Spreading The Christmas Cheer With A Film List To End The Year

Christmas is a major holiday in my family. We have decorations galore, watch every Christmas movie, collect more ornaments, indulge in hot cocoa and candy canes, and on Christmas Day, we celebrate with more movies and a delectable feast.

To say I love Christmas is an understatement. It’s my favorite holiday. I’m a believer in Christmas miracles and holiday cheer; I’ve always wanted to go Christmas caroling, but I have yet to do so. If you’ve seen Dash & Lily on Netflix, it’s fitting to say I share Lily’s love for the holiday. I believe in spreading positivity year-round, but there’s something extra special about Christmastime that amplifies that feeling. I love making other people happy and bringing them joy, especially this year.

Forgive me if I forget any of your Christmas favorites; rest assured, they’ll probably show up in next year’s article. You can bet I’ll be writing a lot more about Christmas movies. Admittedly, I haven’t really seen movies depicting Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, but maybe next year I can make up for that, too. In the meantime, please enjoy the following list, and may each of you have a wonderful holiday season and awesome new year!

Elf (2003)

Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf, wearing his uniform and smiling

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until this film had been out for well over a decade that it came to my attention. How could Buddy the Elf escape my Christmas radar? It’s safe to say that within the last few Christmases, I’ve caught up on my missed opportunities to watch the classic film.

I love how happy and pure Buddy is. He’s funny, he’s innocent, and he really does just want to give everyone a hug and spread Christmas cheer, loud enough for all to hear. No matter what reality throws at him, Buddy maintains the Christmas spirit at a level that reaches those around him, making everyone once again believe in Santa and embrace that Christmas spirit.

Unaccompanied Minors (2006)

Spencer and Grace in Unaccompanied Minors driving airport car being chased by security guards

The 2000s kid in me loves this movie. A bunch of kids, stuck in an airport thanks to a massive snowstorm, at Christmastime. Normally, that would suck, but the group of kids make it look like the time of their lives. Especially when they were going through people’s lost luggage.

At the core of their shenanigans, though, there was a good intention, in that Spencer wanted to give his little sister a good Christmas despite their being stuck at the airport. Spencer and his friends are separated from his sister and the other kids, who have been taken to a hotel, but that doesn’t stop them from evading the grumpy Mr. Porter and his men or from getting to Katherine before Christmas morning.

Frosty The Snowman (1969)

Frosty the Snowman leading a group of kids as he holds a broom high in the air

It goes without saying that Frosty is a Christmas necessity. I’ve watched this movie over and over for years each Christmas. I love the magic of a cheery snowman coming to life one day and exclaiming “Happy Birthday!” As a kid, I’m sure every snowman I made was named “Frosty.”

To this day, I detest the evil magician that was selfish enough to try to take his hat back, thus ending Frosty. He even went as far as locking poor Frosty in a greenhouse to melt. Santa, though, saved the day and ensured Frosty got to the North Pole, so he’d never melt and continue spreading Christmas cheer.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Charlie Brown and Linus looking at a tiny tree in Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown isn’t necessarily feeling joyful at Christmastime, so he takes Lucy’s advice to direct the Christmas play. However, Charlie Brown’s directing is scrutinized and everyone complains, especially when he brings a tiny tree.

I always loved the tiny tree; tiny tree or not, it’s better than no tree at all. Plus, the kids all band together by the end and embrace the true spirit of Christmas. I watch the Charlie Brown specials every holiday; Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Charlie Brown or the tiny tree!

The Holiday (2006)

Iris and Miles sitting together at an awards ceremony in The Holiday

My favorite Christmas rom-com is this Nancy Meyers masterpiece. Both Cameron Diaz’s and Kate Winslet‘s characters have endured awful break-ups, and decide to get away for the holidays. I always favored Kate Winslet’s character and her storyline; her break-up was especially brutal and she deserved a new start.

I loved how she befriended Jack Black’s character, eventually taking up a romance with him, and made friends with famous screenwriter Arthur, played by Eli Wallach. Not only did both women have wonderful Christmases, but they also headed into the New Year with significant others they cared for and fresh starts, which makes it that much better.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey surrounded by his friends and family, with a Christmas tree to his left, in black and white photo from It's A Wonderful Life

I didn’t see this classic until last Christmas, and now it’s one of my very favorites. I admit, as I watched, I kept worrying over whether anything would turn out right for George Bailey. It seems as though no matter what, his dreams are interrupted and he’s forced to take a different direction in life.

