Holiday Movies for Grandkids: 30 Merry Ways to Keep them Entertained
Entertaining visiting grandchildren during the holiday season can be a daunting task. When the baking is done, the presents unwrapped and the new year’s resolutions set, movies are a great way to fill a few hours while you enjoy some downtime. But with the vast array of holiday entertainment available, how do you know which movies are right for which age groups? Our list of 30 holiday movies for grandkids might just save the day!
For the preschool crowd (ages 1 – 5)
The youngest grandkids can be the most difficult to keep busy. We have seven suggestions that are fun enough to keep even the most active grandkids engaged—even if for just a few minutes!
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (not rated, AppleTV+): The first of the Peanuts TV movies, this delightful animated special is a holiday staple and is solely responsible for ending the mid-20th century aluminum Christmas tree fad. The story follows Charlie Brown as he finds joy in the celebration of Christmas, and real Christmas trees, with the help of his best friends.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (not rated, Peacock): When you’re looking for holiday movies for grandkids in preschool, you can’t miss with How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The first adaptation of this classic Dr. Seuss’ book might also be the best. Short, simple and direct, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is suitable for all your little ones.
- Mickey’s Christmas Carol (G, Disney+): Your grandkids’ favorite Disney characters take center stage in this adaptation of the classic Dickens story. This short will hold the attention of young children, but might be a little scary for some.
- Nina’s Hanukkah Adventure (TV-Y, Peacock): Faced with a major snowstorm and no oil on the first night of Hanukkah, Nina’s Hanukkah Adventure is an animated TV special that follows Nina and her friends on a city-wide adventure to save her family’s holiday.
- Prep & Landing (TV-G, Disney+): In this 22-minute short, the plans of a team of elite Christmas elves responsible for ensuring Santa’s deliveries go smoothly are thrown into disarray when a rookie elf’s mistake threatens the mission.
- Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne (TV-G, Apple+): The most recent Peanuts movie puts Lucy in the spotlight as she attempts to throw the best New Year’s party ever.
- Snow Buddies (G, Disney+): Snow Buddies is the latest installment in the Air Bud franchise and a celebration of all things snowy. Although appropriate for all ages, the length of the movie might not work for very young children.
School-aged kids (ages 6 – 11)
Most of the youth holiday movie genre is aimed directly at this age group. As a result, school-aged kids have an almost endless list of options for holiday entertainment! To find holiday movies for grandkids ages 6 – 11, check out our 11 top picks.
- A Christmas Story (PG, Prime Video): This family favorite is so popular it’s shown as a 24-hour marathon every year on Christmas Day. Set in the 1940s, the movie tells the story of 9-year old Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle—despite the insistence of the adults in his life that he’ll “shoot his eye out!”
- An American Tail (G, Prime Video): An animated but honest depiction of the immigrant experience, this classic tells the “tail” of the young and plucky Fievel Mousekewitz as he and his family set sail for America after their home is destroyed by cats during Hanukkah celebrations.
- Arctic Tale (G, Paramount+): Arctic Tale is a National Geographic documentary for kids showing the reality of life in the Arctic Tundra for a walrus and her calf and a polar bear and her cubs.
- Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (PG, Prime Video): The latest iteration of this classic will hold the attention of older kids longer than the original. Featuring the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Angela Lansbury, Rashida Jones and more, this computer-animated take on the iconic Grinch story provides a whimsical and imaginative look at Whoville.
- Elf (PG, Prime Video): Watching this movie answers the age-old question: what would it be like for a human raised by Santa’s elves to travel to New York City to find his father and spread holiday cheer?
- Frozen (PG, Disney+): One of the most popular animated movies of all time, Frozen isn’t technically a holiday movie, but it is a snowy holiday tradition. With its message of sisterly rather than romantic love—which disqualifies both Elsa and Anna from official Disney Princess status—this musical movie is universally adored.
- Full Court Miracle (TV-G, Disney+): Based on a true story and taking place during the Hanukkah season, Full Court Miracle is the story of a young Jewish basketball team looking for a coach to turn their losses into wins.
- Home Alone (PG, Starz): Home Alone is a slapstick comedy about a boy accidentally left behind at Christmas who successfully defends his home from two bungling would-be burglars. Although there are three sequels, the original remains one of the most-watched holiday films.
