Holiday Entertainment

Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf confronts the department store Santa.
The Best Family-Friendly Christmas Movies To Stream On Max This Year

Cozy up and get warm with laughter and joy with these 15 holiday classics as well as some new titles!

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There's no movie season like the holiday movie season! And if you’ve got a Max subscription, you’re in luck. This holiday season, the streaming service is home to an array of festive Christmas movies you can watch with the kids while putting up the Christmas tree, baking cookies, drinking hot cocoa, or really whenever the mood strikes.

From popular and quotable hits like Will Ferrell's Elf to classics such as A Christmas Story, there are tons of Christmas movies to stream on Max in 2023. Indeed, there is no Christmas without the Griswalds' light display or a talking snowman who also happens to be your dad. Plus, Christmas isn’t complete without the magical train from Polar Express that takes kids to the North Pole to meet the one and only Santa Claus (and Tom Hanks as a train conductor is a fun perk, too).

Whatever your delight might be, there is a holiday movie for everyone in the family to watch this year on HBO’s streaming platform. Below is our list of a few of the top kid-friendly Christmas movies you can stream on Max right now.

And if you don’t have a subscription, Max costs $15.99 a month or $9.99 to watch with ads. Or, you can purchase Max as an add-on through your Hulu subscription.

Sesame Street: The Nutcracker

Sesame Street Workshop

A jolly short special for your little ones. Help Elmo and Tango find the holiday spirit in Sesame Street The Nutcracker. Elmo wants to give his puppy the best Christmas and goes on a magical adventure in a fantasy land to do so. “This special was a real labor of love for our team at Sesame over the past couple of years,” Olexa Hewryk, the vice president and head of animation of Sesame Workshop, previously told Romper, “so we are thrilled to finally be sharing it with our audience just in time for the holidays, and to bring our unique Sesame interpretation to a classic story for kids today. It is full of holiday excitement, and it delivers a meaningful message about the importance of friendship and family.”

Watch Sesame Street The Nutcracker, rated TV-Y.

Arthur Christmas

If you ever wondered how Santa delivered presents all over the world in one night, this one is for you. The 2011 animated movie starring James McAvoy tells the story of Santa’s youngest son, Arthur, who goes on a mission with Saint Nick to help him to give out a present they misplaced to a young girl. Yep, Santa forgot a kid on his list! And they have less than two hours to do it!

Watch Arthur Christmas, rated PG.

A Christmas Story


“Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine,” watching this 1983 comedy based on writings by author Jean Shepherd. All little Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder range-model BB gun. But can he convince his parents, teachers, and Santa to get him one? There’s a lot of nostalgic laughs in this movie from licking a pole and calling an entire fire department to get it off to Ralphie’s gift from Aunt Clara. And although Ralphie throws the “F-bomb” you won’t hear it in this family comedy as the word gets censored to “fudge.” But the look on his dad’s face says it all.

Watch A Christmas Story, rated PG.

A Christmas Story 2


Despite the almost 30-year gap, the 2012 flick is a follow-up to the 1983 original. Ralphie is a teenager now and this time, all he wants for Christmas is a car (convertible to be exact), which he gets and wrecks before he can drive it off the lot. Now with the help of his friends, Flick and Schwartz, he must earn enough money to get it fixed and avoid jail time. There’s a fight with a department store Santa and a plastic reindeer takes a fall through the top of the convertible. In the end, Ralphie gets his dream car and dream girl.

Watch A Christmas Story 2, rated PG.

A Christmas Story Christmas

Ralphie is all grown up with his own family in this 2022 family comedy. This time he returns to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child. But it's not without a few hiccups! Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, Julie Hagerty, and Scott Schwartz star in the latest sequel. Billingsley wanted nearly 40 years to return to the Parker family saga, after appearing in the first movie as a child in 1983. “If you re-approach something like this, you've got to get it right,” he told People.

Watch A Christmas Story Christmas, rated PG.


Just a super cute Christmas story about an oversized elf named Buddy who lives in the North Pole. Well, actually he’s just a human baby who crawls into Santa's toy bag, is raised as an elf in the North Pole, and goes to New York City to find his real family. Will Ferrell is hilarious in this 2003 holiday comedy. But don’t let the kids get any ideas about getting on the elves’ four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. And this includes the spaghetti topped with strawberry, coconut, chocolate, and raspberry sauce, marshmallows, and s’mores pop tarts.

Watch Elf, rated PG.

A Christmas Carol

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Don't be a humbug about this one! Experience the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and yet to come in this Charles Dickens' tale. The 1938 classic with Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge is currently streaming on HBO Max. It’s the oldest and first full-length feature film version of Dickens' story.

The ghost of Jacob Marley is transparent in this one, showing off the cinematic technology over 80 years ago! But one thing that never gets old is, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Or is it, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” I suppose it depends on who you are talking to.

Watch A Christmas Carol, rated G.

