20 Best Holiday Movies 2023
From classics to rom-coms to kid-friendly options, we've rounded up the 20 best holiday movies guaranteed to get you in the spirit!
As soon as I pack up my Halloween decorations, I start thinking about Christmas. While I (im)patiently wait for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to actually put up my tree, chances are you’ll find one of my favorite holiday movies playing in the background at any given time after November 1. I’ve put together a list of the most popular Christmas movies, so you know what to put on your holiday movie watchlist.
Classic Christmas movies:
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Sex and the City fans will know this is the movie Louise gifted Carrie. Longtime fans will know that the Judy Garland gem is what launched the Christmas classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
An old man named Kris Kringle steps in to play Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, then is brought to court to defend himself after he claims he is the REAL Santa Claus.
White Christmas (1954)
Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney (aunt of George) lead this classic holiday movie cast. A Christmas musical is a sweet tale which was actually based on the popular Christmas song.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This is an annual watch for many. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is granted his wish to never have been born. An angel grants it and he is able to watch how many lives he changed. It’s a feel-good classic that taught us all how angels get their wings.
Modern Classic movies:
A Christmas Story (1983)
You’ll shoot your eye out! This more modern classic brought us the leg lamp, tongues frozen to poles, and that Red Ryder BB Gun. The tale of Ralphie and his family is so popular, TBS and TNT run it ALL Day on Christmas Eve. So no reason to miss it!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Griswolds (with Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki playing the kids) are back in all their glory for Christmas! If this isn’t one of the most quotable Christmas movies, I don’t know what is. I’d quote one here, but let’s keep it kid-friendly…
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens gets a modern remake with Bill Murray as the Scrooge who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Murray fans will appreciate this reimagining - but you can always choose the original if you prefer.
Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) travels from the North Pole to NYC to find his real dad. Comedy ensues. It’s funny and heartwarming and is another quotable movie. Plus, we learn the four main food groups of elves: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.
Romantic Comedy Christmas Movies:
The Holiday (2006)
Cameron Diaz. Kate Winslet. Jack Black. Jude Law. The two female leads swap houses and *spoiler alert* find love. It’s a Nancy Meyers film, so the locations are fab. It’s sweet and teaches us about the “meet-cute”.
Love Actually (2003)
The star-studded cast seemed to have started the trend of movies that are filled with stars and follow several different storylines that loosely tie together in the end. Featuring the bop “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey, it also made us wary of opening the door for carol singers.
The Family Stone (2005)
Another all-star cast follows SJP meeting her boyfriend’s parents in an idyllic New England town. While it features some really cringe moments, as almost all holiday movies do, it has a happy ending.
John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale play a couple who search for years for each other after a serendipitous (see what I did there?) meeting in NYC. John Corbett, Molly Shannon, and Bridget Moynahan help round out another star-studded cast.
The Hallmark Channel
Basically turn on The Hallmark Channel and you’ll find a sweet holiday movie that will make you smile. My favorites are when an unassuming American gal ends up meeting a handsome royal in a country like Blugrovia, and ends up falling in love and becoming a princess. Wait, did I just write a Hallmark movie?
Kid-Friendly Holiday Movies
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)
I like the animated version of this Christmas classic as it tells the story of the Grinch without being too creepy (yes, I’m looking at you, Jim Carrey!)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
uts on a Christmas play, but his friends make fun of his small tree. If you’ve ever had a puny Christmas tree, you may have named it after Charlie Brown. Everything works out in the end as all the kids join together to sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Rudolph’s origin story, in stop motion! After being ridiculed for being different, Rudolph saves the day with his shiny nose.
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
A group of children build a snowman who magically comes to life with the help of a magician’s hat. He needs help to get to the North Pole before he melts or the villainous magician takes back his magic hat.
Yes, they are Christmas Movies, Movies
Home Alone (1990)
The popularity of this movie kicked off a franchise. Poor Kevin (Macauley Culkin) gets left behind and has to defend his house against a couple of criminals (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Some say the John Hughes film is only set at Christmas and not an actual Christmas movie, but come on.
Die Hard (1988)
Retired NYC policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is at a Christmas party in L.A. when terrorists attack and it’s up to him to save the hostages. Age-old question, Christmas movie, or set at Christmas? Well, it made my list!
Bad Santa (2003)
Do not, I repeat, do not let the kids see this. Billy Bob Thornton is an alcoholic Santa and there is a lot of NSFW in this movie.
It’s a Christmas Horror movie! Enough said.
Honorable mentions that may be on your Christmas Movie Checklist: The Santa Clause, Edward Scissorhands, Little Women, Gremlins, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and The Night Before.