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Top Christmas Movies Guaranteed to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Cozy up to these top holiday classic Christmas movies.

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A Christmas Story (1983)

All nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun. Problem is, everyone thinks he’ll shoot his eye out. (By the way, here are some things your mall Santa won’t tell you.)

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Elf (2003)

Mayhem ensues when a lovable, but misguided, elf (Will Ferrell) tracks down his cranky father (James Caan) in New York. These are the best Christmas movies of all time, ranked. 

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Pushy relatives, manic squirrels, and a very oversized tree—it could only be Christmas at the Griswolds. For more holiday humor, check out these hilarious Christmas cartoons.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burton’s animated fantasy about what happens when Halloween usurps Christmas is a delightfully spooky treat.

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Scrooged (1988)

An egomaniacal TV programmer (Bill Murray) learns the errors of his ways in this funny spin on Dickens’ novella.

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Home Alone (1990)

Eight-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is thrilled to spend Christmas away from his family. That is, until two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) crash the party. (This classic also made it on our 15 Best Kids’ Christmas Movies list!)

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Holiday Inn (1942)

Jim (Bing Crosby) flees the city to open a rustic inn with his pal (Fred Astaire). Plot (or lack of) aside, Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Astaire’s fancy footwork are dreamy.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Faced with bankruptcy, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) laments the day he was born. A guardian angel changes his mind.

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Kris Kringle lands the ultimate day job at Macy’s. With the help of a flatmate, he wins over his supervisor (Maureen O’Hara) and her skeptical toddler (Natalie Wood).

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Looking for a more puppet-centric approach to the Scrooge story? Try this version, in which Ebenezer and the gang are acted out by everyone’s favorite felt-covered friends.

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The Polar Express (2004)

Some people may find the motion-capture animation tipping into uncanny valley, but it’s hard to deny the story’s appeal. Based on a beloved kids’ book, the movie follows the adventures of a boy as he heads to the North Pole to meet Santa.

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The Santa Clause (1994)

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) morphs from corporate Scrooge to Santa when he accidentally kills Saint Nick.

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The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Cary Grant plays Dudley, an angel summoned to Earth by a cash-strapped bishop, whose gentle charm helps a whole community learn what really matters in life. For a more contemporary take on the tale, check out the Denzel-Washington-and-Whitney-Houston 1996 remake, The Preacher’s Wife.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest