It’s the hap-happiest (movie) season of all.
Looking to kick back and watch a holiday movie with the whole family this year? Whether you’ve got college kids returning home or grandkids stopping by for a sleepover, there are plenty of wintry wonderlands to immerse yourselves in while on the couch. And we’ve compiled the ultimate list of the best holiday family movies with you in mind — these are just as engaging for adults as they are for kids.
While the plotlines of these films lean heavily into stories about Santa, snowmen, and silver bells, that’s because there are unfortunately very few family-friendly films made about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Even though we included Adam Sandler’s animated flick Eight Crazy Nights in our round-up below, save that one for the older kiddos. (In true Sandler fashion, it’s filled with some crude humor.) While Hollywood seriously needs to step up their game and develop more diverse films, there are luckily plenty of joyful, classic flicks about the spirit of Christmas that are fun to watch in the meantime.
Instead of endlessly scrolling through each streaming app on your TV to find something to watch, use that time to whip up some popcorn and pull the cozy blankets out. We’ve got things covered with our favorite family-friendly holiday movies (plus, where to watch them) below. And if you’re looking for even more holiday movie recommendations, be sure to check out our list of the best Hanukkah movies and our favorite Hallmark holiday flicks.
The Best Family Holiday Movies and Where to Watch Them
Home Alone (Disney+)
Home Alone is the epitome of a classic holiday movie that’s fun for the whole fam. When the McCallister clan makes a mad dash to the airport to catch their Christmas flight to Paris, they don’t realize they’ve left behind their youngest son, Kevin, until they’re halfway across the world. So, where’s Kevin? The eight-year-old, played by a bright, young Macaulay Culkin, is holed up inside their Chicago mansion setting up riveting traps to protect himself (and the house) from two local burglars. Enter: Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. After you’ve soaked up this wild ride, you must follow it up with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Disney Plus even has a new version this year!
The Santa Clause (Disney+)
‘Twas the night before Christmas when Santa fell off Scott Calvin’s roof and didn’t wake up. To ensure the rest of the presents got delivered to all the patiently waiting kids around the world, Calvin (played by Tim Allen) reluctantly put on the red suit, got into the sleigh with his son, Charlie, and saved the night. After he returns from the North Pole, his appearance starts to morph…and he’s looking a lot more like Santa with each passing day. His belly plumps and white hair cascades across his jawline and grazes his shoulders. But, it can’t be…Does this mean Scott Calvin is the new Santa Claus?
Jingle Jangle (Netflix)
Forest Whitaker delights as Jeronicus Jangle, a passionate and successful toy inventor whose book of ideas gets stolen… by one of his sentient toy creations. Flash forward 30 years, and Jangles’ store, Jangles and Things, is experiencing financial strain. The bank requests that he invent a successful new toy or they’ll have to take his store from him. Tag along as this inventors’ creativity sparks (and comes to life).
One Christmas night while Santa is delivering presents to an orphanage, a baby crawls into his magical red sack and ends up in the North Pole. The baby, known as Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell), grows up in Santa’s wonderland. As the years go by, his human stature stands out among the other teensy tiny elves and he starts questioning his identity as a true elf. Once he figures out who his birth father is, he heads off to New York City to track him down. Only, things don’t go as smoothly as he hopes. His overly stressed-out father (played by James Caan) wants nothing to do with him. Equal parts endearing and hilarious, watch the magic of the Christmas spirit unfold in Elf.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Amazon Prime)
Ron Howard directs and brings Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas storybook to life. In a film that radiates like gingerbread house candy for the eyes, Jim Carrey shines as the mischievous and vengeful Grinch of Whoville who tries to ruin the holiday for the entire town. Will adorable Cindy Lou Who help the Grinch have a Christmas change of heart forever?
Eight Crazy Nights (Amazon Prime)
After Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” became the stuff of SNL legend, it only made sense that the comedian would make a Hanukkah movie. And thus, Eight Crazy Nights was born. In this animated musical film, Davey is the town party boy who gets into trouble with the law one too many times. The judge gives him an ultimatum: Either perform community service with the youth basketball league or go to jail. That’s how Davey meets Whitey Duvall, an eccentric, elderly volunteer referee with a heart of gold who’s determined to turn Davey into a good guy. Even though it’s animated, this is one where we definitely suggest putting the younger kiddos to bed before watching.
