• How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

    When I was growing up, How the Grinch Stole Christmas came on TV every year. It was a magical 30 minutes of story, song, and heart.

    Based on the Dr. Suess book, the Grinch is a hateful curmudgeon who lives on a mountain above Whoville and can’t stand the Whos and their Christmas celebrations.

    The Grinch decides to steal Christmas from the Whos, but doesn’t realize that it’s not about the stuff for them and they continue to sing and celebrate. When it sinks in, the Grinch has a literal change of heart and returns the Christmas items to the Whos, who forgive him.

    The message is powerful and the whole experience is so memorable. The poetry and songs are the perfect bow that keeps the whole package together. The animation holds up even though it is quite old now. This one is required at Christmas time and usually gets more than one viewing.

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    Available to rent/buy from these locations


  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

    Chuck and his merry group of misfits sure know how to party. Except that the Christmas season has arrived and Charlie is depressed. Nothing is going the way he would like.

    After visiting Lucy’s doctor office/stand, she tells him to direct a Christmas play. Things do not work out so great at rehearsals, so Charlie decides to get a Christmas tree for the play.

    Charlie picks a sapling and everyone ridicules him for his choice. He’s even more depressed until his friends come through and decorate the little tree.

    Sometimes the holidays get you down, but friends and family are what it’s all about. This TV production is still great today after 53 years. My favorite part is the music, which accentuates all of the fun of the kids.

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    Available to rent/buy from these locations


  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

    As crazy as this sounds, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this movie before. It’s a shame, because it is quite good.

    The story follows an old man named Kris Kringle who accidentally lands a job as Santa Claus on a Macy’s Day Parade float then is asked by Doris (Macy’s event director) to be Santa in the Macy’s department story. Doris has a daughter Susan, who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, due to her mother telling her Santa doesn’t exist.

    Shoppers are surprised when this Santa tells them to buy presents from other stores and creates enough of a buzz that the Macy’s upper management take notice. It’s not long until some jerkweeds at Macy’s decide to have Kris’ mental health evaluated.

    Things escalate until Kris is going to be committed for insisting he is Santa Claus. He goes on trial and is defended by Doris’ man-friend Fred. Kris is finally let go after Fred shows that the Post Office has been giving him Santa Claus’ mail.

    It’s a really enjoyable movie with important themes. Most of the adults try hard to believe that this man is not Santa Claus, while the children are happy that they get to meet the real Santa. In the end, the adults cave so as not to ruin their kids’ Christmas.

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  • Home Alone (1990)

    This is the ultimate Christmas classic. In fact, it still so popular, Google just did a little throwback video advertisement called Home Alone Again.

    Written John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, the story is a nice and simple concept: family accidentally leaves boy home at Christmas, boy must defend home from robbers.

    Starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, the 8-year-old who is left behind. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are the bumbling robbers.

    What makes the movie so great is there is never a dull moment and every scene is so memorable. The kid watches a black-and-white mafia movie and uses sound clips from the movie later to mess with a pizza driver and the robbers. “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”

    The movie is packed with fun, comedy, and the ultimate goal of reuniting Kevin with his family before it is too late. The robbers are such idiots and it is delightful to watch them succumb to Kevin’s booby traps in cartoon comedy slapstick.

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    Available to stream on Starz


  • Elf (2003)

    Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the elf. He was raised by elves at the north pole, but upon discovering that he’s a human, he embarks on a journey to New York to find his real father.

    James Caan plays his unsuspecting father and Zooey Deschanel is a retail worker/love interest.

    Will Ferrell is lovable and goofy as Buddy. His deer-in-the-headlights, dopey innocence adds extra punch to the jokes.

    In addition to the laughs, the movie also has a big heart and by the end you have a warm, fuzzy feeling. This is definitely required viewing for the Christmas season.

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    Available to rent/buy from these locations


  • Jingle All The Way (1996)

    This is what they call the mother of all guilty pleasures. No matter how bad it should be, you just can’t help but love it.

    It’s got Arnie as Howard, a shitty father trying to buy his son’s love with the hottest toy action figure of the Christmas season. Only problem is that the toy is sold out everywhere as he tries to find the toy on Christmas Eve. Along the way, he encounters Sinbad as the mailman father looking for the same toy. An unhealthy competition develops between them as they race from toy store to toy store.

    Phil Hartman plays Ted, the divorced neighbor, goody two shoes who is always macking on the neighborhood housewives. Specifically, he detects that Arnie is the neglectful husband and tries to swoop in as the nurturing type who’s always there. Liz, played by Rita Wilson, doesn’t buy it.

    There are so many great Arnie one-liners and the pace is excellent. The only real problem I have with the movie is the kid. He’s the most annoying SOB, and he was Anakin in the Star Wars prequel. Any other kid would have been better.

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  • Scrooged (1988)

    Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross, a TV channel executive, in this “modern” retelling of A Christmas Carol.

    While the story is not unique, it adds enough 80s charm and moves at a fast pace to make it a very enjoyable Christmas movie. Murray is perfect as the self-absorbed yuppy asshole, who is visited by three ghosts to show him the error in his ways. 

    I like how the character progresses and how he really doesn’t want to be nice or feel the Christmas spirit. There is a darkness to the story that you don’t often see in Christmas movies.

    All in all, this is one of the best Scrooge tales, that both delivers the comedy and the drama of a conflicted character who needs redemption. 

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    Available on Starz or to rent from these locations.


  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

    Clark W. Griswold is back in this third installment of the Vacation series. This one is a bit different. Instead of going somewhere for a vacation, like Wally World or Europe, the Griswolds stay home for the holidays.

    Written by John Hughes, the comedy works well due to Chevy Chase’s performance of Clark, who pushes every situation to the extreme. From cutting down a massive Christmas tree to putting thousands of lights on his house, there is nothing that Clark won’t take too far, and it is glorious to watch.

    Randy Quaid also shows up as Cousin Eddie, the poor idiot who lives out of his crappy RV with his wife, two kids, and big dog that eats out of the garbage.

    As a timeless classic, this movie is required for every holiday season. It perfectly characterizes the situations that remind you of what makes Christmas so great no matter how much goes wrong. 

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    Available to rent/buy from these locations


  • The Santa Clause (1994)

    Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced businessman who has a strained relationship with this son, Charlie.

    The movie starts with Scott spending Christmas with Charlie by burning a turkey and then having dinner at a Denny’s. In the night, Saint Nick shows up and falls off the roof, which sets in motion the transference rule where Scott assumes the role of the jolly old fat man. 

    Charlie and Scott finish Santa’s route for that night and then the reality sinks in that Scott Calvin is the new Santa Claus. He gains weight, his hair turns white, and he grows a massive beard. Charlie is overjoyed by his dad being Santa, but Charlie’s psychiatrist step-dad Neil (Judge Reinhold) thinks Scott is completely insane and should lose visitation rights of Charlie.

    Tim Allen is mostly a buffoon in everything he does, but he manages to convince the viewer he’s a dad who wants to do right by his son. The comedy isn’t overblown and there aren’t too many cringe-worthy moments. While I don’t consider this to be required Christmas viewing, it’s still enjoyable and usually ends up being watched every year when the classics are all exhausted.

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  • The Snowman (1982)

    In 1978, Raymond Briggs created the classic children’s book: The Snowman. It is a unique tale about a boy and his snowman friend told with pictures and no words.

    In 1982, the half-hour animated TV special became an instant holiday/winter classic. In the same style as the book, the story is told with animation and music only; no dialog.

    I remember watching this in grade school on one of those big TV carts with the VCR on the bottom shelf. I liked how mesmerizing and different it was. As a young boy with red hair, I related to the child of the story and wished I had my own snowman friend.

    It’s an incredible 30 minutes of sounds and visuals. The boy and the snowman go on a dreamy adventure of epic proportions involving a motorcycle, flying, and a congregation of snow people at the north pole with Santa. As viewers, young and old, we are happy to take the journey with them. 

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    Available on Amazon Prime or YouTube