There's nothing like snuggling up with your kids to celebrate the season with a family movie night, after all the shopping, parties, presents, and big meals are over. Fortunately there are many classics, both old and new, that offer the perfect retreat from all that holiday hoopla. Grab your popcorn and check out our list of favorites:
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Your eyes may get mistier than your child's, but the lessons of friendship and strength of character revealed in Jimmy Stewart's famous movie reach across generations. Recommended for school-aged kids (6 and up), since younger children may get scared or confused by George Bailey's initial depression.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Enjoy the sleigh ride back to your own childhood with dear little Rudolph and his red flickering nose. With Burl Ives as narrator, this classic Christmas tale featuring elves, dentists, and snowmen is a must-see for the entire family. Just one warning, younger children will want to watch this movie over and over!
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown's statement about holiday commercialism is a true classic. Watch as he and Linus turn a Christmas tree runt into a thing of wondrous beauty, and learn the real meaning of Christmas. When the cast sings "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," everyone in your family will get tingles. Ages 7+.
March of the Penguins (2005)
This nature documentary was a surprise hit in theaters, but it's easy to see why. The mesmerizing story of the Emperor Penguins who endure harsh storms and starvation to nurture their chicks through the winter is as moving a film as any Christmas special. Plus, it helps kids (and their parents) appreciate what they have, as they cozy up on the couch with blankets and snacks. A wonderful addition to any Christmas movie list. Ages 7+
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)
This timeless classic still packs its punch. Besides featuring a nasty villain, the mean old Burgermeister who threatens to remove all toys from the town of Sombertown, we're also treated to a touching love story between Kris Kringle and Jessica (the future Mr. and Mrs. Claus). And who can forget the "evil" Winter Warlock, whose heart is melted by the magic of Christmas. You better watch out is right. Ages 6+.
The Santa Clause (1994)
When Scott Calvin (Tim Allen of Home Improvement and the Toy Story movies) starts morphing into Santa Claus, including growing a beard and a belly, the only person who knows the true story is his son, Charlie. In this crowd-pleasing "divorced day done right by Santa," Allen's affable charm and humor carry the day. Rated PG for some mild language.
The Polar Express (2004)
Based on Chris Van Allsburg's award-winning children's book, the all-digital The Polar Express is destined to become a holiday perennial. With live performances (Tom Hanks is the lead) transformed into digital magic, the film offers enough eye candy to satisfy any filmgoer's sweet tooth for visual splendor. Ages 4+.