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Top 12 American Christmas Movies

The winter holiday season is the perfect time of year to gather with family and friends, drink hot cocoa, and sit by the fire while watching a classic Christmas movie. Below you will discover an assortment of the top 12 American Christmas films to watch. Whether you’re looking for a timeless classic or an light-hearted romcom, below you will be sure to find your new favorite festive film!


A Christmas Story – This 1980s comedy follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker, whose sole desire is to get a rifle as a Christmas present, despite warnings from friends and family members who tell him that “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Follow along with Ralphie’s misadventures for a holiday film that will have the whole family laughing!


It’s a Wonderful Life – This 1946 film stars Hollywood actor James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who wishes he had never been born. A guardian angel comes to George to show him how many lives he has touched in this truly heartfelt holiday classic.


Elf – This contemporary comedy features Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human man raised as an elf in the North Pole. Journey with Buddy to New York City, as he travels in search of his birth father and wreaks havoc across the city!


A Charlie Brown Christmas – This animated film is only 30 minutes long, but has become a beloved story in the hearts of many Americans. Watch as Charles M. Schultz’s famous cartoon character, Charlie Brown, buys a pathetically tiny Christmas tree that his friends make fun of, until the real meaning of Christmas is remembered.


White Christmas – Do you love music numbers? Comedy? Romance? This 1954 post-war classic features prominent stars and singers of the era, like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. This cast of characters comes to find that their much-loved general during the war has fallen on hard times: he has run into financial difficulties and might have to close his inn. In response, old friends put together a huge theatrical show to raise money for the old general in this delightful production!


A Miracle on 34th Street – In this timeless 1947 Christmas film, a man who claims that he is Santa Claus is declared mentally ill, while a young lawyer defends him in court saying that the man is actually Santa. Full of subplots and heartwarming characters, this movie imagines what it means to truly have the spirit of Christmas.


Home Alone – This 1990 adventure comedy is a cult classic that is ideal for the whole family! In this movie, eight-year-old Kevin McCallister accidentally gets left home alone while his family goes on Christmas vacation. Unfortunately, it is during this time that two con men decide to rob the house. Check out this movie and we guarantee you’ll be laughing along with Kevin’s misadventures!


The Polar Express – In this animated film featuring actor Tom Hanks, a young boy is taken to the North Pole on a magical train ride. On his Christmas Eve adventure, his doubts about the existence of Santa Claus are cleared up in this lovely story about what it means to truly believe in the power of Christmas.


Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – This live-action movie wonderfully captures the spirit of Dr. Seuss’ tale about how the Grinch, who lives as a recluse, decides to ruin the holiday for the town of Whoville. However, the Grinch’s plans are unexpectedly foiled when he meets Cindy Lou Who!


The Holiday – Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black star in this holiday rom-com. In this film, two women (one who lives in the US, one who lives in England) swap houses over the winter holidays after going through breakups. While living each other’s lives, they both find romantic interests, but can these new relationships last?


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – This 1964 stop-motion film recreates the timeless story of Rudolph, a misfit in the North Pole due to his red nose, who goes on a journey with friends to find a new home where they will fit in.


Frosty the Snowman – This 1969 animated movie follows the classic winter tale, where children place a magical top-hat on a snowman’s head, causing him to come to life. Trouble hits as warm weather begins to arrive: Frosty has to find a new place to live or risk melting!


  1. Romcom: Short for “romantic comedy,” this term refers to a genre of film and television

  2. (To) Wreak Havoc: This idiom refers to causing a lot of problems or chaos

  3. (To) Fall on Hard Times: This idiom refers to going to a difficult time, especially in regards to a finances

  4. Recluse: Someone who lives alone and avoids others

  5. Stop-Motion (Film, Movie, TV Show, Etc.): A technique used in the film industry to make animated characters look like they are moving by constantly starting and stopping the camera



Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.

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