When I was 7, I remember sitting on the sofa, vibrating with excitement, as I waited for Frosty the Snowman to come on television. The highlight of the month of December for me was the Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials.
The grown-ups had It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street, but we had Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and The Little Drummer Boy.
Now every Tom, Dick and Harry has a Christmas Movie. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place. Since the 70’s Hollywood has brought us Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story and The Muppets Christmas Carol. But let’s face it, nothing can compare to that special feeling the Rankin/Bass folks gave us with their stop animation or “Animagic”.
The who’s who of Hollywood in the 60’s and 70’s gave their voice to these timeless classics:
Andy Griffith, Burl Ives, Casey Kasem, Frank Gorshin, Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, Boris Karloff, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, Ethel Merman, Vincent Price, Bob McFadden, Robie Lester, Linda Gary, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn, Morey Amsterdam, Marlo Thomas, Greer Garson, Angela Lansbury, June Foray, Don Messick, Jackie Vernon, Allen Swift, Robert Morse, Mia Farrow, Shirley Booth, Dick Shawn, and Shelley Winters.
However, it has recently come to my attention that many of my friends have never even heard of some of these movies! And if they have heard of them, they haven’t seen them. Which means…. THEIR KIDS HAVE NEVER SEEN THEM!!!!!!!!!
We must remedy this (and by we, I mean I). So here is the list of Best Christmas Movies for Kids – Old School!
I am going to go from least known to most, in case you have a short attention span.
Let’s start with this one:
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
– this one stars Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney and is the story of how Santa came to be. This is where we meet some friends: Burgermeister Meisterburger and The Winter Warlock . It has two cheezy psychedelic music numbers, if you are a fan of cheezy psychedlia you could probably handle it once. Your kids, on the other hand, might want to fast forward. This scene is one of our favorites, Santa and his friend Topper the penguin teach Winter Warlock how to become a nice person.
The Year Without a Santa Claus
– this was always one of my favorites, for a while I remember there was some controversy about this movie and it was taken off the Christmas Television Specials Playlist for a while. Thank goodness it was returned to us, this is the movie that brought us Heat Miser and Snow Miser. My boy just couldn’t get enough of it, he sang it over and over and over – and over and over. I actually have video of him singing this every year from when he was 3 until now (he’s 8) priceless.
The Little Drummer Boy
– This one was a little scarier and I guess I had suppressed it, because I didn’t remember the details until I saw it again. It is the only Rankin/Bass special to actually address the TRUE Christmas story, and it is definitely worth the watch.
And now… Drumroll please!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
What can I say? If you haven’t seen this version, then you haven’t seen Christmas. And don’t forget, this is the movie that brought us “The Island of Misfit Toys” and The Bumble!
Frosty the Snowman & Frosty Returns
– Who could forget that lovable snowman who’s very first words were “Happy Birthday!”
35 thoughts on “Best Christmas Movies For Kids – Old School”
OMG I WAS GOING TO TELL YOU I DIDN’T WATCH THESE UNTIL I SAW THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY. Oh, his eyes. So creepy opening and shutting. Maybe this is why I dislike that song so much.
I thought the movie was pretty scary. I don’t know if you remember Jean, but he got kidnapped by some very mean men.
I cannot believe anyone has not seen these classics and seriouslyI have seen all of them and remember like you watching them every year at Christmas time as a kid and now we try to watch as many of these with our kids now, too. Thank you for sharing linking up and the trip down memory lane here tonight!! Just so happy to have you join us!! 🙂
I’m happy to play Janine! I have a little trouble with the serious topics, but when I can lighten them up I’m all over it! And I have all of them on video now, so I can share them with Isaiah NON-STOP!
That Rudolph movie is one of my all-time favorites, ever. I mimic Yukon Cornelious several times throughout each year and made hubs purchase it for like $20 last year so that i could share it with my son!!!
Totally Kristi! SILVER I TELL YOU!
Love the litany of actors you have mentioned. As for your movie choices – well, they are just perfect! Haven’t seen the Year without Santa Claus – sounds a tad unfortunate!
I’ll add it to the list to watch in the next few weeks when my kids come back home from college for Christmas! Yes! It’ll be just the ticket – good to watch something different and quirky.
Your ending to this post is beyond brilliant.
Why thank you Kelly! And yes, it is a must! I would love to hear what your kids think!
Christopher has told me, “I don’t think I can like it if it’s black and white” to Miracle on 34th street. Maybe one day he’ll watch it with me. And why is that to him there’s something scary in all of my favorite movies? He doesn’t like them. He’s on board will all of the Charlie Brown’s so that’s where we are right now. But that doesn’t stop me from watching these alone. Do you remember the Easter ones that looked like it was made by whoever did the Rudolph one? I haven’t seen it since I was little.
Oh my gosh Kenya! With the giant bunny! I so vaguely remember it! Isaiah likes black and white movies that are funny. He would never get through Miracle on 34th Street. But he loves these!
So obviously (or maybe not…) these movies were not playing in my home country when I was growing up, but there’s something so cozy about Christmas that I vicariously enjoyed the movies with you and Isaiah just reading about them… Great recommendations, I’ll make sure to watch at least one this year (trying to be realistic).
You can buy a set that has 4 of them for like 19.99 or less, I think Katia. GO GET THEM
I watched and liked them all as a kid. There was a lot of talent associated with them. Now, I cringe when my kids watch them. They laugh at the animation and lack of special effects, though. lol
Charlie Brown Christmas is still pretty awesome, there a layer of subversiveness to it that’s awesome.
That’s funny, I don’t think I ever remember seeing this Little Drummer Boy. Wow, the list of actors you rattled off makes me want to go back and watch them all again to see who I never picked up on! 🙂
Can I be honest?? I don’t think my kids have ever watched Rudolph all the way through. 😦 I’ve have tried on a few occasions but, it seems to always come on TV at an awkward time and they are less than wowed by the low-tech nature of it. I remember, as a kid, watching it was a family event. I also remember being terribly frightened by the abominable snowman. When he came on, I would climb up in my daddy’s lap and hide my face until he was gone! Maybe I’ll buy the DVD and force them to sit throughout the WHOLE thing – which, without commercials, is probably like 40 minutes, right?l
I love your list, I love all these movies and bought them on DVD right after the boys were born (along with SchoolHouse Rock because if everything we learned was set to music we wouldn’t forget it!!!!)
Yet, I watch some of them now and I just cringe, like Rudolph and his friends leaving Cornelius after he falls off a cliff and whoa the violence and bullying (Wasn’t Lucy of Charlie Brown) the first real bully? However, I know the messages are there and that is why I still love the songs and the movies themselves.
I am a little disappointed that my favorite (beyond The Miser Brothers) isn’t here..where is my NESTOR?
we’ve been watching all of these for years and I plan to keep that up, the message of Christmas never gets old even if the technology is. 😉 Right?
Would you believe Frosty made (makes?) me cry every time? I loved Santa Claus is coming to town…. And I never really cared about the “adult” movies… Miracle on 34th street and all that. With you!
I remember watching these when I was little. Rudolph was my favorite. 🙂
Love these. My favorite was always The Year Without a Santa Claus when I was a kid.
I have done my kids a great disservice – I think the only one of these they have seen is Frosty. What kind of mother am I? The Year Without a Santa Claus is my fave – Heat Miser rocks!
As a huge fan of old school Christmas movies, I am shocked to say that I’ve never heard of that Drummer Boy movie! IF it’s scary as you mentioned, perhaps I will stay away from it, given my 7 yo’ s propensity for sensitivity and movie-related freak-outs. I had to laugh when ABC family made a printed guide to their holiday movies for kids this month and it included “Holiday in Handcuffs” and “Baby Daddy.” Yeah. Really awesome “family holiday movies,” eh?
Ah! I adore that version of Rudolph and watched it every Christmas. This was a great memory. Thanks!
I love these Jen! We have a DVD of Christmas classics and my kids, and I, love watching them!!!
Well I never did see any of these, but my all-time-favourite-EVER Christmas movie is without doubt, White Christmas, when I fell quite in love (ad a shockingly young age) with Danny Kaye, singing and tap-dancing. I STILL don’t know all the words to all the songs, but I adore them and MUST watch it at least once every Christmas time.
Miracle on 34th Street is also utterly amazing. Both versions.
And The Snowman. Is. Essential.
I totally agree! I actually bought a DVD set with four of the old classic Christmas movies so my kids could see them every year. They still come on television but we don’t always catch them so we can watch them whenever we get the chance. Great post! I’m so glad I’m not alone in loving the classics!
Glad to hear you’re going to remedy the Christmas ‘specials’ season for your friends and their kids! I have seen all of these, and now while no kids at home, there are a few that make my heart skip a beat when I see commercials for them. I have always loved Rudolph and Frosty the best (from childhood) but Drummer Boy was special, I have to say my favorite! Great memories, keep on the path to remedy the Holiday favorites with your friends!
I confess that I didn’t know that there were more movies than Rudolph and Frosty. Might have to look into the others. Thank for opening my eyes!
I LOVED Burgermeister! My husbands hair starts to look like his when it gets too long! I miss that one! Great list.
YES YES YES! Thank you for posting these classic cartoons! My husband has no recollection of the heat/cold miser songs and he HATES claymation. For shame! Rudolph has always been my favorite but I find myself singing heat miser at random moments!
Finally stopped by after reading about you and your blog everywhere else!
I showed my 4yo daughter Boris Karloff’s Grinch this morning for the first time. It’s been a favorite book of hers for years. She literally screamed with laughter. Sweetest sound ever.
I’m so glad you stopped by Sarah! The Grinch really is priceless. I remember just waiting and waiting for it! If you get the DVD there is a whole making of The Grinch, and believe it or not, it’s just as funny!
So glad to see Year Without a Santa Claus on your list!!! That song is sooooo addictive!! I have vivid memories singing it OVER and OVER, too 🙂 Glad there were no video recorders back then 🙂
I LOVE these movies, too! I was visiting my Grams a couple of weekends ago and there was a marathon of all of these movies on. My kids weren’t even there, and she thought I was kidding when I squealed with excitement and turned up the TV to hear them all. Now, I know that it’s not a “classic,” but my kids and hubs and I have been watching Home Alone this week and we can’t get enough of it. I think it’s a pretty great Christmas movie, too. 🙂
I used to like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer best. I was never much for animated movies when I was a kid though. Even when I was a very small little kid, Miracle On 34th Street was my favorite Christmas movie! I didn’t really understand what exactly her and her mother’s relationship was with the “uncle” character, or the part about the house in the end, until I was older… but I would watch it all year long!
I love you for showcasing all of these. So much. Tucker is OBSESSED with Christmas movies.