Miracle on 34th Street (Disney+)
If you have kids or grandkids starting to question whether Santa Claus is real or not, stream the 90s adaptation of the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street. When a lawyer (played by Dylan McDermott) and a young girl (played by Mara Wilson) realize together that Santa Claus is real and he’s a man they know as Kris Kringle, they go on a mission to prove it to everyone.
Jack Frost (HBO Max)
It’s tough being a parent — especially when you’re the lead singer in a rock band. Jack Frost (played by Michael Keaton) is always on the road touring, and his 11-year-old son, Charlie, constantly feels let down by his father’s musical obligations. After missing one of Charlie’s hockey games, Frost tries to make amends by giving his son a “magical” harmonica. Whenever he plays it, his dad will hear it, he says. Then tragedy strikes the family when Jack Frost passes away in a horrific car accident. But that harmonica ends up being magical after all. Charlie plays it and it suddenly brings a snowman to life. Jack Frost is back, baby, but this time as three life-size balls of snow. Will the estranged father finally repair his relationships, or just cause a wet mess?
A Christmas Story (HBO Max)
An oldie but a goodie, A Christmas Story is about an average middle-class family celebrating the ups and downs of the holiday season. There are tears, laughs, tongues frozen to telephone poles, mean mall elves, a nasty Santa Claus, and one very 80s-style lamp shade. Embrace your nostalgia and dive into this film for some wholesome family fun.
Jingle All the Way (Hulu, Disney+)
Remember in 1998 when a Furby was the it toy of the season and they were impossible to get your hands on? Perhaps the toymakers took a supply-and-demand cue from Jingle All The Way‘s plotline two years prior, which is about one father’s mad dash to score the sold-out toy of the season for his son. Starring Sinbad, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Belushi, and Rita Wilson, this wild story chronicles the phenomenon of holiday shopping — and we can all relate to it.
What do you get when you mix Disney magic with Christmas and a girl power plotline? That’d be Noelle. Anna Kendrick stars as Kris Kringles’ daughter — as she says, “Christmas runs in my family.” When her brother (played by comedian Bill Hader) crumbles with anxiety about taking over his father’s role as Santa Claus and disappears 48 hours before Christmas, Noelle steps up to save the day.
The Christmas Chronicles (Netflix)
Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn starring as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus? Yes, please! You’ll find them in Netflix’s original flick The Christmas Chronicles. Watch as two lovable siblings (who recently lost their firefighter father) join forces with a hunky Santa Claus and his team of reindeer to reignite the Christmas spirit in their hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, and, in turn, all around the globe.
Black Nativity (Amazon Prime)
Listen to Jennifer Hudson belt out original and classic carols in Black Nativity. After Naima (played by Hudson) gets evicted from her Baltimore apartment, her son Langston (Jacob Latimore) makes the trek to New York City to spend the holidays with grandparents he hardly knows. Musical forces mingle in this film that features a star-studded cast including Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Nas. Trust us: You’ll want to listen to the soundtrack on repeat.
Muppet Christmas Carol (Disney+)
Watch along as the Muppets try to convince a miserable Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Michael Caine) that the holidays are a warm and fuzzy time of year. This adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol is heartwarming, silly, and inspiring all at once.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Apple TV)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include A Charlie Brown Christmas on this list of best holiday movies for the family. Join Charlie Brown on a fun adventure as he tries to figure out what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. This one will warm up the whole family’s hearts.
Switchmas (Amazon Prime)
Any movie starring Elliot Gould is a movie we want to see, and Switchmas is no exception. As the trailer states, Ira J. Finkelstein is obsessed with Christmas. When his family decides to send him to visit his grandparents in Florida over Christmas, Ira is devastated, telling his parents, “Florida is the opposite of Christmas!” So when he meets an equally miserable little boy who is bound for a visit to his cousins in a place called “Christmastown,” the boys decide to switch plane tickets. As expected, each boy realizes that in the end, there’s no place like home.
An American Tail (Starz, Amazon Prime)
This animated treasure from 1986 still holds up as one of the best family-friendly Hanukkah movies available, even though it’s not exactly a holiday film. It tells the story of an adorable little animated mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz, and his journey to emigrate from Russia to the United States. During their travels, poor little Fievel gets separated from his family and must figure out how to reunite with them. If you’ve never heard of this movie, watch the short trailer and try not to well up, we dare you. When the film was first released it was a hit at the box office and became the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film at the time. 35 years later, we think it’s high time for another Fievel movie to hit theaters!