Some classic, some new, but all festive!
The Christmas season is all about gathering, getting cozy, baking cookies, and basically just eating your weight in sugar. There are all of these amazing traditions families have for the holidays, but let’s face it, Christmas movies are number one on the list. For good reason. Hanging out and watching Christmas movies with your kids is a perfect way to relax and connect over the holidays. It’s easy, it’s fun, and you can do it in your pajamas. So put on those Santa PJs and check out all the Christmas movies Disney+ has to offer this holiday season.
While it might seem like a hugely positive thing to have so many excellent Christmas movies available in one place, a huge variety of options is not always your friend. Too much choice means scrolling constantly, struggling to stop on one movie when you know there are going to be at least 10 equally excellent options if you just keep clicking. So like many, what you might need is a handy list to help you wade through the options.
Whether you are baking cookies, wrapping presents, or just need a movie that will keep the kids occupied for a few hours while you get your holiday preparation done, you’ll find what you’re looking for on this list. Even if you’re looking for a Christmas movie that makes you cry or think or escape from reality for a few hours, Disney+ truly seems to have it all. Here are the best Christmas movies you can stream on Disney+ right now.
Nightmare Before Christmas
Who knew that a Christmas/Halloween crossover movie like 1993’s Nightmare Before Christmas would become such a hit? I’m going to hazard a guess and say Tim Burton, since he directed the movie based on a poem he wrote back when he was an animator for Disney. The story of Pumpkin King Jack Skellington’s desire to take over Christmas and become Santa Claus himself still resonates to this day. And actually, on a rewatch you can see how it is a sort of perfect recipe for a great holiday movie. Cool music from Danny Elfman, a fish-out-of water story, a little romance between Jack and Sally. Plus the animation. Is it Halloween? Is it Christmas? Who cares, just watch it twice a year.
Watch Nightmare Before Christmas, rated PG.
The Santa Clause
A Christmas movie about a cynical divorced dad who turns into Santa Claus himself when he accidentally knocks him out on Christmas Eve? Okay then. Tim Allen was at his best in 1994’s The Santa Clause, playing ambitious toy maker Scott Calvin. Scott (Allen) is spending Christmas with his young son Charlie and trying to find his role in his life now that Charlie has a stepdad when the two embark on an accidental adventure in Santa’s sleigh. Scott forgets when he wakes up, but discovers himself turning into Santa Claus over the next year. It’s weird and funny and yes, sometimes your kids will laugh more than you do. But that’s as it should be.
Watch The Santa Clause, rated PG.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
There are so many retellings of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that it can be hard to pick a favorite, but please consider Mickey’s Christmas Carol from 1983 for your list. Fist off, it’s only 26 minutes long and somehow manages to cover all of the salient story points in that time period. The music is great, very evocative of old-timey England. Scrooge McDuck plays, well, Scrooge, and Mickey Mouse is Bob Cratchit. Goofy is just about the best Jacob Marley ever, and even Jiminy Cricket gets a role as the Ghost of Christmas Past. It’s a sweet version of a well-known tale that you’ll want to rewatch every year.
Watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol, rated G.
One Magic Christmas
Mom Ginny Hinks (Mary Steenburgen) is working double shifts at the local grocery store over Christmas. Her husband Jack is unemployed and they’re about to lose their home. They have very little money, live in an economically-depressed area, and two kids who are trying desperately to believe in Santa Claus. When daughter Abby meets an angel named Gideon, she tries to help her mom find the Christmas spirit. In perhaps one of the most horrible ways imaginable. Sound fun? One Magic Christmas from 1985 might not be a fun watch, but it does a great job of painting a picture of what Christmas really looks like for so many families. And it does find some magic in the every day, which is just about all a person can ask for.
Watch One Magic Christmas, rated G.
Pluto’s Christmas Tree
Sometimes you just have to go back to the classics, even if they’re only six minutes long. Actually, it’s great that Pluto’s Christmas Tree from 1952 is so short; it’s like a little amuse-bouche for holiday movie watching. Pluto and Mickey Mouse chop down a tree in the forest, unaware that this tree is the home of two little chipmunks named Chip and Dale. They bring the tree into their living room, Pluto realizes they have guests, and hilarious chaos ensues. This is one of those animated classics that really showcase the magic of Disney. And considering there are almost no words spoken in the whole short, it’s seriously impressive.
Watch Pluto’s Christmas Tree, rated G.
