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25 Classic Christmas Movies (And Where to Stream Them!)

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It's that time of year again! Time to snuggle up with some hot cocoa, popcorn, and your favorite Christmas movie. Whether you're looking to laugh through Elf or get wrapped up in the nostalgia of White Christmas, there are plenty of places to stream your holiday favorites this season. We've put together a list of 25 Christmas classics and exactly where you can find them on streaming services.

So curl up in your coziest pajamas and get ready for some holiday cheer!

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

What's it about: An elderly man named Kris Kringle is hired to take the place of an intoxicated Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kringle is a hit and soon gets a job working as the Santa in the Macy's Manhattan store. When he insists to customers and store employees that he is the real Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and authenticity.

Who's in it: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood

Memorable quote: “Oh Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind!”

Why it's a classic: It's uplifting message of believing in something bigger than ourselves in a world of doubt and cynicism.

Where to stream it? Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock

Elf

What's it about: A heartwarming holiday comedy about Buddy, a regular human who was adopted by Santa's elves as an infant and raised in the North Pole. After finally realizing he doesn't quite fit in with his new family, Buddy travels to New York City to find his biological father and discover his true identity.

Who's in it: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart

Memorable quote: “The best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Why it's a classic: Themes of finding acceptance and belonging, Will Ferrell's humor

Where to stream it? HBO Max

It's a Wonderful Life

What's it about: A small-town man named George Bailey has put off his dreams to help others. After hitting rock bottom on Christmas Eve, George wishes he had never been born and is visited by an angel named Clarence who shows him what life would be like without him. Through his experience, George learns that life is valuable, even in its most difficult times, and that the impact he has made on others’ lives through his selfless acts of kindness can never be underestimated.

Who's in it: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond

Memorable quote: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Why it's a classic: It's uplifting message of how one person can make a great impact on the lives of others.

Where to stream it? Prime Video, Tubi, Hoopla, Plex

Home Alone

What's it about: Tells the story of 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on vacation. When a couple of bumbling burglars, Harry and Marv, try to break into the house, Kevin defends himself and his home using an array of booby traps and creative problem solving

Who's in it: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara

Memorable quote: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”

Why it's a classic: Its mix of slapstick humor with a heartwarming message about family.

Where to stream it? Disney+

The Polar Express

What's it about: The Polar Express is a 2004 American computer-animated adventure film based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. The movie follows the adventures of a young boy who, on Christmas Eve, boards a mysterious train that is bound for the North Pole. The boy embarks on an extraordinary journey to meet Santa Claus and earns a coveted gift by demonstrating to him the importance of believing in the spirit of Christmas.

Who's in it: Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, Eddie Deezen

Memorable quote: “Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”

Why it's a classic: While it’s motion-capture animation may be creepy to some, the film’s messages about friendship, bravery, and Christmas magic resonate with audiences young and old. 

Where to stream it? HBO Max

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

What's it about: Classic stop-motion animated film based on the famous song. The film follows Rudolph, a young reindeer born with a bright red nose. Although ridiculed by his peers, he finds solace in Hermey the elf and Yukon Cornelius, a prospector searching for silver and gold. Together they help prove that Ruldoph is a hero worthy of admiration among all reindeers and elves alike- and he might even earn his place in the sleigh team for Santa himself!

Who's in it: Burl Ives, Larry Mann, Billie Mae Richards, Paul Soles

Memorable quote: “Whoever heard of a skinny Santa?” 

Why it's a classic: It’s a charming adaption of a famous holiday song with iconic animation that has been emulated many times over by other holiday specials.

Where to stream it? Airs multiple times on Freeform, which you can watch with streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV (check out the full schedule from TV Guide here). Also available to purchase from platforms including Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Redbox.

Jingle All the Way

What's it about: Two fathers are desperate to get their hands on a Turbo-Man action figure for their respective sons. As Christmas Eve quickly approaches, they each sprint through malls and stores in search of the coveted toy, all while wrestling with other determined shoppers. A comedic rivalry forms between the two bumbling dads who will do anything to make their kids happy at Christmas time.

Who's in it: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Jake Lloyd, Jim Belushi

Memorable quote: “Put that cookie down… NOW!”

Why it's a classic: Humorous performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, relatable story for parents who have Christmas shopped for sought-after items

Where to stream it? STARZ

Gremlins

What's it about: Tells the story of a young man named Billy Peltzer who receives a strange pet for Christmas, called Gizmo. Gizmo's species, the Mogwai, comes with three important rules: 1) don't get them wet, 2) keep them away from bright light, and 3) never feed them after midnight. When these rules are broken, the Mogwai spawns mischievous gremlins who cause havoc in the small town of Kingston Falls. Billy must fight to save his family and friends from the disaster these creatures have caused.

