For those who don’t know, Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. Whenever December rolls around, I find myself putting on Christmas music, movies, or specials in the background as I put up Christmas decorations, wrap presents for other people, browse on sites like https://www.bankholidaysales.co.uk/ and just sit on the couch with a glass of Eggnog or Hot Cocoa.
Fair warning: this is not a list of the Top 10 Christmas Movies of all time. You may or may not agree with what’s on this list, but you are entitled to your opinion. I’m aware the list is missing classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, but this is a list of my personal favorites that I like to watch around the Christmas season.
10. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
In this special, a depressed Charlie Brown questions the meaning of Christmas and if the commercialism associated with the holiday has caused Christmas to lose it’s true meaning. Growing up as a child in the 90’s, I enjoyed watching the Peanuts cartoons and movies. Unlike the Halloween or Thanksgiving specials, this one always stood out to me due to its iconic soundtrack, which I have on CD. What’s remarkable about the special is that it makes viewers think about how commercialized the holiday has become, and there’s no question the commercialism of the holiday has increased within since this came out in ’65. That’s just one reason of why this a timeless classic. Even if you somehow went through your life without seeing this, the iconic “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” is something that has become part of Christmas lore, proving the impact this special has in our culture.
9. The Santa Clause (1994)
The Santa Clause came out around the time when Tim Allen’s popular sitcom Home Improvement was on the air. I was about 7 around the time I watched both, and at the time I thought Home Improvement and The Santa Clause had their funny moments, but not enough for me to want to watch them again. Flash forward to my late teens/early 20’s, I gave both Home Improvement and The Santa Clause another chance to impress me. I’ve come to appreciate both the show and the movie, especially enjoying the jokes that went over my head as a kid. This is a prime example of a family comedy, with jokes aimed for both kids and adults to enjoy. I can’t same about its subsequent sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), as I felt the writers for both movies dumbed the plots down for younger audiences. As successful as the franchise is, I’ll always be more partial to the original than the sequels.
8. Frasier: “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz” (Season 6, Episode 10) (1998)
This entry is an unusual entry on the list due to the fact it’s an episode from a sitcom rather than a TV Special or Christmas movie. However, it makes this list because I think this is one of the funniest Christmas themed episodes ever produced. In this episode, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) is out shopping for Christmas gifts meets a stylish Jewish woman named Helen Moskowitz (Carole Shelley). Helen finds Frasier to be charming and asks him to take her daughter Faye (Amy Brenneman) on a blind date, resulting in the two hitting it off. On Christmas Eve, Helen and Faye stop by Frasier’s apartment where Faye discovers that Frasier is not Jewish. Afraid of what her mother would think, Frasier, Martin (John Mahoney) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce) pretend they are Jewish in order to survive the visit, resulting in hilarious incidents that almost blow their cover.
Many will consider the Festivus episode of Seinfeld to be the best holiday themed episode of all time, but I find this one to be funnier and vastly underappreciated. The writers for this episode did a fantastic job and Grammer, Mahoney and Pierce deliver the jokes effectively, making this a must-watch for the holidays, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah.
7. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell is one of those actors that you either like him or hate him. I think he’s funny, but I don’t have a desire to see every single movie he’s in. Elf was something I thought looked childish and stupid until someone convinced me to watch it. It turned out to be one of the funnier Will Ferrell movies I’ve seen, and always find myself watching it at some point during the holiday season. The cast, which included the likes of James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, and Peter Dinklage got along very well with each other and the humor wasn’t overly crude, which makes it a fun Christmas movie no matter what age you are.
6. Bad Santa (2003)
This isn’t one of those Hallmark Channel, feel good Christmas movies that romanticize the holiday. Bad Santa clearly is more aimed for the adult audiences since it’s filled with swearing, drinking, and sex, but still manages to be a funny movie. Billy Bob Thornton isn’t one of my favorite actors, but this (and later his role on the FX series Fargo) made me respect his acting a bit more. This also features the final film performance of John Ritter and the Cohen Brothers were involved in producing the film, so this isn’t a raunchy comedy with the humor of American Pie or EuroTrip.
I initially was lukewarm about this movie the first time I saw it, however I caught it on one of the movie channels on cable a few Christmases ago, and found myself finding it funnier than when I first saw it. There’s actually a plot to the movie outside of a foul mouthed drunk Santa that looks to get laid, and you actually see some character development with Billy Bob’s character. A sequel is currently in the works, but I don’t expect it to be as good as the original.
5. Die Hard (1988)
This one might raise some eyebrows for being on this list, but if you want a change up from traditional Christmas themed movies, Die Hard is a nice change of pace, adding some badass action and excitement to your holiday. What starts as a Christmas Party that takes place on Christmas Eve quickly turns into an intense action film featuring a Bruce Willis, turning him into an action star. Die Hard is considered one of the greatest action films ever made, and most films nowadays take inspiration from the film. It’s worth noting that Die Hard 2: Die Harder takes place on Christmas Eve as well, but it’s not something I’ll go out of my way to watch during the holidays.
Die Hard isn’t your traditional feel-good Christmas movie, but if you want some fun that isn’t a comedy, this is a must watch around the holidays for a change of pace and some good old fun.
4. A Christmas Story (1983)
I’d always seen the advertisements on TBS for its “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” marathon that starts up at around 8 PM on Christmas Eve, but never bothered to sit down and watch the movie, the advertisement was so powerful that there were even custom printed marquees on the store. I didn’t see this until my senior year of high school and after watching it, I felt like I missed out on watching this sooner. There are many moments in the film that are iconic, such as the leg lamp and the “fudge” scene. Darren McGaven steals the show as Ralphie’s Father, aka The Old Man, nailing the eccentric personality and connects to the audience as the eccentric movie dad that you wished you could have. Maybe it’s the simplistic setting of 1930’s/40’s Americana or the fact Ralphie desires that one item on his Christmas list, which we all experience at one point or another, makes A Christmas Story one of those timeless classics.
Recently, a direct to DVD sequel called A Christmas Story 2 has come out, but the idea of making a sequel to such a beloved classic for a DVD cash grab is ridiculous. Stick to the original, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself watching this around Christmastime. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to catch it during the TBS 24 hour marathon. It’s worth the watch.
3. Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (1992)
If you haven’t seen anything related to Mr. Bean, I’ll highly suggest anybody to watch this episode. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like slapstick or not, this will surely rise some laughs out of you throughout.
I didn’t watch Mr. Bean growing up, making this one of those things I missed out on seeing when I was a kid. I first saw this during the Christmas Party for Auto Shop class my junior year of high school and found it hilarious. Rowan Atkinson is one of the best physical comedians to watch, and his role as Mr. Bean is one of the best in comedy history next to Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges. Add in an episode dedicated to Mr. Bean getting ready and celebrating the Christmas holiday and you get a guaranteed holiday classic of non-stop fun and laughter for 25 minutes.
2. Home Alone (1990) & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
This is another one of those movies/shows from the 90’s that I missed out on during my childhood, and again I didn’t see this until my senior year of high school.
Some may prefer the first movie over the second, or the second movie over the first, but I’m clustering them together. While the movies take place in different locations (being home alone versus boarding the wrong plane to New York), it’s evident the story structure and the gags are similar, if not the same, in both movies. The original is a classic, but there’s parts of Home Alone 2 that I found to be better than the original. Not to mention, the iconic scenes with the traps in both are always hilarious to watch and see the bad guys get outsmarted by a kid who is smarter than his age (in most aspects). No matter if you’re a kid or an adult, these are just fun movies to watch around the holidays and are always guaranteed to be playing on ABC Family or AMC.
And yes, while there do exist movies such as Home Alone 3, Home Alone 4, and Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, they fail in every way possible to the originals. If it doesn’t have Macaulay Culkin in it, they’re not worth watching. In fact, don’t even consider 3-5 to exist; you’re better off.
1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
No matter how many times I watch this movie every year, I find it just as funny as when I originally saw it in 6th Grade.
Of the entire National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, this one is my favorite and it goes as far as to outdo the original film. The film has so many moments that are hilarious and that makes this movie an instant holiday classic. There are a lot of memorable scenes in this movie, from the Christmas lights to the exploding turkey that makes this one of the best films to watch. This film will always be funny to me around the holidays, and no matter how many times I watch it, I’ll always find something funny that I hadn’t noticed the year before. And that’s why this is #1 on my list.
Although these didn’t make my Top 10, these are other movies and Christmas themed television episodes I enjoy watching:
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), The Polar Express (2004), Love Actually (2003), How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1965)
Roswell 2×10 “A Roswell Christmas Carol” (2000), The Simpsons 1×01 “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” (1989), Becker 2×12 “Santa On Ice” (1999), Becker 3×09″Dr. Angry Head” (2000), Frasier 1×12 “Miracle on Third or Fourth Street” (1993), Frasier 11×11 “High Holidays” (2003), Seinfeld 3×12 “The Red Dot” (1991), Seinfeld 9×10 “The Strike” (1997), Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010).
What is your top 10 list of favorite things to watch at Christmas? Please share your list in the comments below!