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Recently, I had the good fortune to visit my college-age daughter in Santa Barbara. While we made the most of walking on the beach (72 degrees and sunny in November!) sight-seeing, window shopping and meeting up with her new friends, my favorite time was snuggling together on her bed , under a cozy throw watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles on her laptop. The “pillow scene” never fails to throw us into fits of laughter. While decorating cookies, cutting your own Christmas tree, and stringing lights are  great for family bonding,  be sure to take time this holiday season to kick back in front of the tube (pj’s are optional but recommended) and revisit  a Yuletide classic. Following is a list of my favorites, in no particular order. (Word of caution: Taste is subjective and age-range should be taken into consideration before doling out the popcorn.)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Admittedly, this movie is about  going home for Thanksgiving, not Christmas, and it’s nearly 30 years old with an R rating (the f-word makes an appearance in one over-the-top scene), but still, the laughs are as relevant today for the two down-and-out-travelers played by John Candy and Steve Martin as they were in the 80’s.


A Christmas Story
Another ‘80’s classic (though it’s set in the late 1930’s or early 40’s) with timeless appeal about 9 year old Ralphie’s not-so-subtle plan to sway his parents into getting him “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range, model air rifle Red Ryder BB gun” for Christmas.


Home Alone
This all time favorite star’s Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation.  When a pair of bumbling burglars show up, Kevin proves to be more resourceful than his family is previously led to believe.   Definitely for the whole family!


After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole (played by who else but Will Ferrell) is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.


Jingle All the Way
This one gets a nod partly for the fun, but mostly because of the familiar locales seen thoughout, including Mall of America, Mickey’s Diner and Linden Hills.


Four Christmases
Interestingly, this holiday flick about a couple (Reece Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn)  attempting to see all four of their divorced parents on Christmas Day starring was directed by Peter Billingsley, who played 9 year old Ralphie in A Christmas Story (see above.) It’s refreshing to see a child actor who actually went on to have a successful career as an adult (sorry, Macauley Culkin.)


The Holiday
This star-studded movie (Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black) has it all: comedy, romance, and charming scenes shot in a traditional, snow covered English village. If this one seems too mature for the kids, pick up a bottle of wine and invite your girl-friends over.


Bad Santa
Be sure to check out this dark comedy about two con men who pose as Santa and his helper, before Billy Bob Thorton dons his fake beard for next year’s sequel! That’s right, look for Bad Santa 2 in 2016 –  and the cast keeps getting better with Kathy Bates on board to play Billy Bob Thorton’s foul-mouthed mother.


White Christmas
A completely implausible but fun-loving movie (from 1954) in brilliant technicolor, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. There’s song, dance and of course, romance.


National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The quest for the perfect family Christmas hasn’t changed all that much since 1989, when the Griswold’s family plans are derailed by what else but family. Starring Chevy Chase, and Beverly D’Angelo along with Randy Quaid as the less-than-desirable Cousin Eddie.


I hope this list helps get you in the holiday spirit!


If you’ve got a holiday favorite suggestion not on this list, let us know in the comments below!


Illustration by Allison Howle @ CRASH+SUES

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