Who's in it: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, Frances Lee McCain

Memorable quote: “Well, that’s the story. So, if your air conditioner goes on the fritz or your washing machine blows up or your video recorder conks out; before you call the repairman turn on all the lights, check all the closets and cupboards, look under all the beds, ’cause you never can tell there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Why it's a classic: This film's darkly comedic tone has made it a cult hit.

Where to stream it? HBO Max

A Christmas Story

What's it about: Follows the misadventures of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, as he attempts to convince his parents to get him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Set in 1940s Indiana, this beloved film follows Ralphie on his quest to make his dream come true.

Who's in it: Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley

Memorable quote: “You'll shoot your eye out!”

Why it's a classic: Its unique blend of comedy and nostalgia which captures what life was like during post-WWII America.

Where to stream it? HBO Max

Check out our review of its 2022 sequel here.

Frosty the Snowman

What's it about: Frosty the Snowman is a beloved holiday classic about a magical snowman who comes to life with the help of a magical hat. On a cold winter day, a group of children find an old top hat and place it atop the snowman they’ve created, who then start to talk. Frosty then embarks on a journey filled with fun and adventure.

Who's in it: Billy De Wolfe, Jackie Vernon, Paul Frees, June Foray

Memorable quote: “Happy birthday!”

Why it's a classic: Its timeless characters and messages about kindness and selflessness.

Where to stream it? Airs multiple times on Freeform, which you can watch with streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV (check out the full schedule from Decider here). Also available to purchase from platforms including Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Redbox.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

What's it about: Follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey to become a better person. This musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic features both humans and Muppet performers acting alongside each other.

Who's in it: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz

Memorable quote: “Mother always taught me, never eat singing food.”

Why it's a classic: This surprisingly faithful adaptation of the Christmas classic is filled with humor and heart.

Where to stream it? Disney+

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

What's it about: Clark Griswold is determined to have a perfect Christmas with his extended family, but outrageous hijinks ensue when things don't go according to plan. Cousin Eddie, a hillbilly with an RV filled with surprise guests, and the Griswolds' neighbor Todd add to the chaos. Through it all, Clark never loses sight of his goal to create an unforgettable holiday experience for his family.

Who's in it: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis

Memorable quote: “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

Why it's a classic: It’s irreverent, screwball antics showcase a typical American family

Where to stream it? HBO Max

White Christmas

What's it about: Two World War II veterans-turned-stage performers team up with a sister act to save a failing Vermont inn. They plan to put on a big show for the inn's guests and use the proceeds from ticket sales to revive the business. Along the way, romance blooms between some of the main characters.

Who's in it: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen

Memorable quote: “Well if that’s love, somebody goofed.”

Why it's a classic: Its memorable songs and hopeful disposition. 

Where to stream it? Netflix

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

What's it about: A cynical, cave-dwelling “Grinch” creature attempts to ruin Christmas for the cheerful citizens of Whoville. The Grinch's mission starts out simple: He plans to steal all of the presents and decorations on Christmas Eve to prevent Whoville from celebrating the holiday. However, despite his best efforts, the Grinch eventually learns that he can't stop Christmas from coming — and even begins to understand its true meaning.

Who's in it: Jim Carey, Taylor Momsen, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor, Molly Shannon

Memorable quote: “Max, help me… I’m FEELING.”

Why it's a classic: Jim Carrey’s antics, the song “Where Are You, Christmas?”

Where to stream it? HBO Max

A Charlie Brown Christmas

What's it about: Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas. He is trying to find joy in a season that has become overrun with materialism and commercialism. To help him find his way, he turns to Snoopy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang. With the help of Schroeder's piano playing, the gang comes together to create a Christmas pageant that celebrates the real message at the heart of the holiday.

Who's in it: Peter Robbins, Christoper Shea, Kathy Steinberg, Tracy Stratford, Bill Melendez, Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Karen Mendelson, Geoffrey Ornstein

Memorable quote: “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. It just needs a little love.”

Why it's a classic: It’s a wholesome family special with a message against the commercialization of Christmas

Where to stream it? Apple TV+ (you can stream it for free, without a subscription, through the Apple TV app from December 22nd-25th)

The Santa Clause

What's it about: Scott Calvin is an ordinary man who discovers he's been chosen to take over the role of Santa after his predecessor passes away. After stumbling upon Santa's workshop, Scott learns that he has to prove himself worthy of being Santa. With the help of an elf named Bernard and the head Elf Curtis, Scott learns how to fly a sleigh and deliver presents while trying to balance his life as a father with his newfound responsibilities as Santa.

Who's in it: Time Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Peter Boyle

Memorable quote: “You want me to take the toys down the chimney into a stranger's house in my underwear?!”

Why it's a classic: Its combo of humor and emotional moments, with the idea that Santa is more than just a single man

Where to stream it? Disney+

Die Hard

What's it about: Action-packed thriller about a New York City cop who travels to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to reconcile with his estranged wife. When he arrives, he discovers that the building where his wife works has been taken over by terrorists. Now he must fight them off while trying to protect the hostages and alerting the police.

