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30 Festive Christmas Cartoons to Watch This Holiday

The weather outside is frightful, so why not stay inside with these Christmas cartoons?

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Christmas Cartoons, via (6)

Cozy up to these Christmas cartoons

There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia of Christmas cartoons. The bitter nights when these animated Christmas movies graced our television screens, accompanied by plates full of warm cookies, blankets fresh out of the dryer, and, if you were lucky, a light snowfall, were arguably some of the most magical memories of our childhood. These films are truly some of the best Christmas movies that will remind you how special it is this time of year—and they aren’t even the best Christmas movies for kids. You can gather just the adults to huddle on the couch to watch these classics. We won’t tell! And if you want even more options for all occasions, check out our roundups of these funny Christmas movies, Christmas movies on Disney Plus, and Christmas movies on Netflix.

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The Polar Express (2004)via

The Polar Express (2004)

I am one of the guilty ones who cries over this movie on the couch every year. Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, this moving film is about a train that brings the children who stopped believing in Santa to the North Pole—plus it stars none other than Tom Hanks! Make sure you have some hot chocolate on hand for this one because you’ll surely feel like a kid again. You’ll also want to check out these Christmas movies on Amazon Prime.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)via

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. Then Rudolph meets an elf who is a prospective dentist. Wait, is that not how the song goes? Well, in this classic Christmas cartoon, the reindeer with the bright red nose and the dental aficionado stumble upon an island of misfit toys. Rudolph wants to help them, but it’s too foggy to fly on Christmas Eve. After you watch this animated Christmas movie, see if you can nail these Christmas movie trivia questions.

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4 / 31
How The Grinch Stole Christmasvia

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Based on the classic book by Dr. Suess, this Christmas cartoon is about this grumpy green character who tries to ruin Christmas for all of Whoville. (The Grinch had a heart that was two sizes too small, so can you really blame him?) Spoiler alert: Christmas joy can never truly be taken away. Get nostalgic with these Christmas movie quotes that will bring back all the memories.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)via

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

This special has been on TV every year since it first aired in 1965, becoming a true staple of the Christmas season. Charlie Brown is on a mission to discover the true meaning of Christmas with the help of Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts squad. The soundtrack is pretty great as well. Besides just watching Christmas cartoons, plan some of these Christmas activities the whole family will love.

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A Christmas Carol (2009)via

A Christmas Carol (2009)

This iconic story, adapted from the Charles Dickens novel, follows the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas that haunt him. Scrooge is taken on an adventure of self-redemption, learns the importance of being kind, and discovers the true meaning of the holiday season. See where A Christmas Carol falls on the list of Christmas movie locations that exist in real life.

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Frozen (2013)via

Frozen (2013)

Love stories comes in all shapes and sizes, and in this case, it’s between sisters. While not exactly a Christmas cartoon, this wintery Disney favorite takes Princess Anna on a journey with Kristoff and his faithful reindeer Sven to find her sister. Shed a few more tears while you’re at it with the best Hallmark Christmas movies of all time.

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Arthur Christmas (2011)via

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Ever wonder how Santa delivers all those presents in just one night? In this animated film, Santa’s oldest son has completely modernized the operation, using advanced technology and spacecraft to get the job done. When one present gets left behind, Santa’s youngest son Arthur and Grandsanta have to get the present to its recipient with the old-fashioned sleigh pulled by reindeer. Make your kids laugh this season with these hilarious Christmas jokes for kids.

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Klaus (2019)via

Klaus (2019)

Smeerensburg is the unhappiest place in the world. There resides Klaus, a very skilled toymaker who unfortunately doesn’t like children all that much. Then there’s Jesper, the worst postman in the history of postmen, and Alva, a very pessimistic teacher. In the true spirit of Christmas, Smeerensburg doesn’t stay the unhappiest place forever. While you’re baking holiday cookies this season, play some of these Christmas songs to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

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Garfield Christmasvia

A Garfield Christmas (1987)

Our favorite orange cat is at it again! Garfield is taken out of his usual daily routine of snacking and being irritated by the dog Odie when they go to his owner’s parents’ house for the holiday. Garfield gets the bored and restless crew into the spirit of the holidays.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)via

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Even if you consider it more of a Halloween movie, how could this Tim Burton classic not be on this list of Christmas cartoons? Halloween meets Christmas in this spooky Christmas musical when Jack Skellington, king of the pumpkin patch, decides to shift his focus over to Christmas.

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Frosty The Snowmanvia

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Since most of us know all the words to the traditional holiday song, we know that Frosty the Snowman dons a magical hat and comes to life, bringing joy to all the children. The film goes into a bit more depth when a local magician wants his hat back. With the weather getting warmer and the magician on the hunt, Frosty hops on a train to the North Pole with a new friend. Check out these stocking stuffers for toddlers your little ones will absolutely love.

