21 Kid Christmas Movies That Still Hold Up as an Adult
Christmas is a time of nostalgia, and for many of us, this time includes watching our favorite films of the season. The movies we fall in love with as kids don’t always stand up, but there is something special about Christmas films.
While many of the ones below we may have first watched as children, we can still enjoy them today and share them with our kids. They have stood the test of time and deserve another look.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%IMDb: 8.3
As a cartoon that conveyed deeper meanings, especially in this Christmas offering, this one has stood the test of time. It gives a good message and is also entertaining.
A Good Message
Charlie Brown seeks the true meaning of Christmas when he is upset by all the commercialism. It is up to Linus to help him find it while Charlie Brown directs the school play.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%IMDb: 8.0
This version of the story of Rudolph will never get old. I put this one on every year when decorating the tree. This one is still enjoyable to watch as an adult and share with kids.
Never Gets Old
It follows the story as Rudolph is made fun of by his peers and shunned by the adult reindeer for having a glowing red nose. He shows all of them when he is needed to help them get through a storm to save Christmas.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1967)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%IMDb: 8.3
The original Grinch has Boris Karloff as the main character, so you can’t top that. His voice is perfect for this, and it stands the test of time. The original is magical in its message and story.
Stands The Test of Time
We follow the Grinch, who hates Christmas as he steals from the Whos, but then redeems himself by giving it all back. It is short, which is also nice for sharing with little kids, so it gets through the story quickly.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%IMDb: 7.7
With so many depictions of Santa Claus, this unique view of his origins is set in Germany. The animated film is fascinating to watch and fun for kids just from the ridiculous name Burgermeister Meisterburger.
Fascinating Animated Film
It follows the story as Kris is raised by toy makers and tries to deliver toys to Sombertown, which is run by the grumpy Meisterburger. The oddly named city official is not Kris’ only opposition; there is also an evil wizard.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%IMDb: 7.9
Which of us didn’t have that one toy we wanted that was either too expensive or too dangerous? That’s what makes A Christmas Story so relatable for so many. We can now also identify with the parents who want to keep their kids safe.
The story centers around Ralphie wanting a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He comes up with different ways to convince his parents that it is the right gift for him.
Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%IMDb: 7.7
As one of the best adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the Muppets stand the test of time. While you would think this would be a watered-down of the classic for kids, it authentically presents the story but uses the Muppets.
Scrooge Steller Performance
Michael Caine turns in a stellar performance as Ebenezer Scrooge and presents a depth of feeling that rivals even adult versions of the story. His character arc is so well presented, and he creates a Scrooge you care for at the end, which is the point.
Frosty The Snowman (1969)
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%IMDb: 7.3
As the most famous snowman, Frosty the Snowman is a great one to introduce kids to that many of us also saw as kids. It is filled with fun. However, you may wonder at the kids’ lack of appropriate clothing since they’re all wearing shorts.
The Most Famous Snowman
The magical story follows a group of kids who build a snowman and bring him to life with a magic hat. Then, they must transport him to the North Pole, so he doesn’t melt all the while being pursued by the disgruntled previous owner of the magic hat.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%IMDb: 6.5
As a film that spawned two sequels and a Disney+ series, the original The Santa Clause was a fun and different approach to the myth of Santa Claus. You have Tim Allen’s character, Scott, who enters this clause unwittingly and goes on an adventure that gets him a new job.
A Funny Look at The Myth
This film is still fun to watch as an adult and gives a funny look at the myth of Santa. It is enjoyable to share with kids and still watch as an adult today.
Home Alone (1990)
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%IMDb: 7.7
While it may be problematic to remember a kid being forgotten during a family trip, Home Alone gave us Macaulay Culkin in his breakthrough role as Kevin, a bratty kid who battles burglars and wins. It is still entertaining to watch, with plenty of slapstick.
Filled With Iconic Lines and Good Comedy
The only problem is that you realize you don’t want your kids to behave like him. Other than that, it’s a film filled with iconic lines and some good comedy as Kevin defends his home against a pair of burglars.
White Christmas (1954)
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%IMDb: 7.5
White Christmas has been around for a long time and is a long-standing tradition for Christmas movies. Because of the songs and dancing, it never gets old. Many of us happily watch it every year.
A Classic, Long-Standing Tradition
Sharing it with kids is an excellent part of the tradition. It also helps show what classics are and why they should still be appreciated. It follows a show business team, who find love and help their old general with tough times that have befallen his inn.
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%IMDb: 6.4
The tale of Prancer follows a girl who finds a hurt reindeer, who she believes is one of Santa’s. She works to heal the animal and improves the Christmas spirit of those around her.
