The holidays mean family comes to visit, which means your house is extra crowded and you experience what it would be like to have nine kids under the age of 6. While that sounds, uh, cozy, that many kids in one room means holiday movies might just be your saving grace. Silent night takes on a whole new meaning when your sister’s kids are in town.
So, if you find yourself needing to entertain a ton of tykes while you trim the tree, prepare a big holiday meal or wrap presents, check out one of these classic holiday movies available on streaming platforms Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and iTunes.
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet’s rendition of the classic Christmas story by Charles Dickens is whimsical and fun, narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat and starring Michael Caine as Scrooge. There are many, many amazing songs you’ll be singing until Valentine’s Day and brand-new Muppet characters to love (the very large absentminded spirit is our favorite.) You can’t watch this and not be in the Christmas spirit!
The Muppet Christmas Carol, $3.99 at Amazon
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas
From creator Charles Schulz, beloved Charlie Brown does it again, this time learning what the meaning of Christmas is. This timeless special has won a Peabody Award and an Emmy and will warm your heart as you watch Charlie Brown and the gang try to put on a holiday play and learn a few lessons along the way. Charlie Brown’s piddly Christmas tree will teach you it’s amazing what a little love can do, and Snoopy’s antics will leave you giggling. This is a movie for ages 2 to 102, whether you have Charlie Brown’s holiday woes or Linus’s unwavering Christmas spirit.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, $12.99 at Amazon
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This remake of the beloved animated Dr. Seuss story stars Jim Carrey as the abominable Grinch, who detests Christmas and terrorizes the town of Whoville, determined to ruin Christmas once and for all by stealing it from the unsuspecting Who’s. The soundtrack features songs by Busta Rhymes, The Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds, Smash Mouth and more. Carrey has a ridiculous number of hilarious one-liners, like when he bites into a glass bottle, then wonders aloud, “Am I just eating because I’m bored?” Truly a Christmas classic, this remake will make your heart grow three sizes.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, available at Netflix
4. Miracle on 34th Street
Who can forget this enchanting remake that poses the quintessential holiday question: Do you believe in Santa Claus? Starring familiar faces Richard Attenborough (yes, older brother of renown naturalist and narrator of all things BBC, David Attenborough) Mara Wilson of Matilda, Dylan McDermott of American Horror Story and Elizabeth Perkins of Weeds. The film tells the story of an old man hired at Macy’s who claims to be the Kris Kringle, is declared insane, put on trial and, in the process, restores everyone’s faith in the good in people. After a pivotal scene in which bag after bag of mail is dumped on the judge’s desk to prove Kris really is Santa Claus, this might be a choice moment to work on the kids’ letters to Santa.
Miracle on 34th Street, available at Hulu
Starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel, this holiday gem will have the whole family laughing with it’s hilarious (and extremely quotable) one-liners and perfectly lifts your spirits with its sweetness, humor and all-around innocence. Fair warning, though. You will be hearing “Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?” from your kids nonstop, and they might try to convince you to make Buddy’s spaghetti for dinner — that is, spaghetti covered in maple syrup, chocolate and sprinkles. Truly hysterical for kids and adults (would you expect anything else from Will Ferrell?), your kids will pee themselves laughing.
Elf, $3.99 at Amazon
6. The Polar Express
Based on the utterly gorgeous book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, this movie tells the story of a young boy who wasn’t sure he believed in Santa until he was whisked away on Christmas Eve night to the North Pole and received the first gift of Christmas from Santa himself. Starring the vocal talents of Tom Hanks as pretty much every character — seriously, his IMDb credits for this movie say, “Hero Boy / Father / Conductor / Hobo / Scrooge / Santa Claus.” This is a perfect holiday film the whole family will enjoy.
The Polar Express, $3.99 at Amazon
7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Rudolph. Sam the snowman (Burl Ives) tells us the story of a young red-nosed reindeer who, after being ousted from the reindeer games because of his beaming honker, teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. They run into an abominable snowman and an island of misfit toys, and Rudolph saves Christmas by leading Santa’s sleigh threw a blizzard. But you already knew that. Also featuring the voices of Larry D. Mann as Yukon Cornelius and Billie Mae Richards as Rudolph, this is a fan favorite that’s sure to be watched year after year.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, available at YouTube
An 8-year-old farm girl who marches to her own beat nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa’s in this heartrending movie starring Sam Elliott and Cloris Leachman. This spunky little girl and her reindeer are the epitome of Christmas spirit and believing in the unbelievable. Sam Elliott is amazing as the girl’s bitter widowed father who tries to sell the reindeer to a local butcher as a Christmas display, and the little girl, played by Rebecca Harrell Tickell in her breakthrough performance, will have you laughing, crying and rooting for the underdog.
Prancer, $3.99 at Amazon
9. White Christmas
A feel-good star-studded musical with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. The singers all team up to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont, where they run into the boys’ commander from World War II, who they learn is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza. As you do. This movie has heart and soul and will have you in awe of the costumes, musical numbers and sets.
White Christmas, available at Netflix
10. Frosty the Snowman
Another oldie but goodie, Frosty the Snowman tells the story behind the song. In a school on Christmas Eve, a teacher hires an inept magician (because why not) to entertain the children for their class Christmas party. After failing his first trick, he throws his hat away, and the children go to play outside, where they build a snowman. The magician’s hat is placed on the snowman’s head, and the rest is history.
Frosty the Snowman, $3.99 at Amazon
11. The Santa Clause
When Santa falls off a roof on Christmas Eve, an unsuspecting dad named Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) unwittingly becomes the new Santa when he puts on Santa’s suit. He is taken to the North Pole, where he must step up to the plate and begrudgingly become Santa Claus. His son, Charlie, is proud of his dad’s new job, though Scott’s convinced it’s a dream — until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably and he suddenly can’t stop eating junk food. Now that he’s accepted it, there’s just one problem: how to keep it secret from his disbelieving family.
The Santa Clause, $3.99 at iTunes
12. Home Alone
This classic Macaulay Culkin film about 8-year-old Kevin McCallister proves a) the ingenuity and resourcefulness of kids and b) those robbers must have been newbies. When Kevin is left home alone (I see what they did there) as his family rushes off on Christmas vacation, instead of freaking out, he successfully defeats two burglars who try to break into his house. On the downside, if you’re going to show your kids this movie, expect your house to be booby-trapped. A lot.
Home Alone, $3.99 at iTunes