The Five Best Christmas Specials

Get into the Christmas spirit with five highly enjoyable and quote-worthy holiday movies.

We’re counting down the days until Christmas, and the warning signs are everywhere. Christmas music on every radio station? Yup. Holiday décor at every turn? You betcha. Christmas specials on every TV station? Thankfully, yes.

There are more movies dedicated to Christmas than any other holiday, but so few of them stand up to the real test: Can I watch this every year and not get sick of it?

Obviously this is just one humble reporter’s opinion, but here’s five that have stood up to the test:

5. The Santa Clause (1994) Starring Tim Allen.

It seems like a requisite for every aging movie star to do a Christmas movie at some point, but they rarely come out as well as this one. Sadly, the same can’t be said about its sequels.

What I love most is the morbid undertone to this film. Despite being a family-friendly holiday romp, The Santa Clause asks the question, “What would happen if Santa died?”

And the answer we get is, “We’d force the guy that accidentally killed him to replace him.”

4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Starring Michael Caine and Frank Oz.

Alfie as Ebenezer Scrooge. Gonzo as Charles Dickens. ‘Nuff said. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a wonderfully strange mix of Jim Henson’s imagination and classic literature, even if you already know the ending.

Oh, and Fozzie Bear as Fezziwig? Kills me every time. Wakka-wakka-wakka.

3. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) Starring Burl Ives.

Talk about the test of time -- who doesn’t love Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius and Sam the Snowman?

But just like #5 on this list, there’s a sordid twist to Rudolph’s world. The other reindeer -- his own parents included -- are downright cruel to the young buck. Even Santa gets in on the bullying. Although he makes up for it in the end, of course.

And let’s not forget about the Abominable Snowman, who was just plain terrifying when I was 8 -- or at least right up to the point when Hermey the elf pulls out all of its teeth! Now that I’m an adult, I realize just how disturbing that is.

2. A Christmas Story (1983) Starring Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon.

Tongues on metal poles… visiting Santa at the department store… the intense desire for that one Christmas toy… This movie packs in so much holiday nostalgia, it’s almost sickening.

And still yet, every season, I manage to watch A Christmas Story at least five or six times, mostly thanks to that 24-hour marathon that runs each year.

1. Christmas Vacation (1989) Starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. 

The misadventures of Clark Griswold have been a staple of my youth, and I find that they are one of the few things that get better with time. Watching Chevy Chase get electrocuted just makes my Christmas that much brighter.


I apologize if I’ve left out any of the classics, but these are definitely my “top five.” If I’ve skipped any of the necessary Christmas specials, let us know in the comments!

Mary Ellen Alu December 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Yes it was on once already....We have the DVD. My 6-year-old watches the Rudolph movie over and over and over again. I think I'm quoting lines by now.
Cynthia December 15, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Um, excuse me ... no "Charlie Brown Christmas"? Really?!
Sandi December 15, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Charlie Brown Christmas should be right up there with them
Mallory Vough December 15, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Make sure to read the last paragraph: "I apologize if I’ve left out any of the classics, but these are definitely my 'top five.'” I'm sure he has nothing against Charlie Brown. Perhaps it's my fault since I restrict him to five items per Patch Picks each week!
Anthony Rando December 16, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Ok, before an angry mob forms, let me just say that these are my personal top-five favorites... if this were the "Top 6 Christmas Specials," rest assured that Charlie Brown would be on the list. Now, if Snoopy had his own Christmas special, that would probably push it up a few places....


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