Short films and seasonal specials abound in the streamer's family-friendly holiday offerings.
Those busy elves at Netflix's North Pole workshop are constantly adding more kids’ Christmas movies and specials to their collection. In fact, there are so many holiday treats on the popular streamer that it's hard to figure out what to watch next! Here are the 25 best kids’ Christmas movies for your family to enjoy while you wait for the big day.
A postal carrier trainee has to cheer up an entire town in this Netflix original movie, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is last in his class at the postal academy, so he's assigned a route in Smeerensburg, a gloomy town where everyone is too busy feuding to send each other mail. Hoping to stir up some demand, Jesper spreads the word that Mr. Klaus (J.K. Simmons), the large bearded woodsman living on the edge of town, will send a wooden toy to any child who writes him a letter. Rashida Jones also stars as a burned-out school teacher who's inspired by Klaus' selfless acts of kindness.
Director: Sergio Pablos
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020)
Spectacular song-and-dance numbers enliven this Netflix original about a down-on-his-luck steampunk inventor who's inspired to recapture his old enthusiasm and creativity. Once a brilliant toymaker, Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) has lost his notebook full of ideas thanks to his thieving former apprentice (a delightfully sinister Keegan-Michael Key). It's up to his young granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) — also blessed with an inventor's eye — to help Jeronicus complete his most brilliant creation in time for Christmas.
Director: David E. Talbert
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville
“The Christmas Chronicles” (2018)
Kurt Russell headlines this entertaining addition to the "Let's save Christmas!" genre. A brother and sister stay up late on Christmas Eve in the hopes of catching Santa on camera and wind up as stowaways in the back of his sleigh. Distracted by his unexpected passengers, Santa loses control and crash-lands in downtown Chicago without his reindeer, his magic hat, and his sack of toys. Russell makes for an appealing, down-to-earth Santa Claus who feels at home in any situation, including a bar, a car chase, and a jailhouse musical number. The 2020 sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, builds on the fun with the addition of Russell's real-life partner Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus.
Director: Clay Kaytis
Cast: Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp
“The Princess Switch” (2018)
Stacy, a baker from Chicago, travels to the fictional European country of Belgravia for a baking contest and runs into Lady Margaret, a Duchess who could be her twin. Hoping for a break from the limelight, Margaret suggests that the pair swap places, giving Stacy the opportunity to live like a royal for a couple of days. She also falls in love with Margaret's fiancee, the Belgravian prince, while the young Duchess is drawn to Stacy's handsome business partner. Vanessa Hudgens plays both roles with ease in this charming Christmas rom-com — and if your family can't get enough of her, there's a sequel that introduces a third lookalike to the mix.
Director: Mike Rohl
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar
“Family Switch” (2023)
This year, Netflix is celebrating the holidays with a brand new Christmas body-swap comedy, Family Switch, coming on November 30th. As married couple Jess (Jennifer Garner) and Bill (Ed Helms) struggle to connect with their teenage children, arguments escalate to a fateful cry of "I wish you could be me!" During a visit to L.A.'s Griffith Observatory, the planets align in a powerful surge of cosmic power, and when they wake up the next morning, Jess has switched bodies with daughter CC, and Bill with his son, Wyatt (not to mention the baby trading places with the family pug). They have one day to navigate living each other's lives — including a job promotion, a college interview, and a possible first kiss — and hope that they can return to their own bodies in time for the holidays.
“Robin Robin” (2021)
Aardman Animation creates a stop-motion mini-masterpiece with this gentle story of a robin who's been raised by a family of mice. The young bird is naturally bad at accompanying her kin as they sneak into people’s houses to steal stale bread crusts (she has a tendency to sing when she should be whispering). But then she hears about the magic shiny wishing star that humans put at the top of the pointy trees they drag into their houses every year, and she decides that stealing one would prove she’s a terrific mouse. The delightful British voice cast includes Richard E. Grant as a slightly mad magpie and Gillian Anderson as a terrifying cat with a show-stopping musical number.
