12 classic Christmas movies and how to watch them

‘Tis the season to stream all your favorite Christmas movies, and we’re here to help you avoid getting caught out in the cold looking for how to watch The Holiday (2006) or the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). The beauty of the streaming age is you don’t need to wait for TBS’ 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon to relive Ralphie’s antics (although you can still catch the 1983 classic on TBS and TNT this year). But the downside of having so many platforms to choose from is that these titles can move around faster than Santa’ sleigh, meanwhile, our holiday favorites tend to stay the same. So in case you don’t still have your copy of Elf (2003) on DVD, here’s where you can watch some of the most popular holiday movies this year.

Where to watch It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

A man regretting his life choices is visited by an angel in his time of need. James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore star in It’s a Wonderful Life, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Stream on Prime

Where to watch Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994)

He’s the best department store Santa Claus around — but could he be the real deal? Both the original 1947 black and white film and the 1994 remake starring Matilda’s Mara Wilson are available to stream on Hulu. You can also watch the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street on Disney+.

Stream on Hulu Stream on Disney+

Where to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, 2000 and 2018)

Whether you prefer the original 1966 cartoon, the Benedict Cumberbatch version from 2018 or the Jim Carrey-led live-action rendition, there’s no denying that Mr. Grinch has snuck his way into our Christmas traditions. Both the 1966 classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the 2018 animated movie The Grinch are available to stream on Peacock. The 2000 live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available to rent or buy through Amazon.

Stream on Peacock Rent on Amazon

Where to watch A Christmas Story (1983)

All Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder air rifle! A Christmas Story (1983) and the recent sequel A Christmas Story Christmas (2022) are streaming on Max.

Stream on Max

For anyone with cable, there will also be a 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon on TNT and TBS from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day if you’d rather tune in to the movie live on TV.

Die Hard (1988)

Whether or not you personally consider it a Christmas classic, there’s no denying that certain people love watching New York City policeman John McClane defend his wife from terrorists during her work holiday party at Nakatomi Plaza. Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman star in Die Hard, available to rent or buy on Amazon.

Rent on Amazon

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

It’s the holiday season, and after all their family vacations, the Griswold’s are keeping things simple this year and celebrating Christmas at home — sounds easy enough, right? Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and Randy Quaid star in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, now streaming on both HBO’s Max and Hulu.

Stream on Hulu Stream on Max

Where to watch Home Alone (1990)

After his family accidentally leaves him behind as they head out for their Christmas vacation, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister must defend his home from “The Wet Bandits” — a pair of robbers targeting empty houses in his neighborhood. Both Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) are streaming on Disney+ and Starz.

Stream on Disney+ Stream on Starz

Where to watch Elf (2003)

When Buddy the Elf learns he’s actually a human man who was adopted by an elf employed at Santa’s workshop, he decides to leave behind the jolly life he’s known to search for his biological father in New York City. Elf, starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner and Bob Newhart, is currently streaming on Max.

Stream on Max

Where to watch Love Actually (2003)

Love Actually explores 10 interwoven love stories playing out around the most wonderful time of the year. Turns out, Christmas actually is all around… Love Actually stars Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley and Colin Firth. The 2003 film is currently streaming on Netflix.

Stream on Netflix

Where to watch The Holiday (2006)

Two women grappling with heartbreak decide to swap houses for the holidays, finding new homes for their hearts in the process. Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black star in this 2006 Christmas romantic comedy. The Holiday isn’t currently streaming anywhere, but you can rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Rent on Amazon

Where to watch The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Two kids hitch a secret ride in Santa’s Sleigh, but the unexpected hitchhikers throw Santa Claus off his game. Both The Christmas Chronicles (2018) and the 2020 sequel that reunites Kurt Russell Goldie Hawn — The Christmas Chronicles 2 — are streaming on Netflix.

Stream on Netflix

Where to watch Happiest Season (2020)

When Abby is invited home for the holidays by her girlfriend Harper, she’s ready to give the idea of Christmas a second chance, until she discovers that Harper wants the two of them to spend Christmas back in the closet. Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen star in Happiest Season, now streaming on Hulu.

Stream on Hulu

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