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15 Festive Christmas Cartoons to Watch This Holiday

The weather outside is frightful, so why not stay inside with these Christmas cartoons?

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Tim Burtons A Nightmare Before Christmas Movie StillsGetty Images/Getty Images

Cozy up to these Christmas cartoons

There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia of a Christmas cartoon. The bitter nights when these cartoons graced our television screens, accompanied by plates full of warm cookies, blankets fresh out of the dryer, and, if you were lucky, a light snowfall, were arguably some of the most magical memories of our childhood. These animated Christmas movies are truly some of the best holiday films that will remind you how special it is this time of year—and you don’t even need children to watch. We won’t tell! Make sure you also check out our guide to the best Christmas movies of all time.

The Polar Express (2004)via amazon.com

The Polar Express (2004)

I am one of the guilty ones who cries over this movie on the couch every year. Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, this moving film is about a train that brings the children who stopped believing in Santa to the North Pole—plus it stars none other than Tom Hanks! Make sure you have some hot chocolate on hand for this one because you’ll surely feel like a kid again. Don’t miss more anything-but-traditional holiday movies we love.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)via amazon.com

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer laugh and call him names and they never let poor Rudolph join any of their reindeer games. Then Rudolph meets an elf who is a prospective dentist. Wait, is that not how the song goes? Well, in this classic Christmas cartoon, the reindeer with the bright red nose and the dental aficionado stumble upon an island of misfit toys. Rudolph wants to help them, but it’s too foggy to fly on Christmas Eve. This Christmas cartoon serves us a touching lesson about embracing what makes us all unique. Create a more festive ambiance in your home with these DIY Christmas decorations.

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How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)via amazon.com

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Based on the classic book by Dr. Suess, this Christmas cartoon is about this grumpy green character who tries to ruin Christmas for all of Whoville. (The Grinch had a heart that was two sizes too small, so can you really blame him?) Spoiler alert: Christmas joy can never truly be taken away. See which holiday classics originally bombed at the box office.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)via amazon.com

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

This special has been on TV every year since it first aired in 1965, becoming a true staple of the Christmas season. Charlie Brown is on a mission to discover the true meaning of Christmas with the help of Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts squad. The soundtrack is pretty great as well. Get into the Christmas spirit with these heartwarming stories about meeting Santa.

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A Christmas Carol (2009)via amazon.com

A Christmas Carol (2009)

This iconic story has been adapted so many times, and for good reason. The story, adapted from the Charles Dickens novel, follows the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas that haunt him. Scrooge is taken on an adventure of self-redemption, learns the importance of being kind, and discovers the true meaning of the holiday season. See where A Christmas Carol falls on the list of Christmas movie locations that exist in real life.

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Frozen (2013)via amazon.com

Frozen (2013)

Love stories comes in all shapes and sizes, and in this case, it’s between sisters. While not exactly a Christmas cartoon, this wintry Disney favorite takes Princess Anna on a journey with Kristoff and his faithful reindeer Sven to find her sister. Plus, Olaf will make you laugh, show you what it really means to be selfless, and make you want to give the warmest hug to your loved ones. Shed a few more tears while you’re at it with the best Hallmark Christmas movies of all time.

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Arthur Christmas (2011)via amazon.com

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Ever wonder how Santa delivers all those presents in just one night? In this animated film, Santa’s oldest son has completely modernized the operation, using advanced technology and spacecraft to get the job done. When one present gets left behind, Santa’s youngest son Arthur and Grandsanta have to get the present to its recipient with the old-fashioned sleigh pulled by reindeer. This Christmas cartoon is just one big heartwarming adventure. Share some laughs with these funny Christmas jokes.

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Klaus (2019)via netflix.com

Klaus (2019)

A more modern Christmas cartoon, Klaus served as the very first Netflix original animated film. Smeerensburg is the unhappiest place in the world. There resides Klaus, a very skilled toymaker who unfortunately doesn’t like children all that much. Then there’s Jesper, the worst postman in the history of postmen, and Alva, a very pessimistic teacher. In the true spirit of Christmas, Smeerensburg doesn’t stay the unhappiest place forever. Don’t miss these 25 things your mall Santa won’t tell you.

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A Garfield Christmas (1987)via amazon.com

A Garfield Christmas (1987)

Our favorite orange cat is at it again! This Christmas special is based off the Garfield comic strip by Jim Davis. Garfield is taken out of his usual daily routine of snacking and being irritated by the dog Odie when they go to his owner’s parents’ house for the holiday. Garfield gets the bored and restless crew into the spirit of the holidays. Check out the best Christmas Eve traditions you’ll want to start this year.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)via amazon.com

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Even if you consider it more of a Halloween movie, how could this Tim Burton classic not be on this list of Christmas cartoons? Halloween meets Christmas in this spooky Christmas musical when Jack Skellington, king of the pumpkin patch, decides to shift his focus over to Christmas. You can get away with watching this one as early as October. As with all Tim Burton movies, it’s fun and quirky with his signature gothic twist. Try one of these Christmas cookie recipes to enjoy while watching Christmas cartoons.

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Frosty the Snowman (1969)via amazon.com

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Here’s a good old-school Christmas story that will never get old. Since most of us know all the words to the traditional holiday song, we know that Frosty the Snowman dons a magical hat and comes to life, bringing joy to all the children. The film goes into a bit more depth when a local magician wants his hat back. With the weather getting warmer and the magician on the hunt, Frosty hops on a train to the North Pole with a new friend. Learn how you can build the most perfect snowman.

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The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)via amazon.com

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

This Christmas cartoon classic will definitely lift your spirits this holiday season. When a discouraged Santa Claus decides to take a vacation from the annual holiday, Mrs. Claus and a pair of elves go on a quest to find his Christmas spirit. Don’t miss these 14 Christmas traditions from around the world you will definitely want to steal.

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All I Want for Christmas Is You (2017)via amazon.com

All I Want for Christmas Is You (2017)

No, this isn’t just the title of Mariah Carey’s hit Christmas tune, although this Christmas cartoon does follow a young girl named Mariah. Her annual holiday wish is to get a puppy so she pet-sits a mischievous dog named Jack to prove how responsible she really is, but the spirited pup makes Mariah’s Christmas a little bit messy. See which other Christmas songs make the cut for best Christmas songs of all time.

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Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009)via hulu.com

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009)

Based on the books, this Christmas cartoon follows Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat on Christmas. This film is festive and fun as the two classic characters prepare to celebrate the best Christmas yet. Learn what it’s really like to be a Hallmark holiday writer.

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A Snowy Day (2016)via amazon.com

The Snowy Day (2016)

Created from the book by Ezra Jack Keats, this Amazon original follows a boy named Peter as he goes on a wintry walk to his grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve to bring home Christmas dinner. This sweet story is heartwarming and inclusive with stunning imagery. The book comes to life on screen in the most beautiful way. Next, check out the best Christmas movies for kids.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest