12 Christmas movies to watch this December

whether you celebrate Christmas or not, December is the season for watching holiday films. in a past life, I would curl up in my big chair in front of the fireplace, snuggle in with my cat and some spiked cider or cocoa and watch one of these films. now... well there's no cats or cocoa or fireplace, but I have to get my spirits in holiday mode somehow.

this year I decided that to combat the expat holiday blues, I wanted to watch every Christmas movie that we own. obviously, we own a lot of our favorites. but this is not necessarily a list of "the best Christmas movies ever." I think you can tell by this list that we grew up in the 80s/90s and also that we don't always go for the traditional holiday movies. but I hope that some of these are on your favorites list too.

and because I'm not doing a full-on tree post this year, here's your obligatory photo of my $8 tree in all its glory:

A Christmas Story

I'll be honest, I was never into this movie growing up. but we watched it the other night and I realized the appeal. it's a fantastic depiction of life as a kid, and everything was SO DRAMATIC that it was funny. and the part where the little brother hides in the cabinet is pretty much how I still behave from time to time when upset. [only Husband usually brings me coffee or water, not milk.]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

this was always my Dad's favorite, and my holiday doesn't feel complete without this tradition. just don't even try confusing the animated original with the live action [which I refuse to watch.] short and sweet, no one can feel grinchy after watching the "you're a mean one" montage and seeing Max with his antler.

Love Actually

if you don't cry while watching this movie, you might not be human. is it completely cheesy and unrealistic and possibly anti-feminist according to some people on the internet? yes. but if you are in need of a good happy cry and some feel-good fluff, this movie has got you covered with at least one of its 57 storylines.


my siblings and I loved this movie when we were kids. watching it as an adult, I realize it's actually more of a scary film that takes place during the holiday season... but it still counts. as a bonus, we also watched Gremlins 2: the new batch, because it's even better than the original. even if it has nothing to do with Christmas.

Nightmare Before Christmas

it's a stop-motion musical, love story, horror and holiday film all in one. I admit it's a little wierd. a singing skeleton who dresses up as Santa Claus? definitely not traditional. but this one is good for easing yourself into the season after Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Die Hard

wait, hear me out. this is a Christmas movie. sure it's a hostage situation cop-gone-bad action film full of snappy one-liners... but it takes place during a Christmas party. besides, watching Snape I mean Alan Rickman as the bad guy bantering with Bruce Willis [back when he had hair] would get anyone's spirits up.

A Muppet Christmas Carol

yet another favorite from my childhood - the heartwarming musical Muppet interpretation of a [kindof dark] classic story. we used to watch this every year while assembling and decorating our Christmas tree. this is another I-have-to-watch-or-it's-not-Christmas film for me. a warning though: you'll be singing these songs until March.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

this is the slapstick exaggeration of the all-American Christmas experience: crazy family, uninvited guests, and over the top decorations. I'm not always into this brand of humor. but. it can be good to laugh at the myriad of disasters that befall the Griswolds, and realize that whatever goes wrong with our own holidays can't really be all that bad.

Bad Santa

what does a mall Santa do after hours? some really terrible things, actually. this one is not for kids. in fact, this one is not for people who are easily offended. but if you're into inappropriate humor, Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls, or sandwiches... you might enjoy Bad Santa.

The Holiday

ok. I really don't like Cameren Diaz and I even more do not like her character in this film. BUT somehow I own this on DVD. Kate Winslet gives a less-than-Titanic performance, but she's still relatable for anyone who has been in a heartbreak around the holidays. the story is a cute idea and it's good for a light and sappy feel-good ending romance.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

a classic. Charlie Brown is sick of all the holiday commercialism, and decides to search for the true meaning of Christmas. and if you can't get behind that idea, at the least you can enjoy Snoopy's antics and feel better about the state of your own tiny expat Christmas tree.

Home Alone

let's just ignore the bad parenting by the adults and the bratty behavior by the kids and appreciate the moral of the story: no one's family is perfect, but if you can't all get along then you miss out on spending an amazing Christmas in Paris. this movie is full of cheesy but quotable one-liners you can't help but love. and admit it - as a kid you tried setting up some kind of booby trap obstacle course in your house after seeing this movie.

what holiday movies do you watch each year? did I miss any of your favorites?

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