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Here are the 80 best Christmas movies of all time for the holidays

Cue the Christmas movie marathon! These classic films are a surefire way to get you and the whole family into the holiday spirit this season.
Find the most famous holiday movies to stream, Christmas films for kids and more to watch with's 2019 Christmas movie guide.
Find the most famous holiday movies to stream, Christmas films for kids and more to watch with's 2019 Christmas movie guide.Getty Images/Alamy
/ Source: TODAY

The 2021 holidays are here. It's the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a good Christmas movie to get you and your family in the spirit of the season.

But with so many to choose from, what holiday film do you watch?

We've got you covered with our guide of the greatest Christmas films of all time. From Christmas movies on Netflix to old family favorites, our list has got you covered. The TODAY anchors and co-hosts even weighed in, picking their personal favorites from our list.

Sure, there are a few you may not consider Christmas films or maybe a few you never even heard of. And while the surprising top spot for number one may prove to be controversial, one thing is clear: Many of the holiday film titles on this list will give you seasonal cheer whether it's your first or 100th time watching.

So, curl up on the couch, get out the peppermint bark or caramel covered popcorn, and put on one of these 80 greatest Christmas movies of all time.

Here are the 80 best Christmas movies of all time:

80. "Office Christmas Party"

Alamy Stock Photo

Filled with wild, drunken office antics and sibling rivalry, this Christmas comedy fits its R-rating. “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston plays a CEO trying to gain the business of a financial giant to save her company while her brother, played by T.J. Miller, throws a party likened to “Animal House.” What could go wrong?

79. "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (1974 TV special)

christmas movies for kids

This sweet animated TV special reminds us all of the true spirit of Christmas. When Santa vows to skip over a town because he feels insulted, a family works together to bring him back around.

78. "Love Hard"

"Love Hard"
"Love Hard"Netflix

A Los Angeles journalist (Nina Dobrev) flies to the East Coast to surprise her crush for the holidays, but finds she's been catfished in this 2021 Netflix release.

77. "The Princess Switch"

Netflix holiday lineup
"The Princess Switch"Netflix

Vanessa Hudgensstars as a Chicago baker and a soon-to-be princess who discover they're twins, and hatch a scheme to trade places.

76. "Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square"


Regina (Christine Baranski) comes back to her hometown to evict everyone and sell the land to a mall developer, just as Christmas is coming. But Dolly Parton may just have a way to change her mind.

75. "The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two"

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are back as Santa and Mrs. Claus for a whole new adventure, along with siblings Kate and Teddy, who saved Christmas last time. This time, however, Belsnickel threatens to end Christmas for good.

Joe Lederer / fotojo

74. "The Christmas Chronicles"

Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce pair up with Santa Claus for this high-flying adventure from the makers of "Harry Potter" and "Home Alone."

73. "A Bad Moms Christmas"

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STX Entertainment

As a sequel to the 2016 film "Bad Moms," this 2017 movie follows three moms through comedically relatable story lines of dealing with their own mothers during the holiday season. Due to its R-rating, this might have to be one just for the adults.

72. "200 Cigarettes"

Paul Rudd In '200 Cigarettes'
Archive Photos / Getty Images

We had to have one New Year's Eve film on our list of holiday films, and what pick is better than "200 Cigarettes," the 1999 film that follows a group of 20-somethings who wander around New York City before they all converge at the same party? Starring a pre-"Almost Famous" Kate Hudson, brothers Ben and Casey Affleck and "Now and Then" costars Gaby Hoffman and Christina Ricci, the star-studded film is the perfect treat for an NYE in.

71. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

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While many don't consider the Harry Potter films part of the Christmas canon, the holiday scenes in the films are usually some of the most powerful, showing Harry’s isolation and his vulnerability. We dare you not to cry when Harry realizes during his first Christmas at Hogwarts that he has presents. So while many may not consider them Christmas films, we think J.K. Rowling's wizarding world are chock-full of enough Yuletide charm to give it a spot on our list.

70. "Bad Santa 2"

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Filled with hatred and an alcohol addiction, Billy Bob Thornton’s character teams up with his old sidekick to rob a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Joined by an estranged mother, the trio navigates an unexpected feeling of humanity in this rated-R drama.

69. "Metropolitan"

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The comedic love story follows a young, radical group of upper-class New Yorkers who meet to discuss societal issues, giving us a peek into how the other half live during the holidays.

68. "Arthur Christmas"

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Sony Pictures

This 2011 movie might be a recent addition to the Christmas pantheon, but the heart-warming story and classic themes about family and selflessness make it feel like a classic. With an all-star cast and clever animation, it’s a great Christmas film for the whole family.

67. "I'll Be Home for Christmas"

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When a college student is lured home for Christmas by his father offering him a classic Porsche, bullies throw him off course, complicating his plan and reminding him of the true meaning of the holiday. The late 1990s comedy is sure to keep you entertained. Where to stream: Disney+

66. "Anna and the Apocalypse"

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Christmas. Zombie. Musical. Need we say more? This 2017 film is for sure not on many lists, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to be. Following a group of high schoolers who sing and dance their way through an apocalypse at Christmas time, this new addition will make a frighteningly freaky addition to your holiday lineup this year. Where to stream: Hulu

65. "Serendipity"

romantic holiday films
(C)Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection / (C)Miramax/Courtesy Everett Colle

Feel the magic of a winter-time New York City love story with "Serendipity," which follows star-crossed lovers who tested fate, knowing destiny would bring them back together if it was meant to be.

64. "Christmas, Again"

When a heartbroken Christmas tree salesman returns to New York City, wanting to put his past behind him, his life is saved by those around him. The uplifting tale is sure to remind you to value your community.

63. "Happy Christmas"

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Magnolia Pictures

Considered to be a serious comedy, this 2014 Christmas film starring Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham truly shows the way life, exploring the challenges of raising a toddler as crises and irresponsible family members come into the picture. Where to stream: Tubi, Crackle

62. "A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas"

Christmas is smokin'
Warner Bros.

As the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series, the rated-R film followed the pair’s adventure to find a new Christmas tree after the original is destroyed. This 2011 Christmas comedy is sure to keep you laughing.

61. "A Christmas Tale"

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Alamy Stock Photo

The tale of family overcoming obstacles during the holiday season starts when the family matriarch asks her children and grandchildren to see if they are eligible to become bone marrow donors after discovering she has leukemia. What unfolds next is some deep family friction and trauma.

60. "A Mom for Christmas"

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When a department store mannequin comes to life, so does a young girl’s Christmas wish of getting a mom. This feel-good movie pulls at the importance of family during the holiday season.

59. "Joyeux Noel"

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Alamy Stock Photo

An epic war drama might not seem like Christmas fare, but this 2006 French film is full of peace, goodwill and a message about how humanity is always essentially good, even in the darkest of times. Based on a true story, it’s the perfect way to add a bit of history to a holiday marathon.

58. "The Man Who Invented Christmas"

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This story behind the story of how Charles Dickens conjured up the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol" is seriously a delight for all ages, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the timeless yuletide tale. Where to stream: Showtime

57. "Holiday Affair"

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Aging well with time, "Holiday Affair" has found its place in the holiday movie scene despite its unfavorable 1949 release. The black-and-white film is full of romantic complications and is definitely worth the watch.

56. "Black Christmas"

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Alamy Stock Photo

This horror-thriller is getting a 2019 remake, but the 1974 original still stands up. A house full of sorority sisters are ready for the holidays, but someone is trying to get in… and it’s not Santa. The movie is rated R, so it’s not the best family flick, but it’s perfect for anyone looking for a scare. Where to stream: Tubi, Vudu

55. "While You Were Sleeping"

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Sandra Bullock stars in this holiday romance as a transit worker who is mistaken for a coma patient’s fiancée. It is Bullock’s natural gift for comedy that pushes this predictable but thoroughly enjoyable plot along. Where to stream: Disney+

54. "The Lemon Drop Kid"

classic christmas films
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The 1950s screwball comedy starring Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell follows the story of a con artist who has until Christmas to come up with $10,000 in cash after a betting mistake. Cue more elaborate scams.