Kris Kringle has a daughter who looks an awful lot like Anna Kendrick in the 2019 movie Noelle. He also has a son named Nick, who is expected to take over the family business and is not doing well with all the pressure. Enter Noelle, who jumps in to save the day when Nick goes missing and she vows to bring him back in time for Christmas. This is one of those endearing, easy-watching Christmas movies parents can put on for a quiet night in and everyone can get into it. Also Shirley MacLaine is in this movie and she is always eminently watchable.
Watch Noelle, rated PG.
Home Sweet Home Alone
Some might think it’s cheating to have two movies within the same franchise but I beg to differ. Home Sweet Home Alone from 2021 does not follow the McAllister family, but instead tells the story of young Max Mercer. A boy who was accidentally left home alone, so pretty similar there, but this time around his parents are jetting off to Japan while a married couple is hoping to break into their home and try to steal some jewels. And Max has a cute little accent and a real twinkle in his eye. So this should be worth it.
Watch Home Sweet Home Alone, rated PG.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas
If you love a variety show, you’re going to love Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas. The Christmas anthology from 1999 features all of the original Disney gang, Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, et al, telling three different Christmas stories in the same movie. There’s Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louis having a sort of Groundhog’s Day and keep experiencing Christmas over and over until they get it right. Goofy and his son Max deal with the question of whether or not Santa Claus is real, and Mickey and Minnie do a cute take on the gift of the Magi. It’s like three for the price of one.
Watch Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas, rated G.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
All of the movies in the Frozen franchise are great for the holidays, but arguably Olaf’s Frozen Adventure from 2017 is the best option for Christmas. The kingdom of Arendelle is hosting its first holiday season since the gates reopened, and the townspeople all leave to start celebrating with their individual traditions. Sisters Anna and Elsa come to the realization that they don’t actually have any Christmas traditions of their own. Olaf the snowman, voiced by Josh Gad, gets down to the business of helping them start their own holiday memories. This movie is cute and, of course, musical. A Christmas slamdunk.
Watch Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, rated G.
Beauty & The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
Disney’s original version of Beauty and the Beast apparently skipped over an important moment between Belle and her captor; they had a little Christmas together. The Enchanted Christmas, to be exact, where Belle had access to a beautiful red fur-lined dress and the Beast was all about trying to find her a gift. In this 1997 animated movie, the scheming Forte, a composer turned into a pipe organ, tries to keep them apart because I guess he likes his new life as an instrument. This movie features all of the beloved characters like Mrs. Potts and Lumiere, and some great new songs too.
Watch Beauty & The Beast: Enchanted Christmas, rated G.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
It’s been 40 years since George Lucas made the Star Wars Holiday Special and then almost immediately insisted the movie be wiped from memory. Now fans might have a tough time watching the original, but there’s a new version that is truly in a class all its own. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. Based loosely on the original, this 2020 movie sees Rey and BB-8 head to the Jedi Temple to get a deeper understanding of the Force. Her friends are busy celebrating something called Life Day with the Wookies, so Rey has time to cross through time and see many of the Star Wars characters through history. She just needs to make it back in time for the big Life Day feast with Poe, Finn, and the rest of the gang.
Watch the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, rated Y-7 FV.
Muppet Christmas Carol
Yes, another version of the Charles Dickens story. But The Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992 stars Miss Piggy as Bob Cratchit’s wife and of course Kermit the Frog as Cratchit himself. Also Ebenezer Scrooge is played by none other than Michael Caine, a classically-trained actor. And he sings and dances alongside Muppets with such joy during their very fine musical numbers, how can you not watch? Also, the story is narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, who frequently gets frightened of the story and needs to be comforted. Watch especially for the Cratchit family, where you will see tiny Miss Piggys and Kermits. Delightful.
Watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, rated G.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
I’ll Be Home For Christmas is not a holiday movie for everyone. The 1998 movie starring Jonathan Taylor-Thomas has a very specific audience, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Because nostalgia matters. This movie tells the story of a self-centered college kid named Jake who needs to make it home in time for Christmas to get a cool car his dad has promised him. Along the way, Jake learns the true meaning of Christmas as he runs into all sorts of problems. This is definitely a nostalgia pick for millenials who once harbored a crush on Taylor-Thomas, but the road trip gone wrong theme is also fun for older kids to watch with their parents.
Watch I’ll Be Home For Christmas, rated PG.
Jingle All The Way
How does a person describe the confused, hectic mania that is Jingle All The Way from 1996? Picture this; Arnold Schwarzenegger is a dad who has been too busy to spend time with his son over the holidays. So when his wife Rita Wilson reminds him he was supposed to get this year’s hottest toy, a Turbo-Man, he makes it his mission to get the toy no matter what. The search takes him on a wild ride through a dark crime ring of Santas, a mail bomb, and eventually, flying through the air as Turbo-Man himself during the Christmas parade. Some great one-liners, and don’t forget that they boy who played Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace plays Schwarzenegger’s son.
