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THE BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES FOR KIDS

The Best Christmas Movies for Kids

 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And what could be better than settling down on the sofa and watching family Christmas movies together? But which are the best holiday movies – and where can you find them on streaming services?

Grab a mug of something mulled, crack open the mince pies and pull on your snuggliest onesie – it’s time for a rundown of all our festive faves, featuring:

  • Elf
  • The Snowman
  • The Snowman and the Snow Dog
  • Home Alone
  • Home Sweet Home Alone
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Nativity
  • Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Scrooge: A Christmas Carol
  • Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
  • Robin Robin
  • A Boy Called Christmas
  • Jingle Jangle
  • Klaus
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Noelle
  • The Santa Clause
  • The Santa Clauses
  • Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
  • The 12 Dates of Christmas
  • Godmothered
  • The Polar Express
  • Dr Seuss’ The Grinch
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming
  • 12 Dog Days Till Christmas
  • Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas

The Best Holiday Movies

Elf (2003)

When it comes to family Christmas movies, this has got to be one of our all-time favourites and it will always put the jingle bells on your festive viewing.​

Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf – or, rather, a human who’s been raised as an elf in Santa’s grotto; he doesn’t realise he’s different until he’s 30, when he sets off to find his real dad in New York. However, his dad – miserable children’s book publisher Walter Hobbs (James Caan) – wants nothing to do with him.

Buddy meets fellow toy store employee Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) and together they save Christmas by powering up Santa’s sleigh and getting everyone to believe in Christmas magic with a singalong in Central Park. It even wins over Walter.

Heartwarming, joyful and with a soundtrack that includes music legends such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Prima, Elf became an instant classic. Plus, the whole production has a great backstory – we can recommend the Netflix documentary, The Holiday Movies That Made Us – you’ll love the old cinematic trick of ‘forced perspective’ they used to make Will Ferrell look huge next to his elf pals in the grotto.​

The Snowman (1982)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Raymond Briggs’ magical world of The Snowman. Based on Briggs’ 1978 picture book, it was first shown on Channel 4 on 26th December 1982. It went on to receive a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars and to win a BAFTA.

Scored with an orchestral soundtrack by Howard Blake, the story has no dialogue – with the exception of the song that we all instantly think of: ‘Walking in the Air’, originally performed by St Paul’s Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty, but made iconic by Aled Jones’ version.

It would take a hard heart not to be moved by the boy’s snowman magically coming to life at midnight and flying them both to a snowman’s party in an arctic landscape. But, of course, it’s a friendship that can’t last…

The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012)

A new 25-minute special aired on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 2012 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original – and of the channel itself.

The sequel features the Snowman, a new boy called Billy and a snow dog flying over landmarks and going to another party.

The sequel changed up its music approach, bringing on former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows and Ilan Eshkeri for a more pop-oriented soundtrack including the song, ‘Light the Night’.

Home Alone (1990)

Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) accidentally becomes the man of the house overnight when he’s left behind by his family on a Christmas vacation. Kevin gets busy, decorating the house – but not with tinsel and holly.

Because bumbling burglars Harry and Marv are trying to break in, Kevin rigs up a bewildering battery of booby traps to foil them. John Williams was nominated for two Oscars for the Best Original Score and Best Original Song for ‘Somewhere in My Memory’.

Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

The popularity of the ensuing mayhem led to two sequels, two made-for-TV movies, and a sixth film, Home Sweet Home Alone, which debuted on Disney+ in 2021.

Starring Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) and Aisling Bea (This Way Up), critics praised it for having more wholesome characters than some of the previous outings, while keeping the spirit of the original alive.

Arthur Christmas (2011)

How CAN Santa deliver billions of presents to the whole world in just one night?! With an army of one million combat-style Field Elves and a vast, state-of-the-art control centre under the ice of the North Pole, it turns out.

But when one child’s present goes astray – for Santa’s young son, Arthur – it threatens to end the magic of Christmas. With retired Grandsanta, a rebellious young elf, an old sleigh and some untrained reindeer, Arthur sets out in a crazy mission to deliver the last present.