A Dennis The Menace Christmas

As Max describes in its synopsis, “Dennis tries to give the Scrooge-like Mr. Wilson the Christmas spirit but causes havoc during his attempt as he tries to deal with a bully.” Pretty much seems it up!

The 2007 movie is a spinoff of the Dickens’ tale, with Mr. Wilson, played by Robert Wagner, acting like a Scrooge and Dennis, played by Maxwell Perry Cotton, is the one trying to give him the Christmas spirit. But what’s a Dennis The Menace flick without some havoc; from letting loose a pageant turkey to house fires. And let’s not forget giving Mr. Wilson food poisoning. Now that we talk about it, we can see why Mr. Wilson was ‘bah humbug about the holidays.

Watch A Dennis The Menace Christmas, rated G.

Jack Frost

Imagine losing a loved one and that person comes back as a snowman. That’s exactly what happens in this lovely, family flick starring Michael Keaton. The Morbius star plays Jack Frost, not to be confused with the mischievous, magical frost being who freezes parents and steals magic snowballs to change time and become Santa Claus (Santa Clause 3 spoiler). Nope. This version of Frost is a family man and musician who died on Christmas Eve and returns to his family in the form of a snowman. Not only is this a great movie about grief and coping but also about love. And...playing ice hockey with a snowman is pretty cool, too!

Watch Jack Frost, rated PG.

Fred Claus

Did you know Santa Claus has a brother? Well in this 2007 family comedy he does! Vince Vaughn plays Fred Clause, Saint Nick’s younger, troublemaker brother and the two could not be more opposite from one another. While Santa, played by Jungle Cruise’s Paul Giamatti, is doing the Santa thing in the North Pole, Fred is a repossession agent in Chicago. When Fred gets busted for impersonating a Salvation Army employee, his jolly big brother comes to the rescue and bails him out. To pay off his debt, Fred goes to the North Pole to work in the toy factory. This is a great movie to teach kids about overcoming sibling jealousy and rivalry and the value of family togetherness.

Watch Fred Claus, rated PG.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

There’s no family Christmas movie night without the Griswalds. Where do we start? The cat (who was wrapped in a box) in the Christmas tree; city-wide power outage, Christmas light display; carving the driest turkey you will ever see in your life, the rabid squirrel and Cousin Eddie. And to think, all Clark wanted was to have the perfect Christmas with his family. This is the only movie on the list where some parental discretion is advised, specifically around Clark’s rants and daydreams of the salesgirl at the counter. Nonetheless, National Lampoon is a reminder to appreciate the dysfunction during the holidays.

Watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, rated PG-13.

Polar Express


You have to really believe to appreciate this magical, holiday adventure. Tom Hanks makes the story based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg his own in this 2004 animated masterpiece. The movie is about a young boy who has doubts about the existence of Saint Nick joins a few kids on a train ride on the Polar Express. Together they travel to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the jolly man in red and his elves as he takes off to deliver gifts around the world. This is a great movie for kids about self-discovery, faith, friendship, bravery, and the power of believing in yourself. (Fun fact: There’s also a real opportunity to take The Polar Express in Colorado.)

Watch The Polar Express, rated G.

Elmo Saves Christmas


Elmo rescues Santa Claus from a tight fit in a chimney on Christmas Eve. To show his gratitude, Santa gives Elmo a magic snow globe that will grant him three wishes. One of his wishes was to make Christmas every day, but Elmo learns you have to be careful what you wish for! Santa shows him the consequences of making everyday Christmas by what the effects would be by sending him into the future on a special sleigh. The late, great Maya Angelou narrates the story in this 1996 Sesame Street classic. The featured holiday song, “Keep Christmas With You” is a ‘sunny days’ favorite.

Watch Elmo Saves Christmas, rated NR. After watching this, watch the holiday special, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, also on Max.

Four Christmases


This is a flick that’s best to watch with the teens. Spending Christmas with your significant other’s family could be a challenging task. Imagine doing it four times? Brad and Kate, played by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, are unmarried, in love, and happy. When their plans for an exotic Christmas vacation to Fiji go sour, the couple decides to spend the day making their rounds to family get-togethers. Both are left questioning their relationship and whether or not they can deal with each other's family. And speaking of family, we can all find something relatable! Jon Favreau, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight and Sissy Spacek also star in this 2006 comedy.

Watch Four Christmases, rated PG-13.

A Christmas Mystery


Years ago, a quaint Oregon town made a remarkable discovery: Santa’s sleigh bells, which now reside in a local museum. The bells have brought happiness and good cheer to all who live there but now, days before Christmas, they’ve gone missing. When local police arrest George for the crime, his 11-year-old son Kenny and his friend Violet know he must be innocent. The pair recruit their older siblings, Maddie and Harrison to help them figure out who really stole the bells so George can go free and the holidays can be saved.

Stream A Christmas Mystery, rated PG.

Happy watching!

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