For most people, nothing makes the holidays more festive than curling up to watch a great Christmas movie.
It doesn’t matter if your preference is classic holiday films, cheesy romantic comedies like most Hallmark Christmas movies, or an animated classic like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, here is a list of the best Christmas-themed films and specials for older adults.
We’ve included classic films for group viewing at a nursing home or watching on the couch with the entire family, holiday comedy greats, and nostalgic classic movies to watch alone or with a significant other.
Best Christmas Movies for Group Viewing
Have an upcoming Christmas party for older adults that you are planning? Here are some entertaining Christmas and holiday movies you may want to add to the agenda.
1. A Christmas Tale (2008)
This 2008 drama about a family that reunites awkwardly at Christmas only to discover that their grandmother (Catherine Deneuve) is dying of leukemia.
It presents a sweeping, captivating depiction of familial dysfunction—and, ultimately, redemption and unity.
2. The Snowman (1982)
The Snowman is a beautifully animated story of a young boy’s brief adventure with his winter creation. It is ideal for a fast watch after supper before heading to bed for the evening.
Although based on the same-titled children’s book by Raymond Briggs, this movie will make anyone cry because of its themes of impermanence and innocence. So, have the tissues handy!
3. Black Nativity (2013)
In “Black Nativity,” based on Langston Hughes’ 1961 drama titled by the exact name, a little boy is sent to be with his separated grandparents by his mother, who is at risk of losing their house.
After arriving, the street-smart kid initially struggles with severe restrictions but gradually comes to appreciate the value of community, family, and faith.
Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) tells the tale of how Charles Dickens developed the story of The Christmas Carol and its lead curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, and each Christmas Spirit.
Funny Christmas Movies to Watch with the Grandkids
These movies will be enjoyed equally by both older family members and the little ones.
1. Home Alone (1990)
Families have rated “Home Alone” as the top classic holiday flick for over 30 years. After all, Macaulay Culkin’s character Kevin’s wacky activities are timeless.
While it’s unlikely you haven’t already seen it, “Home Alone” is a movie about a young boy whose family unintentionally leaves him at home alone while they travel to Paris for the holidays.
He gains independence while learning to protect his home from two incompetent thieves, Marv and Harry (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), who keep getting caught in his traps.
But as he goes on his adventures, he begins to understand how much he misses his family, even his irritating brother Buzz.
2. Dr. Seuss: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
There are several different films starring The Grinch, so you have various options. However, Dr. Seuss’ original is the most suitable version for families with small children.
Other adaptations include the feature film starring Jim Carrey and a full-length animated movie that is rated PG. Despite being PG and hysterically amusing, Carrey’s rendition of the Grinch can occasionally frighten young children.
Your heart will grow three sizes if you watch the Dr. Seuss Grinch in this original version, as you witness the grumpy character learn that Christmas is actually about love and family rather than gifts, decorations, and ribbons.
Overall, a young girl’s wonderful holiday spirit causes the grouchy, pessimistic grump’s plan to steal Christmas to be up-ended.
This tale about Christmas’s true nature is humorous and sweet and is on nearly every family’s must-watch list.
3. Angela’s Christmas (2017)
The children’s book “Angela’s Christmas” is based on the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Frank McCourt. This lovely movie highlights the significance and strength of family.
It is a hilarious short film set in the 1910s that tells the story of Angela, a young woman who wanted to bring Christmas to everyone in turn-of-the-century Ireland.
Her heart’s dream was for everyone to experience the Christmas season with tenderness, comfort, and affection.
Also, check out “Angela’s Christmas Wish,” a Netflix original, if your family, like most families, has fallen in love with Angela by the film’s end.
The Santa Clause (1994) shares the story of Scott Calvin as he becomes the fat man in red after putting on a Santa suit after Santa falls off his roof.
Make your viewing a marathon by adding both sequels and the new limited series on Disney Plus.
Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) features the comedy of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog re-enacting Christmas Carol and its story of redemption.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is an excellent film to watch around Thanksgiving because it covers the best of the Halloween and Christmas holidays.
