These days, people start celebrating Christmas as soon as they’ve taken off their Halloween costumes. According to the Boston Metro, the song “Sleigh Bells” had already been played on the radio over 43,000 times by December 1. The Christian holiday countdown begins several weeks before the big event.
The pre and post-holiday relaxation week leaves a lot of time to curl up and watch some classic holiday movies. Even after eliminating all the wonderful options given to me by the Lifetime and ABC Family networks (can’t believe I missed out on The Christmas Wish, or Someone Rethinks Their Life Choices: The Scrooge/Angry Workaholic/Deadbeat Dad/Dying Person Story), there is still a veritable advent calendar of options to be had.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon, let’s be real here) AND A Charlie Brown Christmas
“Who doesn’t love tales of a reformed green monster set to rhyming narration and/or the forlorn little tree, Snoopy and Vince Guaraldi music? They’re usually on back to back on Christmas Eve, and it’s an hour of absolute holiday perfection.” –Angela Stefano
“Although it’s not a traditional Christmas movie like some of the others, this is a family favorite. Seriously, who can resist Billy Mack’s epically hilarious rendition of “Christmas Is All Around“? Peppered with nudity, f-bombs, cheating husbands and orgies, it’s a Christmas miracle that this movie manages to have such incredible heart and depth.” –Jessica Weil
“Because there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus! Between the amazing holiday-centric plots and story lines, and an octopus at the nativity play, this has to be my favorite holiday movie of all time. Because love is all around us, actually, and the holidays were made for love!” –Erica Dermer
A Muppet Christmas Carol
“Even though there have been tons of different renditions of the classic Charles Dickens tale, spanning from Alastair Sim to Jim Carrey, this is the version where I find the most enjoyment. It’s a mixture of seeing the story as presented by some of my favorite childhood characters and the fun songs throughout the movie that really make it a holiday must for me.” –Katie Wall
“When I think about being a kid, I think about the Muppets. My first piece of music was a record of Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection.” I watched the Muppet Babies religiously. I loved reading Muppet books and watching Muppet movies. I was totally a Muppets kid. Strangely enough, I have some pretty great memories of being sick around Christmas and watching Michael Caine sing and dance with rats while Gonzo did his best to be Charles Dickens. I still have the tape, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite I’m-not-feeling-great movies.” –Mandy Boyle
It’s A Wonderful Life
“Every year my mother would play the movie while my brother and I opened presents on Christmas morning. It’s classic, it’s romantic, and it’s family oriented. You reach the point of watching a movie so much, the characters become your friends on some level. George Bailey is one my favorite characters that Christmastime has given me. –Lisa Bonofiglio
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
“How do senile Aunt Bethany, a fire-charred Christmas tree, and Uncle Eddie emptying his RV sewage into the street not make you feel better about your own family during the holidays? Just as Clark Griswold wished, when Santa squeezed his fat, white ass down that chimney that night, he sure did find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse. But between the neighbors’ obnoxious yuppie banter and the squirrel that decides to interrupt Christmas dinner, you can’t help getting a little teary-eyed at Clark’s unwavering nostalgia for the most beloved holiday of the year.” –Lisa Decanio
Topping the list of my personal favorites is A Christmas Story, the story of a family so hilarious and dysfunctional they give the Griswolds a run for their money. And, with the added bonus of constant Christmas Day repetition courtesy of “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” on TBS, I can rest assured that whether I’m sharing gifts with my family at 10 am, helping set the table at 3 pm, or napping on the couch at 7 pm, I won’t miss the “fra-jee-lay” leg lamp, Ralphie in his pink bunny jammies, or the glorious moment when he at last receives his beloved Red Ryder BB gun, only to promptly fulfill the adult world’s worst fears by shooting his eye out.
A close second for me is Elf, a new heartwarmer that makes me consider answering my phone with, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” As Buddy, a syrup-guzzling, slow-to-catch-on, endlessly positive man adopted by Santa’s elves, Will Ferrell is full to the brim with holiday happiness…and sugar. You just have to cheer Buddy on as he sings, dances, and decorates his way through life in New York.
For a true lover of all things Christmas like me, this list feels impossibly pared down. Where is tiny Macaulay Culkin narrowly escaping doom at every turn in Home Alone? Or fat Tim Allen falling off the roof in The Santa Clause? Don’t even get me started on Miracle on 34th Street, or all the magical Claymation wonderlands—Rudolph and Burl Ives! However streamlined, this list of Millennial favorites will get you through the holidays with the essentials—just add cocoa.