Christmas is a beloved holiday for many reasons. It’s full of cookies, presents, and even Mariah Carey. However, there is also an ever-growing selection of movies centered around Christmas. While many of these films are available on streaming services that you have to pay to use, the video-sharing platform YouTube features various Christmas movies that you can watch without having to pay for a subscription. Ads will appear during the films, but that’s a fair tradeoff to watch quality films. And if you’re looking to ring in the holidays early, here are some Christmas movies that you can watch for free on YouTube.
Even though Lifetime is known for salacious made-for-TV thriller movies such as Death of a Cheerleader and Devil’s Pond, it also has lighthearted films akin to those seen on the Hallmark Channel. Case in point is A Gift Wrapped Christmas. This 2015 Christmas movie stars Meredith Hagner as Gwen, a bubbly personal shopper who has a knack for knowing exactly what people want.
Gwen’s latest client is Charlie, an uptight businessman who lost his wife and has been neglecting his son as a result. So Gwen makes it her job to lift his spirits during the holiday season. Hagner’s performance makes the movie feel warm and cozy. She would later star in movies and shows that aren’t as family-friendly, such as the Hulu film Vacation Friends and the TBS-turned-HBO Max series Search Party.
It wouldn’t be a Christmas movie list without at least one Hallmark original, and that Hallmark original is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Released in 2008, this film stars Baywatch actress Brooke Burns as Jennifer Cullen, a hard-working single mother who hates Christmas until her Uncle Ralph, played by Henry Winkler of all people, brings a Christmas-loving stranger named Morgan (played by future Bruce Wayne actor Warren Christie) into her house.
In all fairness, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year isn’t groundbreaking, and this premise would only work for a Hallmark movie. Still, it has some charming moments that even non-Hallmark fans may get a kick out of. Plus Winkler steals the show as the kind of crazy, but nonetheless well-meaning Ralph. He not only delivers several funny moments, but also some emotional ones as well. And yes, this movie is directed by Michael Scott, but not the same Michael Scott who directed Threat Level Midnight.
Not to be confused with the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story, 2007’s Christmas Story is a Finnish movie that tells the epic origin of everyone’s favorite jolly old man, Santa Claus. The film starts with seven-year-old Nikolas losing his parents before deciding to secretly make presents for all of the families that took care of him — and eventually for the whole world.
You probably already know how this story ends. But it’s still a worthwhile film with great production design and a heartwarming message about giving back to the community. Keep in mind, however, the only version that’s free on YouTube is the English dub, which features the voices of Noah Emmerich (The Americans) and John Turturro (Barton Fink).
Mary Christmas is another made-for-television holiday film. The movie centers on a Californian reporter named Mary who is forced to give up her snowy vacation in Vermont so she can cover a story about a wealthy widower and his young daughter, the latter of whom wants a new mother for Christmas.
This premise might sound generic, but the story takes quite a turn later on. Also, Jenna Boyd gives a surprisingly great child performance as the daughter. She is not only charming, but she also delivers on the emotional moments too. It’s no wonder Boyd would grow up to score a recurring role on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Atypical.
Inspired by a true story, Christmas for a Dollar centers around a poor family of five children struggling to get by during the Great Depression. Their widower father tells them that he has saved up a dollar, which was a lot at that time, and that he will divvy up the money between his kids in order for them to buy (or make) Christmas presents.
This film won the International Christian Visual Media (ICVM) 2015 Silver Crown Award for Best Drama under $250,000, so it doesn’t have the best production values or even the best acting. However, that may not matter to the families who watch it for the heartwarming messages.
As the title suggests, An American Christmas Carol is a new take on an old classic. The story is set in Depression-era New Hampshire and centers on Benedict Slade, a grumpy old man who seizes the possessions of people who haven’t paid their loans. One night, however, Slade is visited by three spirits, all resembling people he hurt, who each make him see the error of his ways.
An American Christmas Carol does a great job of modernizing Charles Dickens’ iconic novella while keeping its spirit alive and well. Despite presumably not having a big budget, this film successfully implements its source material’s supernatural elements with neat editing and camera tricks. Also, Henry Winkler shines as the Ebenezer Scrooge stand-in, and he certainly looks like an old man thanks to the work of legendary make-up artist Rick Baker. This is truly a worthwhile film for all ages.
From the director of First Blood and the Academy Award-winning screenwriters of Witness comes one of CBS’ most-watched movies at the time, Borrowed Hearts. The film centers on a factory worker and divorced mother named Kathleen, who along with her young daughter, pretends to be the family of her rich boss so that he can sign a deal with a mysterious financier just in time for Christmas.
Like most other made-for-TV Christmas movies on this list, Borrowed Hearts isn’t new or groundbreaking, but it still has a lot of heart, as well as some great performances, especially from Eric McCormick (Will and Grace) as Kathleen’s rich boss and Héctor Elizondo (Pretty Woman) as the mysterious financier. Also, this film looks great for a TV movie, which isn’t that surprising considering director Ted Kotcheff’s feature film background.
Who knew that one of the earliest entries in the slasher genre takes places during the festive season? Black Christmas centers on members of a sorority who are being targeted by a psychotic killer who is teasing them with deranged phone calls. In addition to being a tense horror movie, Black Christmas is ahead of its time due to its handling of relevant feminist messages, specifically how male authorities don’t take crimes against women seriously and even how men want to control women’s bodies. Above all, the movie is one of the few entries on this list that shouldn’t be watched by children. So take note, parents! Watch this only after the little ones have gone to bed.
Get Santa is a British holiday film that centers on Steve, a former getaway driver and absentee father who is out on parole and wants to rekindle his relationship with his son. But in a twist of fate, Steve is inexplicably chosen by Santa Claus to bust him out of prison and save Christmas.
Even though the premise may sound farfetched, Get Santa is a touching story about a father trying to make things right with his son. The film features some great performances, specifically from Rafe Spall as Steve and the ever-lovable Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus. Warwick Davis also makes an appearance if you weren’t already convinced about watching it.
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