Animated Christmas films and cartoons have become a very big holiday tradition with families, and there are a few that focus on the holiday season that just never get old. This is a list of the best-animated Christmas films and cartoon specials that families have enjoyed throughout the years that they will continue to enjoy for many years to come:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This will probably always be my favorite Christmas special. I just love the whimsical world created by Dr. Seuss, and the silly-sounding words and rhymes are so much fun to listen to. Scream king Boris Karloff was a perfect choice for the narrator and voice of the Grinch, and I just love the Grinch’s poor little pet dog! (Plus there’s a very good moral to the story, of course.)
Nightmare Before Christmas
And this would be my favorite full-length animated film about Christmas. I just love the dark and mysterious worlds Tim Burton creates, and it’s amazing how he brings that feeling to a holiday that is supposed to be merry and bright. It’s like Rankin/Bass meets classic monster movies, and the result is pure perfection.
I really enjoyed this film about a boy who questions his belief in Santa. Sure that premise has been a bit overused, but his journey on a magical train to visit Santa in the North Pole does have its unique and charming moments. The animation is a little weird since it’s very close to being real, but you do get used to it. There is a 3D version of the film available on DVD and Blu-Ray, which would make for a very fun family experience.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Poor Charlie Brown! If you’re feeling miserable during the holiday season, perhaps this more realistic take on Christmas will cheer you up. It’s funny that such a popular special based on a religious holiday was written by a man who later in life expressed that he wasn’t a religious man, in the biblical sense. But the cartoon does make a good point about the over-commercialization of Christmas, which is ironic since Coca-Cola sponsored it.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Some of the films based on Dickens’ classic novel may be over the head of little ones, but they can still get the message of the book in this Christmas special. It’s fun to see Mickey and the gang act out this Christmas classic, but be warned: I can remember being very frightened by some of the Christmas ghosts as a child.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is another fun adaptation of the Christmas classic, and since it is a full-length film, it will keep your kids occupied for a little longer. Most of the cast is composed of muppets, but Michael Caine plays Scrooge, so it isn’t technically animated. Still, muppets don’t really fit in the “real” category, so I just took the liberty of going ahead and putting it on this list.
Frosty the Snowman
I will say that this cartoon kind of annoys me, and I used to wish Frosty were a little smarter. Still, for basing a 30-minute show off of a 3-minute song, Rankin/Bass did a pretty good job of filling in some of the missing details of Frosty’s story, like where his magic hat came from. And I will begrudgingly admit that it used to make me feel a little sad when he melted.
Olive, the Other Reindeer
This fun holiday special was actually written and produced by Matt Groening of ‘The Simpsons’, and stars the voice talent of Drew Barrymore. The funniest joke of the film is that Olive, a dog, mishears Santa’s words on the radio, “all of the other reindeer,” as “Olive, the other reindeer”, and believes that she has to make it to the North Pole to help him. It’s a great modern Christmas special, and while it follows a similar premise of other saving-Christmas stories, it’s still pretty refreshing.
Shrek the Halls
This is another holiday special that will likely become a new staple of Christmastime viewing. In the story, Shrek doesn’t know anything about Christmas, but reluctantly learns about it in order to give his family a nice holiday surprise. Of course nothing goes as planned, with disastrous and funny results. This is a must-see for children who still enjoy watching the other films in the franchise.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
And you can’t have Christmas without Rudolph! From Hermey the Misfit Elf to Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster and the misfit toys, the cast of characters in this special is very colorful and pretty complex for such a short cartoon. It’s the most beloved telling of Rudolph’s story, and it will likely remain that way for many years to come.
You likely won’t have to look far to be able to view these holiday classics; just check your TV menu to be sure and TiVo them. They’re all a lot of fun and have good moral endings. Let’s just hope this generation pays more attention to them than those of the past.