10 of the Best Family Movies to Watch this Festive Season

By Leigh O’Connor.

The presents are all unwrapped, Christmas lunch or dinner has come and gone, it’s time to wind down and curl up on the couch with the kids to enjoy a festive family movie.

Sit back, relax and indulge in favourites such as ‘A Christmas Story’, or old-school treats like ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. Whatever you choose to watch there is no better way to finish Christmas Day – to help you decide we’ve rounded up 10 of the best Christmas flicks for kids, tweens, teens and all those in-between:

The Polar Express:

On Christmas Eve, a young boy discovers a train parked outside his house – The Polar Express – which is headed to the North Pole. He finds out he’s been picked to receive the first gift of Christmas and asks for only one thing, the silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. But what happens when he tries to take the bell home with him?

Starring Tom Hanks, who voices many different roles, this is one of Warner’s all-time best sellers and definitely a movie for the whole family to sit down to, as a little lad who questions Santa’s very existence, gets the ride of his life. Rated G.

Home Alone:

Get ready for one of the absolute family favourite Christmas movies of all time! When the McCallister clan ventures on a holiday trip to Paris, its smooth sailing until everyone discovers 8-year-old Kevin has been left home alone. As a very young Macauley Culkin gets comfortable and adjusts to the empty house, two burglars have their eyes on the family property. 

Will Kevin’s whacky pranks keep the bad guys out? As the famous saying from the movie goes: "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.” Rated PG.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:

All Clark Griswold wants is a storybook Christmas – a gorgeous tree, fantastic fairy lights, a turkey with all the trimmings and his family under one roof. Vengeful neighbours, a tiny living room, an underwhelming Christmas bonus and cousin Eddy stand in the way of his holiday fantasies to hilarious result. How will the clan recover from all the chaos?

This is a movie better suited to tweens and teens, while the grown-ups in the house will relate to Clark’s insane desire that this Christmas will be the best celebration ever, no matter what! Rated PG.

Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse:

Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are snowed in at the House of Mouse at Christmastime, so Mickey saves the day and throws a Christmas Party. When Donald still isn’t in the holiday spirit, Mickey finds a series of fun cartoons to demonstrate the meaning of Christmas, like ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’, ‘Donald on Ice’ and Pluto’s Christmas Tree’.

Who doesn’t love a good Disney movie? This one is suitable for all ages and bound to have everyone giggling along as Mickey works his magic to turn Christmas into a fun time for all his friends. Rated G.

The Santa Clause:

What exactly happens when Santa is out of commission for some reason? Single Dad Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) finds out in this family movie, where while reading his son ‘The Night Before Christmas’, he suddenly hears something on his roof.

You guessed it – Santa. When the jolly man in the red suit takes an unexpected tumble from the roof and is accidentally killed, Scott and his son are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before next Christmas arrives. Thinking he’s dreaming, Scott doesn’t take things too seriously until over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard.

Tim Allen is hilarious in this role, which unsurprisingly he recreates in two sequels to the original movie. Rated PG.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

Jim Carrey fans will love this Ron Howard directed movie, based on the Dr Seuss book – the first of the author’s books to be adapted into a full-length feature film. On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all of the town’s citizens. A chance encounter with six-year-old Cindy Lou when he reluctantly saves her life, leads to the discovery of his tragic past.

After running away to spiteful seclusion on Mount Crumpit after being ridiculed at school as a teenager, the Grinch is determined to make sure any future Christmas celebrations are wrecked. This year he decides he’ll stop Christmas by hatching a supreme scheme of coming dressed as Santa and stealing all the gifts and festive trimmings. Rated PG.

A Charlie Brown Christmas:

Even if Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree is a little bleak, we all love spending the festive season with the Peanuts gang – it’s tradition and this classic movie finds Charlie feeling a bit blue because his efforts to conduct a Christmas play don’t exactly go to plan. It’s up to Linus to show him what this time of year is truly all about.

Snag the best spot on the couch and relive the fun from Charles Schulz’s much loved cartoon. If you miss it, you’ll certainly say "Good grief!” Rated G.

Elf:

New York City is a great place to spend the holiday season…but maybe not if you are Buddy the Elf (played by Will Ferrell). Accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among the elves, when this Santa’s helper learns he is actually human, he heads to Manhattan to find his family. DNA proves he is the son of cynical businessman Walter Hobbs (James Caan), who reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the child-like Buddy – with increasingly chaotic results.

As a fun, family holiday movie that is suitable for almost everyone, Elf is hard to beat…just don’t expect all the storylines to make complete sense! Rated PG.

The Muppets Christmas Carol:

The Muppet Christmas Carol retells the famous Dickens’ tale with characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy. A musical – set in the Victorian era – this movie also features Michael Caine as Scrooge and Gonzo plays Charles Dickens. But one person missing is Muppets’ creator Jim Henson, who died before this movie was made and it is directed by his son Brian.

At the conclusion of the song ‘One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas’, Kermit stares wistfully at the night sky as a shooting star streaks by – in memory of Jim Henson. Expect to see Muppet favourites like Fozzie Beer and Sam the Eagle weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases – past, present and future, who show them the error of his self-serving ways. Rated G.

Jingle All the Way:

Arnold Schwarzenegger faces his most harrowing enemy yet – the holiday shopping crowd. Filmed during the Governator’s family comedy period, workaholic dad Howard Langston wants to make things right with his son Jamie and promises to get him the hottest toy of the season, Turbo Man, even though it is Christmas Eve and the toy is practically sold out all over the city.

He runs into another father on the same quest and with the clock winding down, Howard’s moral code is tested as he starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas. If you and your family are Arnie fans, this is a fun movie with a real message – by the way Turbo Man was a real toy produced and sold at Wal-Mart for $US25. Rated PG.