Top Ten Animated Christmas Movies

Oct 31, 2006 (Updated Nov 6, 2009)

The Bottom Line Christmas cartoons aren't just for kids!

It’s October 31st today. A strange time for a Christmas list you say? Well, in the Chelledun family, Halloween marks the official beginning of the holiday season!

With so many great live-action Christmas movies, cartoons sometimes play second fiddle. The following are my ten favorite animated Christmas movies. You have probably seen most of them, but if not, better get cracking!

10. A Walt Disney Christmas (1982) – Released the same year I was born, this made-for-TV compilation reminds me of the days when life was simpler and the Disney Channel was a premium channel with awesome content. A Walt Disney Christmas compiles some of my very favorite Christmas animated shorts, including “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” with Chip and Dale and the 1932 Silly Symphony “Santa’s Workshop”. This video provides a really nice mixture of characters in old and new cartoons. Sadly, this collection can’t yet be found on DVD, so eBay is your best bet.

9. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) - While not a “Christmas” film per se, we all associate Rudolph’s shiny red nose with the holiday season. Here, the baby New Year runs away due to shame about his large ears. He is captured by Aeon the vulture and Rudolph must chase them through time and save the day. This movie is kind of cheesy, admittedly, but I love the claymation and there aren’t many good New Year’s movies out there.

8. T’was the Night Before Christmas - (1974) – This film makes a particularly good pick for Christmas Eve, as it captures the nervous energy kids feel in waiting for Santa. The film focuses on a small town and its hum and mouse inhabitants. Unfortunately, Santa will not be coming to town this year because of an offensive letter from Albert Mouse. With the help of a great soundtrack including the catchy “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand”, the town must work to show Santa that they do believe in him. Night Before Christmas offers some serious good feelings and a happy ending to boot.

7. WGN-TV “Christmas Classic” - (1950’s) – Suzy Snowflake; Hardrock, Coco, and Joe; and Frosty the Snowman are three black and white cartoons that provide a dose of nostalgia for anyone who enjoyed them as a child. I remember watching these annually on the Bozo Show growing up, as did my mom before me. Suzy Snowflake tap, tap, taps on the window pains, Joe has a very deep singing voice, and Frosty goes hippity hop hop over the hills of snow. While these stop-action animation cartoons may not do much for kids today, adults will enjoy getting their hands on them. The Museum of Broadcast Communications sells a set of the three, but we got a DVD of them free with our carpet last year.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas - (1965) – The Peanuts gang puts on the cutest Christmas pageant ever in this TV special. Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas, traditional Peanuts music plays throughout, and Linus helps the film reach a dramatic climax with his charming retelling of the Christmas story. I personally love the scene with the world’s most pathetic Christmas tree that doubles over under the weight of a single ornament. A Charlie Brown Christmas has aged well, and can still be enjoyed by families today.

5. Mickey’s Christmas Carol - (1983) – There dozens if not hundreds of versions of this familiar story, but the Disney gang provides my favorite animated version. This simple, charming film stars Scrooge McDuck as, of course, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and Mickey as hardworking Bob Cratchit. Dozens of Disney characters make appearances, including the rarely seen gang from Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I especially love Goofy as Jacob Marley. The theme song, “Oh What a Merry Christmas Day,” is touching and sometimes even makes me a bit teary! Overall, this is a sweet and simple adaptation of A Christmas Carol which would be a great introduction to the story for a young child.

4. A Claymation Christmas Celebration - (1987) I heard it through the grapevine that this animated special is tough to find on TV these days, which is a pity. Dinosaurs Herb and Rex guide viewers through the Christmas festivities, which are entirely made out of clay and include some very catchy music. My personal favorite scene is “Carol of the Bells,” which is very comedic in claymation. Other Christmas songs featured include “We Three Kings,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Rudolph” as performed by the California Raisins. Thinking about this special gets me so fired up for Christmas that I just ordered the DVD from Amazon.

3. A Garfield Christmas Special - (1987) – It’s time for a good old-fashioned Christmas, down on the farm. Garfield, John, and Odie pack up all their packages and head to the relatives to celebrate the holiday season. This special is alternatively hilarious and touching, with some great music to boot. John’s eccentric family members help make this special what it is. The cranky grandmother is my favorite, with lines like, “Oh, put a sock in it, deary.” In typical Garfield fashion, the amount of eating that goes on in this special is also impressive. I could spend a Christmas with the Arbuckle family, that’s for sure. You can read my full review of this film here.

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - (1964) - Poor Rudolph the reindeer has a red glowing nose, and Herbie the Elf wants to be a dentist instead of a toymaker. It’s easy to see why this movie has been such a classic. My favorite part is Rudolph and Herbie’s visit to the “Island of Misfit Toys.” There is just something so charming about the dysfunctional toys I find myself wanting to take them home! Rudolph has, in my opinion, the strongest storyline and the best claymation of the several similar films released during this time period. Burl Ives animates, and the soundtrack is excellent. Who could forget “A Holly Jolly Christmas” or “Silver and Gold?”

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - (1966) What else could top the list but this classic to end all Christmas classics? The Whos in Whoville make a big, huge, deal about Christmas every year. However, the Grinch, a grouchy green guy who lives in the mountains above, does not like Christmas one bit. Of course, this means he wants to stop Christmas from coming by stealing their toys, food, and presents. In the end everyone learns a little bit about the true meaning of Christmas. The animation has been spruced up in recent years, and The Grinch can still be found on television multiple times each holiday season.

*You can also check out my Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movies of all time!

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