53. "It Happened on Fifth Avenue"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Romance, secrecy and power struggles ensue when the rich and the homeless both try to use a New York City apartment as a temporary home in the winter. This 1940s-era romantic comedy is sure to bring humor and a nostalgia for the city.

52. "The Santa Clause 2"

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In the Tim Allen sequel, it has been eight years since he became Santa and the elves regard him as one of the best Santas of all time, but his world turns upside down just a month before Christmas. Not quite as good as the original, this movie is still another go-to for holiday family entertainment. Where to stream: Disney+

51. "The Bishop’s Wife"

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Alamy Stock Photo

When an Episcopal bishop loses sight of his family while planning an elaborate cathedral, an angel is sent to help him. Perhaps it is not in the way the bishop wanted, but the tale reminds us of the importance of family during the Christmas season.

50. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)

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Universal Pictures

Jim Carrey brings the Grinch to life in this live action adaption of the classic Dr. Seuss tale. In a movie perfect for everyone in the family, Carrey will have you laughing and quoting the hilarious script for years to come. Where to stream: Netflix

49. "Christmas in Connecticut"

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Alamy Stock Photo

The film is a classic romantic comedy about a single New York City magazine writer who pretends to be a farm wife and mother, but ends up finding love. Though made in 1945, the storyline feels familiar and is sure to entertain this Christmas.

48. "Babes in Toyland"

Enjoy this 1961 technicolor Christmas musical featuring nods to some of your favorite childhood characters such as Mother Goose, which was later remade by Disney. Maybe you will recognize some of the toy soldiers which appear in Disney theme park parades around the world.

47. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

comedy christmas films
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No one is a stranger to the struggles of holiday travel, especially not Neal Page, played by Steve Martin. Follow this hilarious adventure as he embarks on an odyssey with a goodhearted but annoying shower curtain ring salesman (played by John Candy) in hopes to get home in time for Thanksgiving.

46. "Remember the Night"

classic christmas films
Alamy Stock Photo

This 1940 classic is a cross between a courtroom film, road trip movie and romantic comedy, with plenty of Christmas spirit. With the perfect amount of heartfelt comedy and bittersweet romance, it certainly deserves a spot in any holiday movie marathon.

45. "Trading Places"

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Full of Wall Street crimes and schemes, this early 1980s Christmas comedy is unconventional, but still drives home some of the typical holiday values of charity, friendship and love. If you want a good laugh, this should be your pick!

44. "Last Holiday"

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In addition to being a great holiday flick, this Queen Latifah-led movie is a reminder to live life to the fullest every single day. With a witty script, stellar acting, and picturesque settings, this romantic drama is a reminder to never let life pass you by.

43. "Just Friends"

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Alamy Stock Photo

This goofy Christmas story taps into Ryan Reynolds' ability to charm the audience, as it explores a young man revisiting his high school crush. While its adult humor may not be for the whole family, Reynolds' character will leave you laughing. Where to stream: Netflix

42. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994)

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Alamy Stock Photo

This 1994 remake of the classic Christmas tale is the perfect film to get you in the Christmas spirit. Staying true to the majority of the original plot, the script, acting and production has everything you want in a feel-good family movie.

41. "The Shop Around the Corner"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Fall in love with this 1940s classic where two co-workers appear to hate each other, but accidentally fall in love through their anonymous, pen-pal letters. Smart, funny, and touchingly heartfelt, it’s one of Time’s All-Time 100 Movies.