Inventive, funny and heartwarming, Arthur Christmas features a voice cast of a plethora of Brit talents, from Jim Broadbent and Michael Palin to Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen and James McAvoy.

Nativity! (2009)

Frustrated under-achieving primary school teacher Mr Maddens (Martin Freeman) is embroiled in a bitter rivalry to achieve a five-star review for his nativity play with long-time adversary, Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins), the teacher at the neighbouring posh independent school.

This year, though, Maddens makes an idle boast to Shakespeare that his school’s showstopping musical has attracted the attention of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lore - who happens to be a big time Hollywood Producer. They want to make a movie starring his kids - Hollywood is coming to Coventry!

When over-enthusiastic new classroom assistant, Mr Poppy (Mark Wootton), overhears the lie, Maddens suddenly finds himself a local celebrity and at the centre of quarrelling parents, a wannabe show director, and more Mary and Josephs than he can shake a stick at.

So now all he needs to do is persuade Jennifer (Ashley Jensen) to make Hollywood pay attention and make their dreams come true…

Kids’ Christmas movies actually featuring loads of children can be a bit hit or miss, but the Nativity cast are fantastic and it’s heaps of raucous fun.

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger brings in David Tennant as St Bernadette’s new teacher, Mr Peterson, who has to try to keep his cool as the pupils head to Wales to compete in the National Choir Contest, ‘A Song for Christmas’.

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s my Donkey?! has Martin Clunes, Mark Wootton, Catherine Tate and Celia Imrie, and if you just can’t get enough of the Nativity crew, then pop on Nativity 4: Nativity Rocks!

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

This charming re-make of the original 1947 film stars a very twinkly Sir Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson. Susan (Wilson), confides in Kris Kringle (Attenborough), the kindly old man who is acting as the grotto Santa in the department store managed by her mother. Kris Kringle, however, believes he is the genuine Santa Claus and this devotion to the cause makes him very popular indeed, leading to record profits for the store.

This annoys rival retailers so much that they try to discredit the so-called Santa, leading eventually to a court case in which Kringle and his lawyer try to prove that he is the real thing.

The soundtrack features Christmas classics such as ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ sung by Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles performing ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and Aretha Franklin’s version of ‘Joy to the World’.

Best Kids Christmas Movies to Stream

What have the streaming services got to keep the kids entertained this Christmas?

Here’s our pick of the best.

Christmas Movies for Kids on Netflix

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (2022)

Every kid needs their own version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and this year’s animated offering has re-imagined songs by two-time Academy Award composer Leslie Bricusse OBE.

Its all-star voice cast includes Luke Evans as Scrooge, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn and Jonathan Pryce.​

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas (2021)

Fans of fluffy fun rejoice: Shaun the Sheep is baaack! After Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon, our favourite is returning for another half-hour farmhouse adventure.

The Aardman Animation gang have painstakingly created a festive treat, as everyone goes in search of a small sheep called Timmy, who’s in danger of becoming a pet. The customary cute chaos ensues.​

Robin Robin (2021)

If you missed this other Aardman gem last year, fear not, you can treat yourself to this stop-motion tale of Robin, who’s been raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.​

The voice cast includes Richard E Grant, Adeel Akhtar, Bronte Carmichael and Gillian Anderson and the short was nominated for an Oscar. Featuring music by The Bookshop Band (Ben Please and Beth Porter), the soundtrack was nominated for an Ivor Novello award, and won Best Original Music at the British Animation Awards. You’ll find yourself singing along to ‘The Sneak Song’ long after you’ve finished your mince pies (or should that be ‘mice pies’?)​

A Boy Called Christmas (2021)

You might have caught this in book form – it’s based on a seasonal gem by Matt Haig. An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an extraordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father, who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves, Elfhelm.

