The most relaxing part of the holiday season is the time spent sunk into the sofa watching Christmas movies, hopefully accompanied by a pile of cookies. It’s peak coziness, as the best Christmas movies often involve quests for romance or identity, a hefty amount of snow and plot lines that wrap up neatly as the holiday nears.
From numerous retellings of A Christmas Carol to the ever-relatable Griswold family bungling up the holiday, some of the best Christmas movies provide comfort during one of the most hectic times of the year. Reliving Emma Thompson breaking down to Joni Mitchell in Love Actually, or ordering a solo cheese pizza to honor Kevin McCallister in Home Alone only enhances the holiday.
Binge on movies available now on Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services throughout the holiday season with our suggestions of the best Christmas movies below. Plus, you can read about what’s coming up.
Best Christmas Movies of 2018
The Holiday Calendar
Abby Sutton (Kat Graham) is a photographer in a creative rut. But her grandfather (Ron Cephas Jones) gives an antique advent calendar to her for Christmas, magic begins to take over — and a love triangle involving Abby’s best friend, Josh (Quincy Brown), and a dapper British doctor (Ethan Peck), spirals out of control.
How to watch it: The Holiday Calendar is available on Netflix.
The Christmas Chronicles
A brother and sister attempt to capture Santa Claus on video, only to find themselves thrust into an otherworldly journey. The pair embarks on a journey with Santa himself (played by a jolly Kurt Russell), the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance. Produced by Chris Columbus, director of modern Christmas classic Home Alone, the family-friendly film promises a spirited meeting of holiday charm and visual effects.
How to watch it: The Christmas Chronicles is available on Netflix on Nov. 22.
Lucy (Tatyana Ali) is thrilled to make partner at her law firm — but her joy is soon extinguished by the death of her beloved sister, Alice. Upon returning to her hometown for the holidays, Lucy must deal with the complex will Alice left behind, requiring her to stay for 30 days to inherit their childhood home. Christmas Everlasting won’t be streaming, but tune in to see a turn by the legendary Patti LaBelle.
How to watch it: Christmas Everlasting airs on Hallmark on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. EST.
Memories of Christmas
Noelle (Christina Milian) is disappointed to discover that her mother’s tradition of Christmas decorating has been built upon a lie. It’s been a decorator trimming the house the whole time. So she calls the deal off when she learns the truth about her late mother’s Christmas decorating legacy, but strikes up an unexpected romance. Milian, known for early-2000s flicks like Bring It On, brings her humor and charm that make this worth watching.
How to watch it: Memories of Christmas airs on Hallmark on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. EST.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
It’s no surprise that A Christmas Prince, which charmed fans and caused a social media sensation, gets a follow-up. The winding story, which premiered on Netflix in 2017, introduced the romance between journalist Amber (Rose McIver) and Richard (Ben Lamb), prince of the fictional Aldovia. The sequel, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, will — unsurprisingly — center on the couple’s marriage. But as lovers of the first movie know, much is bound to go wrong within the walls of Aldovia’s royal castle.
How to watch it: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding will be available on Netflix on Nov. 30.
A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy
You can’t stream this one either, but John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are already everyone’s favorite mom and dad so it’s worth marking your calendar for the night they grace the television screen as Mr. and Mrs. Claus with a new Christmas special. The hour-long special will feature Legend performing songs from his holiday album, “A Legendary Christmas” — and according to NBC, you can expect a number of drop-ins from from celebrities and artists alike spreading the cheer.
How to watch it: A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy airs on NBC on Nov. 28 at 10 p.m. EST.
Best Christmas Movies of 2017
A Bad Moms Christmas
The three heroes of Bad Moms (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) are back and badder than ever for Christmas, with an extra helping of maternal love. See what happens when the women’s own mothers come by for the holidays.
How to watch it: A Bad Moms Christmas was released in theaters nationwide in 2017.
A Christmas Prince
In the original, the young reporter (Rose McIver) flies off to the fictional country of Aldovia to write about a mysterious prince (Ben Lamb). Romance ensues in Netflix’s version of a made-for-TV Christmas movie, which was released in 2017, complete with sled rides, snow and royal balls.
How to watch it: A Christmas Prince is available to stream on Netflix.
A donkey and his fellow animal friends shine a new perspective on the birth of Jesus, bringing audiences their view of the first Christmas.
How to watch it: The Star was released in theaters nationwide on Nov. 17.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Charles Dickens’ (Dan Stevens) journey to creating the timeless A Christmas Carol comes to life, with Christopher Plummer playing the famed Ebenezer Scrooge.
How to watch it: The Man Who Invented Christmas was released in theaters in 2017.
Best Christmas Movies of All Time
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
James Stewart plays George Bailey, a businessman who hits rock bottom during the most wonderful time of the year. Luckily, an angel from heaven appears at a key moment to show George what life would be like without him.
How to watch it: It’s a Wonderful Life is available to buy on iTunes.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A man claiming to be the real Santa Claus stirs controversy in the department store where he works in this classic Christmas movie.
White Christmas (1954)
A duo of musical performers falls in love with two sisters and team up to save a a failing resort that belongs to their former commanding general.
How to watch it: White Christmas is available to stream on Netflix.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Two gift shop employees who hate each other become anonymous pen pals as Christmas nears. Fans of this film will also enjoy the 1998 remake, You’ve Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.
How to watch it: The Shop Around the Corner is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Love Actually (2003)
Much has been made about the quality of Love Actually, which follows eight loosely connected couples as they deal with various romantic and family problems. Despite its low points — remember Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) signs declaring love for the married Juliet (Keira Knightley)? — the movie is seared in our brains as a must-watch around the holiday season.
Best Funny Christmas Movies
A Christmas Story (1983)
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) desperately wants a Red Ryder B.B. gun for Christmas, but obstacles in the form of his parents and teacher get in the way.
How to watch it: A Christmas Story is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised as an elf in the North Pole, sets off to New York City to find his birth father and real identity as a man.
How to watch it: Elf is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has grand plans for celebrating Christmas with his family, until they all start to fall apart. The arrival of extended family members doesn’t exactly help matters.
How to watch it: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Bad Santa (2003)
A grifter and his partner in crime pretend to be Santa Claus and an elf in an effort to rob department stores on Christmas Eve.
How to watch it: Bad Santa is available to stream on Netflix.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a busy dad trying to get a Turbo Man action figure in time for Christmas. His desperation to find the sold-out toy has him running around town competing with other parents, including a man named Myron (Sinbad), in order to get in his son’s good graces.
How to watch it: Jingle All the Way is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Home Alone (1990)
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is left behind by his family when they head off on Christmas vacation. Though he revels at first in his newfound independence, Kevin quickly realizes he has to protect his home from a pair of burglars.
How to watch it: Home Alone is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Best Disney Christmas Movies
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington, who is the king of Halloween Town, stumbles upon Christmas Town and decides he wants to partake in the celebrations. His efforts to bring Christmas cheer to his home sows confusion and has some disastrous consequences.
How to watch it: The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Netflix.
Anna (Kristen Bell) partners up with a mountaineer (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer and a snowman to change the permanent winter conditions of their kingdom caused by her sister Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), who struggles to control her magical powers.
How to watch it: Frozen is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Kermit, Miss Piggy and the other Muppets present their rendition of A Christmas Carol. Michael Caine plays the bitter and mean Scrooge, who learns about his mistakes through visits from Ghosts of Christmas who show him the past, present and future.
How to watch it: The Muppet Christmas Carol is available to rent on Amazon.
The Santa Clause (1994)
A father accidentally kills Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, only to find that he has to take St. Nick’s place in delivering presents on time.
How to watch it: The Santa Clause is available to stream on Netflix.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Jim Carrey stars as Scrooge in Disney’s animated telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story.
How to watch it: A Christmas Carol is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Best Animated Christmas Movies
The Polar Express (2004)
A young boy learns to believe in the spirit of Christmas after being whisked away on a magical train journey to the North Pole on Christmas Eve in this animated Christmas movie.
How to watch it: The Polar Express is available to rent or buy on Amazon.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
While technically an animated TV special, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a must-see around the holiday season. See the grumpy Grinch’s plan to take away Christmas from a nearby village falter — and check out the live action version on Netflix if you’re craving an extended stay in Whoville.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown is depressed about the state of Christmas — and learns about the true spirit of the holiday with the help of friends like Linus and Lucy.
How to watch it: A Charlie Brown Christmas is available to stream on ABC.
The Legend of Frosty the Snowman (2005)
The perfect Christmas movie for kids, Frosty the Snowman follows a giant snowman as he convinces local kids that magic is real — much to the chagrin of the town mayor.
How to watch it: The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is available to stream on Netflix.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Another TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brings the Christmas carol to life as a young reindeer tries to find acceptance after feeling like a misfit.
How to watch it: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is available to rent or buy on Amazon.