40. "Edward Scissorhands"

unique christmas films
Alamy Stock Photo

Plenty of this gothic romance takes place around the holidays, with some of the movie's most pivotal scenes occurring on Christmas. Starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton in one of the pair's many collaborations, it's a good way to switch up the mood this holiday season.

39. "Carol"

christmas films lgbt
Alamy Stock Photo

This romantic love story features two amazing performances from leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as they play star-crossed lovers in early-1950s New York City. Much of the storyline revolves around the holidays, so it's a perfect and unique addition to any Christmas film line-up.

38. "About a Boy"

unique christmas films, recent christmas movies
Alamy Stock Photo

In an unconventional Christmas movie, Hugh Grant stars as a rich, irresponsible bachelor who invents an imaginary son to attract available women at single parent meetings, until his plans run him into a 12-year-old boy with problems at school.

37. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"

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Alamy Stock Photo

When Robert Downey Jr.’s character stumbles into an audition for a mystery film while running from the cops, he ends up navigating the Christmas season in Los Angeles while in the middle of a murder investigation with some unexpected people.

36. "Four Christmases"

comedy christmas movies
New Line Cinema

Have a hard time visiting two families for the holidays? This couple, played by Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, have it even harder. Follow their funny and crazy journey in this 2008 comedy where they try and visit all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day.

35. "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas"

christmas movies for kids
Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Based on a book by the same name, the one-hour television adaptation originally aired in the late 1970s, featuring the beloved Muppets with elaborate, detailed sets. This is definitely a go-to throwback for you and the family!

34. "Scrooged"

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In a modern adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” Bill Murray plays the scrooge, a successful television executive, who has driven away the love of his life. As the story goes, a series of hosts visit him, forcing him to reevaluate his actions.

33. "Jingle all The Way"

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This late-90s Christmas family comedy taps into the relatable parent experience of tracking down the hottest toy of the season for their kids. The only problem is that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is on a time crunch. Where to stream: HBO

32. "The Best Man Holiday"

comedy christmas movies,
Alamy Stock Photo

As a sequel to the 1999 romantic comedy "The Best Man," this emotional yet heartwarming comedy reunites the original cast, extending their stories and strengthening their bond. In the end, the balance between comedy and drama throughout the plot pays off.

31. "Meet Me in St. Louis"

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Alamy Stock Photo

This classic movie musical is split into four parts, one taking place in each season. It's sweet, witty, and romantic... and includes Judy Garland's debut performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for the ultimate holiday moment.

30. "The Muppet Christmas Carol"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Based on the classic holiday story, your favorite Muppets get a visit from the spirits of three Christmases — past, present and future — and try to guide him through the errors of his ways. It is the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit and remember what it is truly all about. Where to stream: Disney+

29. "The Apartment"

classic christmas movies
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This romantic comedy is a great way to add some laughs to your Christmas movie marathon. Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, it tells the story of a man who tries to get ahead in his career, but finds himself distracted by a love triangle.

28. "Mixed Nuts"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Steve Martin’s character manages a suicide prevention hotline, and learns he's being evicted from his office on one of the busiest nights of the year — Christmas Eve. The 1990s comedy brings together an unlikely group to share a message of community, showing the humanity in them all.

27. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"

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Courtesy Everett Collection

Based on the beloved Christmas carol, this animated story tells the story of Santa Claus and some of our favorite holiday traditions. With an all-star cast — including Fred Astaire as the narrator — and plenty of catchy songs, you’ll find yourself watching this over and over again.

26. "Christmas with the Kranks"

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Columbia Pictures

Excited to finally be alone for the holidays, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis’ characters end up becoming outcasts for wanting to take a Caribbean vacation while their neighbors are determined to win the annual “best decorated street” competition. Then with their daughter unexpectedly coming home, the two have to celebrate the holiday last minute in this PG family comedy. Where to stream: Netflix

25. "When Harry Met Sally"

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Alamy Stock Photo

This classic romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan traces more than a decade of friendship. So many pivotal scenes occur during the holidays that it almost has to be qualified as a Christmas movie, and the sweet messages about friendships and relationships are perfect for the season.

