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Best Holiday Movies for the Family

By Tracey Dowdy

Remember the anticipation waiting for those Christmas specials? Maybe you’re too young but that’s a big part of my holiday memories as a kid. Our kids will never know the thrill of checking the TV guide and seeing the listings for How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

In the midst of the chaotic holiday season, it’s nice to grab a little down time with the family, curl up under a blanket and watch a movie. There are so many to choose from, and this is far from an exhaustive list, but here are a few of my favorites.

If you want to go “old school”, you can’t go wrong with the Rankin/Bass TV specials Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, or The Year Without a Santa Claus. Instead of flashy animation, the specials use "Animagic", a stop-motion animation process so the puppets come to life. The stories are charming, a little corny and altogether wonderful. In other words, classic. (Ages 3 and up)

Speaking of classics, this may be the year to introduce your family to the really old school classics like White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or A Christmas Carol. Sweeping musical numbers, family values, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire and plenty of nostalgia. Sounds like a perfect evening to me! (Ages 6 and up)

My kids are older so we’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of movies together over the years. Our “time to decorate the tree” movie of choice is Christmas Vacation. In fact, my sister Tara and I can pretty much quote it for you if you ever need someone to sit by you on the sofa and annoy you while you watch it. One of our Christmas Eve traditions is to find a movie to watch together. Over the years we’ve watched Elf, Home Alone, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, and my daughter Sadie’s favorite, The Nightmare Before Christmas. They are very diverse stories, but all have the underlying theme that the holidays mean more than presents under a tree. (Ages 7 and up)

What would a list of Christmas movies be without the Muppets? Gonzo as Charles Dickens? Yes please! The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my personal favorites, as is A Muppet Family Christmas, a sweet story on the Fozzie Bear family farm. (Ages 3 and up)

If your kids aren’t really kids anymore, Love Actually, Four Christmases and The Holiday are feel-good movies for grown-ups. If Dad is picking, get ready for Die Hard. Bet your office Christmas party doesn’t seem so bad now does it? (Ages 16 and up)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, Ontario. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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