Holiday TV Specials

How to Find Your Favorite Holiday TV Specials

It's hard for us to pick our favorite holiday tradition. There's strong competition between roasting chestnuts on an open fire, decking the halls and a good old fashioned dash through the snow, no horse required.

But high up on our list is gathering around the TV to take in some of the same time-honored holiday classics that Americans have been watching (or now, streaming) together for generations.

It certainly doesn't hurt that this activity lends itself well to Christmas matching pajamas, fleece robes, or a beloved flannel shirt. So grab a hot cup of cocoa, slip under your favorite throw blanket and dip into holiday seasons past with this playlist of favorites.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Chances are that this 1965 classic's downbeat piano theme will start playing in your head before the first scene even begins. It's that now iconic jazz score—as much as the sad little tree—that brings us back to this piece of the Charlie Brown canon year after year. And the chance to dance with Snoopy while dressed in flannel pajamas is too much to resist.

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Picking a favorite from the lineup of Rankin/Bass Claymation classics will always be a tough call, but we'll defend our selection of The Year Without a Santa Claus with two points: Heat Miser and Snow Miser. If only Snow Miser had a long down coat, the show may have taken a quicker turn.

Love Actually

Once the kids are upstairs and preoccupied with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, Mom and Dad deserve something a bit more adult. Viewing this 2003 anthology rom-com set during the holidays is the reason why matching pajama sets were invented in the first place.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

With all apologies to Jim Carrey (and soon, Benedict Cumberbatch), we'll always opt for the 1966 cartoon original. Some things just can't be improved on, like the deep-voiced narration of Boris Karloff or the wonky jazz vocals of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Supply the kids with a green holiday throw to hide under when Grinch coaxes Max back up the mountain.

A Christmas Story

We'll admit it: we're a little tired of having to hear "You'll shoot your eye out, kid" ad nauseam each December. But not even an overused catchphrase can knock A Christmas Story from our rotation. For just one little movie, it packs a lion's share of pop-culture gold: the leg lamp, Ovaltine decoder ring, and the cautionary telephone pole scene we'll never un-see. Oh, and don't miss the chance to elbow your son when the over-stuffed snow suit scene pops on. "See? I only make you wear a Squall Parka and snow pants. You can still move."

It’s a Wonderful Life

It's hard to believe It's A Wonderful Life was first panned upon its 1946 release and largely forgotten. But just like George Bailey, the public realized it had something to be grateful for, and now it just doesn't feel like the holidays without at least one showing of Frank Capra's masterpiece. Pop this on after your dinner party. Your soft light and softer cashmere sweater has already set the mood.

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