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10 Best ’80s Christmas Movies (to watch with your kids now)

Best 80s Christmas Movies

With Christmas on the way and everyone home for the holidays, there is no better way to get yourself in the mood than to sit down with some old classics 1980s Christmas movies.

The modern “Hallmark” Christmas movie formula is boring, flat, and repetitive. You want something that stands out. A classic that you can rewatch year after year and not get bored.

But where do you begin? You begin right here that’s where. So whether you are looking for a cartoon, a comedy, or something a little darker, we have you covered with our list of 

The best Christmas movies from the ‘80s

A Christmas Story (1983)

The film is a classic take on the writings of Jean Shepherd. A young boy by the name of Ralphie Parker wants only one gift for Christmas – A Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun.

A Christmas Story

Ralphie is determined to get his dream gun and starts by asking his mom for the Red Ryder. His mother sternly replies to his plea by saying,” You’ll shoot your eye out!”

This denial does not stop Ralphie, and he further goes on to write about his dream gun in a teacher’s class assignment, which leads to a low grading and the exact remark like his mum from his teacher.

He then turns to Santa, who also replies as his mum did. 

Lots of problems arise on the wait for Christmas Day and Ralphie is involved in all of them. The story, setting, and cast all come together to make A Christmas Story a fun holiday classic.

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

The Ernest movies are a classic for everyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s. And this is probably one of Varney’s most popular and memorable.

Ernest Saves Christmas in the 80s

In Ernest Saves Christmas, Santa Claus comes to Orlando, Florida, and takes a cab ride driven by a man named Ernest P. Worrell.

It turns out that Santa is in search of a successor due to his old age and weakening magic. Santa decides to pass his job onto a local celebrity by the name of Joe Carruthers, a host to a children’s show.

Things take a twist when a girl named Harmony Starr later joins them in the cab. Santa forgets his magic sack at the cab and gets arrested while trying to meet Joe.

Ernest and Harmony save him, and they confront Joe, who initially becomes very reluctant about the offer and they have to rush to save Christmas before it’s too late.

Scrooged (1988)

Bill Murray is a genius, and this is one of his best roles ever. Scrooged is a unique take on the classic novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

Bill Murray in Scrooged

Francis Xavier Cross (played by Bill Murray) is a pessimistic, ruthless, and arrogant executive of a TV program station. He is a man with a scarred childhood, which makes him cynical towards the Christmas spirit.

The holiday season arrives, but Francis does not give freedom to any of his employees due to his selfish mindset. This tyranny further damages his ties with everyone, including his family.

As Christmas-eve comes, Francis goes through the most surreal experience of his life. His old boss, who is supposed to be dead, comes to him and warns him of his actions.

He is then greeted by the three spirits of Christmas who show him the Christmas of the Past, Present, and Future. This encounter ultimately creates a change in Francis throughout the end.

This one might be a little too “scary” and real for some of the younger viewers out there, but it’s pretty tame compared to most TV nowadays.

Gremlins (1984)

Yes, Gremlins is a Christmas Movie!

Gremlins, a classic dark comedy/ horror film for the holidays that teaches us only one rule – Never break the rules.

Gremlins Christmas tree scene

A man wants to buy a Christmas gift for his son and stumbles upon a rather strange shop. Here, he chooses a gift that the owner himself is reluctant to sell – A Mogwai.

He eventually buys it, but the shopkeeper strictly tells him three rules to keep the Mogwai. The rules were – Never get the Mogwai wet, never expose him to bright light and never feed him after midnight.

We all know things go downhill from there, and the Gremlins wreak havoc on the town and its people.

Another one that may be too much for sensitive viewers, but if not, they will love it I promise.

A Christmas Carol (1984)

A Christmas Carol is a classic film based on the novella of the same name by Charles Dickens. 

Ebenezer Scrooge in the 80s Christmas Carol Movie

There are many versions of this classic story that you can watch, and new ones appear to be popping up every year. But the 1984 version is still one of the best you can find.