Accompanied by headstrong reindeer Blitzen and a loyal pet mouse, Nikolas soon meets his destiny in this magical and endearing story that proves nothing is impossible… The film boasts an incredible ensemble cast including newcomer Henry Lawfull, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, Kristen Wiig, Stephen Merchant, Jim Broadbent and Maggie Smith.​

The stirring orchestral soundtrack is by Dario Marianelli, the Italian composer known for his work with director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Darkest Hour). He won the Academy Award for Original Music Score and the Golden Globe for Best Original Score for Atonement and also composed the soundtrack for Paddington 2.​

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

A Christmas film for kids that’s also a musical? Count us very much in. And what a musical pedigree: the original songs are written by John Legend, Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan, with ‘This Day’, performed by Usher and Kiana Lede, giving us serious The Greatest Showman vibes.​

Toymaker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is betrayed by his apprentice, who steals his most prized creation and must call on his granddaughter (Madalen Mills) for help…

Klaus (2019)

Netflix’s first animated feature is the oddball origin story of Santa Klaus. When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words, let alone letters.

Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva (Rashida Jones) and discovers Klaus (Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys.

These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbours, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney. It’s directed by the co-creator of Despicable Me, so has a great pedigree.​

Christmas Movies for Kids on Disney Plus

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Is it even Christmas if you haven’t had The Muppet Christmas Carol on heavy repeat? Not just for kids, rejoice once more as Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of the gang teach Scrooge – played by Michael Caine – the true meaning of Christmas.​

Sing along to the original songs by Paul Williams – and this year, there’s a special treat. A deleted song, ‘When Love is Gone’ – is going to be included in a ‘restored’ version that’s debuting on Disney+ in December.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

A delightful Hallowe’en/Christmas kids movie mash-up means you can get a kick-start on Christmas from the end of October onwards. Hurrah! Enter an extraordinary world where, bored with the same old scare ‘n’ scream routine, Pumpkin King of Halloween Town Jack Skellington longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his mission puts Santa in jeopardy, and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere…​

Produced by Tim Burton, with stop motion animation from Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas has some of the best songs found in holiday movies, composed by Burton-favourite Danny Elfman, including ‘What’s This?’ and the brilliantly creepy, jazz-tinged swing of ‘Oogie Boogie’s Song’.​

Noelle (2019)

In Disney+’s holiday comedy, Kris Kringle’s daughter (Anna Kendrick) is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something ‘important’ like her beloved brother Nick (Bill Hader), who will take over from their father this Christmas.

When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away… but when he doesn’t return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas.

The Santa Clause (1994)​

When successful toy salesman Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently makes Santa fall off his roof on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place and needing to convince those he loves that he is, indeed, Santa Claus.

If you love the original film, then strap in for new series The Santa Clauses.

After being Santa Claus for nearly thirty years, Scott Calvin is as jolly as ever. But as Christmas declines in popularity, so does his Santa magic. Scott struggles to keep up with the demands of the job, as well as being there for his family. Upon discovering there is a way to retire from his post, Scott considers stepping down as Santa Claus and finding a worthy successor so that he can become a better father and husband.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)

If you’ve finally got rid of ‘Let it Go’ as an earworm, then you’re ready to join Anna, Elsa and the rest of the Frozen gang as the two princesses realise they don’t have any family holiday traditions of their own.

Adorable, helpful Olaf searches the kingdom with Sven the reindeer, gathering family traditions from gifts to fruit cake, Christmas trees to candy canes.​

Featuring four new original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, kids big and small will love it.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Reimagined as an epic adventure, The Nutcracker’s Clara travels to the fantastical Four Realms.​

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key — which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. Clara and a soldier called Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.

Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was directed by Swedish director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, A Dog’s Purpose). The music features parts of Tchaikovsky’s original The Nutcracker from 1892, together with new tracks and original duet ‘Fall on Me’, sung by Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo.​

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

This hour-long special takes place while Belle is still a prisoner and the Beast is still huge and furry.

It recounts a Christmas that brings everyone in the castle closer together.​

The 12 Dates of Christmas (2011)

A Christmas rom-com crossed with Groundhog Day? Yes please! Kate (Amy Smart) and Miles (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are a couple who keep reliving their Christmas Eve blind date.