The ending makes up for all his woes, though. It really restores my faith in humanity. Everyone coming together to help out George Bailey in his time of need shows that his sacrifices were remembered and appreciated, and they saved him in return, making the film’s ending nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

The Whos surrounding the Christmas tree in Whoville, holding hands in How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I always found the Grinch to be kind of funny. He was so grouchy, he came off as more of a curmudgeonly grandfather type to me. Of course, I didn’t like that he went and stole all of the decorations and presents and food, and even took the ice cubes out of the trays–that was just mean.

Yet, the Grinch made up for it when he returned everything and celebrated with the Whos down in Whoville. His dastardly plan actually led to a happy ending, and his heart grew, allowing him to love and accept love in return, which really is the Christmas miracle he needed.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph with Santa, Santa smiling and motioning to Rudolph in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Every year for as long as I can remember, this was part of my family’s Christmas movie line-up. Christmas isn’t complete without the story of Rudolph, who couldn’t play any reindeer games because the other reindeer thought he was too different.

Rudolph grows up and shows his good character by helping his fellow reindeer, and Santa by extension, when his nose helps lights the way to ensure Santa can make his trip around the world in one night regardless of the snowstorm. Despite their teasing of him, Rudolph still stood by them in their time of need, and even remembered to pick up the misfit toys along the way, and that always meant something to me.

Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas (1999)

Mickey and Minnie holding presents, smiling, sitting on a couch in Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas

I’ve been watching this movie every year for as long as I can remember. It’s one of my absolute favorites. The stories jump from Donald and his three nephews, to Goofy and his son Max, and finally to Mickey and Minnie. Each story carries a valuable life lesson regarding Christmas, and what it’s all about.

I love all the characters and their stories. It’s an essential Christmas classic in my book. I’m a major fan of everything Disney, so I’m always happy to watch this movie containing some of Disney’s most beloved characters.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)

Kris Kringle holding a list, with Topper the penguin, in Santa Claus is Comin to Town

My mom’s been watching this since she was a kid, and she continued that tradition with me and my brother. Every year we laugh at how ridiculous the Burgermeister Meisterburger is, especially in his attempts to trap Kris Kringle and his insistence that no child shall receive presents. He definitely did not possess the Christmas spirit.

I always loved Kris Kringle’s character, and that he befriended the animals around him. It was a cute origin story of how Santa Claus came to be, and included memorable characters, like the Kringles and The Winter Warlock, with catchy songs and life lessons to boot.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Clark and Ellen Griswold in front of their house, with Christmas lights on it, in Christmas Vacation

This is my favorite film to feature Clark Griswold and his family. It’s been a tradition in my family to watch it on Christmas Eve, and only Christmas Eve, for the longest time. We quote the movie throughout the year and laugh the whole way through. It’s one of those movies that’s always funny, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

Poor Clark just wants to have the fun and traditional family Christmas, but his family and circumstances beyond his control just keep causing one disaster after another. Most of the time, he tries to remain positive, but even the traditional family man has his limits on the family time he can take, especially from Cousin Eddie!

The Polar Express (2004)

The Conductor, with three of the kids, watching Santa and his reindeer in The Polar Express

This movie is very special to myself, my brother, and my mom. In 2004, the three of us were going through a hard time, and we saw the movie twice in the theater, one of those times being on Christmas Eve. My brother walked out of the theater saying that he chose to believe, and so do I, to this day.

Growing up is hard, but I don’t believe in shedding your childhood completely. The Polar Express was a big part of my childhood; I have so many wonderful memories surrounding it. Even now, my family and I still collect silver bells, and watch the movie together every year.


I have so many more Christmas classics to list, but I need to save some for next year! In the meantime, may these movies make you laugh and provide you with that Christmas spirit and cheer. It’s been a long year, and it’s time to wrap it up on a high note in the form of holiday celebrations.

Written by Kacie Lillejord

Kacie is a freelance writer versed in various forms. She loves pop culture, screenwriting, novels, and poetry. She has previously written for The Daily Wildcat, Harness Magazine, Cultured Vultures, and Screen Rant, with 25YL being her newest writing venture.

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  1. I saw The Polar Express for the first time last week and I thought it was great. This is a very underrated Christmas movie, and I think it deserves more love. Thank you for including it here

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