24. "The Preacher's Wife"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston and Courtney B. Vance, this 1996 remake of "The Bishop’s Wife" is an Oscar-nominated film focusing on the struggles of a pastor of a Baptist church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of New York City.

"It’s a tie for me between 'Home Alone' and 'The Preachers Wife.' 'Home Alone' was such a classic, and I loved 'The Preachers Wife' with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. To this day, I can listen to the soundtrack to that movie and it puts me in the Christmas spirit. The music is timeless.” - Sheinelle

23. "The Polar Express"

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Warner Bros.

Take a trip to the North Pole with this 2004 animated movie, which features Tom Hanks in five separate roles. Adapted from the beloved children’s book, this inspiring adventure story is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Where to stream: Hulu

22. "Die Hard"

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20th Century Fox

Add a little bit of action to your holiday-movie binge with this controversial "Christmas" favorite. While we might always be arguing about whether or not it’s a Christmas movie, viewers are sure to love the thrilling story and exciting action sequences.

"My favorite holiday movie is 'Die Hard' because it’s a fun action packed movie, with catchy phrases and based around Christmas time." - Al

21. "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas"

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Some beloved Christmas tales get a Disney makeover in this three-part animated film. Featuring stars like Kelsey Grammer and beloved characters like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, kids are sure to love this inventive reimagining. Where to stream: Disney+

20. "The Holiday"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Tune into this romantic and seasonal comedy as Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz trade places from halfway across the world to run from problems with love, only to find Cupid has followed.

19. "Bad Santa"

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Alamy Stock Photo

Reuniting once a year for holiday con, these two best friends cause chaos as a mall Santa and his elf assistant until one befriends a young kid who brings out his kinder side. This R-rated dark comedy will keep you laughing. Where to stream: Amazon Prime

18. "Scrooge" ("A Christmas Carol")

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Alamy Stock Photo

You have heard the story time and time again, but have you seen the original adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" from 1951? If not, the black-and-white classic featuring the iconic storyline must be added to your Christmas movie lineup this year.

17. "Gremlins"

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Warner Bros.

Make sure you know what you're getting into when buying Christmas gifts this year — or you might just end up like the folks in this film, who end up dealing with zany, destructive monsters on their hands after a surprise gift goes wrong. While many may disagree on the ranking of these films, one thing we can all agree on... isn't Gizmo just the cutest?

16. "The Santa Clause"

Nov 11, 1994; Toronto, ON, Canada; Actor TIM ALLEN as Scott Calvin in 'The Santa Clause'. Directed by Josh Pasquin.
Alamy Stock Photo

When Tim Allen’s character accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit on Christmas eve, he suddenly has a lot of work to do. He must take Santa’s place. Follow along as Allen gains weight and his beard grows white in this 1990s Christmas classic comedy. Where to stream: Disney+

15. "The Family Stone"

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Featuring a stacked cast with names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Craig T. Nelson, "The Family Stone" is that cult favorite holiday film chock full of unlikable characters that are more real than we like to admit, accurately depicting everything we hate and love about the holidays with our family. Especially with Keaton's heartwrenching performance as the matriach of the Stone clan, this unconventional addition to your holiday lineup is a must.

14. "Frosty the Snowman"

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Courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone knows the tale of jolly, happy Frosty the Snowman, but this animated classic is always worth a re-watch. When children accidentally build an enchanted snowman, some of them find themselves on a dramatic adventure to the North Pole to make sure he doesn’t melt, and learn plenty about the true meaning of Christmas on the way.

13. "White Christmas"

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Hollywood legends Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye starred in this 1954 musical film that quickly became a staple of many people's annual Christmas traditions. Featuring the music of Irving Berlin, songs like "Sisters," "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)," and a new version of the titular "White Christmas" all became a staple in the songbook of America. Where to stream: Netflix

12. "A Christmas Story"

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With a 24-hour marathon aired every year, "A Christmas Story" is default holiday viewing. Quotable, classic, and hilarious, the beloved story of Ralphie Parker and his BB gun is sure to please just about everyone.

