Our 25 favorite holiday movies
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A perennial fave that addresses the material and spiritual aspects of the holiday season, A Charlie Brown Christmas offers families a break from the buy!buy!buy! clamor surrounding Christmas. The storyline follows the ups and downs of Charlie Brown, initially depressed by the commercialism of Christmas, but ultimately buoyed by directing the school pageant, a pep talk from Linus, and the strength of a sad little fir tree. Kids and parents alike will enjoy bopping along the Vince Guaraldi's iconic musical score.
Run time: 30 min. Not rated. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
A Charlie Brown Christmas from amazon.com, $15.49
The story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised among elves, who journeys to New York City to find his true identity and his biological father (who is on Santa's naughty list) after learning he's not actually an over-sized elf. Kids will delight in Buddy's naiveté and the silliness that comes when he explores human culture. Top-notch cast also includes James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Mary Steenburgen, and Zooey Deschanel.
Run time: 97 minutes. Rated: PG. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Elf from amazon.com, $9.99
It's a Wonderful Life
This beloved classic (offered in black and white and color in this set) is still popular more 60 years after its release. The movie, directed by Frank Capra, stars Jimmy Stewart as a frustrated businessman, George Bailey, who has been tied to the town of Bedford Falls for years, instead of living the life of travel and adventure he dreams of. When events take a turn for the worse, George considers ending his life, but his guardian angel, Clarence, steps in to show him what life would be life without him and all of his good deeds.
Run time: 130 minutes. Not rated. Recommended for ages 9 and up.
It's a Wonderful Life from amazon.com, $14.99
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This stop motion-animated classic, based on a poem by Tim Burton, features Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloweentown. Bored doing the same thing for Halloween each year, he discovers Christmastown, and decides to try to bring a bit of yuletide to Halloweentown, even kidnapping Santa Claus to make that happen. A delightful (and slightly scary) combo of the two holidays.
Run time: 76 minutes. Rated PG. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
The Nightmare Before Christmas from amazon.com, $24.99
Left at home accidentally while his family heads off on a Christmas vacation in Paris, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is left to defend his home against two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who are taking advantage of the fact that so many families are out of town. Kids will be impressed by Kevin's ingenuity in protecting his turf, and will alternate between laughing and cringing at the slapstick violence that ensues.
Run time: 103 minutes. Rated PG. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Home Alone by amazon.com, $9.99
The Simpsons Christmas
Simpsons-loving families used to all of Homer and Bart's antics will enjoy this package of holiday-themed episodes, as well as The Simpsons -- Christmas 2 DVD. This one includes the following episodes: "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," "Mr Plow," "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace," "Grift of the Magi," and "She of Little Faith" as well as an additional featurette, "Mr. Burns' Finest Moments."
Run time: 92 minutes. Not rated. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
The Simpsons Christmas by amazon.com, $10.99
Original Christmas Classics
This is a whopper of a collection, including seven holiday faves like the classic stop-motion animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (narrated by Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman), Mr. Magoo's Christmas Special, Frosty the Snowman (narrated by Jimmy Durante), Frosty Returns, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and Cricket on the Hearth. As kids, we used to wait all year for these to be shown on television, but now your family can enjoy them whenever they wish.
Run time: 275 minutes. Not rated. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Original Christmas Classics from amazon.com, $16.99
Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah
Narrated by Judd Hirsch and featuring the voices of Leonard Nimoy and Paul Michael Glaser, this animated film introduces kids to the story of Chanukah and the traditions surrounding it.
Run time: 24 minutes. Rated G. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah from amazon.com, $16.99
Merry Christmas, Olivia
Everyone's favorite 6-and-3/4 year-old pig enjoys holiday fun in these eight Christmas- and winter-themed tales. Episodes include "Olivia Claus," "Olivia and the Family Photo," "Olivia's Ice Spectacular," "Olivia's Snow Day," "Olivia Makes a Wedding Gift," "Olivia Makes Magic," "Olive and the Babies," and "Olivia's Good Luck."
Run time: 95 minutes. Not rated. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Merry Christmas, Olivia from amazon.com, $12.99
The Polar Express
As serious fans of Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott award-winning original text, we're delighted to watch this animated version again and again. Tom Hanks voices multiple roles in this memorable tale about a train trip to the North Pole and the wonder of Christmas, as seen through the eyes of a young boy.
Run time: 100 minutes. Rated G. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
The Polar Express by amazon.com, $14.49