Top 13 Christmas Movies for Kids

We recap the classics—and offer a few recommendations you may have missed—in this family-friendly holiday list.

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    Olive, the Other Reindeer

    Rudolph is a bit played out, but this computer-generated animated Christmas special starring a determined pup is fresh as the season's mistletoe.

    Best for: Kids age 5 and up. A sassy character or two, but nothing to worry about.

    A Charlie Brown Christmas

    There is no better starting point than this classic Christmas movie. A true joy for all ages, featuring a wonderful soundtrack and heartwarming story.

    Best for: Kids age 3 and up. There could hardly be a more appropriate choice for any kid, but toddlers might nod off.

    The Muppet Christmas Carol

    The classic Dickens Christmas story might be a bit stuffy, but Muppet characters go a long way toward making the movie on the best-of list for all ages.

    Best for: Kids age 5 and up. It's basically the story you know and love, so expect a spooky ghost of Christmas future and less Gonzo insanity than in other Muppet productions.

    Rise of the Guardians

    A rare treat, this Christmas movie is best for kids who'd rather imagine Santa battling dark forces alongside the Easter Bunny than nibbling cookies and milk.

    Best for: Kids age 7 and up. Some animated violence.

    Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    Nearly 50 years old, this kids' Christmas movie is still a unique animated classic. Don't be surprised if the kids are singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" until New Year's.

    Best for: Kids age 4 and up. The Grinch is, you know, not so nice, but most youngsters won't be too bothered by his antics.

    Merry Madagascar

    Kids who loved Madagascar simply can't resist this short TV Christmas special, which stars their favorite characters in a festive new adventure. Anyone else should enjoy the film's positive messages and quirky humor.

    Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Very mild peril.

    Christmas with the Joker

    Here's a 30-minute movie for the tiny superhero in your life: An episode from Batman: The Animated Series, an acclaimed show starring the Dark Knight. Available now for streaming.

    Best for: Kids age 8 and up. More fisticuffs than the li'lest sprouts might be used to.

    Miracle on 34th Street

    Forget the remake starring Matilda: This heartwarming (and award-winning) '40s original is where true Christmas spirit lives—so long as you realize the movie centers squarely on Santa Claus and Macy's.

    Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Outside of blatant consumerism, there isn't much to object to, though it's possibly slower than today's children may be accustomed to.

    Home Alone

    The slapstick Christmas blockbuster is a ton of fun, though its premise—a youngster abandoned by his family fends off holiday burglars with increasingly violent booby traps—may not be the exact breed of yuletide merriment you had in mind.

    Best for: Kids age 7 and up. The villains are a bit menacing, and small children may worry that they, like screaming Macaulay Culkin, could one day be left behind by those who are supposed to love them most.

    White Christmas

    A 1950s classic starring Bing Crosby, this movie presents a nice opportunity for children to talk about Christmas traditions with parents or grandparents.

    Best for: Kids age 8 and up. Younger tykes may find their patience is tested by this old-fashioned flick.

    Charlie and Lola: How Many More Minutes Until Christmas?

    The enchanting British duo offer a wonderful tale about Advent and Christmas. An innovative art style will rope adults in, too.

    Best for: Kids age 4 and up. There's nothing to object to, though little kids may find it hard to follow.

    Little Women

    An endearing period piece with an involving story—and an inspiring act of Christmas generosity—that may resonate especially well with youngsters who recognize stars Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon from other films.

    Best for: Kids age 11 and up. A touch of romance, a frightening ice skating sequence, and one moving death make this an ideal movie for somewhat more mature viewers.

    Jingle All the Way

    It's hardly wholesome, but there's an undeniable appeal to seeing the Terminator hoisted into the manic shopping season—anyone who's ever scrambled through the aisles at Walmart after Thanksgiving should be able to relate.

    Best for: Kids age 8 and up. Lots of action and not a ton in terms of positive messages—but it's Ahhnold, baby!

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