Director: Dan Ojari, Mikey Please
Cast: Bronte Carmichael, Richard E. Grant, Gillian Anderson, Adeel Akhtar
“A Boy Called Christmas” (2021)
If your kids have ever wondered where Santa Claus came from, A Boy Called Christmas will satisfy their curiosity. Nikolas, a young Finnish boy, sets off on a dangerous quest through the Extreme North to locate the legendary city of Elfhelm, accompanied by his talking mouse and a reindeer named Blitzen. There, Nikolas discovers a magical land that is only visible to those who believe and wins the trust of the resident elves. With a sack full of enchanted toys, Nikolas returns home and becomes a legend himself. The cast includes Stephen Merchant as the voice of the mouse, Kristen Wiig as a scenery-chewing evil aunt, and Jim Broadbent as a kindly but clueless king.
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Henry Lawfull, Stephen Merchant, Sally Hawkins, Kristen Wiig, Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith
Related content: The 30 best Christmas movies for kids
“Holiday Rush” (2019)
A recent entry in Netflix's stable of Christmas rom-com/family dramas, Holiday Rush features Romany Malco as Rush Williams, a widowed hip-hop DJ who loses his cushy radio job right before the holidays. His four children are used to living an upscale life, and they're horrified when they have to downgrade by moving back to their old, smaller house. As Rush strives to build a new life for his family, he finds himself falling for his radio producer, Roxy (Sonequa Martin-Green) — a plot twist that makes his uprooted kids feel even more unsettled. Rush has to make things right in a hurry, connecting with his children as they adapt to changing circumstances.
Director: Leslie Small
Cast: Romany Malco, Sonequa Martin-Green, Darlene Love, Deon Cole
“White Christmas” (1954)
If you're looking for a good old-fashioned musical revue — and if you're not, you should be — then Irving Berlin's 1954 classic White Christmas will shake off your winter blues. The film features Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby as Broadway superstars, who team up with sister act Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen to put on a show at a Vermont motel that's struggling because of unseasonably warm winter weather. The film is punctuated with splashy production numbers at regular intervals, and the rest of the time is spent on romantic comedy plotlines spun out of warm and witty repartee. The kids might find it corny at first, but it's hard to resist this movie's charms for long, especially the snow-storming "White Christmas" finale.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen
Related content: 13 classic Christmas films to watch with their modern counterparts
“Best Christmas Ever” (2023)
Every year, Charlotte (Heather Graham) gets a holiday newsletter from her old college pal Jackie (Brandy) that seems too perky — and too perfect — to be true. In this brand-new Netflix original, Charlotte reconnects with her estranged friend with the intention of finding out the truth: Could anyone's life really be that amazing? Her husband's a hunk, her career's going great, and her enormous house is dressed up for the holidays without an ornament out of place. There must be a flaw somewhere! Ultimately, Charlotte's investigation leads her to face some issues in her own life and make peace with her friend just in time for a merry Christmas.
Director: Mary Lambert
Cast: Heather Graham, Brandy, Jason Biggs, Matt Cedeño
“Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas” (2021)
In this holiday entry from Aardman's long-running stop-motion Shaun the Sheep franchise, little lamb Timmy gets mixed up in the farmer's preparations for the town's Christmas Eve festival. Shaun's attempts to find the tyke at the fair inspire lots of Aardman's typically hilarious sight gags, all performed without dialogue. Timmy ends up being given away as a Christmas present to an enthusiastic little girl, and the flock needs to mount a night-time rescue operation to extract him from the house without being seen. The sight of an entire flock of sheep bunching together to disguise themselves as a wooly snowman is a real Christmas treat.
Director: Steve Cox
Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Laura Aikman
“Trolls Holiday” (2017)
This half-hour special starts where the original Trolls film left off, with the Trolls and the Bergens united in friendship. However, there's one remaining problem they didn't work out: now that the Bergens aren't eating Trolls anymore, they don't have much left to do. Queen Poppy decides to address the situation the only way she knows how: with musical, hyper-positive, over-the-top Troll energy! The glitter-gushing spectacle that follows is undoubtedly a good time, but the show also has a deeper message about being friends with people with different tastes and cultural traditions. Original cast members returning to their roles include Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake as Poppy and Branch, with Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Bridget and Gristle.
Director: Joel Crawford
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
“The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday” (2023)
Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and "Webs" Tarantula — the gang of anthropomorphic criminals who starred in 2022's animated heist movie The Bad Guys — return in a deliciously dastardly Netflix original special coming on November 30. This prequel flashes back to a previous Christmas in Los Angeles, when their unintentional destruction of a Santa Claus parade balloon put the city on edge, wrecking the gang's plans for a massive Yuletide bank robbery. Now, they have to spread holiday cheer to convince the citizens to let their guard down.
