No matter how many times you spin one of Mariah Carey’s perfect holiday albums, this simple truth still holds: Christmas will never be as fun or as magical as it was when you were a kid. Adulthood and real life just get in the way. When I was a kid in the ‘90s, I didn’t worry about gift-giving depleting my bank account, the holiday “insulation” brought on by too many cheese plates and not enough cardio, avoiding high school classmates at my hometown mall, or answering invasive questions about my dating life around the dinner table. And maybe I can’t really recapture the innocence and carefree nature of a childhood holiday season, but I can certainly try — starting with these ‘90s Christmas movies.
These 13 holiday films from the decade of the Talkboy and the Jonathan Taylor Thomas poster have the potential to throw you back to those easygoing Christmases, when your only concerns were about where to put all the new loot Santa dropped for you under the tree. Some of them might even make for historically educational viewing for your younger relatives. (At your discretion though: Jack Frost is by no means a movie for children.) Push aside your grown-up concerns for a little while and bask in these 13 Christmas movies from the ‘90s.
1. The Santa Clause
Home Improvement was huge, and Tim Allen was a hot commodity in the '90s. He bagged the starring role of a reluctant new Santa in this family comedy, which eventually got a sequel.
2. I'll Be Home For Christmas
Le sigh. Oh, JTT. Tim Allen's TV son was a heartthrob for the Disney Adventures set. And he does look downright adorable romancing Jessica Biel in this holiday-themed road movie.
3. Home Alone
The Christopher Columbus/John Hughes comedy was an unprecedented hit thanks to Kevin McCallister's slapstick amateur security system and a really sharp script.
4. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
The inevitable sequel took the McCallister clan to New York City's Plaza hotel, where Kevin brought the hammer back down on the Wet Bandits. Tim Curry steals every scene he's in.
5. Mixed Nuts
The daily operations of a suicide hotline aren't intuitively appropriate fodder for a Christmas movie or a comedy, but that's why Steve Martin is still one of the greats.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas
A rare Halloween/Christmas hybrid movie, the Tim Burton stop-motion musical can stay on regular rotation from October through December.
7. Jingle All The Way
It's a dad-off over a coveted toy in this Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sinbad vehicle. Watch your little cousins marvel over a time before anyone with $25 could pre-order a Tickle-Me Elmo on the internet.
8. The Muppet Christmas Carol
I've been picturing Charles Dickens as Gonzo since 1998 and I'll probably never stop.
9. Miracle On 34th Street
This remake retains the simple elegance of the 1947 original and stars Mrs. Doubtfire cutie Mara Wilson as the central non-believer.
10. While You Were Sleeping
When a lonely public transit employee is mistaken for a coma patient's fiance, she ends up inheriting his entire family for Christmas. This is peak "America's Sweetheart" Sandra Bullock, too.
11. Jack Frost
Personally, I can't see what could possibly be okay about showing kids a movie where a dead dad is (yikes) reincarnated into a snow man, but child-rearing is subjective, I guess.
12. All I Want For Christmas
It's The Parent Trap, plus Christmas, minus identical twins.
13. The Preacher's Wife
Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington star in a remake of the 1947 movie The Bishop's Wife. Washington plays an angel who falls in love with Houston's character (who just sings like one) when he's sent to help her struggling husband during the holiday season.
Watching these '90s Christmas movies is the first step to making Christmas fun again.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; Giphy (9)