Below are 7 of the most popular Christmas movies that are either geared toward teen viewers or likely to appeal to them. Of course, understanding the likes and dislikes of a teenager is a virtually impossible task, and they often change on a daily basis, sometimes hourly.
More mature teens may already be loving classics like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or MIRACLE ON 34th STREET while the more young-at-heart may prefer animated fare like THE POLAR EXPRESS.
If you can somehow manage to keep them home for a couple hours and get a cup of hot cocoa in their hand, these are some ideas that might make the experience a bit more tolerable.
Obviously, an article like this can only touch the tip of the iceberg. For a more extensive list of teen Christmas movies, explore more teen Christmas movies on Seventeen Magazine here.
- The Joy of Watching Christmas Movies
- Christmas Movies Suitable for Teens
- 7 Top Christmas Movies for Teens
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Joy of Watching Christmas Movies
Christmas movies have become as much a holiday season tradition as putting up the tree and canoodling under the mistletoe. You would likely be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have at least one film they absolutely must watch every December.
And let’s be honest, it’s the ideal way for many families to spend quality time together. You are all together in one room, but it’s not necessary for you to carry on a conversation, and there is something unifying about laughing and crying together over a film that may take the “grinch” out of even the crankiest family member.
Christmas Movies Suitable for Teens
You may be wondering what constitutes a suitable Christmas movie for teenager. Good question! The gap between 13 and 19 is as wide as the Grand Canyon. You enter your teen years as a young boy or girl, and you exit trying to transition from an older kid to a young adult.
You obviously know your teenager better than anyone else, and you also know your own parental viewing guidelines. What I’ve done here is try to come up with some of the more popular choices and pinpoint why they are so well liked, not only by teenagers but by the whole family.
I’ll be honest—some of these titles I don’t personally like. And I won’t be shy about sharing my feelings. I may even offer an alternate suggestion or two. So rather than consider this a map of the best Christmas movies, consider it a compass guiding you in the right general direction.
To see ratings and reviews of these and other Christmas movies, visit IMDb’s list of top-rated Christmas movies here.
7 Top Christmas Movies for Teens
1) THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992)
The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale with the help of Michael Caine as Scrooge, the crotchety miser who receives visits from Christmas past, present, and future. They try to show him the error of his ways, even though he seems beyond redemption.
It may seem odd to include The Muppets in a blog geared toward teen-agers, but I have felt there is something universal about Jim Henson’s creations that reach out to people of all ages. If you’re not lost in the story, you can marvel at the sheer brilliance of those who make puppets seemingly come to life.
I personally have mixed feelings about the movie. I think it’s good family entertainment, but I wish they had gone out on a limb and let Miss Piggy portray Scrooge rather than the very human Michael Caine. With her acerbic personality, I think it would have been very inspiring.
Of course, all is forgiven when the sentimentality and emotion of Scrooge’s successful transition set in. It’s a beautiful, timeless story of hope and redemption—a reminder that all of us have the ability to change for the better and to specifically recognize the true meaning of Christmas. And that is a message suitable for all ages.
For older teens who feel too old for the Muppets, you can’t beat the 1951 SCROOGE, starring Alastair Sim. Although there are dozens of versions of this story, this one may be the best.
2) ELF (2003)
Buddy was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York in search of his real father. Chaos obviously ensues.
I suppose you could consider this movie a modern Christmas classic. It seems to be one of those rare motion pictures that defies age and appeals to the whole family. I personally liked it a whole lot more than I expected. Although I think the last quarter of the movie loses steam, and I didn’t buy the romantic subplot for Buddy, I still think this is great holiday entertainment.
I think it successfully bridges the gap between physical humor and emotion. Sure, when most people think of ELF, they will remember the scenes of Buddy creating meals anchored by sugar and sweets or his interaction with the raccoon.
Beyond the humor, there is real emotion and understanding in Buddy’s longing to gain his father’s acceptance. Whether or not they want to admit it, most teenagers want to find approval from their parents, and this is most certainly relatable.
3) HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966)
OK, it’s technically not a movie, but how can you keep The Grinch off of a list such as this? And I’m certainly not going to recommend either of the theatrical movies that came after. I thought Jim Carrey’s 2000 incarnation, in particular, was bombastic.
Why has the Grinch appealed to us for all these decades? I think there are a number of reasons. Like Scrooge, he illustrates the ability to change. The story explains how a person’s attitude and disposition can be influenced by any number of surrounding forces. And, more superficially but no less importantly, the expert words and rhymes by Dr. Seuss are creative and memorable.
