12 Christmas Movies On TV To Watch This Year, From The Classic To The Unconventional

Between theatrical releases, claymation specials, and made-for-TV flicks, there are enough Christmas movies out there that you could start your marathon-ing on Dec. 1 and be set until the end of the month. But, of course, TV networks tend to save the best for the main holiday itself, meaning there are plenty of Christmas movies on TV to watch amid all the family meals, cups of hot cocoa, and unwrapping of presents.

So, if you need a break from all the holiday goings on in your house or if you're all tuckered out ready for a two-hour breather on the couch with some cocoa and gingerbread cookies, there is plenty to choose from on TV this year. Whether you're looking for your favorite black-and-white classic, a more modern holiday flick, a festive romantic comedy, or an unconventional Christmas movie that may have some hints of other holidays (like, say, Halloween), there's something for everyone this holiday season. But I would never make you search through the channel guide for the best movies to watch — I've made a list of 12 holiday favorites that will be airing on television this Dec. 25. Don't worry, I checked it twice.

1. A Christmas Story


Of course, the staple of Christmas television is TBS and TNT's 24-hour marathons of the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. The movie follows a young boy who just wants a toy rifle for Christmas, but is told at every turn he can't have it because (everybody together now), "You'll shoot your eye out."

2. Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Another (nearly) day-long movie marathon on TBS and TNT focuses on Ron Howard and Jim Carrey's take on the classic story Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Beginning at midnight, this movie will replay over and over and over again until 8 p.m., giving you ample time to stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness right on schedule.

3. Miracle On 34th Street And A Christmas Carol


Beginning at 11 a.m., the Sundance channel is having a black-and-white Christmas classic double feature, airing the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, then the take on A Christmas Carol that originally premiered in 1938. This double feature is perfect for anyone who grew up watching these classics, or anyone who wants to watch them for the very first time.

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas


There has been some debate over the years whether Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween or a Christmas movie. But since the events of this stop-motion film take place in the days leading up to Christmas, it's a perfectly festive feature for the whole family to watch on Dec. 25 when it airs on ABC Family.

5. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause


ABC Family has a full day of holiday features planned, including the third installment of the classic Tim Allen series The Santa Clause. If you're looking for something more modern, but still festive, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause may be perfect viewing material.

6. A Christmas Detour

The Hallmark channel is airing their own holiday-themed movies all day long, but if you're going to watch only one, I suggest A Christmas Detour. Starring Candace Cameron Bure (D.J. Tanner from Full House and the soon-to-be Fuller House), this movie is about a woman who finds her true love on a bumpy trip to New York City over the holidays.

7. Elf


The heartwarming story of Buddy the human-sized Elf has become a favorite of the holiday season. If you're looking for a movie on TV this Christmas that checks the boxes of both heartfelt and hilarious, then Elf is the one for you. Plus, you'll be quoting it for the rest of the day after watching it on ABC Family.

8. Kristin's Christmas Past

Lifetime is airing made-for-TV Christmas movies all day with titles like Christmas on the Bayou and A Gift Wrapped Christmas, but the one that caught my eye is Kristin's Christmas Past, which stars Shiri Appleby as a 34-year-old woman who goes back in time to act as the spirit guide for her younger self. So, it's kind of like A Christmas Carol and 13 Going On 30 wrapped into one, which sounds like a perfect holiday movie to me.

9. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone


For some people, the holidays just aren't the holidays without Harry Potter. If you fall into that category, don't worry, ABC Family will be airing the first film in the beloved series about the Boy Who Lived. Watch with the whole family or by yourself — there's no wrong way to enjoy Harry Potter.

10. Bad Santa


It may be a little conventional, but Bad Santa is, at its heart, a Christmas movie — it just has a little more raunchy, dirty humor than a lot of other festive features. If that's up your alley, VH1 is airing this Christmas movie four times in a row, so there's no way you can miss it.

11. The Holiday


If you want some romance with your holiday movie, this Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet film is perfect whether you're watching it for the first time or the hundredth time. Following two women who swap homes between Los Angeles and the UK, The Holiday is a heartwarming story of romance and figuring out who you are. Thank you Encore for airing this fantastic holiday flick.

12. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town And The Year Without A Santa Claus


Technically this double feature doesn't air until Dec. 26, beginning at midnight on ABC Family, but if come Christmas night you still haven't fallen into a coma from all the food you ate, then why not check out these classics? Even though they first aired in the '70s, they're still beloved today and for good reason — they're perfect for bringing you good tidings and cheer before you can fully accept that Christmas is over.

No matter what kind of holiday movie is your favorite, there's something on this list that you're sure to enjoy this Christmas.

Images: Disney; Giphy (10)