How do they break the cycle and move on to Christmas morning?​

Godmothered (2020)

Set at Christmas time, Godmothered is a comedy about Eleanor, a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training (Jillian Bell) who, upon hearing that her chosen profession is facing extinction, decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers.

Finding a mislaid letter from a 10-year-old girl in distress, Eleanor tracks her down and discovers that the girl, Mackenzie, is now a 40-year-old single mum (Isla Fisher). Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie has all but given up on the idea of ‘Happily Ever After,’ but Eleanor is determined to give Mackenzie a happiness makeover - whether she likes it or not!

Godmothered is a sweet film with a big heart that finds the magic in everyday life.

Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime for Kids

The Polar Express (2004)

A doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. ​

The computer animated adventure film, based on a children’s book, was co-written and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future). It features human characters (including Tom Hanks as the conductor) animated using live-action and motion-capture CGI animation.

The soundtrack included ‘Believe’, written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri (Avengers: Endgame), which was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, and won a Grammy Award.

Dr Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)​

Illumination, the studio behind Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing, created this super-fun new version of the classic Dr Seuss tale of the grumpy Grinch. He goes on a mission with his pet dog, Max, to steal Whoville’s decorations and Christmas gifts, but is won over by Cindy Lou and the rest of the Whos’ friendship and loving spirit.

With voices including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams, the soundtrack comes courtesy of Danny Elfman, whilst Tyler the Creator wrote a new song called ‘I Am the Grinch’. Their collaboration, ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch’, was featured in the trailer.​

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

If you just can’t get enough of the mean, green, anti-Christmas machine, then you can rent the original, live-action version, starring the inimitable Jim Carrey.​

Directed by Ron Howard, the eclectic soundtrack features everyone from Faith Hill to Busta Rhymes, Barenaked Ladies and *NSYNC to Eels.​

Christmas Movies on Hulu for Kids

How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming (2019)

This holiday season, reunite with Hiccup, Astrid, Toothless, Light Fury and all your friends on the Isle of New Berk in a new adventure based upon the critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon film trilogy.​

When it becomes clear that the new generation of Vikings doesn’t remember the bond between humans and dragons, Hiccup makes a plan to celebrate dragons with a grand holiday pageant – a heartwarming idea that leads to a series of hilarious and exciting events.

12 Dog Days till Christmas (2014)

Charming, misguided delinquent Jack gets in trouble again just before Christmas. His probation officer gives Jack a community service task he hopes will bring about an attitude change in Jack: help clean up a local animal shelter that will soon be closing.

The longer Jack is around the homeless dogs, the more he sees how much he has in common with them. With only 12 days left to go, Jack sets out on a holiday mission in order to find permanent families for all 12 of the most unwanted pups…

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009)

George and The Man in The Yellow Hat are having a merry time counting down to Christmas. But neither can decide what to give each other. Will they find the answers before Christmas morning?​

This animated fun with everyone’s favourite mischievous monkey features three new songs, as well as classics such as the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Deck the Halls’.

The Best Christmas Music

Now you’ve got your festive viewing sorted, why not put together some music for your next Christmas party? We’ve got all the best winter warmers, Christmas classics, traditional Christmas tracks, plus plenty of modern Christmas tunes for you to discover if you fancy ringing the changes.

Spread some Christmas love to get you through the winter and make sure this holiday season is all you want it to be!

Plus, check out The Edit for round-ups of other festive films for the family, including Hallowe’en and Valentine’s. There you’ll also find features on the Best Christmas Ads of 2021 and a round-up of the greatest children’s movie soundtracks.

Need Music for Your Project?

At Audio Network we create original music of the highest quality for broadcasters, brands, creators, agencies and music fans everywhere. Through clear and simple licensing, we can offer you a huge variety of the best quality music across every conceivable mood and genre. For inspiration, head to our Playlist Hub, discover our Collections page and listen to the latest albums.





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