There is also a definite nostalgia factor here. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia! The Grinch and others like him (e.g. Rudolph, Frosty, and Charlie Brown) are characters that have literally been around for generations. I’m sure there is some kind of unconscious desire for us to continue traditions, even among teenagers, who often inherently feel the need to buck the trend.
4) A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
Based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, little Ralphie Parker dreams of his ideal Christmas gift – a Red Ryder air rifle. Often at odds with his cranky dad and comforted by his loving mother, Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day.
Speaking of nostalgia, has there ever been a more nostalgic movie ever made—holiday or otherwise? Ask anyone on earth, and they will be able to tell you about that one gift they wanted more than anything in the world. And the teenagers in your life may still be young enough to experience that longing and hoping against hope.
And though this took place many years ago, there is a timeless quality here to which most of us—teens and otherwise—will be able to relate. How many of us have struggled with a temperamental parent that doesn’t seem to understand us—or seemingly has the desire to understand us?
Beyond the whole holiday experience, this movie also delves into challenges that are still being faced today: bullying, peer pressure, and infantilization, among others. It’s pretty much guaranteed that everyone can find at least one relatable scene in this movie.
This movie was followed by a 2012 sequel with none of the original actors and a 2022 follow-up featuring many of the familiar faces from the 1983 film. Neither is worth your time.
5) THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES (2018)
Siblings Kate and Teddy hatch a scheme to capture Santa on Christmas Eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with Saint Nick and his elves to save the holiday.
Despite some reservations about the filmmaking itself, I would dare say that this is the most teen-friendly selection on my list. Although it’s definitely a fantasy movie, the beginning scenes are going to be quite relatable for many teens—perhaps even painfully so.
Teddy and Kate are dealing with the death of their father and the absence of an overworked mother. They are transitioning between the ideals of youth and the realities of adulthood. I’m reminded of a lyric by Edward Kleban written for A CHORUS LINE: “Too young to take over; too old to ignore.”
These are likable kids, and we’re rooting for them. As an audience, we want to believe that the adventure they undertake here is true. Even after learning that Santa isn’t real, we still, to some degree, retain the hope of that being totally wrong.
6) JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (2020)
Decades after being betrayed by his apprentice, a once joyful toy maker finds new hope when his bright young granddaughter arrives on his doorstep.
This is the most recent entry on my list and, unfortunately, the only title that I haven’t had the opportunity to see yet. But after reading and doing a bit of research, I’m very anxious to rectify this. I’m particularly excited to be able to highlight a movie featuring a predominantly African American cast, including Oscar winner Forest Whitaker.
Reviews I have read describe the film as inspiring and appropriate for most age groups. This is another movie that deals with parental loss—the death of a mother this time. But it is also described as a great message of faith—of not only believing but persevering when life’s obstacles are placed in our way.
7) HOME ALONE (1990)
Eight-year-old Kevin awakens to an empty house when his family mistakenly leaves on a trip to Paris without him. His initial excitement turns sour when he realizes two con men plan to rob the residence and that he alone must protect the family home.
I am very anxious to talk about this movie because I may be the only person on earth who doesn’t like it or understand its holiday appeal, even though it takes place at Christmastime. Actually, I take that back. I do understand the appeal. Slapstick comedy and sentimentality are a dangerous combination, especially during Christmas.
On the plus side, this movie certainly does portray Kevin as a very resourceful and independent young man who overcomes his initial fears to become a protector. That is a great message; I can’t argue that. And young teens, especially, will appreciate the pratfalls and physical humor.
I personally had issues with the violence. For me, there is a big difference between an animated Bugs Bunny dropping an anvil on Yosemite Sam or a cartoon Acme bomb blowing up in Wile E. Coyote’s face and watching similar antics happen in real life to real people. I find it unfunny and uncomfortable. And younger, more sensitive teens may balk at the possibility of being left behind by their families.
Millions and millions of people obviously disagree with me, and as I stated above, there are legitimate themes that are positive not only for teenagers but for the entire family. I have not seen the sequel in which Kevin gets lost in New York City, but based on my feelings, I’ll probably skip that one.
Frequently Asked Questions
I hope some of these titles gave you a starting point as you chose your holiday viewing schedule for the year, whether it be right after Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve night.
Please comment below if you have any thoughts on the choices made here or if you have any particular recommendations of your own. We are always looking to add to our holiday season viewing options.
And for a dive into more critically acclaimed Christmas movies, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ list of holiday movies here.
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