"My favorite is 'A Christmas Story!'" - Dylan

11. "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

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This may be one of the most creative Christmas stories ever to be told, as Tim Burton spun the usual holiday narrative and gave it a Gothic makeover in this 1993 animated musical that ended up winning the hearts of viewers, both young and old, with its vulnerable characters, beautiful graphics and catchy songs. Where to stream: Disney+

10. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York"

HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK. Image shot 1992. Exact date unknown.
Alamy Stock Photo

Kevin McCallister returns in this holiday sequel. After foiling an attempted home invasion in the first movie, he finds himself once again separated from his family, but this time he’s alone in Manhattan. High jinks ensue, but there are plenty of tender moments to create a perfectly balanced Christmas movie. Where to stream: Disney+

9. "Miracle on 34th Street" (Original)

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20th Century Fox

Put this heartwarming Christmas favorite at the top of your list — it will have you wondering by the end if Santa Claus does indeed exist! Where to stream: Disney+

8. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

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Classic Media

Brush up on the tale of Santa’s leading reindeer by watching this animated classic. Featuring a colorful cast of characters, including an elf who wants to be a dentist and a prospector who can never find anything valuable, and plenty of catchy songs, this 1946 film is a great way to celebrate the holidays.

7. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

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Everett Collection

Things never go right for the Griswold family, which makes this hilarious 1989 movie still relatable for the holidays. With one disaster after another, this Christmas classic will leave you and your family laughing for hours.

6. "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

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Charles M. Schultz / AP

Don’t leave this classic holiday flick out of your viewing lineup. This beloved "Peanuts" tale reminds us all of the reason for the season, and adults and kids alike are sure to enjoy the sweet story and colorful animation.

“'A Charlie Brown Christmas' because I always loved Snoopy and have great memories of waiting for it to come on every year as a kid. My sister and I would sit in front of the television and watch, holding our Snoopies and say, 'Look, Snoopy, you’re on TV!'” - Savannah

5. "Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966)

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Alamy Stock Photo

You won’t be a mean one when you watch this beloved animated film! Filled with catchy songs, imaginative animation and a story everyone knows, this beloved 1966 film is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

4. "Love Actually"

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"Love Actually" is one of the best romantic Christmas films to come out in recent years. WIth its predictable plot and smattering of various plot lines featuring a litany of huge names in Hollywood, there's something reassuring with its predictableness. And who doesn't love an "All I Want For Christmas Is You" musical performance followed by an airport chase? Where to stream: HBO

“Forget just holiday movies... 'Love Actually' is one of the best movies of all time: proving all you need is love!” - Jenna

3. "It's a Wonderful Life"

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Alamy stock

Recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, this 1946 drama usually tops most Christmas movie lists. Initially known as a box-office flop, the movie’s universal message has made it the perfect holiday movie. Where to stream: Amazon Prime

2. "Home Alone"

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This zany, hilarious film about the bumbling burglars who meet their match in a child left home alone while his family goes on a holiday vacation doesn’t seem like Christmas fare, but some unexpectedly sweet scenes will keep you remembering the true spirit of the holiday. Where to stream: Disney+

1. "Elf"

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New Line Cinema

Get into the holiday spirit with this fish-out-of-water tale starring Will Ferrell. Buddy the Elf’s adventures with his New York family are sure to delight the whole family, and you’ll be quoting some of the movies best lines well past Christmas Day. It also features one of the best holiday musical moments of all time, provided by the velvety vocal stylings of Zooey Deschanel.

But above all, Buddy's positive attitude is an inspiration to us all, that no matter how cynical and jaded we all may get, kindness, love and optimism will ultimately champion all else.

Contributors: Kerry Breen, Allison Ingrum, Callie Patteson, Alexander Kacala, Erin Clements