15 of the Best Christmas Movies for Kids
We recap the classics—and offer a few recommendations you may have missed—in this family-friendly holiday list.
Olive, the Other Reindeervia imdb.com, shutterstock
Rudolph is a bit played out, but this computer-generated animated Christmas special starring a determined pup is fresh as the season’s mistletoe. (These 32 little-known facts about the holiday season will make for a great family trivia night!)
Best for: Kids age 5 and up. A sassy character or two, but nothing to worry about.
A Charlie Brown Christmasvia imdb.com, shutterstock
There is no better starting point than this one of our classic kids’ Christmas movies. 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 Carolvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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 kids’ Christmas movies 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 Guardiansvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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 Christmasvia imdb.com, shutterstock
Nearly 50 years old, this one of our top kids’ Christmas movies 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. (By the way, you’ve probably been pronouncing Dr. Seuss’s name wrong this whole time.)
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 Madagascarvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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. (Want to break routine and try something different this holiday season? Try out these Christmas traditions from all over the world.)
Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Very mild peril.
Christmas with the Jokervia imdb.com, shutterstock
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 little ones might be used to.
Miracle on 34th Streetvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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 Alonevia imdb.com, shutterstock
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. (Can you pass this classic Christmas movie quotes quiz?)
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 Christmasvia imdb.com, shutterstock
A 1950’s classic starring Bing Crosby, this one of our top kids’ Christmas movies presents a nice opportunity for children to talk about Christmas traditions with parents or grandparents. (These hilarious Christmas jokes will sure bring joy to your holiday festivities.)
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?via imdb.com, shutterstock
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 Womenvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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. (Have you ever wondered why poinsettias are the unofficial Christmas flower?)
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 Wayvia imdb.com, shutterstock
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!
The Polar Expressvia imdb.com, shutterstock
Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is a practically mandatory addition to our list of best kids’ Christmas movies. Kids and adults alike will feel like they’re right alongside the main character on his journey to the North Pole.
Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Some of the movie’s scary characters might frighten young children and the main character questions the existence of Santa in the beginning, which may cause your children to question it, too. (If this does end up happening, here’s how to gently break the news to your kids.)
Elfvia imdb.com, shutterstock
Will Ferrell plays as Buddy the Elf in this hysterical kids’ Christmas movie. He might have been raised at the North Pole, but something about his rather large, human size tells us his parents weren’t elves after all.
Best for: Kids age 7 and up. Although overall a family-friendly movie, Elf has its fair share of mild swearing.