Skip to Content

Where to Stream the Best Christmas Movies of All Time (2021)

Ben Bowman

Whether you’re wrapping presents, baking Christmas cookies, or trimming the tree, the holiday is always more merry when you have a great Christmas movie on the TV. From heartfelt black-and-white morality tales to stop-motion animated classics to irreverent comedies, the Christmas movie genre has something for everyone. And nearly every streaming service has a strong roster of holiday movies to keep you entertained. While you will have to digitally buy or rent some of these titles, most are available for streaming. It’s the perfect time of year to try a new service for a month!

Animated/Stop-Motion/Muppet Christmas Movies

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

    December 9, 1965

    In this animated classic, Charlie Brown gets depressed about the overwhelming materialism that he sees during the Christmas season. From Charlie’s pathetic Christmas tree to Linus’ retelling of the Biblical Christmas story to Vince Guaraldi’s amazing soundtrack, no Christmas is complete without Charlie Brown.

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    December 6, 1964

    Some of the best Christmas stories highlight the value of misfits. When Rudolph the reindeer is born with a red, glowing nose, that makes him an outcast among the other reindeer. That sets him on a journey with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and ace prospector Yukon Cornelius, the prospector. As they run from the Abominable Snowman, they find a whole island of misfit toys. In a beautiful twist, Rudolph manages to save Christmas when his unique nose helps Santa in a moment of desperation. It’s another classic pairing of memorable songs and delightful stop-motion animation.

    This hard-to-stream classic will air twice on CBS, but you won’t be allowed to watch it with a streaming service. You can only stream it via the Freeform channel. Consider a free 7-day subscription to Hulu Live TV so you can DVR it starting Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:45 p.m. ET.

  • Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

    December 17, 1977

    When a Christmas Eve talent contest is announced, Emmet Otter and his mother both enter, determined to give each other the perfect holiday gift. Jim Henson directed this Muppet Christmas classic. Singer/composer Paul Williams says Jim Henson told him that Emmet Otter was a “trial run” for a proposed Muppet movie. Emmet was a success, and The Muppet Movie followed two years later.

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

    October 9, 1993

    It’s a Christmas movie! It’s a Halloween movie! It’s two holidays in one! This Tim Burton story combines the DNA of classic Christmas movies of the past: stop-motion animation and incredible songs. The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the spooky tale of Jack Skellington, king of HalloweenTown. Tired of scaring humans with the same old bag of tricks, Jack kidnaps Santa Claus and plans to deliver ghoulish gifts to children on Christmas morning. If you’ve ever felt out of place on Christmas morning, this is the movie for you.

  • Arthur Christmas

    November 10, 2011

    It’s not easy to deliver 600 million gifts in one night. Sometimes, one might get misplaced. In this animated adventure, Santa’s clumsy son Arthur must deliver a present that Santa forgot. But can he make the delivery in less than two hours? Arthur Christmas may have flown under the radar when it hit theaters, but it’s a truly funny movie powered by the excellent work of Aardman Animations (the team behind “Wallace & Gromit”). This Christmas treat features the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack, Andy Serkis, and Dominic West.

  • Frosty the Snowman

    December 7, 1969

    A washed-up stage magician fights a group of schoolchildren for an old top hat after it magically brings a snowman to life. When Frosty realizes he will melt in the spring, he and his friend Karen stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back!

  • Klaus

    November 8, 2019

    When Jesper becomes the Postal Academy’s worst student, he’s sent to an icy island above the Arctic Circle, where the Christmas spirit is in short supply. Jesper is about to give up and abandon his duty as a postman when he meets local teacher, Alva, and Klaus - a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. This new classic was nominated for an Oscar as Best Animated Feature Film. The voice actors are great, including Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack.

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

    December 18, 1966

    The 60s were a golden era for Christmas specials, and this Dr. Seuss adaptation is no exception. The bitter old Grinch hates the Christmas-loving Whos who live at the base of his mountain. So he makes a plan to pose as Santa Claus to steal all the trees, toys, and tinsel in the village. How will the Whos react when their stuff is stolen? Will the Grinch succeed in wrecking the holiday?

    This version will air on NBC on December 25. Watch for free with a 7-day trial of Hulu Live TV.

  • The Grinch

    November 8, 2018

    The Grinch hatches a scheme to ruin Christmas when the residents of Whoville plan their annual holiday celebration.

    You can see this computer-animated Grinch on NBC on December 22. Watch for free with a 7-day trial of Hulu Live TV.

