It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
It’s time for sleigh rides and dinners and family and caroling and baking and fires and tree decorating and stockings and Santa pictures and gingerbread decorating and all the other warm and fuzzy memory-making activities you can possibly come up with.
But if one of those fond-holiday-memory-makers is snuggling up in your flannel jammies and watching Christmas movies, you might be sorely disappointed.
Why Christmas Movies Are So Dang Hard to Watch This Year
Unless you’re still hanging on to a robust VHS collection (like my parents), or you’re one of those people who didn’t sell your entire DVD collection when you switched to an online streaming service, you’ve probably noticed the distinct lack of free, quality holiday movies on the internet right now.
No, your web-surfing eyes do not deceive you.
There’s actually a reason you haven’t been able to plop down on the couch to watch your favorite Christmas classic despite hours of scrolling and searching: Streaming companies simply aren’t making enough money off your fleeting need to watch a miracle unfold on 34th Street.
Unfortunately for the festive among us, holiday movies just aren’t big enough money makers (in terms of draw and subscribers) to make the complicated and expensive rights-securing process worth it. A film that is only popular for three weeks out of the year doesn’t have a large enough ROI to make licensing worth it, so streaming services are skipping the big names in favor of creating and hosting originals, which are more cost-effective.
I mean sure, those originals can be pretty good — but they’re nothing like the classics. And the classics? Those’ll cost you additional fees.
But while it may seem like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix held a secret meeting about how to crush our Christmas cheer in the quickest, most effective way, that’s not really the case. They have their reasoning and that’s OK (I guess), but that still leaves us wondering: How do we have a Christmas movie marathon when all of the good ones come with a price?
We make do, that’s what. So, with a combination of classics and streaming platform originals, we pulled together a list of movies you can watch on your favorite online streaming platform this season.
15 Holiday Movies You Can Watch for Free This Season
Turn on those twinkly lights, warm up that hot chocolate and step into those Christmas pajamas, folks: It’s time to get your Christmas movie marathon on.
1. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Netflix
The live-action Jim Carrey version of Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” is one of the few classics available for streaming on Netflix. (I’m using the term “classic” here loosely, mind you. I know not everyone considers a film from the year 2000 a classic, but come on — it’s the Grinch!)
2. “The Legend of Frosty the Snowman,” Netflix
A lot of Netflix’s good Christmas content is geared toward children (which is great for family movie night, regardless) but Frosty is a snowman beloved by all ages. As such, he gets a spot on this list of Christmas movies perfect for a holiday binge.
3. “The Christmas Prince,” Netflix
OOH BOY. So while this Netflix original may be a bit — what’s the word? Cringey? — to some, it had to be included simply for its recent rise to infamy. Whether you love it or love to hate it, it’s still a good Christmas watch.
And if you’re looking for another “so bad it’s good” Christmas film, queue up “Christmas Inheritance” or one of Netflix’s dozen other seasonal Hallmark movie-level films. (Search “Christmas” and find titles like “Christmas Wedding Baby” and, well, others.)
4. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Netflix
While there’s some hot debate over whether to watch this movie on Halloween or closer to Christmas (correct answer: the first day of November to mark the transition from Halloween to the rest of the holiday season), there’s no denying its status as a holiday classic. Stream it on Netflix for no additional cost!
5. “The Santa Clause,” Netflix
Up there with How The Grinch Stole Christmas on my list of favorite Christmas films, “The Santa Clause” (with Tim Allen and that oft debated elf) is a staple of the holiday season. Bonus: “The Santa Clause 2” and “The Santa Clause 3” (meh) made their way back to Netflix on Dec. 12.
6. “White Christmas,” Netflix
OK, so for anyone who was waiting for me to get to the true classics, we’ve finally made it: “White Christmas,” a Bing Crosby showstopper. It’s one of the few of its era that is available for streaming.
7. “Bad Santa,” Netflix, Hulu
I’ll admit, I’ve never actually seen this movie. (I know, I know — and I claim to be a holiday enthusiast?!) But I hear tell it’s a great option for an evening of bad laughs and an overindulgence in spiked ’nog.
8. “While You Were Sleeping,” Netflix
Sandra Bullock fans rejoice: This pseudo-classic that takes place over the holiday season was brought back to Netflix on Dec. 1. It may only be back for a limited time, but it’s here for now and that’s what matters.
9. “I Want a Dog for Christmas,” Charlie Brown, Amazon Prime Video
While you can’t watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for free on Amazon, you can watch the next best thing: “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown.” As a bonus, this one features a New Year special. Also included with Prime Video? “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales.”
10. “Little Women,” Amazon Prime Video
OK, so “Little Women” isn’t strictly a Christmas movie — but with all the changing of the seasons comes plenty of holiday cheer, and in my house, that’s enough for this to be considered a Christmas movie night staple.
11. “Holiday Inn,” Amazon Prime Video
This is another Bing Crosby film, featuring holiday songs from Irving Berlin. Check and check: Christmas classic.
12. “The Miracle on 34th Street,” Amazon Prime Video
This is a made-for-TV adaptation of the original, so it’s much shorter at only 46 minutes. If you’re looking to squeeze in one last feel-good movie while the rest of the family is dozing off, though, this might be a good pick.
13. “The Holiday,” Amazon Prime Video, Hulu
“The Holiday” is that 2006 holiday movie featuring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black. If you’re not sold already, then I don’t really know what else to tell you.
14. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Hulu
This 1998 film starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and a young Jessica Biel is, without a doubt, a classic in my eyes. Y’all can watch it and decide for yourselves.
15. “Christmas with the Kranks,” Hulu
If you’re in the mood for one of those mischievous Christmas movies but don’t want to pay the extra $$ to watch “Home Alone” for the 70th time, “Christmas with the Kranks” is a good stand-in.
If you work your way through this list and you’re still hungry for more holiday happiness, check out FreeForm’s 25 Days of Christmas schedule (if you haven’t cut the cord on cable), or check your local listings for any movies that may be playing on the local TV network.
You may end up having to sit through commercial breaks, but that just means time to refresh your eggnog and corral the Christmas-candy-sugar-crazy kids.
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. You’ll find her curled up on the couch bingeing on holiday cheer for the next two weeks.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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