Director: Bret Haaland
Cast: Michael Godere, Ezekiel Ajeigbe, Raul Ceballos, Mallory Low, Kari Wahlgren, Chris Diamantopoulos
“Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” (2020)
This Shondaland documentary goes behind the scenes at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, where the legend trains young dancers to perform Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, an award-winning version of the traditional Christmas ballet. With most of the participants on scholarships, Allen's goal is to inspire and uplift her students as well as to create an unforgettable performance. The doc delves into Allen's life and career, celebrating a remarkable artist and the lives that she touches. And the dancing's good, too! The show involves a range of styles and cultural influences, including hip-hop, tap, voguing, and Bollywood, in addition to classical ballet. The special is a remarkable story of performance and perseverance, a true gem in Netflix's collection.
Director: Oliver Bokelberg
Cast: Debbie Allen
“The Claus Family” (2020)
Grieving over the recent loss of his father, who died last year on Christmas Eve, young Jules' life is uprooted when his mother moves the family to Belgium for a new job. In a familiar Christmas movie twist, Jules discovers that his grandfather is the real Santa Claus, a job that's been passed down through the family for generations. Grandfather Noël is hoping to train the boy to take over his Yuletide job someday, but Jules is determined to hate the holiday forever. The plot may not hold a lot of surprises, but the film is a sensitive portrait of a child learning to live with loss so that he can move on to a magical future.
Director: Matthias Temmermans
Cast: Jan Decleir, Mo Bakker, Bracha van Doesburgh
“Angela's Christmas” (2018)
This sweet short film is based on the only children's book that Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) wrote, inspired by a story that his mother told him when he was young. Angela, a young girl living in Ireland in the 1910s, is concerned by her church's Nativity display, which features Baby Jesus lying in the manger without a blanket. Sneaking into the church at night, she surreptitiously swipes the Christ child so that she can take him home and warm him up. Her journey back home prompts her family and her community to remember how important it is to take care of each other. It's a heartfelt story with an appealing central character who wants everyone to feel comfortable, safe, and loved on Christmas.
Director: Damien O'Connor
Cast: Lucy O'Connell, Ruth Negga, Brendan Mullins
“The Boss Baby: Christmas Bonus” (2022)
Santa's workshop gets a Boss Baby makeover in this 45-minute special based on the 2017 film. As usual, Boss Baby Theodore is all business, even as his first Christmas approaches and his over-eager family shares their endless series of holiday traditions. Ted's much happier once he gets accidentally transported to the North Pole, where he has plenty of ideas for increased efficiency and revenue streams. It's up to Ted's older brother to get the little guy home before Boss Baby reorgs Santa Claus out the door.
Director: Matt Engstrom, Christo Stamboliev
“Happy Holidays from Madagascar” (2005)
Netflix's package of three Madagascar shorts includes a Valentine's Day episode featuring the lemurs, plus two Christmas specials. The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper takes place before the movie and shows the penguins at the zoo celebrating the holidays with their typical military efficiency. In Merry Madagascar, Alex the Lion unintentionally causes a sled crash on their beach. With Father Christmas out for the night, the animals have to take over the job, using magic dust to make the penguins fly like Santa's reindeer. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith return to reprise their roles in a special sure to delight devoted fans of the franchise.
Director: David Soren, Gary Trousdale
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith
“Home: For the Holidays” (2017)
Home: For the Holidays — a special based on the 2015 movie Home and its 2016 spin-off series — presents a world in which humans and silly, colorful aliens coexist in the big city. The main characters, teenager Tip and her Boov buddy Oh, are quick with a song and a smile, especially when Oh learns about all of the exciting Christmas traditions that he can just barely comprehend. Oh travels to Boovsland and sings a song to teach his extra-terrestrial friends about the holidays, and then Kelly Clarkson and Ben Schwartz pop up as themselves to each sing a song, too. All of these tunes are toe-tappers, the cameos are clever, and it all wraps up with a lesson about cross-cultural sharing and inclusion.