  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

    December 14, 1970

    A postman, S.D. Kluger, decides to answer some of the most common questions about Santa Claus, and tells us about a small baby named Kris who is raised by a family of elf toymakers named Kringle. When Kris grew up, he wanted to deliver toys to the children of Sombertown. But its Mayor is too mean to let that happen. And to make things worse, the Winter Warlock who lives between the Kringles and Sombertown, but Kris manages to melt the Warlock’s heart and deliver his toys.

  • The Polar Express

    November 10, 2004

    When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

  • Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol

    December 18, 1962

    An animated, magical, musical version of Dickens’ timeless classic “A Christmas Carol.” The nearsighted Mr. Magoo doesn’t have a ghost of a chance as Ebenezer Scrooge, unless he learns the true meaning of Christmas from the three spirits who haunt him one Christmas Eve.

  • The Muppet Christmas Carol

    December 10, 1992

    A retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

    Michael Caine makes a fearsome Scrooge in this song-packed classic.

  • Mickey's Christmas Carol

    October 19, 1983

    Ebenezer Scrooge is far too greedy to understand that Christmas is a time for kindness and generosity. But with the guidance of some new found friends, Scrooge learns to embrace the spirit of the season. A retelling of the classic Dickens tale with Disney’s classic characters.

  • The Year Without a Santa Claus

    December 10, 1974

    Feeling forgotten by the children of the world, old St. Nick decides to skip his gift-giving journey and take a vacation. Mrs. Claus and two spunky little elves, Jingle and Jangle, set out to see to where all the season’s cheer has disappeared. Aided by a magical snowfall, they reawaken the spirit of Christmas in children’s hearts and put Santa back in action.

  • Jack Frost

    December 13, 1979

    Pardon-me Pete, the official groundhog of Groundhog Day, tells the story of Jack Frost, who falls in love with a beautiful young woman and begs Father Winter to make him human so that she can see him. His request is granted, but only on the condition that by the spring he has a house, a bag of gold, a horse and a wife. But Jack finds that life as a human is more complicated then he thought.

  • The Little Drummer Boy

    December 19, 1968

    After being kidnapped and escaping, a young drummer boy searches for his camel and finds him in the Nativity of the Baby Jesus. He gives Baby Jesus the only gift he has; a song on his drum, said song being the only gift Baby Jesus responds to.

Classic Christmas Movies (pre-2000)

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    December 20, 1946

    If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on one of the most life-affirming, joyful movie experiences in history. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) has spent his entire life giving to the people of Bedford Falls. All that prevents the villainous Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over the entire town is George’s modest building and loan company. But when $8,000 goes missing, it seems Mr. Potter will swoop in and destroy everything George has fought to preserve. That’s when an angel named Clarence swoops in to show George the true value of his life. If the ending of this one doesn’t make you choke up, you might be a robot. Originally a box office flop, this movie found its greatness in the years to come. This Frank Capra holiday classic is funny, sweet, romantic, and magical.

    This classic will air on NBC on December 24. Watch for free with a 7-day trial of Hulu Live TV.

  • Home Alone

    November 16, 1990

    Oh, how the stars aligned for this Christmas classic! When a family leaves for their Christmas vacation, it turns out they left something behind: 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin)! Being left home alone would be scary enough, but a pair of bungling burglars make things worse by plotting to ransack Kevin’s house. The slapstick booby trap finale is what we all remember, but there’s a lot of heart surrounding the silliness. Director Christopher Columbus gets the most out of a supremely talented cast, including Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, and an effortlessly funny John Candy.

  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    November 30, 1989

    It’s another contender for the funniest Christmas movie ever. The Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going because his sweet Christmas bonus is due any day now. A fantastic cast makes this a hilarious holiday treat: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and an unforgettable Randy Quaid.

  • A Christmas Story

    November 18, 1983

    If this isn’t the most quotable Christmas movie, it’s close. A young boy named Ralph tries to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift. It’s funny, it’s weird, it’s sentimental, and it’s unlike any other Christmas movie.

  • The Santa Clause

    November 11, 1994

    Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) causes Santa Claus to fall off his roof on Christmas Eve. Is Christmas ruined? Not yet! It’s up to Scott and his young son to finish Santa’s deliveries. They travel to the North Pole where Scott learns he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves of his newly inherited responsibilities. Incredibly, when this movie hit theaters, Tim Allen simultaneously starred in America’s #1 movie, #1 TV show (Home Improvement), and #1 book (Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man).

