Top 6 Family Holiday Movies To Stream

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Have yourself a merry little holiday season by curling up to a cozy holiday movie binge or two. We’ve picked six classics, full of joy to the world that can stay on your must-see list forever.

“Home Alone” (1990)

“Home Alone” holds up more than 30 years after its initial release. In the iconic John Hughes movie that made Macaulay Culkin a star, Daniel Stern’s bumbling “Wet Bandit” utters, “Kids are stupid.” He, of course, ends up regretting every word. 

Synopsis: Bratty eight-year-old Kevin McCallister feels lost in the shuffle of his huge family as they get ready to head to Paris for the holidays. When Kevin accidentally gets left behind, he proves to be the most resourceful kid on the planet, and not as useless as his siblings think he is. This turns out to be extremely painful news for the two burglars who target Kevin’s “empty” home during the holidays. 

Cast: Macaulay Culkin, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern and John Candy.

Fun fact: Culkin’s little brother Kieran appears in the film. He’s now hitting it big on HBO’s “Succession.”

Where to stream: Disney+

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

Any list hyping the best family Christmas movies has to include “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the Frank Capra–directed flick originally performed poorly at the box office, it experienced a much more wonderful life on TV. These days, it’s practically mandatory viewing every holiday season. 

Synopsis: “It’s a Wonderful Life” is more than a guardian angel named Clarence who appears in Bedford Falls to teach George Bailey to appreciate his life by showing him what the world would look like if he hadn’t been born. It’s the journey of a good man who doesn’t hesitate to fight for the underdog. It’s about a town coming to the aid of the man who’d been there for them so many times over the years. Along with the heartbreak and desperation, there’s an abundance of love and joy. 

Cast: Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers.

Fun fact: The real-life inspiration for the story’s Bedford Falls setting is a town in New York called Seneca Falls.

Where to stream: Prime Video

“Elf” (2003)

No shelf for this “Elf,” almost two decades on, this film holds up. The way Will Ferrell throws himself so fully into his role of Buddy the Elf makes this one of the funniest family holiday movies of all time.

Synopsis: Up at the North Pole, an adult Buddy lives with his fellow elves, but it’s clear he’s different from everybody else. He can barely fit through the doors. He’s not talented at making toys. Once he discovers he’s human and not an elf, Buddy leaves the only home he’s ever known to find his place in the world. In the process, he connects with his long-lost Scrooge-like dad, falls in love and brings his own special brand of Christmas spirit to New Yorkers, all while wearing a belted jacket and tights. 

Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart and Mary Steenburgen. 

Fun fact: Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) appears in an office scene.

Where to stream: HBO Max and Starz

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“The Polar Express” (2004)

“The Polar Express” is an epic animated tale people of all ages can enjoy. Back in 2004, the Christmas movie broke the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first film to entirely use a form of animation called the Performance Capture technique. 

Synopsis: A young boy is drawn into a Christmas Eve adventure involving a magical train, friendship and an eventful ride toward the North Pole. 

Cast: Tom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Michael Jeter, Eddie Deezen and Peter Scolari.

Fun fact: Two-time Academy Award–winner Tom Hanks tackles seven different voices in the film, including the lead boy, the Polar Express conductor, the narrator and, yes, Santa Claus.

Where to stream: HBO Max

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020)

Everything is possible in the vibrant world of “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.” It’s a world that blends live-action with animation and CGI. EGOT winner John Legend produced the Netflix original musical and, along with Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan, provided original songs the cast belts out beautifully. 

Synopsis: At the center of this family film is legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, whose inventive ways have seen better days. When his apprentice turns into his biggest rival, it’s up to his equally inventive granddaughter to save the day.

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Madalen Mills, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Ricky Martin and Hugh Bonneville. 

Fun fact: This feel-good musical was inspired by some musical classics like Mary Poppins, Dr. Dolittle and Willy Wonka. 

Where to stream: Netflix

“A Christmas Story” (1983)

Plenty of movies have become fixtures Christmas after Christmas. How many of those movies get the marathon treatment, meaning for 24 hours straight on a loop? 1983’s “A Christmas Story” has that honor. It’s available for streaming as well. 

Synopsis: Ralphie is just trying to get to Christmas without any drama at home or at school. He spends his time wishing and hoping for the perfect Christmas present (in his eyes, anyway): the Red Ryder Air Rifle. He also spends time avoiding a bully. This slice-of-life holiday tale wouldn’t be as iconic without the triple dog dare scene that forced Ralphie’s pal Flick to stick his tongue on the flag pole. Poor Flick. 

Cast: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz and Zack Ward.

Fun fact: The voice of the narrator, Jean Shepherd, is the voice of the man who wrote the 1966 book the movie is based on.

Where to watch: HBO Max 

In the mood for more family films? Keep bingeing with selections from one of our other lists: Christmas Movies Streaming on Disney+ and The Great Debate: Are They Christmas Movies or Not?.

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9 responses to “Top 6 Family Holiday Movies To Stream”

  1. JAY says:

    Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2
    With Kurt Russell
    Both were fabulous.

  2. Diane says:

    My favorite is the one where the little boy’s Mom is dying & he wants to buy her the red fancy shoes for her to wear to heaven. Does someone know the name of this movie?

  3. Char says:

    My favorite is A Christmas Carol, The latest version with George c. Scott as Scrooge

  4. Valerie says:

    What about, The Bells of St Mary?

  5. Tony Laudati says:

    You must include “March of the Wooden Soldiers” with Laurel and Hardy.

  6. susan wolfson says:

    THERE WAS A MADE FOR T.V. MOVIE called Mrs. Santa Claus (I think) starring AngelaLansbury, I was wondering where I could stream it.

  7. Sue says:

    Miracle on 34th Street

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