The Ultimate List of Movies You MUST Watch During Holiday Season

Holiday season has officially arrived. 

Since this is the one time of year you can watch all your favorite Christmas movies, you obviously have to take full advantage of the next month.

Thankfully, we're here to help. To ensure that you don't miss any holiday classics, keep scrolling for the ultimate list of movies you must watch during the Christmas season.

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Christmas Story might be one of the older movies on this list, but time hasn't dimmed our love of this iconic film. From the leg lamp, to Randy's inability to move in his winter clothes, to a very strict reminder to never lick a frozen pole, this movie captures all the ups and downs of holiday season. It's funny and lighthearted, and it reminds us that Christmas magic is always possible, even if your mom refuses to buy you a Red Ryder BB gun.

A Christmas Story: Ralphie on the slide

(A Christmas Story via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)


The Polar Express (2004)

We can't even think about The Polar Express without automatically singing the "Hot Chocolate" song in our head. But beyond this catchy tune, this movie actually carries one of our favorite Christmas messages—there's value in just believing something, even if you can't figure out every detail of how it works. Plus, we love that this story brings adventure and just a little bit of creepiness into a Christmas movie, which isn't something we see often.

The Polar Express: santa giving the first gift of the season

(The Polar Express via Castle Rock Entertainment)


Home Alone (1990)

Another undeniable classic, Home Alone is one of the can't-miss movies of the holiday season. Though we're not convinced that young Kevin McCallister could actually hold off two professional thieves IRL, we love watching him pull off this incredible feat in the film. Plus, this movie actually holds a nice reminder about the importance of family, even when spending so much time with them over the holidays drives you crazy. And if you need more Kevin, follow up this movie with its equally-funny sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. 

Home alone: kevin screaming

(Home Alone via Hughes Entertainment)


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

If you're a big Nightmare Before Christmas fan, you've probably already checked this film off your holiday list. Considering it's a combo between Halloween and Christmas, it's best-watched earlier in the season. But we still had to add it to our list, since even Jack Skellington—the Pumpkin King himself—can't escape the magic of Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington dressed as Santa gives a gift to a child

(The Nightmare Before Christmas via Touchstone Pictures)


Elf (2003)

Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color? Although this film veers more towards a comedy than other holiday movies, it's definitely one of our favorites. Not only is it super-quotable and hilarious, it also has the perfect dose of heartwarming relationships and magical Christmas content. Basically, it's not Christmas unless you watch Buddy navigate the streets of New York City and spread all kinds of holiday magic in the process.

Elf: Buddy eating spaghetti and candy with his hands

(Elf via New Line Cinema)


Love Actually (2003)

Ugh, our hearts hurt just thinking about this beautiful Christmas movie. The entire point of the film is captured in the last sentence of the opening monologue: "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." Beyond the tear-inducing cue card scene, this movie is the perfect combination of beautiful love stories and holiday storylines all in one—what's not to love? 

Love Actually cue card scene

(Love Actually via Universal Pictures)


A Christmas Carol (2009)

Christmas just isn't Christmas without the classic story of grumpy old Scrooge. Although we know the plot well, we especially love the creepier, darker tone that the 2009 film gives to the story. It breathes new life into an age-old tale, and reminds us to embrace all the magic of Christmas before it's too late.

A christmas carol: Scrooge in bed

(A Christmas Carol via Walt Disney Pictures)


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Though there are numerous adaptations of the Grinch's story, including a new film out this year, we still have to claim the Jim Carrey version as our favorite. Carrey brings a lighthearted weirdness to the character, making the Grinch a little less sinister and a little more quirky. He comes off as impulsive and misunderstood, so when he's accepted by the town of Whoville at the end of the movie, we're actually happy for him. It's weird humor, but we can't help loving it, making this film one of our absolute faves.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Grinch talking to Cindy Lou Who

(How the Grinch Stole Christmas via Universal Pictures)


Christmas With the Kranks (2004)

What would happen if you tried to avoid the Christmas season all together? Well, for Luther and Nora Krank, skipping Christmas is the wrong move. This movie poses an interesting question about just how much time we spend on Christmas and whether it's all worth it, but mostly it's just a hilariously funny, light-hearted film that we love to break out during the holidays.

Christmas with the Kranks: Luther and Nora standing outside

(Christmas With the Kranks via Revolution Studios)


Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

While there's a much older, 1947 version of this Santa-focused film, we prefer the slightly newer edition. This movie takes a more serious approach to one of Christmas' most popular traditions: Santa Claus. And if a New York City court can determine that Santa Claus is real, we just might be able to convince ourselves to believe for one more year, which is precisely why this movie is on our must-watch holiday list.

Mircale on 34th Street: sitting on Santa's lap

(Miracle on 34th Street via Twentieth Century Fox)


The Santa Clause (1994)

Another Santa-centric classic, this movie takes a much more lighthearted approach to the icon of the season. That is, if you look past the fact that the story begins with Santa dying after he falls off a roof. Oops. But things can only go up from there, as Scott Calvin slowly adjusts into the new role of Santa Claus, despite having no interest in the job. After this movie, there's also a second and third film you can watch, though this original story is definitely our favorite.

The Santa Clause: Scott and Charlie in a sleigh

(The Santa Clause via Walt Disney Pictures)


It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Unquestionably our favorite holiday movie, It's a Wonderful Life is about so much more than just Christmas. It's a hauntingly beautiful tale about the impact you have on other people, even if you might not fully realize it. It makes us laugh, it makes us cry and it reminds us of the importance of family and friends. It deserves to be watched at least once during the holiday season, but be sure you have a box of tissues on hand when you plug it in.

It's a Wonderful Life: ending scene

(It's a Wonderful Life via Liberty Films)


Looking for the best way to spread some holiday cheer? Click HERE for the 13 best Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer quotes to use as Instagram captions.