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The Best Christmas Movies for Kids & All of Us Kids at Heart

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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

There are a ton of Christmas movies out there vying for your child’s attention.  Here are 10 of the best Christmas movies for kids.  The list was created with children in mind; therefore some popular holiday classics were not included because of their “kid-friendly” factor. The list is organized from oldest to newest.  *Many of the older movies are not rated, but can be considered a G rating.

Miracle on 34th Street  (1947)  Rated NR

A engaging film about a girl who doubts the magic and meaning of Christmas.  She meets a man who claims to be Santa Claus.  He is accused of a crime and must face the judicial system.  Is he really Santa, or has he been faking it all this time?  We are left to ponder this question when the little girl receives a very special gift at the end of the movie.  This film totally stands the test of time!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  (1964)  Rated NR

This Christmas classic is about a plucky reindeer born with a red nose who is cast away because he is different.  He finds other friends who are also castaways, and together they rescue his parents and befriend the evil Abominable Snow Monster of the North.  Can the misfits save Christmas, too?  (Have you ever noticed how mean Santa is in this film?)

A Charlie Brown Christmas  (1965)  Rated NR

Charlie Brown is out to find the true meaning of Christmas.  Everyone seems to care more about gifts and activities than the actual holiday.  The defining moment comes when Charlie Brown takes pity on the homeliest Christmas tree on the lot, and takes it back to his unimpressed friends.  How does that tree become full of branches and pine needles when his friends decorate it – the world may never know.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (2002)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  (1966)  Rated NR and The newer version (2002)  Rated PG 

The original cartoon version of this beloved classic is a short film that entertains the whole family, but still sends the message that it is not the presents that make the holiday special.  The newer version with Jim Carey tells why the Grinch turned out the way he is.  You actually feel sorry for that green guy, and everyone cheers when his small heart “grows 3 sizes that day”.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town  (1970)  Rated NR

This was a favorite of mine every Christmas it aired.  When Kris Kringle was still a young man, he finds his special calling.  With the help of his red-headed girlfriend, he finds a way to deliver toys to kids who need them.  This cute little film reminds kids how giving can make a difference in the lives of others.  It is a gem of the clay animation shows.

Nester the Long Eared Donkey (1977) Rated NR 

This is a little known claymation film about a donkey who finds his life discouraging until he is chosen to carry Mary to Bethlehem. This is one of the few mainstream Christmas specials that include the manger scene.  It has a similar story line as the movie The Little Drummer Boy. Although the story has a sad moment when Nester’s mother dies, its lasting message encourages everyone to trust that they have a special purpose.

Prancer (1989)

Prancer (1989)  Rated G

The little farm girl, Jessica, believes she has found one of Santa’s reindeer.  The reindeer is wounded and she cares for it even though her father is resistant.  This heartfelt movie deals with aspects of real life, and has characters children can identify with.  I was surprised by the sensitivity of this movie about hope, faith, and love.  A real keeper!

The Santa Clause (2002)  Rated PG

A popular film, this movie showed parents everywhere that we could be Santa if we accidently killed the old guy.  Seriously, it is an entertaining story about a father and son developing a relationship after divorce.  Everyone gets a good laugh as Tim Allen transforms into Santa. The North Pole is an enchanting place and you gotta love those elves.  I didn’t expect to like this film, but have found it one we enjoy watching year after year.

Elf (2003)

Elf (2003):  Rated PG

A little human baby finds his way into Santa’s bag.  Thus begins the life of our friend, Buddy the elf. The “man-elf” decides to look for his father in New York City.  It turns out Dad is a workaholic business man who has no time for family.  Buddy finds himself in many outrageous situations including the “pre-chewed gum” scene that will make kids laugh (but don’t try this at home).  This is fun film celebrating childhood innocence and the love of Christmas.

The Polar Express (2004):  Rated G

I must admit it was a little odd seeing Tom Hanks face in so many characters, but it is another film about the wonder of Christmas.  A young man travels to the North Pole via magic train with other children selected for this mysterious journey.  The little boy is chosen to receive the first gift of Christmas, but then loses it.  Is Santa real or did the boy dream it all?  This film has varying degrees of likeability depending on the child.

Got another movie you think should be on the list?  Add your suggestions!