  • Miracle on 34th Street

    June 4, 1947

    Kris Kringle, seemingly the embodiment of Santa Claus, is asked to portray the jolly old fellow at Macy’s following his performance in the Thanksgiving Day parade. His portrayal is so complete that many begin to question if he truly is Santa Claus, while others question his sanity. This beloved story has been remade many times, but this is the original.

  • Die Hard

    July 15, 1988

    The debate is settled. “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) flies to Los Angeles to reconcile with his estranged wife at her office Christmas party. Surprise! The entire building is overtaken by a group of terrorists led by the devious Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). It’s up to McClane to save his wife, rescue the hostages, and bring the bad guys down. This action classic is the perfect way to add some “Yippee-ki-yay” to your Christmas.

  • Gremlins

    June 7, 1984

    Is Gremlins really a holiday film? Yes! When Billy Peltzer receives an adorable Mogwai named Gizmo for Christmas, he inadvertently breaks the three important rules of caring his new pet, and unleashes a horde of mischievous gremlins on a small town. Keep your eyes peeled for some familiar landscape - Gremlins was shot on the same Universal Studios backlot where they shot Back to the Future.

  • The Shop Around the Corner

    January 12, 1940

    Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand one another, without realising that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal.

Modern Christmas Movies (post-2000)

  • Love Actually

    September 7, 2003

    It’s the romantic comedy that sparked a thousand imitations - several seemingly disconnected love stories intertwine at the holidays. It’s sappy and sweet and beloved by audiences around the world. The cast alone is reason to indulge: Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, and a scene-stealing Bill Nighy. Virtually everyone who starred in this movie skyrocketed to bigger things afterward.

  • Elf

    October 9, 2003

    When young Buddy (Will Ferrell) falls into Santa’s gift sack on Christmas Eve, he’s transported back to the North Pole and raised as a toy-making elf by Santa’s helpers. But as he grows into adulthood, he can’t shake the nagging feeling that he doesn’t belong. Buddy vows to visit Manhattan and find his real dad, a workaholic publisher (James Caan). Without this Christmas comedy, we might not have had the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Director Jon Favreau proved he could bring audiences to theaters with Elf, and that led to his chance to direct Iron Man - the movie that set the stage for the MCU to come.

  • Bad Santa

    November 26, 2003

    It’s one of the funniest movies on this list, but not at all child-friendly. A miserable conman (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner (Tony Cox) pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss (Bernie Mac) discovers the plot.

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    November 17, 2000

    Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Whos, an almost mutated sort of Munchkin-like people. All the Whos love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos, whom he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriending the Grinch.

  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

    November 6, 2020

    Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is the world’s most legendary toymaker. When his apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (Madalen Mills) to save the day. It’s a wonderful combination of singing, dancing, colorful costumes, and even some impressive animation. Add this to your queue for Mills’ gorgeous singing voice alone.

  • The Best Man Holiday

    November 15, 2013

    When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be reignited. This sequel to the 1999 classic The Best Man features a great cast: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, and Harold Perrineau.

  • The Christmas Chronicles

    November 22, 2018

    Siblings Kate and Teddy try to prove Santa Claus is real, but when they accidentally cause his sleigh to crash, they have to save Christmas.

    If you like this one, be sure to see the sequel, also on Netflix.

  • A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

    November 4, 2011

    Estranged friends Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) now have very different families, friends, and lives. But when Kumar arrives on Harold’s doorstep during the holiday season with a mysterious package in hand, he inadvertently burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s beloved Christmas tree. To fix the problem, Harold and Kumar embark on a mission through New York City to find the perfect Christmas tree, once again stumbling into trouble at every single turn.

  • Love the Coopers

    November 12, 2015

    When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday.

  • Deck the Halls

    November 22, 2006

    Determined to unseat Steve Finch’s reign as the town’s holiday season king, Buddy Hall plasters his house with so many decorative lights that it’ll be visible from space! When their wives bond, and their kids follow suit, the two men only escalate their rivalry - and their decorating.

  • The Family Stone

    December 15, 2005

    An uptight, conservative businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family’s annual Christmas celebration and finds that she’s a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life.

  • Four Christmases

    November 26, 2008

    Brad and Kate have made something of an art form out of avoiding their families during the holidays, but this year their foolproof plan is about go bust — big time. Stuck at the city airport after all departing flights are canceled, the couple is embarrassed to see their ruse exposed to the world by an overzealous television reporter. Now, Brad and Kate are left with precious little choice other than to swallow their pride and suffer the rounds.

