The holidays are a time to be with family and friends, and enjoy some downtime in front of the TV watching holiday movies. It is also the best time to start planning your travel for the next year. So, why not do both?
We’ve pulled together 11 of our favorite holiday movies. Some are Christmas classics, while others you might not have thought of as holiday movies. Either way grab some hot cocoa or a glass of wine, curl up with a blanket, and enjoy!
Best Holiday Movies to Watch this Season
Love Actually (2003)
Originally released as a holiday romantic comedy, this film shot its way to holiday movie classic and a must-watch during the holiday season. The ensemble cast all has a story to share as they count down to Christmas Eve. Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister, Colin Firth as a jilted writer, and Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman as a married couple in trouble, are just three reasons why we love this movie that takes place all across London and even in Portugal.
Watch Love Actually now
The Holiday (2006)
LA and Surrey, England come alive in this holiday romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Even if you aren’t down and out in romance, looking to get away, you will love this tale of finding love again over the holidays, but also remembering to stick up for yourself and remembering you are worthy of love no matter what. Best of all, you get a gorgeous glimpse of the English countryside… and Jude Law.
Watch The Holiday now
White Christmas (1954)
OK, so White Christmas may be more Hollywood movie set than actual locations, but you can’t celebrate the holidays without seeing one of the greatest music and dance holiday movies of all time. Even my four-year-old son loves to watch this movie with me. Train travel from Florida to Vermont, the inside of a 50s supper club, and even WWII are featured in this film. Watch it. You may change your mind about those boring old movies you refused to watch with your mom as a kid.
Watch White Christmas now
Another movie that quickly became a holiday classic is Elf. Will Ferrell, who I’m convinced has written into his contract that he has to sing for at least 60 seconds in every film he makes, plays Buddy the Elf to perfection. Matching him with the quirky Zooey Deschanel adds a little romance to this holiday film that is perfect for the whole family. Just don’t forget to watch it with an exorbitant amount of sweets, hot cocoa and spaghetti with maple syrup. NYC never looked so good… or sugar coated.
Watch Elf now
Miracle of 34th Street (1947 or 1994)
New York City comes alive in this B/W Christmas classic that was redone almost 50 years later in color. Scenes from the NYC Thanksgiving Day parade, lines to see Santa and a man who believes he is the big man himself, brings the holidays a little closer to home. This is a great movie to kick off the holiday season, especially with younger kids who are questioning whether Santa is real or not. After all, if those big time lawyers in NYC can’t prove Santa doesn’t exist, you should never assume the big man in red isn’t keeping his eye on you and checking his list twice.
Watch Miracle on 34th Street now
Last Holiday (2006)
Who doesn’t love Queen Latifah? This first lady of hip hop made the transition to movies several years ago and just keeps going, whether she gets to sing in them or not. In Last Holiday, Queen Latifah finds that she only has a few weeks left to live. Having never really lived her life up until this point as a department store worker in New Orleans, she cashes out her retirement fund and heads to the Pupp Hotel in a little town in the mountains of the Czech Republic to live out her final days. As this is a comedy, and leading man LL Cool J is about as clueless as they come for a bit of it, you know some holiday magic is sure to happen. Even better, you get to see a cute, European mountain town all dressed up for the holidays.
Watch Last Holiday now
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Go shopping in Chicago with the Griswald’s this holiday season. Who can forget when Clark lights up the house, or the cat is fried while gnawing on Christmas lights?
There is a lot of family love going on in that house over the holidays, so whether you need to feel like your family is normal or not, this Chicago-based holiday movie classic is a must.
Watch Christmas Vacation now
The Family Stone (2005)
I have to admit that the first time I saw The Family Stone while in grad school I found it very depressing. I caught this holiday movie again on cable a few years later and it began to grow on me, especially the holiday scenes of Connecticut (and some New Jersey).
I adore Diane Keaton; even as she tries to get her family together during a hard time she makes me laugh. The ensemble cast all brought their own strength and weaknesses to the table as one son comes home with a girlfriend who isn’t quite what anyone had in mind as a future in-law.
Watch The Family Stone now
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Although not traditionally thought of as a Christmas movie, you really can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. There are a few seasonal moments in their tale, which is why we had to put it on our list. If you prefer to see the original, grab The Shop Around the Corner.
Watch You’ve Got Mail now
Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Yes, there are eight Harry Potter movies. You can pick one or marathon the whole series from Christmas to New Years, checking multiple holiday movies off your list.
Scotland and England take center stage in every Harry Potter film, so even though there are only small scenes that celebrate the holiday season in these films, you can still get into the travel spirit as you are whisked away through the moors of Scotland on the Hogwarts Express and across the wizarding world in London.
Watch Harry Potter now
Die Hard (1988)
Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Ask anyone, especially a man above 30 years old and he will tell you why. I mean really, Bruce Willis (aka John McClane) is trying to save his wife from Alan Rickman (German Terrorist Hans Gruber) during a christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
What could be more Christmas than that?! Plus there is a lot of action and guns blowing stuff up if you need a break from the romcoms in your house.