Hit Play for Holiday Spirit: Holiday Movies to Watch with Young Kids

Read next

Baby, it’s cold outside! Thank goodness there’s loads of indoor fun waiting in these 10 holiday movies. Whether you’re watching on a snowy day or at family movie night, you’ll find a festive film that’s just right for the littlest movie buffs. Read on for our 10 top picks, plus heads-up on some intense scenes you’ll want to watch out for.

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We love this classic movie because it’s a little salty and a little sweet, with a happy ending that captures the spirit of the season. At 26 minutes, it’s the right length for little people’s attention span, especially those that, like Cindy Lou Who, are not much more than two. The 1996 version is toddler-friendly, since it’s less intense than the full-length 2000 version staring Jim Carrey and the 2018 animated version.

The Snowman

Many of the best holiday movies for toddlers and preschoolers are based on books. Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, measuring in under half an hour, has a gentle vibe that won’t scare little viewers. It’s a perfect watch after building a snowman of your own in the backyard. The movie, like the wordless book, is full of wonder.

 

The Polar Express

Train-lovers will toot their horns for The Polar Express. Be warned: There are a few scenes that can be a little intense, including a dramatic chase outside the train, so keep the remote ready to skip ahead if need be. We recommend making a few paper train tickets and rich hot cocoa to make your movie night extra-special.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Yes, it’s the special that aired on TV every single year during your childhood, and it’s just as lovely as you remember. Introduce your kids to Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang. Get the tissues ready for the heartfelt pageant at the end!

The Snowy Day

Amazon’s 2016 movie version of the classic picture book captures the spirit of outdoor exploration and wintertime wonder at the core of Ezra Jack Keats’s book. It's perfect for watching in a winter wonderland after a long day of sledding and making snowballs. At just under an hour, you can squeeze it in after dinner and still get your toddler tucked in on time.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

A little less scary than the well-made (but slightly spooky) Disney’s A Christmas Carol, the Muppet Christmas Carol features all your favorite Muppet characters. Kermit is Bob Cratchett, and Miss Piggy stars as his beloved wife. You’ll find catchy songs, amazing guest stars, and laugh-out-loud jokes. Note: The ghosts of Christmas past and Christmas future could be overwhelming for some little ones, so keep the remote ready if you have a sensitive kiddo.

Frosty the Snowman

Get ready to sing along with the beloved holiday tune. Lovable, friendly Frosty melts away in a scene that many kids find sad but, overall, the movie is less intense than many other holiday classics. It’s a magical holiday classic that preschoolers adore.  

Prep & Landing

Sure to elicit giggles, this clever holiday story features elves working together to prepare for Christmas. At only 22 minutes, you can watch this and then go on to the second short feature with elves Wayne and Lanny, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs Nice. It’s a newer holiday classic just right for the preschool set.

Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas

Mickey lovers will cheer for this collection of holiday shorts. Since this movie consists of five short tales featuring Goofy, Minnie and the whole gang, you can cater the viewing to your little one’s attention span and watch as many of the short chapters as you’d like at once. The animated shorts show kindness and good cheer, without scary, intense or sad moments.  

The Nutcracker

Few toddlers are ready to sit through a live ballet. Luckily, you can bring dancing into your living room with the 1993 version of The Nutcracker. As you watch, your budding ballet dancer can twirl right along with Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy. Featuring Macaulay Culkin, this movie version of the holiday classic features the New York City Ballet's talented, inspiring dancers and includes narration to help little movie buffs follow the story.  

—Oz Spies

RELATED STORIES:

Best Holiday Books for Babies & Toddlers

15 Full-Length Free Movies on YouTube for Kids

Build Your Library! 25 Board Books Every Baby Needs