Flick the switch on the gas fireplace, put the popcorn in the microwave, and pop in a DVD. Just because you've updated a few of your traditions doesn't make you Scrooge. In fact, the time you save by not gathering wood for a fire (and then trying to get the soggy wood to burn) or making your own eggnog can be spent with your family, doing the things that really matter, like watching movies.
No, seriously! The holiday season is about heartwarming stories. Even on DVD you can feel the nostalgia in the room. If you've never made a tradition of watching Christmas movies with the family, this is the year to start. Here's a quick cheat sheet of old favorites and newer stars the whole family can enjoy.
The Year Without a Santa Claus
This stop-motion animated film is about what happens when Santa wakes up with a cold and decides (on his doctor's advice) to take things easy this year. It's the children who come to the rescue and save everything, which makes this film popular with the kids. True, it's not as flashy as more modern movies, but if you have kids under 7 or so, they should enjoy this film.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Of course, the original animated version is much more family friendly than that new-fangled Jim Carrey film. This classic retelling of the Dr. Seuss story has long been a favorite, and even without the crazy special effects of the new version, the story shines. It remains a favorite with many families, and the original is suitable for even very young kids.
It's a Wonderful Life
Isn't there a law about watching this movie once a year? True, the youngest kids in the family won't follow the story, but surly the teens will probably hang out while you watch it, even if they pretend they're texting the whole time. The classic story of George Bailey never gets old, and you can't make a Christmas movie list without this film.
Remember when Macaulay Culkin was a cute little kid? Yeah. Anyway, kids enjoy the story of Kevin McCallister when he was accidentally forgotten as his family left for Christmas. All on his own, Kevin must defend his home from burglars and make his own Christmas. It's laugh-out-loud funny and just the right amount of sweet.
The Santa Clause
Tim Allen does a fantastic job in this film about Scott Calvin, a divorced dad who unintentionally takes over the job of Santa Claus -- to his son's delight and his ex-wife's chagrin. Scott is devastated when his ex-wife thinks he's crazy and therefore terminates his visitation rights, but he still has a job to do. By the end of the movie, you'll believe in magic too.
Make room on the couch and watch a couple of Christmas movies with your kids. You can make your own traditions and create new memories almost as easily as you can get the fire and the popcorn going.
For more great holiday activities:
Top 10 family Christmas movies
Top 10 Christmas activities
Christmas crafts for kids: 6 Easy homemade gifts