Director: Blake Lemons
Cast: Rachel Crow, Mark Whitten, Kelly Clarkson, Ben Schwartz
“A StoryBots Christmas” (2017)
The StoryBots — five colorful, conical robots who investigate questions that kids want to know — shake off their usual educational mission for a silly celebration of friendship in A StoryBots Christmas. Bo, the purple member of the team, thinks that nobody likes her presents, so she takes off to the North Pole to consult with an expert. The show presents an appealing mixed-media collage of 2D animation, 3D animation, live film footage, and (in this special, at least) a sobbing puppet elf. The program won two Daytime Emmys, as well as a nomination for guest star Ed Asner, who plays a run-down Santa Claus holed up in a New York City cookie bar, drowning his sorrows in a plate of chocolate-chip cookies and a frosty mug of milk.
Director: Evan Spiridellis, Jeff Gill
“Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” (2022)
It doesn't feature the Muppets, Mr. Magoo, or Mickey Mouse, but this computer-animated musical version of A Christmas Carol steps up with appealing character designs and a star-studded voice cast. Luke Evans plays the bristly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge, Olivia Colman is the flame-headed Ghost of Christmas Past, and Jonathan Pryce takes on the Ghost of Jacob Marley. Leslie Bricusse adapted the songs from his 1970 musical Scrooge, adding new tunes like the grouch’s rousing, angry anthem "Tell Me" and a powerful duet, "Later Never Comes."
Director: Stephen Donnelly
Cast: Luke Evans, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Jonathan Pryce
“An Elf's Story: The Elf on the Shelf” (2011)
It's unclear if anyone asked for a behind-the-scenes story about the Elf on the Shelf, but it makes for a nice companion piece for families who are fond of their Santa-approved child surveillance system. The half-hour special tells the story of an elf who's bought by a suburban family with three kids, including Taylor, an older boy who doesn't believe in magic anymore. The elf hops back to the North Pole every night to check in with Santa Claus and give a progress report about how well he's breaking down Taylor's resistance. Sweet original songs make this breezy special fly by.
Director: Chad Eikhoff
Cast: Brendan Dooling, Michael May, Doug Williams
“The Powerpuff Girls: 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas” (2003)
The colorful kid crime-fighting team helps to solve a Christmas dilemma in this Powerpuff Girls special. The trio's schoolyard nemesis Princess Morbucks knows she's been naughty this year and doesn't have a hope of getting her wish: to become a Powerpuff Girl. A determined Princess breaks into Santa's place just in time to switch his "nice" list with his "naughty" one, condemning millions of innocent kids to a Christmas morning with coal in their stockings. Naturally, it's up to the Powerpuff Girls to make things right, but they must deal with a newly empowered Princess. It isn't typical for a Christmas story to involve punch-em-up action between preschool girls in the middle of Santa's workshop, but it all ends happily, with "nice" and "naughty" restored to their proper places.
Director: Robert Alvarez, Lauren Faust
Cast: Cathy Cavadini, Elizabeth Daily, Tara Strong
“David and the Elves” (2021)
Albert, the elf who drives Santa's sleigh, feels dissatisfied this year — elves make toys for the world's children but never get to meet them and spend time with them. Remembering a boy who waved at the sleigh, Albert decides to go to Earth and make a human friend. He and young David bond, but Albert doesn't entirely understand how human lives work, and his attempts to grant people's wishes with a magical snap cause comical confusion wherever he goes. Worried, Santa and Mrs. Claus make the journey to Earth as well, and David's parents help them locate their missing elf. This warm-hearted Polish film, dubbed in English, is grounded in Jakub Zajac's performance as Albert.
Director: Michal Rogalski
Cast: Cyprian Grabowski, Jakub Zajac, Anna Smolowik
“Alien Xmas” (2020)
Invading aliens meet merry elves in this sci-fi Christmas clash. A young extra-terrestrial named X — an advanced scout for a race of gray-faced, greedy Klepts — lands at the North Pole to install a machine that will disrupt the world's gravitational field. But X gets distracted by the happy community of elves working for Santa Claus, and he winds up being adopted by a young girl who thinks that he's a plush toy. Unable to steal everything he sees without blowing his cover, X learns to appreciate the power of love and generosity. This mix of computer and stop-motion animation is an appealing choice for the science-fiction fans in the family.
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Cast: Keythe Farley, Dee Bradley Baker, Kaliayh Rhambo
Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.