Classic Christmas films: Our top picks

Christmas is not only a time for giving and receiving. It’s a time for eating, drinking, being merry and watching classic Christmas films.

For some families it’s the only time of year when everyone is truly relaxed. After eating too many mince pies and drinking a favourite festive tipple its time to snuggle up and watch something great on TV.

To make sure one of your favourites is on the viewing schedule for Christmas, why not buy it on DVD – then you can enjoy it for years to come!

Buying it online through Give as you Live will also raise a donation for your favourite charity. There’s lots of stores to choose from: Amazon, HMV,, Zavvi and many more. Discover and download here before you shop.

Here’s our top picks of the Christmas classics. If we’ve missed yours, please leave a comment in the box below!

Top Christmas Films

Elf The Grinch Home Alone Nightmare Before Christmas It's a Wonderful Life Scrooged Muppet Christmas Carol Miracle on 34th Street White Christmas Santa Clause Jingle All The Way The Snowman / Father Christmas



A silly film that will make you cry – either with tears, or frustration at the soppiness at the end. Richard Luck of Film4 said: “The sentiment gets a little sticky towards the end, but many will consider this the perfect antidote to traditional Christmas fare — especially those with a fondness for Ferrell’s comedy.”
Elf, £5, raises £0.10 

The Grinch

While Time Out said: “This cinematic candy floss honours the Seussian universe by satirising our own. And Carrey’s comic tornado of a performance is a triumph,” Nick Rogers of Suite 101 proclaimed: “An unforgivable transgression… “Grinch” resembles not a cheerful Christmas, but rather what the bloodcurdling onset of a mescaline bender might feel like.” We think it’s festive enough fayre, and Carrey isn’t bad. And the kids are sure to enjoy it, which is what it’s all about.
The Grinch, £5, raises £0.10 

Home Alone

Home Alone has picked up some mixed reviews, mostly for its stretched-beyond-all-reasonable-limits storyline. We think that’s a little unfair in what is obviously a cartoonish kids’ classic. Ian Nathan from Empire Magazine said: “A hilarious comedy (although not a very believable one — there can be no eight-year-olds this ingenious) that kids will love and adults won’t mind sitting through either.”
Home Alone – four-film set, £10, raises £0.10 

Nightmare before Christmas

Again with Empire magazine, and critic Luke Goodsell.This is what he had to say: “In the 13 years since it was released to a predictably puzzled family audience, Tim Burton’s macabre stop motion musical has wound its way through cult affection (and survived mall-Goth appropriation) to earn its rightful place as a genuine classic.” This film has garnered a host of rave reviews. It’s a little dark, but slightly older kids should love its playfully dark twist on Christmas.
Nightmare before Christmas, £5, raises £0.10 

It’s a Wonderful Life

A classic. A film that should be at the top of any list of Christmas films. (Why not on the top of ours? Because we like to mix it up!) Total Film agrees, of course: “This is the all-time great, curl-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-cup-of-tea movie. Not only is it beautifully photographed, but it also contains enough emotional strength to hold your attention for all of its two-hour running time.” And it makes us cry every time. “Every time you hear a bell ring…”
It’s a Wonderful Life, £15, raises £0.30 


This remake of Dickens’s classic attracted very mixed reviews when it was released. Roger Ebert said: “It was obviously intended as a comedy, but there is little comic about it, and indeed the movie’s overriding emotions seem to be pain and anger.”  On the other hand, Christopher Null, from, called it “A roaring good time.” It is a commercial remake, and some of the comedy is a little dark, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And Murray manages to carry off a curmudgeonly, mean-spirited but charismatic Scrooge very well indeed. (If you’re a Murray fan, don’t forget Groundhog Day – which might be on 2 February, but still snowy enough to be festive!)
Scrooged, £6, raises £0.12 

Muppet Christmas Carol

Henry Barnes, reporting in the Guardian, said: “There’s lots to love here, particularly Michael Caine’s deadly straight take on Scrooge.” The reviews are a little mixed, so presumably the reviewers are unaware it’s a modern classic!
Muppet Christmas Carol, £5, raises £0.10 

Miracle on 34th Street

Reviewing the remake with Attenborough wearing the red suit, Sierra Filucci, from Commonsense Media, said: “Not better than the original, but still smiley holiday fare,” while Variety said of the original, also included in this two-DVD box set, “So you don’t believe in Santa Claus? If you want to stay a non-believer don’t see Miracle.”
Miracle on 34th Street – two-film set, £5, raises £0.10 

White Christmas

Wendy Ide from the Times said: “White Christmas is the cinema equivalent of an inappropriate festive snog under the mistletoe – you know you probably shouldn’t enjoy it but you just can’t help yourself.”
White Christmas, £3, raises £0.06 

Santa Clause

TV Guide’s Movie Guide said: “While the film breaks no new ground, it offers the kind of simple, well-crafted, family entertainment that used to be a staple of the Disney studio.”
Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3, £8, raises £0.16 

Jingle All The Way

Schwarzenegger. At Christmas. What more can we say? Buy this movie or you will regret it. Roger Ebert agrees, sort of: “I liked a lot of the movie, which is genial and has a lot of energy, but I was sort of depressed by its relentlessly materialistic view of Christmas, and by the choice to go with action and (mild) violence over dialogue and plot.”
Jingle All The Way, £3, raises £0.06 

The Snowman and Father Christmas

This double DVD has two cartoon classics in one. You can’t go wrong for £6. Even if “Walking in the Air” does get a bit tiresome after about three seconds.
The Snowman / Father Christmas, £6, raises £0.12 

Our top Christmas films of all time

Do you have any other festive favourites we’ve missed? We also like the Die Hard Quadrilogy, £9, raises £0.18 – festive enough, surely? Caryn James form the New York Times says: “The scenes move with such relentless energy and smashing special-effects extravagance that Die Hard turns out to be everything action-genre fans, and Bruce Willis’s relieved investors, might have hoped for.” And it’s very Christmassy. Honest. Perhaps not one to sit the toddlers in front of though.