Tired of being asked if you can watch the same DVD for the 97th time this month? Follow the Ask Granny guide to the best Christmas films for family watching, and you might get away with something you want to see this December!
The Muppet Christmas Carol. Potentially the all-time number one family festive film, The Muppet Christmas Carol combines the anarchic zaniness of everyone’s favourite furry freaks with the heart and soul of the Charles Dickens classic. More accessible to a wider age range than other acknowledge Christmas classics (It’s a Wonderful Life, for instance, is way too dark and depressing for tinies), The Muppet Christmas Carol barely misses a frame in its mission to delight. Ideal afternoon viewing for all the family, and a perfect treat in the run-up to the big day.
The Snowman. The stuff family Christmas traditions are made of, The Snowman is a faithful rendering of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved book. Featuring that song (“Walking in the Air”) and illustrated by Briggs himself, this is perfect entertainment for children of all ages. Clocking in at just under half an hour, its simple story will grab even the most wayward of attentions. Expect tears at the end – though you could always combat them by running a double bill with the equally glorious Father Christmas, whose good humoured bah-humbug Santa is the perfect antidote to melting snowmen!
Wallace and Gromit. While The Wrong Trousers remains the classic by which all other Claymation films should be judged, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. A Christmas institution without having anything actually to do with Christmas, these Ardman Animation Studios staples are again ideally timed around the half hour mark. Great Christmas Eve viewing for one and all.
The Nightmare Before Christmas. One of the greatest animated films ever made, not to mention one of the best Christmas films of all time, The Nightmare Before Christmas appeals to every child’s favourite things: spookiness, zaniness and of course Christmas Eve. Join Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, as he rashly kidnaps Christmas and tries to make it his own. The scene where Jack tries to work out what makes Christmas, by performing experiments on baubles and candy canes, will have any grandchild over the age of six thinking about what the festive season means: and as for those musical numbers, well, you’ll be humming them in your sleep for weeks.
The Iron Giant. While not strictly a Christmas film (though it does snow at the end!), The Iron Giant joins the hallowed ranks of “brilliant books that have been turned into equally brilliant films” thanks to its combination of delectable animation (hand drawn 1950s style images, with enough attention to detail to keep the adults fascinated), hilarious action and a big, big heart. Based on Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man, this movie was helmed by Brad Bird – who went on to direct the Pixar favourite The Incredibles a couple of years later. You can see the same rose-tinted view of the Cold War era here/ With the added bonus of a tear-jerking ending that turns into an “oh, well that’s alright then” coda, this is the ultimate family movie and one of the all-time great Christmas afternoon attention-grabbers.
More ideas for great Christmas films for kids:
Parenting.com – a selection of 25 kids films for the holiday season.
Examiner.com – another 20 children’s festive gems.
Ask Granny – the online guide for grandparents.