Holiday themed family movie night


Can you feel it?  That change in the air?  The darkness falls earlier, the temperature drops, and this mama hen likes nothing more than to gather up all of her chicks, tuck them under a blanket beside her on the sofa, and enjoy a quiet evening together.

Lately we”ve been enjoying holiday themed family movie nights. We pop some popcorn or bake some cookies, pour cocoa into our mugs, and the modern day Currier and Ives scene is set.

Tsh is talking about simple holiday traditions on Simple Mom today, and watching holiday movies together  is one of our traditions.

While not normally a big TV viewing family, during the holidays the television (and the sweets) monitoring gets a bit more relaxed and watching TV together actually becomes one of our favorite things to do together this time of year.

We pick  a movie from our collection or a holiday special we have marked on the calendar.  Something tells me we won”t be the only family snuggled up to view A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving this week and we”ll be watching our local coverage of the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree in downtown Indianapolis, too.

Here are a few that are in our holiday movie collection, along with a handful of fun and festive ideas to incorporate into your next holiday themed family movie night:

Arthur Christmas

We recently rented this movie from Amazon Prime (we use our Roku to watch movies and love the Amazon Prime channel that syncs with our account).

A little bit silly, a little bit sentimental, my children loved the story line about the child who gets forgotten at Christmas and the efforts of Arthur to deliver the forgotten present.

I won”t give away the ending, but I will say that the super silly Grand Santa is one of my favorite characters.

Some Arthur Christmas fun:

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas

Dr. Seuss is a permanent part of our holiday traditions, as every year we watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This year, we will be adding the crazy Cat in the Hat to our line-up after my family received a screener copy of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas.  My four and six year olds, already big Cat fans thanks to the show on PBS Kids, really enjoyed this one.

The Cat throws a holiday party and when it is over a poor reindeer has been left behind, far from home.  The Cat, Nick, Sally, and the Fish decide to help the little reindeer make his way back home.

This movie will be shown on November 21 (check your local PBS listings).

More The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas:

Jack Frost

“It”s just what I always wanted, it”s perfectly right!”  I”ve been singing the songs from this since I was a child.  It delights me to no end that my children love this show and can sing along, too!

My favorite groundhog, Pardon-Me Pete, tells the story of how Jack Frost became human, fell in love, saved a town, and helped a knight win his true love in this classic directed by Jules Bass and featuring the voice of Buddy Hacket.

If you have an Amazon Prime account, Jack Frost is currently one of their free offerings.

The Polar Express

It just doesn”t feel like the holidays to me until we”ve watched The Polar Express together.  The book is enchanting, and I love giving the book as a gift set with a little sleigh bell, but the movie holds a special place in my heart.

This first time I watched this movie, heart in my throat, was with my then six year old daughter Jillian.  A year later we saw the movie for sale and Jillian said to me, “remember when we cried because that boy could hear the bell, mama?”  and had one of those parenting moments where the sensitivity and beauty of childhood just totally overwhelms you, right there in the aisle of the store.  Yes, Jillian, I certainly remember.

And so the Polar Express has been a special holiday tradition, especially for Jillian and I, one that we share with her brother and sisters and Daddy.

Hot chocolate is must with this movie and I love the creative folks who turn this movie into a family mini-van version of their own Polar Express to see all of the holiday lights, too.

Home Alone

While Home Alone might be just a bit intense for younger kids, my bigger kids love this movie and we giggle through it as a family.  I think this movie holds appeal for the “naughty” child and exasperated adult in all of us.

The movie promotes lots of post-viewing screaming and funny faces as we ham it up pretending to be Kevin shaving in the mirror or as we mimic his mom at the airport.

Silliness aside, I always get a little choked up at the end, don”t you?

The soundtrack is one of my very favorites, too.  (But the sequels?  Nope.  Do yourself a favor and skip over them, sticking with the original.)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, another favorite from my own childhood, is my fifth grader”s absolute favorite holiday movie.

This movie is another stop-motion class from Rankin-Bass and it tells a version of the story of Santa Claus and how many of the holiday traditions came to be.  We love singing along with this one, as well.  Put one foot in front of the other …

So there you have it.  Six holiday movies approved by my own own team of critics. 

Now that you know what movies our family loves, I hope we”ve inspired you to pop some popcorn, or bake some cookies, and spend time watching holiday movies with your kids this season.

What are your family”s favorite holiday movies? Do you have any that hold a special sentimental place in your heart? What will you and your kids be watching this holiday season?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. We watch the Polar Express every year, and my kids also love Elmo’s Christmas Countdown. Granted…they started asking to watch these movies several months ago…but we try and wait at least until November before we start playing them 🙂
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  2. We always play Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer while decorating the house and sometimes we play A Charlie Brown Christmas, too. (Santa Claus is Coming to Town makes me sing that same song.) Home Alone and Elf are full of silly fun. There’s a Donut Man video from years ago and an Odyssey one that we bring out, too. There are many, many more like Little Drummer Boy, but I’ll stop now. 😉
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  3. I’m 30, and my husband, brother and I still can’t resist Home Alone! A nostalgic, silly classic in our minds. My babes are still too little for it, but one day. 🙂

  4. Both my 3 and 6 year olds love the The Polar Express, even my 11 year old is enchanted by it! Another one that is less known and a little silly is Baby’s Day Out. It’s a silly movie, but kids LOVE it. In England, they used to play The Wizard of Oz and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (of course, I’m talking about the older version:)) and I used to look forward to watching these during the holidays.

  5. Oohh.. LOVE this collection.. Home Alone is a favorite of ours too!! I’ve been wanting to introduce my 4 yo to some new ‘holiday flicks’ and Jack Frost and the others seem perfect!
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  6. My kids love the old Jim Henson Christmas special Emmett Otters Jugband Christmas and their favorite newer one is The Very First Noel an animated retelling of the nativity story with Andy Griffith narrating. They ask for that one again and again and again and i enjoy it too.

  7. My girls love The Muppets Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Grinch (cartoon version). Favorites for the older set are It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and The Family Man.

  8. We won’t miss A Muppets Christmas Carol. It is my all time favorite and became my family’s favorite too!

  9. We have had a Christmas DVD box set since before we had kids (ahem, I love Christmas claymations!) with all the classics from way back when: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty 1 (and 2), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Little Drummer Boy. It also included a surprise “Cricket on the Hearth” which is a Christmas story written by Charles Dickens.
    Excellent investment, imo…and I *love* the Burl Ives Christmas songs.

    Sarah M
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  10. The Snowman is the my Christmas favourite… in fact it turns out to be a year long favourite with the kids – especially the narrated soundtrack. And Father Christmas. Another Raymond Briggs story. Muppet Christmas Carol too – fairly faithful to the book.
    And The Nightmare Before Christmas. It works for both.

    I think my kid are too young yet, but I personally think Elf is the best Christmas film made in the last 20 years. Before that Alastair Sim’s Scrooge miles above the rest… but then again, I love A Christmas Carol.

  11. My son is only two, so we haven’t gotten into movies yet, but this year’s he’s really into holiday songs, so we’re just singing a lot as our holiday entertainment. I’m definitely saving this list for the future!
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  12. great list! and THANK YOU for NOT including The Nightmare Before Christmas. Some others have added that and, really? So glad to see that there are few of us normal, old school Christmas movie lovers out there!

    And, ditto on the other Home Alones…omg…obnoxious.
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  13. We love A Christmas Story and surprisingly, my kids always enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life, despite their initial complaints that it is in black and white. My all time favorite is Miracle on 34th Street…the old version. We’re fans of Home Alone, too! Can’t wait to watch these!