I really do appreciate all the glamorous holiday parties that I tend to be invited to around this time of year. But, sometimes, I want to hang out with my friends and be festive in a slightly more low key kind of way.
Enter the ugly sweater party/onesie or pajama party/sweats are cool too party. You have food, and drinks, and music playing, and your friends all together to marathon some classic Christmas movies. If you stick to the end, I even managed to scrounge up some Hanukkah movies as well (I don’t know if you were aware but while Christmas movies are a dime a dozen it’s really hard to find something to watch while you get into eight days of gift giving.)
Throw a lot of cozy throw blankets on the couches and chairs, add a lot of throw pillows, and maybe even stick some pouffs and pillows on the ground so everyone can get really comfy. If you have a garland draped over the tv stand and a lit tree in the other room you’ll be suitably festive with very little effort.
Have finger foods like basic pigs in a blanket, cucumber slices with filling to work as “sandwhiches”, those small snack foods sold in huge boxes at Costco like mini tacos or mini quiches, pate smeared on crackers, or a classic cheese board. Don’t forget to serve caramel popcorn too since it’s a movie marathon! You can also have a hot drink bar spread out on your table to offer hot cider, eggnog, or hot chocolate and your favorite toppings for guests to choose from.
The most important part of the post, of course, is to list the ten can’t miss Christmas movies I just can’t do without that you should consider to show at your holiday movie marathon.
1.) It’s a Wonderful Life
This is a movie I keep out all year long just in case the blues hits me a little too hard and I need some inspiration when times are tough, but it’s especially great to watch during Christmas time. It’s an inspiring tale of a man who has just about given up on life until an angel shows him how much his efforts and life mean to the other people in his town. This one has religious and Christian references.
2.) White Christmas
Is it really Christmas if you don’t watch this classic? It’s got comedy, drama, and big floofy vintage dresses all set to crooner music, so it’s a win every year for me. If there are religious references, I didn’t notice them.
3.) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph is a little reindeer that doesn’t fit in very well in his world. Through the course of the movie we learn that his being different is actually a gift and not something to be ashamed of. It’s a great moral for kids, and the video itself is entertaining to watch for an adult viewing party as well. There’s like one line about Jesus in the beginning of the movie but it really has nothing to do with religion in here so if that’s something you avoid this one should work for you as long as you skip the intro by the snowman at the beginning.
4.) A Christmas Carol
This is a classic book that has been remade into approximately 500 billion different movies. My favorite adaptation is the Muppet Christmas Carol because it has some gags and jokes thrown in that make this a bit unique compared to the other editions. Little to no religiousness in any of the editions.
5.) The Trouble With Angels
This movie depicts the boarding school life of a trouble making girl acting out as a result of being neglected by her family, and her friend who goes along with her antics. For me this does belong in my own Christmas movie rotation because of the heartbreaking scene where the old lady in the retirement home cries because her children never visit her all year long and they finally promised to visit for Christmas, but they still don’t come. It gets me all fired up to do more good for my community each year, and a bit of heartbreak can help cut through the children’s shows listed here. The movie is based in a Catholic boarding school and it references that belief system a bit.
6.) The Grinch
I love the animated Grinch movie. It fits the mold of many other Christmas movies- an outsider in his world finds the spirit of giving and becomes part of his community with the magic of Christmas. Even if the plot is a little predictable, the characters and world building is interesting and the comedic timing is perfect so there’s good reason people continue to return to watching this year after year even when so many new holiday movies come out every season. The live action Grinch movie made in the nineties has a bit deeper plot building and even more comedy and I think it’s a great option for grown ups who might not want to watch too many movies aimed just at children. Little to no religious references.
7.) The Nutcracker
Yes, I know. The Nutcracker is meant to be a ballet, not a movie. That said, there are a lot of great movie adaptions of the story, and it can be easier to follow the plot when actors actually have lines- which might be an issue if you spike the eggnog or serve bourbon balls and your friends aren’t completely with it at this point in the night. When I’m not watching the ballet on PBS, which I’m a total sucker for, I personally love the animated 1990 “Nutcracker Prince” but the 2010 live action version was very satisfying to watch as well. Little to no religious references.
8.) The Polar Express
This movie of a kid who is starting to doubt Santa is real being whisked away to the North Pole is a modern classic for all ages. It’s got great music, gorgeous animation, and a fun story, so there’s really nothing to dislike. The story is not actively religious but it could be allegorical if you wanted to make it that way.
9.) Santa Clause is Coming to Town
Another vintage puppeteered film that I am pretty sure was made by the same people who did the Rudolph classic. This is a totally loveable movie your friends might just sing along to. Not religious.
10.) The Nativity Story
This one is super religious. The whole point of this particular movie, actually, is to be as close to the Christian nativity story as possible. Watch the trailer below and pick up a copy if you’re interested!
There’s some different choices depending on the age range of the audience, or to be accurate how willing your friends are to watch things technically aimed at children. If your gang still has karaoke nights to watch the Lion King, though, you should be good to go. Besides, seriously, who wouldn’t love Bubbe?
The Rugrats special is also a fun film that is great if you are a 90’s baby that just can’t let go of nostalgia.
If you don’t love Bubbe or child themed movies though there are less youthful movies you can watch that do connect with Jewish or even American Jewish culture, but there aren’t many choices for adults to watch that are actually about Hanukkah that I’m aware of. There’s choices like “Eight Crazy Nights” but for the most part I think once you cross out children’s movies you are down to just scrabbling for any movie on the holiday and quality stops being a factor.