The best holiday movies to watch based on your mood
How long does it take to pick a movie to watch?
Fun Fact! It takes the average person 45 HOURS a year to pick a movie to watch. This works out to 52 mins each weekend trying to find something to watch despite all the streaming content at our fingertips. It would be interesting to compare this indecision time to the length of time people once spent in a Blockbuster on a typical Friday gathering their movie indulgences for the weekend. It may not be all that far apart.
In our house it definitely takes close to an hour scrolling through lists and lists of new releases, old classics, action/adventure, alien, true crimes, sappy sob fests and documentaries that are offered on all the streaming services we gullibly added to our budget.
The challenge to find something – anything! – we can agree on or feel in-the-mood to watch is real.
Just to illustrate the whole process, here is a near verbatim exchange of our family’s interactions as we bond on “fun family movie night” or as it should be called “everyone needs to just calm the eff down” night.
Sweet – I’ve been looking forward to this all week.
Hey yea, I saw a show the other night that looked like it might be good. It’s got that guy from…
Ohhh that looks interesting. What’s that one about?
Stop, stop, check that movie out
Okay nope – back up, no up – UP! You were literally just there. Over. It’s on the right. No no no over one more.
Yea that’s got whatshername?
Maaaaaybe. K, let’s come back to that one.
Hmmm I guess the new movie with Harrison Ford is pretty good.
Hmmm…. haven’t seen that one yet. Maybe check it out.
Stop. Go back.
No, absolutely not, I cannot stand movies with swords.
Nope not that one either.
Yea I’m over that whole genre.
No you never let me decide. It’s always what you want to watch.
Fine then. I’m done here in about 5 mins.
This is boring.
Are you serious right now? Seriously, that entire film is singing.
I’m not in the mood for crazy, violent, killing, will I get murdered tonight movies – so no.
This is lame.
Well I’m not watching.
Why do we even try to do this? It’s impossible to find a movie.
As you can see, choosing the perfect movie on a regular night can be a STRUGGLE! Never mind when it’s the holidays.
It’s hard to find a film that pleases everyone, and Christmas themed movies are no exception.
It’s not like the good old days when you circled the movies in the TV Guide and anticipated the schedule laid out for you for the month of December. Ok boomer.
To make the choice of movie less time consuming and frustrating, I’ve put together a list of holiday movies you can watch based on your mood. These are some pretty random moods, but I’ve tried to capture the moments I find myself scrolling and flipping through lists waiting to be inspired by something that fits what I was doing or wanting to feel while doing it.
Now…If only these streaming platforms could offer suggested playlists for obscure moments and moods like “Decorating the Tree” or “Feeling Festive” or “Bah humbug – Not Your Typical Christmas Movie” like the defunct music streaming app 8tracks used to do or how Spotify use to suggest playlists.
Come on Netflix, If you know so much about me, then help us choose better movies!
Holiday movies to watch when you’re in the mood to…
Here are suggested movies to watch depending on how you’re feeling. This is by no means a complete list of all the Christmas movies ever made and all the feelings of the season, but it should spark some ideas for movie night. There are several non-Christmas “Christmas” movies here as well – somehow they just fit the season, maybe you think so too.
Relive that Childhood Excitement
Counting down until Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without these classic films. All the movies in this post could fall into this category, but these remind you of that never ending excitement you had as a child in anticipation of the big day!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Home Alone (1990)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Feel the holiday magic
Twinkly lights, a blanket of snow falling, decorations that glitter, sweet smelling desserts, cozy nights by the fire – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! These movies whisk you away through the magic of the holiday season.
The Polar Express (2004)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994)
Arthur Christmas (2011)
My Adventures with Santa (2019)
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Feel nostalgic or romantic
Old classics that play a role in your holiday watch list because they’ve always been there for you and never disappoint. With a few love stories to warm your heart.
Love Actually (2003) This is a film that should be on every list because it’s so awesome.
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated special.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Holidate (2020) Netflix
12 Dates of Christmas (2011)
The Preacher’s Wife 1996 (AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Vudu)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Uncle Buck (1989)
Netflix’s Holiday Movie Universe (yes that is its real name) – for all your princess Christmas fantasies (not animated, but real!)
Bawl Your Eyes Out (or just feel the feels)
Why would you want to feel sad at Christmas? Because a lot of people do and sometimes a good cry during the holidays is just very comforting and releases stress. Grab some tissues and snuggle in for all the feels.
The Family Stone (2005)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Last Christmas (2019)
The Christmas Tree (1969)
Light-hearted and funny
Laughing is a great stress release during the chaos of the holiday season.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Four Christmases (2008)
The Night Before (2015)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) Vudu Amazon Prime AppleTV
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)
Bad Santa (2003)
Lively and Quick
A bit of drama for the holiday season to keep all the touchy-feely balanced.
Die Hard (1988)
Batman Returns (1992)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Four Christmases (2008)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Reindeer Games (2000)
Have playing in the background while cleaning, cooking, baking
Want to knock things off your to-do list and still feel Christmassy? Throw one of these movies on while you bake, cook, clean, prep, or wrap gifts. These are wonderful movies to sit and watch but easy to follow if you only have one eye on the screen.
Julie & Julia (2009)
Little Women (1949, 1994, or 2019)
The Harry Potter films
The Holiday (2006)
Every single Hallmark Movie ever made
Put You in the Mood to Decorate
Need some inspiring visuals to get you in the mood for decorating? Check out these films with fancy trees, garlands, and silk pajamas!
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
The Santa Clause (1994)
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Belt out those classic holiday tunes with these films. It’s a musical time of year and there are more than enough merry musicals to choose from.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
Babes in Toyland (1961)
White Christmas (1954)
Holiday Inn (1942)
Mean Girls (2004)
The Year Without Santa Clause (1974)
An element of crime or in the mood for a Holiday-equse film noir
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Ice Harvest (2005)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Trading Places (1983)
You Don’t Want to Watch a “Christmas movie” Movie
Every year there are movies that seem to come out of the vaults of Hollywood just to remind people they exist. These films aren’t really Christmas movies at all, yet they fill the airwaves and show up as you skip through channels hoping to elicit a reaction like – “whoa I remember that movie, maybe I’ll watch 5 minutes”.
These are great films to play in the background or to watch when you need a break from all the twinkles and elves (specifically Elf). Movies associated with the holiday season will be different for everyone based on family traditions and preferences.
For something different and entertaining, check out these classic “non-Holiday” movies:
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)
Apollo 13 (1995)
The Bodyguard (1992)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
American Psycho (2000)
Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Karate Kid (1984)
Slap Shot (1977)