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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.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

Smiling Santa holding a movie clap board on black backgroundRichLegg/Getty Images

There’s nothing better than a holiday-themed family movie night. Snuggle up on the couch with your kids and some sweet hot cocoa (extra marshmallows, please!) with a Christmas classic that any age will enjoy. Choose one of these Christmas movies for kids for a cozy night in, or just have a marathon with all of them—we won’t judge! For even more movies, check out our collection of the best Christmas movies of all time.

Olive the Other Reindeer screengrab from YouTubevia Dino Disco/youtube.com

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. 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.

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scene from A Charlie Brown Christmasvia amazon.com

A Charlie Brown Christmas

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. Make it a double feature by adding one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies ever.

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

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The Muppet Christmas Carolvia amazon.com

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 kids’ Christmas movies list for all ages. Already checked off all of these classics this holiday season? Try one of the anything-but-traditional holiday movies we love.

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.

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Rise of the Guardiansvia amazon.com

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. Make one of these easy Christmas cookie recipes to munch on while you watch.

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

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmasvia amazon.com

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Nearly 50 years old, this one of our top kids’ Christmas movies is still a unique animated classic (and there are many other versions, too like the Jim Carey live-action version pictured above). Don’t be surprised if the kids are singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” until New Year’s. While Whoville isn’t on this list, take a holiday trip and check out the real-life locations iconic Christmas movies are set in.

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.

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DreamWorks Holiday Classics Merry Madagascarvia amazon.com

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. 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.

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Batman the Animated Series: Christmas with the Jokervia amazon.com

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. Looking for a little hometown nostalgia this holiday season? Try one of the iconic movies that are set in your home state.

Best for: Kids age 8 and up. More fisticuffs than the little ones might be used to.

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Miracle on 34th Street movie cover on red backgroundvia amazon.com

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. Educate your kids with the history behind your favorite Christmas traditions.

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Home Alone movie stillvia amazon.com

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. 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.

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White ChristmasParamount Pictures/Getty Images

White Christmas

A 1950s 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 surely 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.

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Charlie and Lola point to an advent calendar on the wall in Charlie and Lola: How Many More Minutes Until Christmas?via Charlie and Lola/youtube.com

Charlie and Lola: How Many More Minutes Until Christmas?

The enchanting British duo offers 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.

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Little Womenvia amazon.com

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. 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.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Wayvia amazon.com

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! Looking for something a little bit less “Christmas-y”? Try out one of the 35 scariest movies of all time to off-set all the holiday spirit.

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Tom Hanks as the Conductor in The Polar Expressvia amazon.com

The Polar Express

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.

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Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf in Elfvia amazon.com

Elf

Will Ferrell plays 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. Next, don’t miss which of your favorite holiday classics originally bombed at the box office.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Brittany Gibson
Brittany Gibson is a regular contributor to RD.com’s culture, food, health, and travel sections. She was previously an editorial intern for RD.com and Westchester Magazine. Her articles have appeared on Buzzfeed, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, among other sites. She earned a BA in English from the University of Connecticut