The 17 Best Holiday Movies to Watch With Little Kids, Ranked
A beautiful city girl falling in love with a charming small-town innkeeper is my favorite kind of Christmas movie. I love cuddling up with warm hot cocoa and binge-watching fun holiday rom-coms — but my kids? Not so much.
With a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old at home, it can be hard to find a kid-friendly holiday movie that everyone enjoys. (Read: anything that's not Frozen for the 500th time). To make things a little easier, we rounded up the best holiday movies to watch with little kids, ranked in order from "might be bored after 20 minutes" to "will eagerly sit down with smiles." Movies on the list include a mix of timeless classics and new favorites – including, yes, Olaf's Frozen Adventure. You're sure to find something that'll keep your little ones happy and your home full of Christmas cheer the entire holiday season.
The Disney+ original movie, Noelle, is one of my favorites. To be fair, my kids enjoyed it too pretty much the whole time, but the entire plot of Noelle trying to find her missing brother Nick, who is supposed to be Santa Claus, was lost on them. They did like all the scenes at the North Pole and the ones featuring Santa, so it was enough to pique their interest (although I wouldn't rely on it if I was looking for a solid hour-and-a-half movie time).
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a classic holiday movie from 1964, although there was some unfortunate bullying and name-calling that I did not like after re-watching as an adult. My kids were interested off and on, but the animation and plot (involving an out-of-place reindeer, an elf who wants to be a dentist, an Island of Misfit Toys, an Abominable Snow Monster, and more) moved a little too slow to totally grab their attention.
Gathering together to watch Elf is a timeless holiday tradition in my family. There is just something about Will Ferrell in tights and his childlike love of Santa, syrup, and all things Christmas that really spreads holiday cheer. Although parts of the movie went over my toddlers' heads, it's an overall great film to watch with them, as they adore Buddy.
Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Although Dr. Suess's How The Grinch Stole Christmas is forever relatable to me ("Am I just eating because I'm bored?"), my kids are sometimes scared of this sarcastic green guy. The 2000 movie based on the Dr. Suess book and starring Jim Carrey still holds their attention though, as they love seeing the Christmas town of Whoville and watching any scene with Cindy Lou Who.
The Christmas Chronicles
How much my kids loved The Christmas Chronicles honestly surprised me. The fast-paced movie following a brother and sister, Kate and Teddy, who crash Santa's sleigh, then join him and his elves to save Christmas. It was super entertaining to my toddlers (and me, of course). Kurt Russell plays Santa in this high-flying adventure, which has a sequel premiering November 2020.
The Polar Express
Anything with trains rates 10 out of 10 for my sons, so The Polar Express starring Tom Hanks is understandably a huge hit. This animated movie based on the book of the same title follows a boy on his magical train ride to the North Pole. Dancing, hot chocolate, and fantastic animation will be sure to captivate your littles.
The Santa Clause
Despite this movie starting out slower (it shows Scott Calvin at work as he slowly morphs into Santa Claus), The Santa Clause absolutely delights my kids. They love seeing Santa going down chimneys, the reindeer flying, and all the elves at work in the toy factory. They especially love all the scenes with Charlie, and, honestly, same. It's a classic for a reason!
Frosty the Snowman
Just try to watch Frosty the Snowman without the title song getting stuck in your head the rest of the day — it's impossible! Although it's not available for streaming right now, you can buy the Frosty the Snowman DVD at Target for $10. My kids were weirdly mesmerized by this 1969 animated classic. School kids bring Frosty to life, then try to escape the evil magician who is after the snowman's magic hat. At just 26 minutes, kids are sure to be enthralled the entire time.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ this year beginning Dec. 4, A Charlie Brown Christmas is simply a must-watch with your kids. Although some scenes were a little slow for my energetic boys to be totally hooked on, they absolutely loved watching Snoopy and the Peanuts gang learn about the true meaning of Christmas.
The Santa Clause 2
"Toy Santa" always makes my sons laugh in The Santa Clause 2. This 2002 sequel to The Santa Clause ranks high on the list because it starts off with Tim Allen as Santa at the North Pole. Later, he returns to his former self, Scott Calvin, so he can hunt for a Mrs. Claus — or risk never being Santa again. During his absence, a Santa clone takes over the North Pole, inspiring tons of giggles and funny robot moves from my kids. It's a huge hit!
Winnie The Pooh A Very Merry Pooh Year
Sometimes, the best gift you can give your friends is being yourself. In Winnie The Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, Rabbit is annoyed with his friends, so they all make a New Year's resolution to drastically change. He realizes that the Hundred Acre Wood is actually better off when everyone is themselves! If your kids love Pooh Bear, then this is sure to be a hit, although my restless boys kinda wandered off about halfway through.
Dr. Suess’ The Grinch
The animated Dr. Suess' The Grinch is super fun for kids. The Grinch, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, comes alive in this fun animation, as he tries to stop Christmas for the citizens of Whoville by stealing all their gifts. This one was a lot more mesmerizing and a lot less scary for my toddlers, which is honestly all I can ask for in a good holiday movie!
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Claus
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Claus may have gotten significantly lower ratings than the first two movies, but that doesn't matter to my kids. They absolutely love that this movie takes place almost entirely at the North Pole, with Jack Frost trying to take over. They also love that this one features Mrs. Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and several other mystical characters.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
It's no surprise that my kids love anything Frozen-related. Olaf's Frozen Adventure is a huge hit in my house, thanks to new songs, fantastic Christmas decorations, and absolutely hilarious moments featuring Olaf and Sven, as they set out to find new holiday traditions for Anna and Elsa. (My kids laugh hysterically when Olaf's sleigh falls off the cliff, don't ask me why.)
Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas
The cute little monkey and his friend, The Man With The Yellow Hat, star in this adorable holiday movie, Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas. The reason it's number two on my list is because my kids beg to watch it over and over again — all year long. This animated movie is follows George, who is super excited for Christmas to come (just like a toddler, and, um, me TBH), and the Man, who are both struggling to figure out what present the other would want on Christmas morning. It also features a fun song about a Christmas monkey — you'll totally love it.
Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas
When in doubt, turn on Mickey Mouse! My sons love Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, as it features five animated shorts that all tell different holiday stories. These include an ice skating competition between Minnie and Daisy, stubborn Donald resisting the joys of the season, Mickey and Pluto fighting over decorations and learning about friendship, and more.