There are certain aspects of the holiday season that have been around for so long that it hardly feels like Christmas without them. Stop motion holiday specials have made regular returns to TV since their debut in decades gone by. Slightly creepy and definitely old-fashioned, those specials were introduced to generations of kids until they became a tradition in their own right. If you'd like to embrace the nostalgia, then you'll need to know how to watch your favorite stop motion Christmas specials this year. Maybe you can even introduce your kids to them for the very first time.
Those stop motion specials — which often featured Rudolph in the lead role alongside a helpful elf, with plenty of visits from Santa Claus himself — were all produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. The company was created by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, and while their entire output wasn't Christmas-themed, the holiday specials are among their most instantly recognizable projects.
If you're looking to revisit some of these childhood classics, then you're in luck; most of them can be found in a few different places. But you might want to give them a watch on your own before having a family viewing — some of these specials get more than a little weird.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
The OG, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brought us such icons as Hermey the Elf and the Island of Misfit Toys. It will be airing on CBS on Nov. 27 and again on the same channel on Dec. 8, just in case you missed it. If you'd prefer to stream, you can watch the movie with an IndieFlix subscription.
The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (1970)
If Santa and the elves are your favorite part of any Rankin/Bass production, look no further. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town also airs on Freeform on Dec. 5, 6, and 9. It can be purchased on Amazon as well.
The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)
Santa's adventures continue in The Year Without a Santa Claus on AMC on Dec. 1, multiple times a day. There are even more repeat showings on Dec. 2 and 7, respectively. And once again, it can be yours forever for a few bucks on Amazon.
The First Christmas: The Story Of The First Christmas Snow (1975)
More of a Rankin/Bass deep cut, The First Christmas: The Story Of The First Christmas Snow will air on AMC on Dec. 1, 2, and 7 — their key days for celebrating Christmas, it seems. It's a little pricier on Amazon than the other specials, but available there as well.
Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976)
Like many other titles on this list, you can catch Rudolph's Shiny New Year on AMC on Dec. 1, 2, and 7. The streaming options are more plentiful in this case, however: you can buy it on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, or Google Play.
Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)
Ah, yes, that Christmas tale as old as time that I most definitely knew existed prior to this exact moment. Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey will also be making the rounds on AMC alongside the other Rankin/Bass movies on the same days. It doesn't seem to be streamable, but you can find a VHS copy on Amazon with shocking ease.
Jack Frost (1979)
If you're all about these stop motion specials, then just settle in with AMC on those three days of early December (1, 2, and 7), because you'll find Jack Frost there too. Failing that, you can watch it on Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and (in a twist) on HBO Now, with a subscription.
Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas In July (1979)
Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas In July will also be part of AMC's Christmas lineup, airing on Dec. 1, 2, and 9 (gotcha!). If so inclined, you can buy it on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu. But beware — according to IndieWire, these's some potentially traumatic snowfamily melting in this one.
Pinocchio's Christmas (1980)
Pinocchio's Christmas is seemingly less in demand than other stop motion specials, premiering on AMC on Dec. 2 without any repeats currently listed. But check back throughout the month; I have a feeling the holiday programming will continue to the end of the month. If you simply can't wait, turn once again to Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, or Vudu.
The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus (1985)
Seemingly unable to be streamed, AMC will come to your rescue by airing The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus on Dec. 1 and 7.
These dates reflect the currently available TV listings, so it's possible the Rankin/Bass specials will air throughout the upcoming month on both AMC and Freeform. It seems like fans will have more than a few opportunities to indulge in some Christmas throwbacks.
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