Classic Christmas Movies for Reminiscing
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Few movies capture the essence of the holiday season better than Frank Capra’s 1946 fairytale starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, who is about to end his life when an angel appears to him and teaches him the value of his life.
Every character plays an essential role, from the coldhearted Mr. Potter, George’s archenemy, to Clarence, the kind and laid-back angel guiding George.
And Mary, George’s devoted wife, who has been in love with him since she was a young girl. This holiday staple also shows us that everything happens for a reason, whether or not angels are watching over us.
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Without Charlie Brown, what would Christmas be? Watch the challenges and triumphs of a depressed Charlie Brown in this Christmas classic that will undoubtedly touch your family’s hearts.
Cheer him on as he diligently searches for the true significance of Christmas while continually surrounded by the holiday’s commercialism.
Charlie Brown still learns the true meaning of Christmas and that he has some decent pals despite nosy Lucy and the spindly Christmas tree.
It is one of the longest-lasting children’s Christmas movies and includes most of the Peanuts gang, a great soundtrack, and a poignant tale. It is pure happiness for all ages.
3. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
The highlight of this great film is probably Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
In this uplifting musical set against the background of the 1904 World’s Fair, Garland and her co-stars protest the cynical mood in the lyrics, which weren’t so upbeat in the hit track.
In a snow globe representation of St. Louis, Missouri, the wealthy Smith family considers the possibility of abandoning their ancestral home for the chance of future fortune.
The movie doesn’t have a specific plot; instead, it compiles everyday pleasures (such as flirting with neighbors, riding the trolley, and spending Christmas with the family) into a single beautiful image of an ideal society.
Holiday Inn (1942) is a classic holiday musical comedy that features the song and dance talents of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and is known for producing the song “White Christmas.”
Classic Holiday Specials Older Adults Would Enjoy
1. The Polar Express (2004)
A boy rides a mysterious train that leads him to the North Pole for an encounter with Santa Claus and Santa’s elves in the movie “The Polar Express.”
Based on the Caldecott Award-winning novel by Chris Van Allsburg, this uniquely animated film depicts his path of self-discovery to show how wonder can still exist for those who genuinely believe.
In this iconic story, seen through the eyes of your “hero boy,” Tom Hanks provides narration and the voices of most of the characters.
The film is a classic Christmas tale for children because it teaches the importance of bravery, camaraderie, and the beauty of being kind to others.
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
The film’s core plot is about a 9-year-old child with just one Christmas wish, even though it includes five other short stories.
A Red Ryder BB Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle is what Ralphie Parker wants. Unfortunately, his mother, teacher, and even Santa Claus explain the danger of that gift, all stating that “you’ll shoot your eye out!”
At least one lesson from A Christmas Story is that family matters most in the end. This Christmas classic further demonstrates that the holiday is about more than just a nice dinner.
3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This vintage black-and-white film will capture your heart with its unique charm and attempt to answer the age-old question: Does Santa Exist?
We adults shouldn’t discourage kids from believing in Santa Claus, and this movie encourages everyone to still believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas.
Dreaming has a magical quality, as Miracle on 34th Street reveals. This film leaves many adults wondering, “Is Santa real after all?”
4. The Family Stone (2005)
The star-studded cast of this new holiday classic includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Diane Keaton.
You’ll feel for the main character if you have ever belonged to (or even known) a family that was unfriendly towards outsiders.
However, what begins as a stressful family comedy set during the holiday season, takes a somber turn with a touching twist by the finale.
Infographic: Christmas Movies for Older Adults
There are so many Christmas movies that seniors and the elderly would enjoy that we struggled to narrow the list to these few.
Maybe we should have included Disney’s Father Christmas, Last Holiday, Family Man, or irreverent comedies like Fred Claus, Kumar Christmas, and that story about Buddy the Elf and his adventure in New York City.
Since there is nothing better than a family movie night for Christmas, these top family Christmas movies are perfect for people of all ages, including both the older and younger generations!