7 Holiday Movies for the Entire Family

By Elise Crane Derby

There are so many holiday films every year it's hard to know which to watch. Here is a list that offers something for every member of the family, young and old, boys and girls, and traditionalist and wild ones. So pop the corn and get a nice snuggly blanket. It's time to ring in the holidays with these films.


polar express is a great holiday movie with tom hankspolar express movie poster
While there are lots of animated/claymation holiday films - "Charlie Brown Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," and so many more - I think "The Polar Express" is the best and most universally enjoyed of them all. It's the story of a group of children and their train ride to see Santa on Christmas eve.

While parents often enjoy the nostalgia of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," their children will enjoy state-of-the-art animation to state-of-the-60's claymation. Not to mention the occasional inappropriate dialogue.

"The Polar Express" is full of oohs and ahh visually and even has some great morals to impart.


love actually movie posterlove actually movie poster

"Love Actually" is the sweetest romantic comedy, possibly ever made. With multiple story lines starring all of our favorite English actors, it explores many relationships in various states. Marriages, siblings, crushes, and all the hoops we are willing to jump through to maintain or attain those relationships.

If you haven't seen it, you really must and if you have seen it you know you want to see it again. This one is probably best for the teenager and up crowd, I'm basing this suggestion on language and some "romantic" situations.


The nightmare before christmas directed by tim burton is a great holiday filmThe nightmare before christmas poster

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is the most original idea for a holiday film ever. It's a mash up of Christmas and Halloween from the mind of Tim Burton.

My daughter has loved "The Nightmare Before Christmas" since she first saw it at 5-years-old, but you should judge for your own child. It is pretty dark in places, well actually all the way through but in a silly way that works for some young children.

It's so good Disneyland uses its characters and music to celebrate Halloween and Christmas in its Haunted Mansion and firework show from October through January.


Elf moie poster starring Will FerrelElf
"Elf" is one of those films you will really fall in love with. Will Ferrell plays a man who was somehow raised as an Elf at the North Pole, and who one day needs to make the pilgrimage to find his birth family. It's best not to examine the details too closely or try and see if the logic works; where would the fun be in that? Watching Ferrell eat is one of the funniest scenes in film - well worth the price of a rental. And the supporting cast is really quite charming: James Caan as Ferrell's father is hilarious.


It's A Wonderful Life is a holiday classic with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed directed by Frank Caprait's a wonderful life poster

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a holiday standard. You'll probably end up watching it at least once during the holidays, without even trying. Even though we've all seen it a million times it's a must see every year.

For those of you who have been living on a deserted island all your lives, this film is about a man (Jimmy Stewart) who gets to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. Seriously, you're missing out on a lot if you haven't seen this.

Just as a bit of trivia, Seasame Street characters Bert and Ernie are rumored to be named for the cabbie and cop in this film, but apparently that is untrue according to Muppet Wiki .

Just For Grown Ups

the ref is a great holiday movie with Dennis Leary and judy davisthe ref
This one is definitely for the grown ups after all the children are tucked in their bed. In "The Ref," Dennis Leary plays a burglar who ends up taking a particularly unhappy couple and their equally unpleasant family hostage on Christmas Eve.

The dialogue is quick and witty and even borders on screwball comedy in some places. Preston Sturges would be proud.

Perhaps not your typical heartwarming holiday fare, but definitely a classic in the making.


die hard is the only christmas action film worthwatching starring bruce willisdie hard
I know when you think of the holidays the traditionalist mind does not go to action movies. I also know there are a lot of people whose eyes roll at the sound of one more Christmas carol at some point during the holidays. Which brings me to "Die Hard." This is a Christmas film insofar as the main character is coming to visit his family for the holidays. The fact that he ends up fighting off terrorists and blowing up buildings is the part that will please some of the less enthusiastic in your household.

To get more movie, theatre, and entertainment recommendations, visit Elise's blog Elise's Ramblings