Curled up in a favorite chair with a warm beverage? Stuck in a long car or airplane ride to visit family? If you have access to a streaming service, you have access to some great Christmas entertainment. Even if Christmas isn't your thing, you're sure to find something to enjoy!
Polar Express - This movie is a must-watch animated film for children and grown-ups alike. It is the story of a boy who lost his faith in Christmas and embarks on a journey (on the Polar Express train) that will change the way he sees things. It's sometimes silly, but it's an important lesson about what Christmas really is all about. Tom Hanks performs the voice for multiple characters in the film.
Elf - For me, it doesn’t get any better than Elf, from esteemed director Jon Favreau, if you just want to watch something genuinely fun and, at the same time, heart-warming. It's a wonderful performance from Will Ferrell, who plays Buddy, a human who was raised by an elf at the North Pole. Buddy goes on a mission to find his parents in New York City and to figure out where he belongs. Elf is also available on Hulu and HBO Max.
Home Alone - What a classic! Do I even have to introduce Kevin? If you've never had a chance to see this iconic film, here's what you need to know: it is the story of a series of unfortunate events for our dear Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who's been accidentally left behind at home when the family leaves for a Christmas vacation. Even worse than that… he has to protect the house from two burglars! Say what? If you haven’t seen this, what are you waiting for? It's available on both Amazon Prime and Disney+. Follow it up with Home Alone 2, set in the famous Christmas setting of NYC, and which I honestly preferred over the first film. Both are must-watch movies for the holidays!
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey - This is a Netflix original that is here to stay. What an absolutely wonderful musical! I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first because the beginning felt more like a Hallmark movie - which is not bad, but not great, either. However, as we stepped into the book’s wonderland, a story started to unfold, told in part through the beautiful songs. I would say it became an instant Christmas classic on its 2020 release. It has a splendid cast, songs that will stick with you, and a story that will warm your soul with its pureness. All hats off to Forest Whitaker, in particular, for his performance in this movie, both acting, and singing.
The Christmas Chronicles - This is another Netflix Original, and what a truly magical one! A brother and sister duo accidentally crashes Santa’s sleigh, so they have to do everything to… well… save Christmas. There's amazing writing and performances plus another important lesson learned from this instant classic. Definitely a must-watch! Follow up this 2018 film with its 2020 sequel, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This is the live-action adaptation of Dr. Seuss' original illustrated story of the same name from 1957 and its 1966 animated TV short that many kids grew up watching. I think this is a very underappreciated movie and yet has the single most important message out of all of the movies I've listed so far. Jim Carrey is a legend playing the grumpy, Christmas-hating Grinch who does everything he can to destroy the joy that comes around this time of year. It's an important reflection on society as a whole, and it's an all-together fun film.
Klaus - This is a Netflix original animated film with beautiful animation, story, and, above all else, message. I'm not sure why I hesitated to watch this movie, but I am glad I did so I didn't miss out on an amazing journey. Klaus’ message is stated by the title character himself, voiced by the incomparable J.K. Simmons: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”
Arthur Christmas - This is my favorite animated Christmas movie. It's pure, genuine, and a very important tale. If you haven't seen it yet, make time this holiday season!
Disney has several holiday classics available, including The Santa Clause and its sequels featuring Tim Allen and the aforementioned Home Alone movies. But let me recommend you check out these two Disney+ originals that have important messages and the Christmas feel that many of us love:
Godmothered - This film stars Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and several familiar faces, and it's on the magical side of Christmas stories. This comedy is on my list now after flying under my radar when it came out in 2020.
Noelle - This comedy stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader as Noelle and Nick Kringle. After their father’s retirement - their father being Santa - Nick gets cold feet about taking over the family business, so Noelle takes over. This movie reminded me of Arthur Christmas a little bit with the Santa family line being a central story point. The film definitely had even more to offer than I would have imagined.
Let's extend our recommendations in the comments! Share some of your favorites along with the streaming services we can find them on.