Recommendations staff favorites

Let’s Get in the Holiday Spirit!

by Public Service Associate Juliana

I visited my sister in mid November and she already had the Christmas music playing. She said if she starts listening early enough she actually gets to enjoy holiday music. If she waits until after Thanksgiving, it’s December already, and there’s so much running around in December that the music just gets lost.

That same week, with the idea of starting early in order to savor, I began to collect lists and stories from staff of our favorite holiday films and traditions that surround them. The responses flooded in.  

“Girl, you opened a can of tinsel with this one!” one of my coworkers said. 

So, if you need an ice breaker at your holiday party this year, simply bring up treasured holiday films. It’s evident that movies are something most of us hold dear and can lead to conversations that are as lighthearted or as heartfelt as you’d like.

In the movies listed below, you will likely see something of yourself or your family or maybe be reminded of a film you’d long forgotten. We hope you feel a sense of familiarity while also feeling inspired. There are films here that are funny, classic, atmospheric, genuine, and feel-good. Some of them are tried and true. Almost all of them tug on your heart strings.

Start by queuing up your personal favorites, then get inspired by our staff to watch one of the many versions of The Christmas Carol or something from your childhood or something you never thought of as a holiday movie. Or maybe you’ll tackle the ultimate challenge and watch all ten titles, plus the bonuses, from Jason’s excellent list. Whatever you do, go ahead and get started. December will be over before you know it.


Beth | Elf  and Home Alone are my favorites. My brother and sister would watch these films all the time – even when it wasn’t the holiday season – and we can quote both of the movies pretty much all the way through. My siblings and I loved watching, rewatching and quoting the best lines from our favorite films and tv shows, so these are my favorite because they remind me of laughing and enjoying the holidays with my siblings when we were young. 

Whitney | Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) A sweet family movie that features “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, which was written for the movie. I love Judy Garland singing it at the end, Margaret O’Brien, and the creepy snowmen. I also enjoy Desk Set, the librarian holiday movie.

Mary | Klaus (2019) “When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.” With beautiful animation, this heartwarming movie is unique and predictable in the best way possible! 

Julie | The Muppet Christmas Carol You can always count on me for a Muppets reference.

Jen | My family may fall down on a seasonal viewing of George Bailey’s money issues and Lionel Barrymore’s scene chomping. We may not always make an annual priority of Charlie Brown. We try to watch some version of A Christmas Carol, but let’s be honest, there are, like 400 of ’em. But one holiday movie we never, never, never skip…Die Hard. Now, one may think that this yuletide tradition has something to do with that age-old quandary of whether or not Die Hard is actually a Christmas film. My family and I don’t recognize that distinction in the least. Because 1.) It is. and 2.) Duh.” 

Debbie | I love the sweet but funny Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.  It has a heartwarming message about family and friendship with touches of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi..and adorable muppets!  And great songs.

I’m such a kid at heart – no holiday season is complete without a viewing of the classic Rankin & Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

Sue | I like to watch the original A Christmas Story!  I really didn’t know anything about it until my ex-husband told me it was his favorite Christmas movie growing up.  We started watching it every Christmas Day. (It runs over and over again on one channel).  We never tired of seeing Ralphie try every which way to get his BB-gun rifle, or watching the neighbors’ hounds eat up the delicious turkey, landing the family in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day.  Once the kids came along, they really enjoyed watching all the escapades too.

Once I was on my own and alone sometimes on Christmas when the kids were with their Dad some years, I found solace watching A Christmas Story over and over again while wrapping their gifts and getting ready for our Christmas celebration and meal the day after on December 26th. Someday I hope to share this tradition with my grandchildren, but in the meantime, watching A Christmas Story on December 25, whether I am surrounded by family or alone, will continue to bring me Christmas joy! 

Kelly | Christmas Kiss and Christmas Kiss II are some of my favorite Hallmarky movies. It’s cute, sweet, adorable; it’s sure to make you feel-good and it’s one of those few movies where the sequel is better than the original.

Zach | Home Alone is an all-timer for me. The O Holy Night church scene with the conversation between Kevin and “Old Man” Marley remains a perfect piece of cinema.

Elf is another one on heavy rotation during (and not during) the winter season. I remember seeing this in a nearly empty theater with absolutely no prior knowledge about it and knowing that it was a great movie immediately after the opening credits scene. It could have been a faulty copy with Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost playing after the narwhal scene and I still would have recommended it to everyone I knew for the opening alone.

While this doesn’t qualify for “film,” Will Vinton’s A Claymation Christmas Celebration is 24 minutes of perfection. Does it have two claymation dinosaur hosts arguing over the meaning of wassail? Yes! Does it feel dated in a way where you’re not quite sure if it’s bad or good? Of course! Do the California Raisins sing a Temptations rendition of Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer? You bet! If you haven’t yet experienced this forgotten holiday gem, please rectify that this year:

Meg | National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Because Cousin Eddie is the greatest character in the history of film.  And because Beverly DAngelo and I had the same piano teacher and once played a duet together in a recital. And because you can’t do better than Chevy Chase trapped in an attic.

Hannah | To Grandmother’s House We Go (1992) because it’s adorable despite being ridiculous. I grew up wanting to be Mary Kate and/or Ashley.

Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies are my not guilty pleasure. They are predictable and, much like hearing Rudolph for the umpteenth time, can make you roll your eyes, but I’m here for them.

Arthur Christmas (2011) is simple, earnest and fun.

Sergio Pablos’ Klaus (2019) is a beautifully animated film, that tells the timeless story of the spirit of the holidays in a unique way. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) 🎶 Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I… go without watching this weird movie year after year? 🎶 Yes, some of the one-liners went over my head as a kid, and I now cringe just as much as I chuckle, but the outlandish performances and that mushy message somehow hold up. Plus the soundtrack is iconic.

When we randomly watched Prep & Landing (2009) on TV one year, my dad was cracking up so much that his laughs had me laughing too. We both think the character Thrasher, Dasher’s aggressive cousin, needs a spin-off if not their own song. 

Oh and any and every version of A Christmas Carol.

Juliana | Growing up, my family always watched Ernest Saves Christmas. My dad actually went through a phase where he called us all Vern all year long.

Feast of the Seven Fishes This is a true, true gem. I discovered it on Hoopla when I was searching for something else entirely. Family, food, tradition, romance, humor. My mom and I watched this together, apart during Covid and texted each other, “New tradition! Let’s watch this every year!”. Yes, let’s. It’s so good.

Happiest Season (Hulu) Because Dan Levy is delightful, and also, I’m a little biased toward this one because it was filmed in Pittsburgh.

Doyline | My all time favorites are Last Holiday and The Preacher’s Wife (TPW). Both have people that look like me and those I love. I am a romantic and love and passion are part of both storylines. Then for TPW, how can you go wrong with a movie that has Whitney Houston and great soulful music!

Luke | My favorites are White Christmas because it’s a serious winter classic. It has all the music and picturesque locales that make the Christmas season. The Family Stone is another great one, but I’ll admit it is a bit of a sad one for sure. I just love watching dysfunctional families come together. It reminds me of home. Fun Christmas classics are Home Alone, one of the best slapstick comedies to also act as a self-defense manual for my eight-year-old brain. Elf is also hilarious, Will Ferrell is so good in that role and James Caan is the perfect crotchety old man and I love watching his heart melt for his family. It’s also insanely quotable (“Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad!” and “I’M SINGING, I’M IN A STORE AND I’M SINGING!”) and memorable (the snowball fight, the maple syrup on spaghetti, jumping to put the star on the tree, “You’re not Santa!”, the singing in the shower), it’s all so freakin’ good.

Peter | Home Alone is the silver tuna of Christmas movies, Marv!

Jason | OK – Here is the Top Ten:

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  3. The Shop Around The Corner
  4. A Christmas Story
  5. Scrooged
  6. The Ice Harvest
  7. A Christmas Carol (1984)
    • George C Scott as Scrooge
  8. The Three Godfathers (Part I, Part II, Part III)
  9. Remember the Night
  10. The Bells of St Mary’s

Special Thanksgiving Award: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Notable mention: The Christmas party in the Desk Set is so good.

Well, are you in the holiday spirit yet? I bet you are:)

From all of us here at BPL, happy holidays to you and yours!