Who's in it: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedlia

Memorable quote: “Yippee-ki-yay, m***erf***er.”

Why it's a classic: Retroactively declared “a Christmas movie” with a bit of irony, this has become the perfect… less traditional holiday film.

Where to stream it? STARZ

Love Actually

What's it about: Love Actually tells nine intertwined stories of people struggling to find love during the winter holiday season. Through it all, each person discovers that sometimes the best way to follow your heart is to take a leap of faith.

Who's in it: Hugh Grant, Liam Neesan, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson

Memorable quote: “To me, you are perfect.”

Why it's a classic: The iconic cue card moment, mushy rom-com feels, performances from actors before they got famous

Where to stream it? Peacock, AMC+

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

What's it about: Remake of the 1947 film whose plot mostly follows the original, but with some modern twists.

Who's in it: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, J.T. Walsh, James Remar, Mara Wilson, Robert Prosky

Memorable quote: “I'm a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If… you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you're doomed for a life dominated by doubt.”

Why it's a classic: The scene with the deaf girl, that Kenny G montage, John Hughes' 90s movie vibes, another witty performance from child actor Mara Wilson

Where to stream it? Disney+, The Roku Channel

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

What's it about: Animated film that matches the style of the Dr. Seuss children’s story about a grumpy creature living high atop a mountain near the town of Whoville. During the holiday season, the Grinch hatches an evil plan to steal Christmas from all of the residents of Whoville. He attempts to disguise himself as Santa Claus and sets out on Christmas Eve with his faithful dog Max in tow. Through various misadventures, he discovers that despite his efforts, Christmas cannot be taken away.

Who's in it: Boris Karloff, June Foray, Dallas McKennon, Thurl Ravenscroft

Memorable quote: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Why it's a classic: Iconic songs including “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” wholesome message about moving past materialism

Where to stream it? Peacock

Scrooged

What's it about:  Modern retelling of A Christmas Carol about a money-hungry and self-centered television executive. On the night before Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by three ghosts from his past, present, and future who try to show him the error of his ways. As he's taken on this journey of redemption, Frank comes to understand the meaning of Christmas and ultimately discovers true happiness.

Who's in it: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Michael J. Pollard, Alfre Woodard

Memorable quote: “What is this? Trump Tower?”

Why it's a classic: Its uplifting message, humor, and musical number at the end

Where to stream it? Prime Video, Paramount+, Pluto TV

Meet Me in St. Louis

What's it about: Tells the story of Esther Smith whose idyllic life is disrupted when her father announces plans to move to New York City. The movie is divided into four parts, based on the seasons in a year. This musical film includes the classic song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Who's in it: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main

Memorable quote: “The main thing is, Tootie, that we’re all going to be together, just like we’ve always been. That’s what really counts. We could be happy anywhere as long as we’re together.”

Why it's a classic: Iconic performance from Judy Garland, the debut of the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Where to stream it? Available for rental or purchase from Apple, Amazon, Google, Vudu, Redbox, and others

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

What's it about: After accidentally taking the wrong plane during a family trip to Florida, Kevin finds himself alone (again!) and on his own in Manhattan. While there, Kevin finds himself embroiled in a series of adventures.

Who's in it: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Tim Curry, Brenda Fricker, Catherine O’Hara

Memorable quote: “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal, and a Happy New Year.”

Why it's a classic: Tim Curry’s performance, Christmas in the city vibes, the touching moment with the turtle doves

Where to stream it? Disney+

The Nightmare Before Christmas

What's it about: Stop-motion animated film from the macabre mind of Tim Burton. When Jack Skellington, the “pumpkin king” of Halloweentown stumbles into Christmastown, he decides to kidnap Santa so he can take over the role himself. 

Who's in it: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Ed Ivory

Memorable quote: “Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can't believe it!”

Why it's a classic: Its status as a hybrid Halloween/Christmas movie, impressive animation, unconventional spooky vibes for a Christmas movie

Where to stream it? Disney+

The Preacher's Wife

What's it about: Remake of the classic film The Bishop’s Wife. When a preacher begins to doubt himself, an angel comes to visit him to help with his midlife crisis only to become distracted by the preacher’s wife.

Who's in it: Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Justin Pierre Edmund, Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine

Memorable quote: “Just because you can't see the air doesn't keep you from breathing. And just because you can't see God doesn't keep you from believing.”

Why it's a classic: Its uplifting message, performance from the late Whitney Houston

Where to stream it? The Roku Channel, BET+

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Matt Davis
Matt Davis
Matt Davis is a writer, entertainment critic, and content creator that hails from the Kanas City area. He has been featured in various publications, including TODAY.com and CNET. As the founder of Shall I Stream It? he has helped it grow into a multi-platform media outlet that reaches over 100,000 viewers each month.
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