Watch Jingle All The Way, rated PG.
Too much of a good thing is never a good idea, as young Rowena learns in the Groundhog Day-inspired Disney Christmas movie Christmas... Again? After Rowena has to deal with a bit of a ho-hum Christmas, she decides to ask a neighborhood Santa Claus to make it Christmas every day. He decides to grant her wish, and then no big surprise here, she ends up really wishing she hadn’t asked. Because she experiences Christmas over and over and over again, until she realizes that all she needs to do is appreciate Christmas when it comes around that one time a year. Fun and light and easy to watch.
Watch Christmas... Again?, rated G.
Mickey Saves Christmas
I truly cannot say enough good things about the holiday-themed animated shorts Disney continues to put out, and Mickey Saves Christmas is no exception. The 24-minute long short features Mickey’s sweet (but frequently misguided) dog Pluto getting into his usual nonsense and almost wrecking Christmas. Mickey, ever the hero, steps in to save the day. The story is easy and familiar even as the stop-motion animation takes its cues from Rankin/Bass movies from the 20th century, with a modern update of course. Always worth a watch.
Watch Mickey Saves Christmas, rated G.
Miracle On 34th Street
No offense to the newer version of Miracle on 34th Street which is charming and lovely in its own right, but the original 1947 version starring Natalie Wood as a little girl and the great Maureen O’Hara as her mother stands the test of time. Perhaps because it seems slightly more believable that a sweet old man calling himself Kris Kringle would wander into the Macy’s Day Parade and get laser-focused on convincing a single mother and her daughter that Santa Claus is real back in the olden days. Plus Natalie Wood is the most charming child ever, so watch it just for that.
Watch Miracle on 34th Street, rated PG.
Weekend Family Christmas Special
Now here’s a holiday special for modern times, looking not just at blended families but also it’s a French movie so you’ll get culture and stuff. The Weekend Family Christmas Special sees dad Fred taking care of his three daughters on weekends, all of whom have different mothers. He meets and falls in love with child psychologist Emma, and the Weekend Family Christmas Special delves into what happens when Emma wants to incorporate her own family holiday traditions into the blended mix by heading off to Canada. It’s not your typical Disney movie but it’s an awful lot of fun.
Watch Weekend Family Christmas Special, rated PG.
The Christmas Star
Did you know that Ed Asner has played Santa Claus in two movies? In Elf, of course, but also in the 1986 classic holiday film The Christmas Star. Be warned, though, he’s not really Santa in this movie. He’s actually a counterfeiter named Horace McNickle who manages to get out of prison because he looks like Santa Claus. His cold calculating heart eventually starts to melt, however, when he enlists the help of two neighborhood kids in his escape plan who genuinely believe he’s the real Santa Claus. A weird, wonderful, classic ‘80s Christmas movie that will have the whole family scratching their heads.
Watch The Christmas Star, rated G.
Dashing Through the Snow
Ever since a mall Santa let down Eddie Garrick as a child, the social worker has been a bit jaded when it comes to holiday cheer. So when Nicholas “Nick” Sinter-Claus claims to be the actual, real-life Santa Clause, Eddie is having none of it. Concerned for the man’s mental well-being, Eddie and his young daughter Charlotte take Nick to the hospital. But Charlotte soon realizes Nick just might be the real deal and, not only that, he’s going to need help to save Christmas and bring toys to children around the world.
Watch Dashing Through The Snow, rated PG.
The Naughty Nine
Fifth-grader Andy has been a troublemaker this year, but he didn’t think too much of it... that is until he got egregiously overlooked by Santa. When he realizes he was a victim of the dreaded “naughty list,” he knows he must take action. Assembling a crew with eight other naughty kids, the scallywags have one mission: breaking into the North Pole and claiming the gifts they feel they are owed.
Watch The Naughty Nine, rated G.
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever
Trouble seems to find Greg, and his best friend Rowley, at every turn and the holidays are no exception. This time, it’s an accidental giant snowball that wreaks havoc on the neighborhood. While the sixth-graders initially avoid detection as the culprits, Greg knows there’s evidence out there that can link him to “the incident” near the toy donation bin in town. But when the mother of all blizzards descends upon the town, Greg winds up snowbound and powerless, literally and figuratively, to set things right before the holiday. Will he ever be good enough to get a new video game console for Christmas? And will he actually have to *gulp* spend quality time with his family?!
Watch Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever starting on Dec. 8, rated PG.
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