prove that even a creature like the Grinch can be good. 

I do wish some elements had been left on the cutting room floor, like the Grinch falling headfirst into Martha May Whovier’s cleavage, and some mild language. But all in all, I love this movie and so do my kids.


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Home Alone

Rated PG – (1990) – Watch on Disney Plus

Eight-year-old Kevin is mistakenly left alone at home during a large family Christmas vacation to Europe. He has to navigate a pair of burglars trying to get in the house while his mom furiously tries to get back to him.

I think this movie only gets good when the burglars show up and Kevin’s ingenuity is on full display. The comedy is largely slapstick but works well and kids LOVE it.

It’s not for very young children though. There’s too much objectionable language and the amount of name-calling and disrespect among the kids towards one other and the adults makes this movie a definite one to watch with only older kids.

The saga continues in Home Alone 2 which is also funny but has the same language problems as the first one. It was made in the ’90s after all.


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The man who Invented Christmas

Rated PG – (2017) – Buy on Amazon

You’ve probably never heard of this movie and yet, it’s a Christmas gem that I’m sure will become a favorite.

A beautiful representation of how Charles Dickens came up with the inspiration for “A Christmas Carol”. We’re taken through his journey of severe writer’s block and near ruin to coming up with his most well-known and cherished story. 

Not sure why the PG rating, ghosts maybe, but honestly I don’t think the story would interest small kids. Teens and adults will love this very well-made film though.


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The Santa Clause

Rated PG – (1994) – Watch on Disney Plus

Another 90’s Christmas movie that has become a cult Christmas classic. 

Tim Allen plays an executive in the toy industry who becomes the actual next Santa Claus.

The movie is hilarious and still very magical after all these years.

However, if you haven’t seen it in a while you might not remember some of the questionable jokes (mean digs, fat-shaming), innuendos (secretary sitting in married bosses lap, mentions being on drugs in the 60s), and some of the parenting (characters yelling at their kids and telling their child that their ideas are stupid). Not to mention that the original Santa “dies” at the beginning of the movie from an accidental fall.

But all in all, it’s very mild for a 90’s movie and most of that goes quick and most likely will go right over your kids’ head. On top of that, The Santa Clause 2 and 3 are straight, no issues, G-rated fun.


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It’s a Wonderful Life

NR – (1946) – Buy on Amazon

This great movie almost needs no introduction. It is the quintessential Christmas movie classic.

George Bailey is a kind man who, overwhelmed by life’s trials, considers that life would be better for everyone if he had never been born. On the brink of despair, he is visited by his guardian angel who shows him what life would have been like for others without him in it. 

This movie obviously deals with suicide and depression, which may not be suitable for young viewers. But it also deals with hope and human worth.

George Bailey’s redemption arc is magnificent and I always cry at the end of the movie, no matter how many times I see it.

If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and buy a copy for yourself.


Great Christmas Shorts for Kids Adults will Love

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Prep and Landing

Rated G – (2009-2011) – Watch on Disney Plus

When Santa goes out on Christmas night, he needs a lot of help and the Prep and Landing team is there to make sure everything goes smoothly in the field.

You’ll find 3 Prep and Landing shorts on Disney Plus, all very funny and entertaining. The elves are very endearing and worthy of their own full-length film.. maybe, someday.


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Dreamworks Holiday Classics

Rated G – (2011) – Watch on Netflix

If you’re a fan of the Dreamworks movies, you’ll love these four holiday classics. You’ll find your favorite characters from Madagascar, Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Penguins.

Our favorite is the Penguin Christmas Caper and we make sure to watch it every year.


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The Original Christmas Animated Specials

NR – Buy on Amazon

These may have been made a long time ago but their charm has survived the test of time. Show your children these Christmas kids classics and they’re likely to ask to watch them every year.

Get a Christmas collection DVD and you’ll get Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, and others.

They’re absolutely part of the DNA of Christmas here in the U.S.


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A Charlie Brown Christmas

NR – (1965) – Buy on Amazon

This is the very first Peanuts special and it’s just as sweet and charming and rough around the edges as you remember it. It’s a perfect mood piece for the season.

While you’re at it you may as well buy the whole Peanuts Holidays collection. You’ll get A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Good grief, you can’t help but have a happy holiday season!


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The Original How The Grinch Stole Christmas

NR – (1966) – Buy on Amazon

The original animated version of this timeless Dr. Seuss book is still a most cherished movie. You won’t regret getting the DVD for your kids.


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The VeggieTales Christmas Specials

NR – Buy on Amazon

The original VeggieTales animated series is so precious to our family. 

The stars are vegetables, notably Bob the tomato, Larry the cucumber (not a pickle!), and a bunch of others.

They are all super funny, clever, and wholesome with a silly song (with Larry) and a Bible lesson weaved into every show. As a French native, the French peas always crack me up. 

There are several Veggietales Christmas specials, The Toy That Saved Christmas, The Star of Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, Saint Nicholas, It’s a Meaningful Life, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas, and Christmas Sing-Along Songs.


You’ll also love:

But Nathalie, you’re missing a couple of movies on this list! 

Where’s The Christmas Story? (That movie is not my cup of tea. I don’t know. I didn’t grow up with it, maybe that’s it).

Where’s Die Hard? (C’mon! A movie about hostage-taking terrorists with an expletive packed tagline? Nope. Even without those elements, I’d argue that just because a movie takes place during the Christmas season doesn’t make it a Christmas movie).

The Nightmare Before Christmas? (Most would argue that’s more of a Halloween movie. Definitely too ghouly a movie to make this list).

We also watched Jingle Jangle on Netflix last year but none of us liked it so it didn’t make the list. We also watched most of the Christmas prince and princesses movies on Netflix but my hubby will not sit through those. (Although the girls and I love ’em).

I’m sure there are more and I’ve pinned some for me to watch this year or to revisit, but with more than 20 movies on this list already and several shorts, you now have one to watch for every day of December right up until Christmas Eve!

All you need now is to light up the Christmas tree, go grab the popcorn, hot cocoa, candy canes, and a warm blanket and you’re in for a perfect night full of holiday spirit with the family.

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