My favorite holiday films

December 16, 2016

One of the things I look most forward to this time of year is grabbing a mug of hot cocoa, wrapping myself up in a blanket and watching my favorite Christmas movies on the couch with family and friends. Over the years, my family has accumulated a solid collection of holiday films that are now staples in our home during the season - and sometimes even throughout the year. As a kid, my mom would record the movies that were on TV so we could have them on VHS tapes. The quality we get now with DVDs is obviously much better, but I do miss catching the 90s holiday commercials that were included in those recordings (anyone remember this Toy Story one?) It's been fun watching this collection grow with every Christmas, and I'm excited to continue adding new favorites in the years to come. Here are our go-to films to get us in the holiday spirit (not that we need any help in that department). 

P.S. Click on the movie titles for some of my favorite scenes.

There are two types of people in this world: the ones who love Will Ferrell and the ones who can't stand him. When it comes to this film, the latter doesn't exist. Will Ferrell was born to play Buddy the Elf. Also, can we talk about the fact that this movie has been out for THIRTEEN years?!

Admit it: at some point during your childhood, you fantasized about accidentally being left home alone to do as you pleased while your family wallowed in guilt for leaving you behind. No shame in Macaulay Culkin's game.  

This film, written and directed by Nancy Meyers (AKA my female film industry idol) is one of my favorites not just during the holiday season, but all year round. It's a fun, charming, feel-good story - with a great cast - that can instantly make even the gloomiest of days better. Plus, the homes and scenery in the movie are stunning.

The only romantic comedy my dad actually enjoys watching every Christmas, this film about a group of Londoners navigating love, loss, sex and careers during the holidays is full of dry British humor (the best kind) and some major tugs-at-the-heartstrings moments. As if that isn't enough, the film score is absolutely beautiful, as can be heard in the clip above

Just as Will Ferrell was born to play Buddy the Elf, Jim Carrey was born to play The Grinch. I laugh out loud every single time I watch this, and the older I get, the more I find myself relating to the Grinch ("dinner with me? I can't cancel that again.") 

It's a Wonderful Life

My parents used to play this 1940s film for me and my sister to remind us that everyone has a purpose, the most important things in life aren't things, and that life is a beautiful gift. It's an oldie but goodie with the sweetest message of all. 

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are hilarious and lovable as a happy couple ... with insane families. Caught red-handed trying to escape to Fiji for the holidays, they're forced to face all four of their divorcee parents on Christmas Day. Cue disaster.

You can never go wrong with 1990s Mara Wilson (AKA Matilda) but in this film, she is at her absolute cutest. Richard Attenborough is the perfect Santa and NYC is the perfect backdrop  in this story about believing in good ole' St. Nick.

There's a reason they play this movie for 24 hours every Christmas: it's an all-American classic. From the iconic scenes still famous to this day to the genius writing and hilarious narrating, it's a movie we never, ever go without watching on Christmas Day. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a workaholic father who keeps letting his kid down after missing important events and milestones. After promising his son that "Santa" will get him the action figure that he wants for Christmas, he sets off on a quest all over snowy Minnesota to find one ... only to realize they're sold out everywhere. Hilarity ensues once comedian Sinbad enters the story as an angry postal worker who becomes Schwarzenegger's competition.

Growing up in South Florida, I never understood people who wanted to spend their Christmas in the tropics since I always wished it would get cold and snow. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are hilarious as a couple that tries to get away with skipping Christmas by going on a cruise, only to realize their holiday-crazed neighbors won't let them go without a fight. 

Every time I watch this, I'm even more amazed at how much the animated character Tom Hanks voices actually looks like Tom Hanks. This movie, based on the classic story, reminds us that believing is seeing.

Ah, Tim Allen's original Christmas movie debut. While spending Christmas Eve with his son, grumpy divorcee Scott accidentally startles an imposter (AKA Santa) to his death, and finds that he must take on the role of Santa himself. You break it, you buy it ... ?

Chevy Chase plays an optimistic yet short-tempered father who just wants his family to have a perfect Christmas ... which basically means that's the opposite of how it's going to go.

I love watching this movie knowing it was one of my mom's favorites when she was a kid. This 1970 film about the story of Saint Nicholas is so cute despite its now very outdated animation. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman

Two more classics straight out of the 1960s. Even though I find myself laughing at how cheesy these are, I still think this Rudolph is adorable and I still get sad every time Frosty turns into a puddle (but, as with almost every Christmas movie, there's a happy ending). 

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