If you’re anything like me, the holiday season starts the day after Halloween, because let’s be honest, Thanksgiving is basically just pre-Christmas without the presents. I know many aren’t like this, and like to start the Christmas season December 1st. To help you fully utilize the holiday season, I put together the essential Christmas movie watch list, giving you two movies per day to watch with friends or family. There are some that you may not even realize are Christmas movies, but don’t worry, it’s filled with familiar classics as well.
December 1 The Ref / Fred Clause
Start December off with two underrated Christmas movies that you may not have seen. Dennis Leary and Vince Vaughn probably aren’t at the top of your holiday watch list, but you should give them both a chance. It’s Christmas, the time to forgive Vince Vaughn for The Internship.
2nd Mixed Nuts / Babes in Toyland
I would watch Steve Martin reenacting the story of an old man returning a lawnmower to Wal-Mart, but even with my bias, Mixed Nuts is a wonderful movie. Top that off with Babes in Toyland and suddenly you’ve forgotten all about your Uncle Steve’s weird, new girlfriend who keeps smelling all the doorknobs.
3rd Die Hard / Lethal Weapon
Nothing lights my Yule log like watching Bruce Willis and pre-racial tirade Mel Gibson taking out terrorists. For the record, I still have no idea what a Yule log is and honestly I don’t want to know.
4th All I Want For Christmas / Holiday Inn
This one could get confusing. Be sure to get the 1991 version of All I Want for Christmas starring a young Ethan Embry and not the weird Hallmark channel version that came out in 2007. Also, be sure Holiday Inn is the one starring Bing Crosby, and not the Chingy song.
5th The Bishop’s Wife / The Preacher’s Wife
You can start with Cary Grant and Loretta Young or Denzel and Whitney. Either way, you really can’t go wrong. Great, now I’m crying and I think I have to go watch The Bodyguard.
6th Gremlins / Ernest Saves Christmas
It may seem like an unlikely combination, but there is no possible way you can watch Gremlins AND Ernest Saves Christmas in one day and not have rays of sunshine shooting out of every part of your body. It’s like the cinematic version of a piggy back ride from an actual bear who is house trained and good with children.
7th Unaccompanied Minors / I’ll Be Home for Christmas
If you haven’t seen Unaccompanied Minors, it’s surprisingly good! If you haven’t seen I’ll Be Home for Christmas, you probably weren’t a teenage girl in 1998 because it stars Jonathan Taylor Thomas and that story just kind of writes itself.
8th A Charlie Brown Christmas / The Muppet Christmas Carol
Even if you absolutely hate Christmas like some sort of swamp monster, you can’t hate Charlie Brown and The Muppets, right?
9th Arthur Christmas / The Polar Express
I would suggest watching The Polar Express first and then Arthur Christmas. That way the terrifying CGI from The Polar Express won’t be fresh in your mind and you won’t have nightmares of that Tom Hanks character who looked like a melted candle.
10th Scrooged / Trading Places
If you say anything bad about Scrooged I will never forgive you. I love that movie more than some of my relatives (Looking at you, Aunt Pam) and, of course, Trading Places is incredible. What a great day!
11th Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas / Nightmare Before Christmas
You can watch whichever version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas you want, but I prefer the original cartoon because I can’t see Jim Carrey’s face without thinking about that creepy video he made for Emma Watson. No thanks, Ace Ventura.
12th Just Friends / While You Were Sleeping
Spend your December 12th watching Ryan Reynolds sing All-4-One in a fat suit and braces and Sandra Bullock in a story that’s only sweet because the music is light and whimsical. She’s basically a crazy person in that movie.
13th Bad Santa / Surviving Christmas
Everyone loves Bad Santa, but critics loathed Surviving Christmas so much. I’m not saying it’s a classic Christmas movie, but it’s not THAT bad. It’s like Dominos Pizza; obviously no one loves Dominos, but at least it’s not one of those skin flaps from Little Caesars called a Hot ‘n Ready.
14th The Family Man / Trapped in Paradise
I’m sorry to suggest a double dose of Nicholas Cage during the holiday season, but he’s incredibly tame in Trapped in Paradise and, shockingly enough, you might just enjoy him in The Family Man. Even if you don’t, Don Cheadle is on there and no one dislikes him. It’s like hating smiles.
15th Prancer / The Santa Clause
If I had to choose between Tim Allen and Sam Elliott for who I wanted to save my Christmas, I’m going Sam Elliott every time. Can you imagine seeing Sam Elliott riding through the sky on a single reindeer throwing down packs of Marlboro Lights to all of boys and girls, no matter if they were good or bad? I can.
16th The Holiday / Love Actually
Awwwwwwww! (That’ll be you, all day.)
17th P2 / Black Christmas
Hey remember how sweet and romantic the movies were yesterday? No more of that! Today everyone is getting stalked and/or murdered. I hope it goes without saying, but I’m referring to the 1974 original version of Black Christmas, not the one with Gretchen Wieners in it.
18th Jingle All the Way / Jack Frost
You’ll never see another movie like Jingle All the Way. Not because Sinbad is dead, (He’s not, right?) but because with eBay Arnold’s dilemma would be resolved in about 14 seconds. If you’re watching this with your kids, be sure you get the Jack Frost starring Michael Keaton and not the one about a serial killer who comes back as a snowman. That’s a real story. Someone got paid to make that.
19th Home Alone / Home Alone 2
Why not spend the evening enjoying Kevin McCallister fighting off criminals after being abandoned by his family on numerous occasions? Merry Christmas everyone!
20th Batman Returns / Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Here’s a couple more movies you may not realize take place during the Christmas season, but thankfully they do! Danny DeVito as The Penguin is even creepier when you pretend it’s Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia after his life has completely fallen apart.
21st Miracle on 34th Street / A Christmas Carol
Call your nana and tell her to come over for movie day. Take her to Bob Evans if she’s a sweet old lady, or if she’s like my grandma, take her to TGI Fridays for some Jack Daniels ribs and a series of rum-based drinks
22nd The Nativity Story / White Christmas
I don’t think it’s officially Christmas until you watch Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye dance in White Christmas. The Nativity Story is delightful, but if you’re offended by it, don’t watch it. Just don’t yell at me for suggesting it. Go watch Iron Man 3 or something instead. If Iron Man 3 offends you, go stare at a tree stump in your yard for two hours and stop being such a grump.
23rd Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer / Frosty the Snowman
Make some of those Christmas decorations where you string popcorn and toss it onto your tree while you watch some of the finest Claymation outside of the California Raisins. If you have a window that won’t close in your house, don’t use those decorations. Birds will infest your home and after eating all the popcorn, they will demand you go buy more popcorn. It’s a living hell.
24th Elf / Christmas Vacation
These are the Christmas movies I watch with my family every year. Watching Buddy the Elf completely embrace Christmas followed by watching Clark Griswold slowly fall apart on a human level as he desperately clings to a thread of holiday cheer is the best thing you can do on Christmas Eve.
25th A Christmas Story
I know it’s blasphemy, but I cannot stand this movie. If I never saw it again in my life I’d be content with that. However, since it plays for 24 hours non-stop on Christmas every year I assume most don’t feel the way I do. You might as well give in and watch it. You know you want one of those leg lamps.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Is it possible to feel bad while watching It’s a Wonderful Life? It’s the cinematic version of a hug from your dad. Open some presents and kiss your mom, it’s Christmas!