The story holds true to the novella and follows the life of the cynical Ebenezer Scrooge, who is an uncharitable and miserly trader in London.

Scrooge is habituated to treat everyone with contempt and rudeness and finds no festive or merry Christmas feeling. The one thing he cares about is personal profit and money.

Things take a turn when his long-dead trading partner Jacob Marley pays a visit to Scrooge and urges him to mend his ways.

Prancer (1989)

Prancer is probably the most hit or miss movie on this list, but if you have a child who loves animals, this one is a must.

Prancer the reindeer

When farm girls Jessica Riggs finds an injured reindeer, she takes it upon herself to nurse the animal back to health. When she figures out the reindeer is one of Santa’s, her job becomes even more important.

Of course, no one believes her, so it is up to her to get Prancer back to the big red guy before Christmas Eve.

Another movie that relies on great acting and storytelling with plenty of heartwarming moments and humor. A perfect holiday movie for any little ones.

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) 

While not the most critically acclaimed movie, the cast is right for a good watch. This 1985 British-American film starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow is about Santa doing battle against an “evil” toymaker.

Santa Claus The Movie

Santa was only a poor woodcarver who tried his best to keep the local children happy with small gifts. He then encounters a master crafter elf named Dooly, with whose help he turns into Santa Claus.

But then, one of his assistant elves named Patch naively pairs up with B.Z., a toymaker, to make better toys.

B.Z is a money-hungry schemer who plans to make himself better than Santa himself. Patch only works with him to get on the good graces of Santa, but he is disappointed when B.Z. turns out to be a schemer.

Upon discovering B.Z.’s true intentions, Patch intends to help Santa win, and Santa himself travels all the way to New York to save everyone from the wicked plans of B.Z.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Here, famous Disney characters take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a fresh and animated world.

Mickey's Christmas Carol by Disney

If your little one is, well, little, some of the other versions of this Christmas story on this list may be a bit too scary for them to handle. Here, Scrooge McDuck plays the role of the ever scornful and selfish Ebenezer Scrooge and Mickey Mouse as his loyal worker Bob Cratchit.

This did not make the list just because it is a “Kids” movie. Disney has managed to create a great telling of the story and the characters fall perfectly into place.

In this classic retelling, Scrooge is just as miserly as his novel counterpart and shows no mercy to people who need kindness and help. But things change when his dead partner.

I remember this is the version they used to play for us at school. For some reason, I thought it was much older at the time.

It is a classic tale retold with a lineup of everyone’s favorite characters from Disney.

The Snowman (1982)

Ok so this is more of a short than a full-length feature film, but it is a must watched and was missed by many.

The Snowman Christmas short from 1982

The Snowman is a beautiful and heartwarming animated classic about a boy whose snowman comes to life. It is based on the picture book ‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs.

One night, after a heavy snowfall, James plays with the snow and decides to make a giant snowman. The snowman then magically comes to life and plays with James.

Sounds a little bit familiar, but this is more than your average Frosty clone. It’s more of a buddy film that has the snowman taking James James on a magical journey to the Arctic to meet Santa Claus.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Christmas Vacation is the best Christmas movie ever. Prove me wrong.

This is a classic family-friendly comedy film that depicts a disastrous chain of events for the Griswald’s Christmas.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is the best Christmas movies of the 80s

Clark  is a dedicated family man who decides to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with his family. Things quickly go downhill partly due to bad luck and partly due to, well, family. 

While some of the humor is hit and miss, there are far more laughs than moans to be had.

Clark wants everything to go perfectly, but this will not happen as bad events happen one after the other like dominoes.

From the 25,000 light bulbed house creating a power outage for the whole town to Clark’s not-so-liked cousin parking his RV in front of the house for the month. He can’t catch a break.

Clark manages through all these troubles while hopefully waiting for a Christmas bonus from his employer.

I love all of the “Vacation” movies, but this one stands out. It has something different I just can’t put my finger on. May it’s the Christmas spirit.

What are your favorite 1980s Christmas movies? Let us know in the comments.

Mark

Written by Mark

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