A Girl Heals a Hurt Reindeer
The cast features Sam Elliott and Cloris Leachman, which you can appreciate more as an adult than you did as a kid. It also gives a break from some of the animated movies that are so common for the season.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%IMDb: 8.0
This one is an excellent addition to the repertoire of films that take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It perfectly casts Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, who the character is based on, and Mickey Mouse works well as Bob Cratchit.
Fun for Both Adults and Kids
This one is still fun to watch for both adults and kids. Many of us saw it initially as children, so the nostalgia remains. It’s also fun for our kids, who get to see Mickey differently.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%IMDb: 5.6
Looking back, Ernest was a strange trend, but he had a lot of heart, and Jim Varney had his funny moments. The best out of his series was this film, Ernest Saves Christmas. It takes a new twist on the myth of Santa and helps Ernest serve a significant role in the holiday.
Has a Lot of Heart
Even after watching it for many years, it doesn’t get old. It is a fun throwback with a unique storyline. It is still enjoyable to watch Ernest freak out about driving the sleigh as he works hard to get it to the new Santa on time.
The Snowman (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%IMDb: 8.2
The magic of this piece surrounds a snowman who comes to life and takes his creator to the North Pole, where they meet Santa Claus. The cool thing about this one is that the entire story is told without speaking. It’s all music.
Keeps Attention Well With a Different Premise
This one is another interesting film to put in and share with kids. The premise is different and keeps attention well.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%IMDb: 7.0
While many of us may not have been kids when this one came out, we are approaching the twentieth anniversary, so it makes sense to include it here. It can be enjoyed by both adults and kids and gives a new look at the holiday.
Gives a New Look at The Holiday
We follow Buddy (Will Ferrell), who is a human that grew up at the North Pole, believing he was an elf. When he finds out he’s not, he searches for his dad to learn more about who he is.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%IMDb: 7.9
Director Tim Burton was starting to come into his own style here with his story of The Nightmare Before Christmas. While Oogie Boogie may have frightened us as kids, the rest of the film is a cool concept of combining Halloween and Christmas. So much so that the film can fit into both categories.
A Cool Concept Combining Halloween and Christmas
We follow Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town and a skeleton, as he finds Christmas town. He is so mesmerized by the beautiful decorations and presents that he decides to take over the holiday for himself., but he soon realizes they can’t do it quite right.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%IMDb: 7.3
Although you may need older kids to share this one, it is a unique Christmas film combined with horror elements. It also demonstrates how you must be careful when caring for your pets.
A Christmas Film With Horror Elements
A teenager receives a Mogwai for Christmas from his dad, who warns him of the rules involving his care. When all the rules are broken, the Mogwai produces offspring that, instead of being cute and cuddly like him, go on a rampage and terrorize the city.
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%IMDb: 7.7
The idea of Christmas not coming because Santa can’t deliver toys is one that has now been done many times. This one showcases that premise by revolving around a sick Santa who wants to take the night off.
A Departure From Some of The Usual Christmas Movies
He also thinks that people don’t have as much Christmas spirit as they used to, so his elves set out to prove him wrong and save the holiday. This one is a departure from some of the usual ones, but still interesting to watch as an adult.
Babes in Toyland (1961)
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%IMDb: 6.1
As one of the lesser-known ones, Babes in Toyland has Christmas tones in a section where they help a toy maker meet his deadline for Christmas. Other than that, the film surrounds many familiar nursery rhymes and characters.
Surrounds Many Familiar Nursery Rhymes
Mary (Annette Funicello) is betrothed to Tom (Tommy Sands) when he is kidnapped by the evil Barnaby (Ray Bolger). Unbeknownst to Mary, she is set to inherit a bunch of money when she marries. This is money that Barnaby wants.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%IMDb: 7.3
Growing up, I mostly saw the edited version since my parents had taped it off of TV, but it still holds a funny place in my heart. It is one of the best National Lampoon movies and even features a squirrel rampaging through the house.
Chaotic and Relatable
We follow Clark (Chevy Chase) as he prepares to host many family members for Christmas. It is chaotic and relatable as things inevitably go wrong. While not all parts are entirely family-friendly, I still look back on it fondly.
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Rotten Tomatoes: N/AIMDb: 8.1
The Muppets offer many of us who grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s a huge dose of nostalgia whenever we watch them. This gem is only available in its entirety on YouTube because of licensing issues. It features characters from Sesame Street.
Fozzie Surprises His Mom
It revolves around Fozzie Bear surprising his mom with a visit from him and all of his show business friends. Whether it’s the gag of slipping on the icy patch or Miss Piggy getting distracted on her way there, this one will always hold a special place in many of our hearts.
Kristen Winiarski has worked as a professional writer for 15 years, studying classic TV shows and films to further her expertise and understanding about how they have evolved. This passion led her to start her own classic movie blog before branching out into the professional entertainment writing world.