With radio stations already blaring Christmas music well before it's even Thanksgiving, it's time to consider your holiday movie-watching game-plan, and check when all the holiday movie classics are airing on TV this year.
More than ever, it seems like if you don't plan things right during this ultra-busy season, it doesn't go so well. After all, typically a six-week period sees multiple parties to juggle at work, your kid's school, with your parents, your in-laws, your friends... It's enough to cause confusion and keep you stressed all winter long.
So I say, enough! Schedule the whole darn thing around when your fave holiday classics are airing, and be done with it! You have your priorities, after all, and gaming website Nerdmuch and sites such as TV Guide have full winter viewing schedules already posted.
All you need is your calendar and a commitment to some serious Christmastime vegging. And remember, there are a zillion other holiday-themed movies that are streaming all season long, these are just some of the best ones that will actually air. I warn you, though, the following list is a grab bag — a few movies for the kids, a few movies just for you, which really is the best kind of list.
1. It's A Wonderful Life (Nov. 24)
One of the biggest holiday movies airs right after Thanksgiving this year on Nov. 24, so make sure you don't blink and miss this Frank Capra classic, starring Oscar-nominee James Stewart as George Bailey, a small-town husband and father who learns what's really important when an angel comes to visit his small East Coast town (I'm crying already). Airs on USA Network at 8 p.m. EST.
2. Elf (Nov. 26)
This Will Ferrell classic about what happens when a human adopted by Santa and raised as a North Pole elf sets off to find his birth father in New York City just never gets old. Luckily, you can see it again, or watch for the first time. Bonus: Watching a young Zooey Deschanel, who stars as Ferrell's love interest, before she made it big. Plays on AMC at 7 or 9 p.m. EST.
3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Nov. 23)
The 1966 version is one original you won't be sorry about showing your kids. This retro animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss tale about the Whos of Whoville and their little green nemesis during the most wonderful time of the year makes the Grinch a little less scary of a character than the Jim Carrey 2000 redo because it's not live-action. Plays on NBC at 8 p.m. EST.
4. Love Actually (Nov. 25)
Ok, this one's not so much family entertainment... but it's just not Christmas without this modern classic of the holiday season spent among a cross-section of friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances in London. Grab your spouse, some popcorn and enjoy Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, and Keira Knightley at their prime (bonus points for those who spot an up-and-coming Chiwetel Ejiofor in a small role). Airing on TNT at 8 p.m. EST.
5. A Christmas Story (Nov. 24)
This 1983 classic about a little boy, Ralphie, from the 1940s who goes on a quest to convince his parents that what Christmas is really about is giving him a BB gun is a great movie to watch with slightly older kids (Commonsense Media says ages 8 and above) for the fact that the children don't act perfectly, so there's some mild swearing and arguing with parents. But the thing is, you get to see how it all works out in the end, and it's a great jumping-off point for a family discussion about the spirit of the holidays. Airs on TNT at 8 and 10 p.m. EST.
6. The Santa Clause (Nov. 25)
This 1994 Tim Allen classic about a single-dad salesman who must take over the job and hit the North Pole when Father Christmas himself has an accident on his roof is another great take on the holiday for elementary-age kids who want something a little more grown-up than animated reindeer. Movies like this are the kind that are fun for parents, too, and I wish there were more of them. Airs at 4:50 p.m. EST on Freeform.
7. Miracle on 34th Street (Nov. 27)
This 1947 classic for kids of all ages is another must-see for the whole fam. When a department store Santa in New York City needs to be replaced, a bearded gentleman named Kris Kringle steps in. But will Kris be able to persuade cynical single mom Doris Walker and her daughter, Susan (played by a young Nathalie Wood), that the miracle of Christmas isn't just another fairy tale that Doris can't believe in? This heartwarming holiday yarn will air on AMC at 2:45 p.m. EST.
8. White Christmas (Nov. 27)
This 1954 musical, based on the famed Irving Berlin tune, follows the story of a retired general who is trying to run a failing hotel and gets a much-needed holiday boost from two of his former officers and a pair of singing sisters. This movie, while it may seem dated at first to kids watching at home, is such a great example of an old-fashioned Hollywood musical, that it's just a fun escape from modern times. And you can't beat the old-school tunes from the likes of legends Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney (George's aunt). Airs on AMC at 12 noon EST.
9.Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Nov. 26)
The filmmaker extraordinaire really was at his best with this amazing stop-motion animation tale of a character named Jack Skellington, king of a place called Halloween Town. When Jack discovers that there's an entirely separate land called Christmas Town, things really get interesting. This is edgy stuff, from a kidnapped Santa to a freaky Easter Bunny to various goblins. Common Sense Media recommends ages 7 and above for viewing, but user comments indicated that even slightly older might be better. Plays on Freeform at 7:15 p.m. EST.
10. Home Alone (Nov. 14)
Debate still ensues over whether this movie is the most hilarious family film you'll ever see or a sneakily inappropriate movie for younger kids that their dads just wanted to see. And sure, while it does sound dark on the surface, the story of Kevin McAllister, an 8-year-old who gets left behind at home during a holiday trip to Paris, only to have to then defend the house against two crafty burglars, is pretty darn fun. A lot of the darker moments seem to go over kids' heads, and it's hard to miss here, between Macaulay Culkin as the kid, the late John Hughes doing the writing, and Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the burglars. But weigh the cons and prod carefully. Playing on STZEN (the Starz Encore Movie Channel) at 12:18 p.m. EST.
11. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Nov. 27)
This 1964 stop-motion aniimation classic about the one reindeer in Santa's pack who just didn't quite fit in is worth revisiting, even if you've watched it before. Rudolph is so cute and there's absolutely nothing appropriate or scary to watch out for so this is one fun and stress-free night in for the family. No wonder TV Guide say this tale has been broadcast every holiday season since its premiere decades ag
12. Frosty The Snowman (Nov. 23)
This all-ages tale of a good-hearted snowman who risks his own safety (make that a total meltdown of his snowy self) to get to the North Pole features the classic song, narration by old-school actor Jimmy Durante and a retro vibe that can only be matched with hot chocolate and a roaring fire. Airs on CBS at 8 p.m. EST.