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The Year Without Santa Clausvia

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

This Christmas cartoon classic will definitely lift your spirits this holiday season. When a discouraged Santa Claus decides to take a vacation from the annual holiday, Mrs. Claus and a pair of elves go on a quest to find his Christmas spirit. Don’t miss these top kids’ Christmas movies to watch on Netflix.

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All I Want for Christmas Is You (2017)via

All I Want for Christmas Is You (2017)

No, this isn’t just the title of Mariah Carey’s hit Christmas tune, although this Christmas cartoon does follow a young girl named Mariah. Her annual holiday wish is to get a puppy so she pet-sits a mischievous dog named Jack to prove how responsible she really is, but the spirited pup makes Mariah’s Christmas a little bit messy. See which other Christmas songs make the cut for best Christmas songs of all time.

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Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009)via

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009)

Based on the books, this Christmas cartoon follows Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat on Christmas. This film is festive and fun as the two classic characters prepare to celebrate the best Christmas yet.

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A Snowy Day (2016)via

The Snowy Day (2016)

Created from the book by Ezra Jack Keats, this Amazon original follows a boy named Peter as he goes on a wintry walk to his grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve to bring home Christmas dinner. This sweet story is heartwarming and inclusive with stunning imagery.

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Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)via

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)

Here’s another more modern take on the story of the big green grump. This one stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch himself.

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Santas Apprenticevia

Santa’s Apprentice (2010)

Santa can get burned out too. In this Christmas cartoon, it’s time for Santa to retire, but he’s not ready. Still, the rules of the North Pole say he needs to train an apprentice.

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Olafs Frozen Adventurevia

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)

Here’s a movie about the real star of Frozen: the little snowman who likes warm hugs. Olaf travels through Arendelle in order to help Elsa and Anna celebrate Christmas. Check out these Christmas riddles for guaranteed holiday cheer.

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If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie (2016)via

If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie (2016)

Based on the classic Laura Numberoff book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this Christmas cartoon follows the mouse and his animal friends during a disastrous holiday pageant.

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Trolls Holidayvia

Trolls Holiday (2017)

Who doesn’t love the trolls? In this holiday comedy, Poppy finds out the Bergen trolls don’t have any holidays to celebrate so she works to give them a holiday celebration of a lifetime.

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Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999)via

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

This film features the classic Disney gang of Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they celebrate the holiday in the most Disney way possible.

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'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)via

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

…and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. This animated Christmas movie is about a rude letter that makes his way to the big man in the North Pole, so he decides to skip over the town during his yearly run. Yikes!

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Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)via

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive is a little dog who thinks she’s a reindeer, so she hops on a train to the North Pole to embrace her true identity. Santa and his elves are a bit surprised that a dog wants to join the holiday team, but it turns out this little pup is just what they needed.

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Little Spirit Christmas In New Yorkvia

Little Spirit: Christmas in New York (2008)

Is there anything better than New York City at Christmastime? This story follows a little boy named Leo who loses his dog in Central Park so a creature named Little Spirit comes along to take Leo on the most magical Christmas adventure. Decorate your home with these DIY Christmas decorations anyone can make.

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Shrek The Hallsvia

Shrek the Halls (2001)

Head to the swamp this Christmas with the big green ogre himself. Shrek gets in the spirit of the holidays with all of his fairytale friends including Donkey and Puss in Boots.

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Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)via

Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)

Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood crew embark on an enchanted holiday adventure.

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Arthur’s Perfect Christmas (2000)via

Arthur’s Perfect Christmas (2000)

In this hour-long Christmas special, Arthur the aardvark explains the many ways people celebrate the holidays. Don’t miss these fun Christmas party themes you may not have thought of until now.

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The Snowmanvia

The Snowman (2014)

After a young boy builds a snowman on Christmas Eve, his new frozen friend comes to life and takes him on an adventure to the North Pole.

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The Elf on the Shelf Presents: An Elf’s Story (2011)via

The Elf on the Shelf Presents: An Elf’s Story (2011)

In this inspiring tale, young elf Chippey is assigned by Santa to bring back Taylor McTuttle’s belief in Christmas magic. 

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Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (2016)via

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (2016)

Based on the hit song, Jake witnesses his grandma get run over by Santa’s reindeer, but his parents don’t believe him since they don’t believe in Santa Claus. So Jake sets out on a quest to prove Santa is real and find his missing grandmother. For even more festive films to watch this season, check out these Christmas movies on Hulu that will get you in the holiday spirit.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is a former assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who writes about digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pickup lines and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.