- The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PG, Disney+): This gorgeous film brings the traditional story of The Nutcracker to life in unimaginable ways and is definitely worth a watch!
- The Polar Express (G, Prime Video): Starring Tom Hanks, this computer-animated film brings the beloved children’s book of the same name to life as a young boy takes a magical journey to the North Pole on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1950 to renew his belief in Santa.
- The Santa Clause (PG, Disney+): Spawning two sequels and a fantastic Disney+ series, The Santa Clause centers around a busy toy executive who, after accidentally causing Santa to fall off his roof, must take on the role himself.
Movies for tweens (ages 12 – 14)
Finding age-appropriate entertainment for tweens can be difficult. In this age range, kids don’t want to watch movies that are for youngsters, but they aren’t ready for the older themes of teen movies. We have a few suggestions to send you in the right direction for holiday movies for grandkids in the tween age group.
- All I Want Is Christmas (PG, Prime Video): A young Jewish boy who loves Christmas doesn’t want to spend Hanukkah in Florida. So, he secretly trades places with a friend who’s headed for the aptly named Christmastown, WA.
- The Christmas Chronicles (PG, Netflix): Sweet and energetic, The Christmas Chronicles records the adventures of two siblings who plot to capture Santa on video.
- Toys (PG-13, Starz): Robin Williams and Joan Cusack star in this fanciful, quirky and mischievous story of a family fighting to save their family’s off-beat toy factory.
- Eight Crazy Nights (PG-13, Prime Video): Eight Crazy Nights earns its PG-13 rating and is definitely for families that might enjoy a little holiday-inspired off-color humor. The movie is an animated Hanukkah adventure following a young man who, after getting into a bit of trouble, is given the chance to redeem himself by serving as referee for a youth basketball league.
- The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (TV-14, Disney+): Kids and adults who are Marvel fans will love this hilarious, cheeky holiday special. Confused by the concept of presents, two of the Guardians are determined to give their friend what they think is the perfect gift: Kevin Bacon.
- Ice Princess (G, Disney+): Tweens will enjoy this inspiring story of overcoming obstacles to achieve your dreams—with a splash of wintry romance thrown in!
- Rise of the Guardians (PG, Prime Video): Critically acclaimed and considered by many to be one of the best Dreamworks animated films, Rise of the Guardians imagines what would happen if Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost teamed up to defeat the Boogeyman.
What to show teens (ages 15+)
Grandkids who’ve reached their teenage years know what they like—and it’s never what they liked as kids. Coming up with holiday movies for grandkids this age might be difficult, but below is a wide variety of suggestions that might appeal to even the pickiest of teens.
- Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG, Disney+): Conceived by Tim Burton, this ubiquitous half-Halloween, half-Christmas tale is the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween. Bored with his annual Halloween responsibilities, he attempts to (unsuccessfully!) take over Christmas.
- Let It Snow (PG-13, Netflix): Let It Snow centers around a group of highschoolers who come together during a snowstorm. This formulaic Christmas rom-com aimed at teens won’t win any awards, but it may keep the older grandkids occupied for a few hours.
- Love Actually (R, Netflix): Older teens may ask to watch this iconic holiday staple that intertwines nine love stories. Despite its popularity and romantic reputation, the movie does have adult themes and sends some mixed messages about romance. To note, Love Actually technically passes the Bechdel test—two named female characters do speak to each other. But as that conversation is about housework, the movie does not meet the modified Bechdel-Villalba test.
- The Princess Switch (TV-G, Netflix): For the perfect alternative (or antidote!) to Love Actually, The Princess Switch is a sweet, empowering story of friendship, love and identical twin Christmas hijinks. And, with two sequels already released, you have a full afternoon of entertainment!
- The Long Kiss Goodnight (R, Prime Video): Older teens who love action movies will enjoy this story of a young girl and her mother who save the day in this thrilling adventure set at Christmas.
Hopefully, our 30 holiday movies for grandkids are great stories they’ll actually watch. For help with streaming devices or with streaming platforms, check out our articles at the links. Merry viewing and a happy new year!
image credit: shutterstock/PeopleImages.com – Yuri A