Nothing gets you quite into the spirit quite like the best Christmas movies. Sure, decorations, cool temperatures, festive music and impending family gatherings certainly help, but curling up on your couch and indulging in a favorite Christmas favorite is just what you need to get excited about the holiday season. And whether you are looking for a heart-warming story, a pee-in-your-pants hilarious comedy, a rom-com or a classic, there is no shortage of amazing movies to choose from.

Movies have the ability to make us laugh, make us cry, transport us to another world or remind us of a happy memory from our past. And when it comes to holiday films, they have a unique ability to yank us out of our regular routine, distract us from the stress of everyday life, shift our mood to a more merry state, and capture the spirit of the holidays in just a couple short hours. Here are 8 best Christmas movies that always win. And while many others have tried to achieve the same feat, these are the 8 best movies that never, ever fail to get us into the holiday spirit.

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1. Love Actually, 2003
It’s not every day that a movie can successfully juggle multiple plot lines and characters that overlap perfectly and each offer their own intriguing and heart-warming story. This movie does all of that and more. First of all, it’s a top-notch cast, starring a lot of famous celebrities before they were a big deal. Every relationship is complicated, interesting and full of love, and you find yourself laughing, smiling, crying and cheering the entire time. By the ending credits you’ll truly believe that love actually is all around us. Plus, it really makes you wish you were living in London at Christmas-time.

2. The Holiday, 2006
Kate Winslet can do no wrong in our book, and this movie is no exception. Paired with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and Jack Black, this all-star cast delivers a story that is packed with laughs, surprises, tears and lots of love. The story makes you believe that it’s possible to find love in expected places and moments, and that at the end of the day you deserve to find that love. It’s one of those movies that you can’t seem to turn off any time it’s on TV, and as we get closer to the holidays, you can bet it will be on TV a lot. And for that, we can all be thankful.


3. Home Alone, 1990
For anyone who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, you know this movie by heart, and it just doesn’t really feel like Christmas without a little bonding time with a young Macaulay Culkin, who plays 8-year-old troublemaker Kevin McCallister. When Kevin’s parents accidentally leave him at home when they go on vacation, Kevin is forced to fend for himself and learn what the true meaning of Christmas and family are all about.

4. Miracle on 34th Street, 1947
This timeless classic holiday film is an entertaining holiday movie that every man, woman and child should see. It tells the tale of a man who claims to be Santa Claus, and is accused of being insane for his belief. But a kind lawyer and a young girl who believe in him remind everyone what Christmas spirit is really all about. There was a remake in 1994 staring Mara Wilson (of Mrs. Doubtfire fame) as Susan, but the original starring a young Natalie Wood is the way to go in our opinion.


5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989
This hilarious movie from the National Lampoon Vacation series does not disappoint. Thank you Chevy Chase for making us giggle at the stupidity of holiday mayhem. The entire movie looks like one giant ugly sweater party, the punchlines are definitely dated but still really funny, and at the end of the day, the story makes you believe in the power of the holidays to bring family and friends together.

6. Elf, 2003
Oh Will Ferrell, we love you so much, especially when you’re sporting a green elf costume complete with tights. The movie stars Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, a man raised as an elf in the North Pole, only to find out that he is a human. Spoiler alert: he does not fit in very well with the human population of New York City, which is where he goes to find his long lost human father. The movie is packed with funny lines, which you will be quoting for months to come, and as hilarious as it is, it’s also really touching. A perfect holiday film to watch with your kids—you’ll laugh and they’ll love it. Everyone wins.

PS – Jon Favreau directs the film, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to be clever and funny.


7. Scrooged, 1988
We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol. This story puts a more modern (for the 80s) spin on the tale. Bill Murray starts as a cynical TV exec who had a rough childhood and in turn is a miserable adult. On Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, who help remind him what Christmas is all about. And well, we’ll watch anything with Bill Murray.

8. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
It wouldn’t be a holiday movie list without this classic film, would it? Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in this classic story about a frustrated man who is taught to appreciate how precious his life and his loved ones are thanks to the help of an angel, who shows him what life would have been like if he never existed.