  • Fred Claus

    November 3, 2007

    Fred Claus and Santa Claus have been estranged brothers for many years. Now Fred must reconcile his differences with his brother whom he believes overshadows him. When an efficiency expert assesses the workings at the North Pole and threatens to shut Santa down, Fred must help his brother to save Christmas.

  • Nothing Like the Holidays

    December 12, 2008

    It’s Christmastime and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents’ home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother’s safe return from combat overseas.

  • Christmas with the Kranks

    November 24, 2004

    When their only daughter Blair leaves the family nest, Luther and Nora Krank decide to book an island cruise to beat the yuletide blues and just skip the holidays. But their decision to boycott tradition has the whole neighborhood in an uproar, and when Blair call son Christmas Eve to announce a surprise visit with her new fiancée, the Kranks have just twelve hours to perform a miracle and pull themselves and their neighbors together to throw the best celebration ever!

  • This Christmas

    November 27, 2007

    This year Christmas with the Whitfields promises to be one they will never forget. All the siblings have come home for the first time in years and they’ve brought plenty of baggage with them. As the Christmas tree is trimmed and the lights are hung, secrets are revealed and family bonds are tested. As their lives converge, they join together and help each other discover the true meaning of family.

  • Unaccompanied Minors

    December 8, 2006

    Five disparate kids snowed in at the airport on Christmas Eve learn some lessons about friendship when they launch a bid to get back to their families and outsmart a disgruntled airport official who wants to keep them grounded.

  • Surviving Christmas

    September 21, 2004

    Drew Latham is an executive leading an empty, shallow life with only wealth on his side. Facing another lonely Christmas ahead, he revisit his old childhood home in the hope of reliving some old holiday memories – but he finds that the house in which he was raised is no longer the home in which he grew up.

  • Why Him?

    December 22, 2016

    Over the holidays, Ned (Bryan Cranston) and his family visit his daughter at Stanford, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (James Franco).

Live-Action Scrooge Movies

There are many, many versions of Charles Dickens’ classic story. A mean old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge is the greediest man in town. Confronted by the ghost of his old partner Marley, he’s warned that he’ll be visited by three more ghosts who will show Scrooge the Christmases of the past, the present, and those yet to come. It’s hard to go wrong with this story of redemption. Are you ready to choose your Scrooge?

  • Scrooge

    November 28, 1951

    Ebenezer Scrooge malcontentedly shuffles through life as a cruel miserly businessman until one fateful Christmas Eve when he is visited by three spirits, sent show him how his unhappy childhood and maladaptive adult behavior over has let him a selfish, lonely, bitter old man.

    Alastair Sim is often thought to be the best Scrooge on film.

  • A Christmas Carol

    October 9, 1984

    A bitter old miser who makes excuses for his uncaring nature learns real compassion when three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve.

    George C. Scott plays the famous miser in this version.

  • A Christmas Carol

    December 5, 1999

    Scrooge is a miserly old businessman in 1840s London. One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of Marley, his dead business partner. Marley foretells that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits, each of whom will attempt to show Scrooge the error of his ways. Will Scrooge reform his ways in time to celebrate Christmas?

    Patrick Stewart brings his Shakespearean training to the mean old miser role.

  • A Christmas Carol

    December 16, 1938

    Classic Charles Dickens holiday tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser’s miser who has a huge change of heart after spirits whisk him into the past, present, and future.

    Reginald Owen is beloved for becoming one of the first Scrooges on film.

  • Scrooged

    November 22, 1988

    Bill Murray is hysterical as Frank Cross, a modern-day TV executive who faces those three familiar ghosts. “Scrooged” is definitely the funniest version of this story, and the movie benefits from some great supporting actors like Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, and Alfre Woodard.

  • Scrooge

    November 5, 1970

    The classic Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghost tale told in musical form.

    Albert Finney has a lot of fun playing Ebenezer in the 1970 musical version of the story.

  • A Christmas Carol

    November 4, 2009

    Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption.

    If you’re looking for something more modern, check out the computer-animated version starring Jim Carrey. In this 2009 version of A Christmas Carol, Carrey plays Scrooge and the three ghosts who haunt him.

  • A Christmas Carol

    November 28, 2004

    Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption.

    Kelsey Grammer took a musical stab at Scrooge in this 2004 version of the story. Check it out if you’d like to hear the songs that once played on Broadway.

If you don’t see your favorite in this list, simply search for your movie in the search box above. And if you’re looking for a list of the best Christmas movies available by streaming service, take a look at our picks: