The 12 best family Christmas films - as voted by Mumsnetters

family watching a Christmas film

Nothing beats cheery Christmas movies for rousing the festive spirit. Not only do they ignite that feel-good glow, but they number among the dwindling entertainments that can please the entire family. So grab your popcorn, some yuletide bubbly and screen your way through the top 12 festive films, as chosen by Mumsnetters

We've asked Mumsnetters to nominate their favourite Christmas films of all time. The results are in – watch the video below to find out the top five films to watch this holiday season, as voted by Mumsnetters.

Did your top pick make the cut? Read on for the complete list of on-screen holiday favourites and where you can watch them.

Mumsnet's countdown of the 12 best Christmas films

12. Fred Claus

Fred Claus

It's not easy being the brother of a beloved celebrity, and no one knows that better than Santa Claus' older brother, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn). Sprung from jail after his saintly sibling posts bail, Fred is forced to repay the debt by pitching in with toy-making duties in the North Pole. But Fred is bitter and belligerent and his antics will test the patience of (quite literally) a saint.

“We watched Fred Claus with our six- and eight-year-old boys. They thought it was brilliant.”

Where to watch:

You can buy Fred Claus on DVD from £2.95 on Amazon or alternatively stream it on Now TV with the Sky Cinema pass.

For a limited time, you can save over 60% on Now TV bundles and choose from over a thousand films on demand.

11. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation


The Griswold family's plans for a “good, old-fashioned family Christmas” turn into the customary Lampoon disaster in this fiercely funny combo of cartoon violence and utter mayhem. Particularly great if enjoyed as you knock back the eggnog while surrounded by a fractious extended family. You can comfort yourself that your family get-togethers aren't quite this bad.

“Just Cousin Eddie makes it worthwhile. Love it.”

Where to watch:

Amazon have two options for this one: you can either rent it for £3.49 or go retro and buy it on DVD for £3.98.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare before christmas

Bored by the repetitive timetable in Halloweenland, pumpkin king Jack Skellington is delighted when he stumbles into Christmas Town. However he doesn't quite understand Christmas and when he tries to supplant Santa and put on Christmas himself things quickly go awry. A wacky comedy from the brilliantly twisted mind of Tim Burton.

“We watch it every year while we’re trimming the tree.”

Where to watch:

You can buy The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD for £3.99 on Amazon.

9. Scrooged


A TV executive is haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in this comic update of A Christmas Carol. It's a daring remake pairing shoot-em-up Die Hard director Richard Donner with Bill Murray's deadpan humour, yet the whole thing comes off impressively. The outrageous slapstick will delight the kids while you can enjoy the subtle, sardonic edge.

“Scrooged is the best version of A Christmas Carol.”

“Scrooged makes me remember to be nice to co-workers.”

Where to watch:

You can rent or buy Scrooged from £3.49 on Amazon Video or you can stream it on Now TV.

8. Santa Claus: The Movie


A film of two halves, the first part of Santa Claus takes place in the 14th century when a man called Claus is given immortality and trusted with delivering presents to kiddies across the globe. The second half moves into the modern era and focuses on Patch (Dudley Moore), a head elf who falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who's concocting a plan to kill Santa.

“The movie is a MUST in our house on Christmas Eve, it's lovely.”

Where to watch:

Amazon have Santa Claus: The Movie as a digital copy for £5.99 and a DVD copy for £3.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1994 remake)

Miracle on 34th st

Six-year-old Susan is too practical to believe in myths like Father Christmas. When her mother hires Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) to replace the boozing Santa in the town's Thanksgiving parade Susan finds her sensible world views challenged. Kringle, meanwhile, is certain he's the real deal, a certainty that leads him straight to the courtroom dock where he's forced to prove Santa really does exist.

“I love Miracle on 34th Street. Christmas doesn't start till I've watched it!”

Where to watch:

Miracle on 34th Street is available to rent or buy from £3.49 on Amazon Video.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

the Grinch

This Dr Seuss classic is one of the most successful Christmas films of all time, and beloved by many a Mumsnetter. Brought to life by Jim Carrey’s excellent performance, the Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature who hates Christmas. He becomes increasingly annoyed by the noise of the merry festivities happening in Whoville, the town below the mountain where he lives. So he comes up with a wicked scheme to rob its inhabitants of Christmas by stealing their presents, trees and the food for their feast. Thankfully, some kindness from a little local named Cindy Lou Who and her family may be enough to melt his heart.

“The Grinch is my absolute favourite.”

“I love love love the set design, the rhyming verse, the music, the humour. I could recite it backwards!”

“My three children in their 20's have watched it every Christmas Eve since it came out in the cinema and can recite the whole thing.”

Where to watch:

You can rent How the Grinch Stole Christmas for £3.49 on Amazon Video.

5. It's a Wonderful Life

wonderful life

It's 1946 and benevolent but unlucky businessman George Bailey is contemplating suicide. Not the most cheerful premise for a Christmas film but stick with it… Worried about his wellbeing, Bailey's friends and family pray for him. Their requests to the heavens are answered when a bumbling angel is sent down to show Bailey how bleak the world would have been without him.

“When I've finished the tree and put everything away I find the part in It's A Wonderful Life where George realises he's alive (you know, when he's on the bridge and his lip is bleeding) and watch the rest of the film from there. It's magic!”

Where to watch:

You can rent or buy It's a Wonderful Life from £3.49 on Amazon Video or stream it on Now TV.

4. Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas

How does Santa deliver all those presents around the world in just one night? It’s thanks to a million Field Elves and a vast, ultra-high-tech control centre underneath the ice of the North Pole, of course. Santa’s militaristic eldest son Steve manages the operation, while his younger, clumsy yet enthusiastic brother Arthur devotedly answers the letters to Santa. When Arthur learns that a technical glitch has caused a little girl's Christmas gift to be misplaced, he sets out on a crazy last-minute mission to deliver the present before it's too late.

“Arthur Christmas is the best Christmas film ever. And I'm an adult. May be watching it tomorrow. I love it!”

Where to watch:

Arthur Christmas is available to stream on Netflix and to buy for £4.99 on Amazon Video.

3. Home Alone

Home alone

For a generation the image of Macaulay Culkin, hands clapped to his cheeks and mouth open in horror, is about as Christmassy as you can get. The boisterous tale of an eight-year-old boy left to fend for himself (ie battling burglars with painful booby traps) when his parents fly to France without him has aged brilliantly. Just hope your offspring don't take inspiration from this!

“Home Alone is a must for us.”

“Home Alone makes DS howl with laughter!”

Where to watch:

You can rent or buy Home Alone from £3.49 on Amazon Video or you could treat yourself to the double DVD collection including the sequel for £4.99.

2. Muppet Christmas Carol

Muppets Christmas Carol

Let's face it, there's nothing that isn't enlivened by the appearance of the Muppets, even this frequently-visited tale. Michael Caine is the tightfisted Scrooge, Kermit and Miss Piggy are the poverty-stricken Cratchits, and there are songs galore. A great introduction to Dickens for the little ones.

“God I love the Muppet Christmas Carol. We watched again it yesterday and I'm still singing the songs. I really should have waited until the week before Christmas.”

“I cry every single time. In a good way.”

Where to watch:

The cheapest we've found The Muppet Christmas Carol is on DVD for £4.99 on Amazon, but you can also watch it on Now TV.

1. Elf


Will Ferrell is an elf. Well, actually, he's a human who through a series of misadventures finds himself in the North Pole putting together Etch-A-Sketches (badly) for Papa Elf. Upon discovering his true identity (the height is a dead giveaway), he heads off to Manhattan to track down his birth father. Along the way he falls in love with Zooey Deschanel and converts cynical New Yorkers to the true spirit of Christmas.

“We love Elf here – but discovered the other day (yes, while watching it) that it's a PG and has the word 'pissed' in it! Was sat there hoping that DD didn't hear!”

Where to watch:

Elf is available on Amazon Prime Video.

Read next: Get into the festive spirit with one of the best Christmas books for kids

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