Festive Movies For The Holidays

‘Tis the season for cozy blankets, festive snacks, and nostalgic movies! ❄️ With just a couple of days left of the year, we’re turning in and spending our evenings with our favorite holiday films. From Christmas classics and obvious holiday favorites to love stories and movies that just make us feel cozy and warm, here are our editors’ picks. Share your favorites in the comments below!

Looking for more films and shows to watch this season? Check out our favorite documentaries and docuseries on Netflix.

Henah’s Pick: Love Actually

Recommended By | Henah, Editor

I’m a sucker for both the holiday season and love, so any movie combining the two is a winner in my book. I first watched “Love Actually” in high school; ever since, I’ve made it a tradition to watch every year five to six weeks before Christmas (which is when the movie timeline starts, too).

The plot follows nine interconnected “love stories,” from Hugh Grant’s endearing role as the new British prime minister to the late Alan Rickman’s role as a creepy boss. There are a few now-problematic scenes and ones you should consider if watching with young children, but it’s a sentimental film I hold dear—and the mini-sequel the (very stacked) cast did for charity is a delight, too.

Watch on Google Play, iTunes, or Prime Video.

Alyssa’s Pick: Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Recommended By | Alyssa, Community + Social Lead

We’re a big, big Christmas-time family, so choosing just one “favorite” was no easy feat! After some careful consideration, I think that no holiday season is complete without a viewing of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”! I can’t quite recall when it became a Julian family classic, but I do know that several friends have asked both my twin and me why we love “The Grinch” so much—seriously, I’ve set this photo as my Facebook header image every year, seven years and counting.

For a start, I love Jim Carrey’s performance in this movie, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to laugh at the big eye-roll moments you tend to not pick up on as a kid (like the girl-next-door trope, you know?). It’s yet another thing from the early aughts that’s so bad it’s good, isn’t it? I love seeing little Cindy Lou Who (pre-Gossip Girl) and the baby grinch is simply too cute to handle. 

Other Julian family faves/must-watches include “The Holiday” (helllllo, Jude Law as a hot dad 🥵) and “It’s A Wonderful Life” (my dad’s forever favorite).

Watch on Google Play or Apple TV.

Emily’s Pick: A Christmas Story

Recommended By | Emily, Editorial Director

Few things in life are better than cozying up under a blanket and hunkering down to watch a classic movie during wintertime. For my holiday pick, I’ve never gone wrong with “A Christmas Story.” It’s nostalgic, hilariously chaotic, and since I’m a Hoosier, this movie captures so much about the holidays in Indiana that I find so comforting. (Plus, did you know Peter Billingsley, aka Ralphie, re-appeared in 2003’s “Elf”?)

But to be honest, while I enjoy holiday movies, I love movies during the holidays more. All the blockbusters get me excited and optimistic about the year ahead—any addition to the Marvel and Star Wars universes in particular. While I wait for many of the films to get released to streaming services, I find myself always returning to what I consider the true series of my holiday season: “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy. (Don’t forget the extended versions!) I put the movies on while I do my holiday cooking and baking, while snuggling my pet rabbits, and as my husband and I count down the hours on New Year’s Eve. The epic nature feels so appropriate for long nights and frigid days where you don’t feel like doing much else. Cheers!

Watch on Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube, or Prime Video.

Danielle’s Pick: Sister Act 2

Recommended By | Danielle, Partnerships Lead

While there’s nothing inherently holiday-esque about “Sister Act 2”, it does follow the revival of a defunct choir at a Catholic school, so gospel songs abound—or, more accurately, the (spoiler alert!) championship-winning reworks of some classics are. (Plus, the movie was released in December 1993, so, every year, I feel like I’m watching it exactly as intended!) 

Whoopi Goldberg reprises her role as a Las Vegas headliner who’s now been appointed the new music teacher at an inner-city school slated for closure—unless its reputation can be improved. She’s tasked with turning a rowdy group of teens into a worthy ensemble, and a young Lauryn Hill (pre-The Fugees fame!) leads the group. There’s a piano-driven performance of “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” a scene-stealing high note on “Oh Happy Day,” and, of course, the finale: a rousing rendition of “Joyful, Joyful” that comes with a rap verse, choreography, and SO much ‘90s fashion, the scene should be put in a time capsule.

Watch on Disney+, Apple TV, YouTube, or Prime Video.

Kayti’s Pick: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Recommended By | Kayti, Senior Editor

There are few movies that I can recite by heart (I’m not one for watching films on repeat; more of a one-and-done viewer), yet, for my siblings and me, we practically have the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” script memorized. This is in thanks to my father, who, growing up, may have wished he was Clark Griswold himself. I have many childhood memories of sappy, fresh-cut trees engulfing our living room and of Mom screaming at Dad as he crawled across the frozen roof, nail gun in one hand, fluorescent string lights in the other.

All that to say, I was introduced to the film that predates me as soon as I was cognizant. It was actually one of the only PG-13 movies I was allowed to watch as a kid (a major win for my siblings and me), making the “adult jokes” that we now understand all the more hilarious. Every December, it’s the first movie I play, and it always hits that sweet spot, making me feel nostalgic for white Christmases, a chaotic home, and my very rambunctious, holiday-loving family.

Watch on Google Play, Vudu, Prime Video, and Youtube.

Have a holiday movie of your own? Share your favorites in the comments—and happy holidays!

Kayti Christian (she/her) is the Senior Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for enneagram 4s and other sensitive-identifying people. Outside of writing, she loves hiking, reading memoir, and the Oxford comma.