The Best Holiday Movies and Specials—and Where to Watch Them

By Tanay Howard

Some of my favorite holiday memories include sleepovers with my cousins, making gingerbread houses, and staying up ridiculously late to catch our favorite holiday movies on TV. And while times have changed in regards to how we watch our favorite programs, one thing remains the same: I can’t resist the holiday classics.

From A Charlie Brown Christmas to The Grinch (all versions) and the Christmas tree lighting, I am constantly introducing my little ones to my favorite holiday movies. And with three children who love everything ranging from CoComelon to Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ve had to keep up with all of our holiday favorites and where they can be watched. Here’s what I’ve come up with for where and when you can catch some of your favorite holiday movies and shows.

Family Friendly Live Events

National Christmas Tree Lighting: Celebrating 100 Years

December 11th at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and streaming on Paramount+

2022 marks the 100th lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Hosted by LL Cool J, the special will include appearances by celebrity guests such as Gloria Estefan, Andy Grammer, Joss Stone, Shania Twain, and the U.S. Marine Band.

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All

December 20th at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and streaming on Paramount+

The “Queen of Christmas” will be live from Madison Square Garden. In a two hour concert special, Carey will be performing a selection of holiday hits so now is the perfect opportunity to get in your voice training so you can belt along to “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade

December 25th at 10 a.m. ET and streaming on Hulu on December 26th

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit a Walt Disney theme park on Christmas Day, the parade will give you a small glimpse of the magic without the chaos. Hosted by Derek and Julianne Hough, Sherry Cola, and Marcus Scribner the special with show segments of the parade from Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. There will also be performances from guests such as Neyo, Megan Trainor, Black Eyed Peas and more!

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Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest

December 31st at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Eighteen-time host Ryan Seacrest and co-host Liza Koshy return to Times Square to host this iconic countdown for its 51st year. While this countdown may be a little late for the kiddos, we tend to at least wake up for the ball drop!

Holiday Shows With Kids’ Favorite Characters

Peppa Pig Christmas Specials

Streaming on Amazon Prime, the official Peppa Pig YouTube, and Noggin

Your children’s favorite pink pig has a variety of holiday specials to choose from. “Father Christmas” and “Santa’s Visit” are just two of the many episodes featuring Peppa, George, and their friends and family during the holiday season. Side note: Father Christmas is the only human character I’ve ever seen in an episode which is mildly amusing to me.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa

Streaming on Disney+

Kids and caregivers everywhere recognize the intro to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. While there are a ton of variations to the popular show now, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse remains a toddler favorite. Your little ones can watch Mickey and friends help save Santa during a Christmas emergency on Disney+.

Bluey: Verandah Santa

Streaming on Disney+, Disney Now, Youtube TV, and Hulu Premium

Undoubtedly the best children’s show on TV these days, Bluey and little sister Bingo are always up to the most age appropriate preschool antics while their parents struggle to figure it out—just like us! In the “Verandah Santa,” episode the sisters, along with their cousins Muffin and Socks, try to figure out how Santa will come to visit without a chimney. The next few minutes show the cutest imaginative play and relatable Dad one-liners.

Sesame Street: Elmo Saves Christmas

Streaming on Youtube and Amazon Prime

When Elmo wishes it was Christmas everyday, his friends on Sesame Street help him realize just how much his wish impacts everyone else. Big Bird, the Count, and all your Sesame Street faves team up to help Elmo save the very special holiday.

An Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf

Streaming on Netflix

Scout the Elf has taken his whimsical magic to TV! Elf on the Shelf fans will be excited for this 26 minute episode on Netflix in which Scout takes on an assignment to help restore a little boy’s belief in Christmas.

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CoComelon Holiday Episodes

Streaming on the official CoComelon Youtube Channel

This season the Melon Patch Kids are releasing five new episodes to go along with their already extensive list of holiday playlist favorites. The five episodes are holiday-inclusive, representing Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Releasing weekly, the last episode releases on December 20th with a Christmas Time singalong that encourages kids to share their holiday wishes.

Family Holiday Movies to Watch Together

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Streaming on Apple TV+

Unhappy with the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown rounds up the gang to help him discover the true meaning of Christmas. If for the nostalgia alone, you and your family can enjoy this holiday classic which is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+.

Elf

Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video, streaming on HBO Max

Santa’s coming!! From the North Pole to New York City, Buddy the Elf travels to find his biological father who also happens to be on Santa’s naughty list. Will Ferrell stars as everyone’s favorite elf in this holiday comedy that the whole family can appreciate.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Streaming on Netflix

A newer Christmas movie musical, Jingle Jangle quickly became an instant favorite in our home. Full of whimsy, music, magic, and their very own grinch in the form of Jeronicus Jangle, the movie wraps you up in the magic of family, Christmas, and the holiday spirit. Plus Keegan Michael-Key is the perfect musical villain!

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Streaming on Disney+

Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the muppets put on their own version of the classic story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s definitely a unique twist on a long told holiday story.

The Christmas Chronicles

Streaming on Netflix

Kurt Russell is the Santa Claus we didn’t know we needed. When siblings Kate and Teddy hijack Santa’s sleigh causing it to crash and lose all the presents, they team up to help Santa save Christmas and correctly deliver all the presents.

Home Alone

Streaming on Disney+

Home Alone used to be what my childhood dreams were made of! When Kevin McAllisters family forgets him on their Christmas vacation (the first time), Kevin is left home by himself to ward off a pair of highly ill-equipped home burglars. Home Alone was such a hit there have been several movies made after it, all of which are available to stream on Disney+.

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The Grinch

Streaming on Hulu

With multiple versions of the Dr. Seuss classic, the 2018 animated version, The Grinch, is a family favorite. Pharrell, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kenyan Thompson all lend their voices in this animated story with music from Tyler the Creator. Your heart just may grow three sizes after streaming this animated classic.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Streaming on Disney+

When Jack discovers Christmastown the rest of his town is a little confused on his attempts to bring the new holiday home, and a kidnapping of Santa Claus goes seriously wrong. Though the pumpkin king may be a little dark for some of the younger viewers, children a little older will love Jack Skellington in this fun Halloween/Christmas mashup.

Klaus

Streaming on Netflix

From the hand-drawn animation to the untold origin story of Santa, Klaus is a highly rated (on Rotten Tomatoes) animated Christmas movie. The story is told through the eyes of a postman who teams up with a toy maker who brings holiday cheer to their very grumpy town.

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