A dizzying array of new Christmas movies are streamed every year, but nothing captures the heat of the holiday season quite like the classics. Luckily, you can now stream the following classic Christmas movies!
Babes in Toyland
The nursery rhyme that inspired the plot of Babes in Toyland is actually bullshit, and it doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas.
Still, both the Laurel and Hardy (1934) and the Annette Funicello (1961) versions of the toy-based story feature family-friendly comedy that have made them holiday favorites. Adults marvel at the bizarre stories and surreal images, while children enjoy the crazy characters.
The 1934 version (aka March of the wooden soldiers) is streamed on Amazon Prime, free with ads on Tubi and Pluto TV, and free on Hoopla through many local libraries.
You can check out the 1961 version on Disney +.
The desire to be left alone at Christmas is pretty common, and it’s all 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) wants when his suburban home is overrun by his loud, obnoxious extended family.
Of course, after being accidentally left behind when his whole family goes on vacation, his relief quickly turns to fear. Not only does he have to fend for himself, but Kevin also deals with a few burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who try to break into his house.
Home alone features a parade of slapstick violence that would kill real burglars many times over. But it’s also sweet and crazy, and features one of the best performances of all time by a child actor.
You can stream Home alone on Disney +.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It took Jim Carrey’s manic energy to successfully capture Dr. Seuss’s grumpy green Christmas horror in live action. This version eventually topped the 1966 animated TV special starring Boris Karloff.
Carrey really throws herself into the role. As he conspires to sabotage Christmas in the wholesome village of Whoville, the old Grinch’s heart eventually turns three bars, thanks to the holiday spirit. However, this version of the Grinch remains weird and obnoxious even after embracing Christmas. It is this eccentric energy that has been appreciated over time.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas streams on Netflix.
It’s a wonderful life
Perhaps the first film to establish itself as a Christmas viewing tradition, in Frank Capra’s 1946 fable, James Stewart stars as the desperate banker George Bailey. After showing what the world would be like without him, Bailey considers throwing himself off a bridge.
It sounds pretty depressing but, true to the title, It’s a wonderful life is a celebration of generosity and unselfishness, and a reminder that even when life is tough, it’s still great.
It’s a wonderful life streams on Amazon Prime.
Miracle on 34th Street
Is Santa Claus real? A court rules the question in this family vacation classic, starring Edmund Gwenn (who won an Oscar for his performance) as a New York City Macy’s department store Santa.
This particular Santa claims he’s the genuine article and ultimately a judge has to weigh up when management tries to get poor Kris Kringle to commit. Thanks to some kind-hearted adults (and a little Christmas magic), a little girl’s faith in Santa is reinforced along with the mood of the season.
Miracle on 34th Street streams on Disney +.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Of the many, many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ beloved novel, A Christmas songsurprisingly, the version featuring the Muppets is one of the closest versions to the source material. While it features a cast of mostly anthropomorphic animal dolls (and whatever Gonzo is), it’s a classic for a reason.
Michael Caine stars as the Christmas hater, Ebenezer Scrooge, and brings some gravitas to the role alongside Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the other Muppets in supporting characters. It may not be the best of the Muppet movies, but it’s a great way to introduce the little ones to the characters. The well-known holiday story is the perfect entry into their weird little world.
The Muppet Christmas Carol streams on Disney +.
The nightmare Before Christmas
A movie with the word “nightmare” in its title doesn’t seem to be a Christmas favorite. However, this stop-motion animated film, produced and conceptualized by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, has become a staple of both Christmas and Halloween.
The plot follows a Christmas-loving creep named Jack Skellington. Despite his sometimes macabre images, The nightmare Before Christmas is warm and cheerful at the core. Danny Elfman’s memorable songs and Burton’s creative designs unite mopey goths and cheerful extroverts.
The nightmare Before Christmas streams on Disney +.
This dark comedy starring Denis Leary as a fugitive in hiding with a bickering upper-class couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) was a box office bust. However, since its release, it has become a favorite vacation spot, thanks to the perfect balance of cynicism and sentiment.
It’s rude and sarcastic, but in the end, it embraces the joy of the holidays. With a bit of adultery, drunkenness and blackmail.
The Ref streams for free on Hoopla through many local libraries.
Tim Allen launched a franchise with this comedy about a grumpy suburban father who accidentally causes Santa’s death. He is then magically recruited to become the new Santa. Despite its somewhat gruesome setup, Santa is a sweet, sitcom-like story.
The divorced, career-minded dad is forced to shift his priorities and reconnect with his young son, while proving to the world that Santa is still relevant. In addition, Tim Allen gets fat and gets a huge white beard.
Santa streams on Disney +.
A showcase for Irving Berlin’s iconic song, this classic musical stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of army friends launching a successful musical act after WWII. They also fall for a pair of singing sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen).
All four spend the holidays performing at a Vermont inn owned by the men’s former commander. With values that still resonate (along with that ever-present craving for snow at Christmas), this film celebrates the true spirit of the season.
white Christmas streams on Netflix.