Movies have become such an ingrained part of our culture, and therefore a part of our traditions, that I couldn't let the holiday season go by without mentioning the ones our family enjoys year after year.
Our Top Ten Family Christmas Movies
Religious Christmas Movies
The Star of Bethlehem, a documentary – This documentary gives me chills each time I watch it. I am continually awed at the love of our sovereign God who does everything in such loving detail. We watch this as a family each year, and I highly recommend it. Though it will be a little bit “over the heads” of the little ones, it's message can and should be explained to children of all ages!
Animated Bible Stories – We have had numerous ones through the years, including Super Book and Flying House. We have just recently previewed The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, The Animated Musical and I can almost guarantee you this will become the new family favorite.
Why Do We Call it Christmas – this puppet animation film by What's in the Bible is a great one for kids, answering simply a lot of common sense questions like “Why do we call it Christmas?” “Why are there stockings?” “Why do we decorate Christmas Trees?” “Who was Santa Clause really?” and the biggest one of all: “What does all of this have to do with celebrating Jesus' birthday?”(Note: Though we do not promote Veggie Tales (also created by Phil Vischer) We highly recommend this DVD for children and adults alike.)
Classic Christmas Musicals
Scrooge (1970) starring Albert Finney – I have watched this classic musical re-telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol since I was a pre-teen! The music is incredible, including live (not lip-synched) recording of such songs as Thank You Very Much and Father Christmas. The message of living to love and make a difference in the here and now is also a classic one. The ghost of Christmas future scene can be scary for young ones though, so save this for a mature audience family night, and watch Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol with your littles. (Scrooge is rated G).
White Christmas (1954) starring Bing Crosby – Irving Berlin's music is enchanting! Even my 5 year old can be heard randomly around the house singing I'm Dreaming of White Christmas or Sisters! We love the story of sacrificing to bless others as well. It does have a couple of musical dance scenes that don't seem to make much sense, but then again, don't most of the musicals from this era? (Not rated.)
Babes in Toyland (1984) starring Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves – This is another yearly favorite from my childhood with lovely songs too! Unfortunately it is now available only on VHS, Amazon Instant Video or Youtube. I love how the characters all work together to save Toyland (in the dreams of a little girl). The evil Barnaby and his scary creatures of the night forest may be too much for the younger crowd. (Rated G). But here again Disney has provided us a slapstick silly alternative: Babes in Toyland (1961) starring Annette Funicello (Not rated)
Christmas Romance Movies
Borrowed Hearts (2010) – light, humorous and a happy Christmas ending, a single mom and young daughter agree to be paid to “pretend” to be a businessman's' wife and child to help him pull off a big business deal. They all learn however that the heart does not pretend. A clean romance, one of our more recent favorites, and great for the whole family! (Not rated.)
While You Were Sleeping (1995) starring Sandra Bullock – a lonely, cat-loving subway worker who dreams of traveling to Italy becomes a hero when she saves a man from an oncoming train. When she visits the unconscious man in the hospital, a family misunderstanding ensues that provides for some hilarious holiday interactions. Ultimately all of her dreams do come true – while he is sleeping. (PG, for some language and there is a Christmas party showing alcohol.)
Kids Christmas Movies
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The animated classic tale that I watched as a kid is still the best! My kids think the humanized modern version is too scary. I love that it teaches that Christmas is not about the gifts and the decorations and the food, it's about something greater! And besides the rhyme and the music, I love that the Whos extend forgiveness to the Grinch and invite him to be the guest of honor at their feast. (Not rated).
Arthur Christmas (2011) – is an animated look into the techy inner workings of a modern day North Pole and the family of Santas who are in charge of making the magic happen all in one night. One brother is an administrator more concerned with numbers and schedules, while the other brother cares for the emotions and wishes of each and every child in the world. Great animation and great story, though I don't approve of Grandpa Santa encouraging Arthur to disobey and it is rated PG for some possibly scary scenes.
The Polar Express (2005) – the movie is just as beautiful as the picture book! A young boy visits the North Pole, has great character building adventures with some new friends along the way and receives the first gift of Christmas in an effort to restore his belief in Santa. It is rated PG for action and some possible scary scenes. My kids will not watch the scene in the broken toys car on the train.
Home Alone (1990) starring McCauly Culkin, – There is a great message here about the importance of family, and besides that it's just plain hilarious how this kid defends his house from two would-be robbers. However, it is PG for language and we always skip or mute the first 8 minutes or so of the movie because, in my opinion, they went overboard in making Kevin's family seem less than desirable.
What are your favorite family Christmas movies?
Readers, if you have a favorite, please leave it in the comments!
Bloggers, if you have a Top 10 Christmas List please link up!
This post is part of our 20 Days of Ultimate Christmas Lists Series. Click the photo below to see all of the great lists!