Watching a Christmas film with the family is an unmissable part of the festive season.
Years ago, one of the most exciting things to do in the run up to Christmas Day was to make a note of the best Christmas films that were on TV throughout the period.
Of course, with the range of streaming services now available, it’s never been easier to find the films you want to watch with your loved ones.
Here are 10 of the best Christmas films to watch with your family this year.
1. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell’s classic Christmas family comedy is an absolute must-watch at this time of year.
The film tells the story of Buddy the Elf, a human raised as an oversized elf after crawling into Santa’s sleigh as a baby.
As Buddy learns of his true origins, he decides to travel to New York City to find his real father and teach his long-lost family the true meaning of Christmas.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Based on Dr Seuss’s 1957 children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is compulsory watching at Christmastime.
The Grinch, brilliantly portrayed by Jim Carrey, expresses his hatred for the festive season as he attempts to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.
But, despite the Grinch’s attempts to remain unmoved by the Yuletide celebrations, a little Who girl named Cindy Lou attempts to bring the Christmas spirit to the curmudgeonly creature at the top of the mountain.
The story was recently retold in a 2018 animated remake starring Benedict Cumberbatch, another Christmas film well worth watching with your family.
3. Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone is undoubtedly part of the Christmas movie canon, directed by John Hughes with a score from John Williams.
Everyone is familiar with the festive antics of Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, as he manages to dissuade and disarm two burglars after his family accidentally forget to bring him on their annual vacation.
There have been four sequels to Home Alone so far, with a new release on Disney+ in 2021 entitled Home Sweet Home Alone.
4. The Polar Express (2004)
With ground-breaking CGI at the time of release, The Polar Express is a brilliant and beautiful animated Christmas film starring Tom Hanks in various voice-acting roles.
The film revolves around a child, known only as “hero boy”, as he grapples with the idea of whether Santa exists or not.
But, after seeing a mysterious train in his street called the Polar Express, hero boy decides to travel to the North Pole to find out whether Santa is real, once and for all.
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Based on the 1947 original of the same name, Miracle on 34th Street stars Mara Wilson and Richard Attenborough in a funny and heart-warming Christmas tale.
Wilson plays Susan, a little girl who doesn’t believe that Kris Kringle, played by Attenborough, is the real Santa. So, Kris makes a deal with Susan that, if she can have a dad, a house, and a baby brother for Christmas, she’ll believe in Santa.
It’s an uplifting Christmas tale, directed by Les Mayfield with a screenplay by John Hughes.
6. Arthur Christmas (2011)
Arthur Christmas is a fantastic, animated Christmas film with a star-studded cast, including James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie, and Ashley Jensen.
The story revolves around Arthur Claus, the awkward and clumsy son of Santa Claus, as he attempts to deliver a gift to a little girl that his father’s high-tech ship has left behind.
It’s a funny, entertaining story with a good heart that’s perfect for watching with your family.
7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
In this genius Christmas film, The Muppet Christmas Carol features the cast of The Muppets alongside Michael Caine as they retell the classic Dickens novel in the form of a comedy musical.
Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Mrs Cratchit, and Robin the Frog as their ill son, Tiny Tim.
It’s enshrined in festive law that you have to watch at least one version of A Christmas Carol throughout the season. So, why not choose this brilliant, light-hearted take on the tale?
8. The Santa Clause (1994)
Basing an entire film off a single pun, The Santa Clause stars 90s and 00s icon Tim Allen as he becomes the new Santa Claus.
Allen plays an ordinary man named Scott Calvin who, after accidentally causing Santa to fall from his roof, rashly decides to make all the deliveries in his stead. But little does he know that this decision triggers the Santa “clause”, meaning he’ll have to take on the role from now on.
This fun festive film is easy watching for the whole family.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
From the dark and creative mind of Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a brilliant musical comedy that puts a twist on traditional Christmas movies.
In this stop-motion film, Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, accidentally stumbles into Christmas Town. From here, he becomes obsessed with sharing the wonders of the holiday with his Halloween friends.
Although it sounds a bit scary, this film is actually perfect for children, providing a fun and alternative take on Christmas films that will both shock and delight.
10. A Boy Called Christmas (2021)
Many film franchises have decided to go back to basics with an origin story, and so A Boy Called Christmas takes this to the next level by providing the history of Father Christmas himself.
Based on the book by Matt Haig, the story focuses on an ordinary boy who takes his loyal pet mouse and a reindeer on a quest to find his father, who has gone to discover a fabled village known as “Elfhelm”.
This fun twist on the traditional story of Father Christmas is sure to be a guaranteed hit with the family.
Bonus film: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It would be entirely against the spirit of Christmas not to include It’s a Wonderful Life on a Christmas film list as this one has become inseparable from the holiday, particularly in America.
Of course, as a film from 1946, it may now struggle to hold the attention of younger children. But it’s still a feel-good festive classic that can’t be missed this time of year.