In my family, our Christmas day tradition always involved a nice big breakfast, lots of coffee, lots of gifts, and then afterward, we’d bundle up and brave the crowds at a midtown movie theater for one of the big releases. (Yes, crowds — clearly we’re not the only one with this tradition in NYC!)

Since having kids who are only just now old enough to make it through a movie in a theater, our tradition has been put on temporary hiatus. So we thought we’d bring it back gently this year, by watching a favorite movie right in the cozy, crowd-free comfort of home.

Besides, we can put real butter on the popcorn.

While I have other personal favorites besides the ones here, I tried Miracle on 34th Street and…well yeah. The kids lasted about 10 minutes. These are just the ones I think should be part of the media collection for kids of all ages — including
their 30’s and 40’s.

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Now updated for 2019 with streaming, rental or purchase links. Of course you can always buy DVDs too!


Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Okay so all the reindeer are jerks, and so is Santa more or less until the end, but my kids are so enamored of those misfit toys this one remains firmly at the top of the list.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
The animated version never feels dated, and I still get teary when his heart grows two sizes.

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 
Do you know what happened to the boy who got everything he wanted? He lived happily ever after.
Great message on a day about magic, family and love (and naughty lists, ha).

A Christmas Story
I have yet to try this cult-favorite out on the kids yet but with my DNA in them, I think it’s a guaranteed hit. If you’ve yet to see it
yourself, do yourself a favor and snag one. You’ll finally understand why people always say “Frageelay! It’s Italian!” Or is that just my family? UPDATED: Now that my kids are older, it’s a favorite of theirs too. Yay!

Related: The coolest Christmas movie-inspired cards (ya filthy animal)

A Charlie Brown Christmas 
This is the single reason my kids often ask for a small tree instead of a big one. Thank you Charlie Brown!

Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker
If you don’t have tickets for the real thing, this ABT performance is the next best option. Delightful.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Until the kids are ready for Scrooged, this will have to suffice as an adaptation of the Dickens classic.


Other releases for young kids that don’t need you in the room.

These are good for giving the grownups an adults-only eggnog hour or two.

Angelina Ballerina: The Nutcracker Sweet
Not as satisfying as the real Nutcracker, but my little girls can’t resist it.

Merry Christmas Olivia
This now tough-to-find release will lead your kids to ask questions like “which is better for hanging ornaments? A unicycle or a pogo stick?” Adorable fun.

Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure 
The kids love it, even if Swiper does break character and get into the Christmas spirit.

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street 
It’s Christmas Eve. It’s Sesame Street. You can figure out the rest.

any faves I missed for young kids? I’d love to hear them!