About Christmas TV History

Monday, September 8, 2014

Christmas TV Movie Recommendations

I was recently asked to recommend a few Christmas TV movie titles by a new friend.  I've already blogged several times about Christmas TV movies--let me remind you about those topics.  Click the links below to see those posts again:
General information about which TV networks air new Christmas TV movies each year.
The landscape of Christmas TV movies in 2013.
Another essay about Christmas TV movies--with links to fourteen Christmas TV movies I've reviewed.  (That blog post is 2 years old--I've reviewed more TV movies since).  You can always use the SEARCH box, found along the right side, to locate episodes, specials, and movies from the archives.

Another note: I frequently write about theatrical release Christmas movies because most of us watch these movies after their initial theatrical run at home--either broadcast on television, recorded for home entertainment, or on an electronic device we use as a television.  Since the original request was for Christmas TV movie titles, I'll limit my recommendations here to feature-length, made-for-TV entertainment.

When I first gathered together a list of noteworthy Christmas TV movies, the list ended up being about one hundred titles.  Clearly, that's too much--so I've limited my recommendations to titles that currently air on TV or are already released on DVD.

I like to start with the classics.  Christmas is always the best time to reflect on the past.  Remember the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming?  It was so popular that network execs hired all the young cast members back and created the TV series The Waltons.  Another movie made in the 1970s that reflects back on earlier times is the unforgettable story The House Without a Christmas Tree from 1972.  A nearly forgotten classic is 1964's Carol for Another Christmas-- found airing on TCM at holiday time for the past two years.  This most unusual adaptation of Charles Dickens' book A Christmas Carol is a Cold War interpretation, penned by Rod Serling. I know--see what you're missing!

Who is your favorite TV movie Ebenezer Scrooge?

Speaking of Charles Dickens' classic book...did you remember that the critically acclaimed, 1984 version of A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott was originally made for TV?  1999's A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart was also a TV movie.  Have you seen the version adapted from the successful Broadway show, 2004's A Christmas Carol: The Musical starring Kelsey Grammer?  I can't help it, my favorite TV adaptations are 1979's An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler, and the comedy A Diva's Christmas Carol, from 2000, set inside the music business industry.

The Dream Team, Schneider and Wopat, are together again in Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.

Can't stand seeing Fonzie as Ebenezer Scrooge?  How about country music legend Dolly Parton spinning fairy tales in 1986's A Smoky Mountain Christmas? Looking for more country stars--how about Christmas Comes to Willow Creek starring John Schneider and Tom Wopat, from 1987.  Looking for less country stars?  Consider watching 2003's A Carol Christmas starring Tori Spelling, William Shatner, and Gary Coleman.

Hallmark Channel fans love their Debbie Macomber Christmas TV movies.

If you're looking to watch a Christmas TV movie based on a popular book (other than one written by Dickens), you might be interested in ones based on Truman Capote short stories.  (The best TV adaptation is Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory from 1966 starring Geraldine Page--but it's not on TV or DVD).  But you could watch 1997's A Christmas Memory starring Patty Duke and One Christmas from 1994, starring Henry Winkler and Katherine Hepburn.  These two movies are adapted from two separate Capote short stories set at Christmas.  If Truman Capote isn't your bag, maybe you like to read popular author, Richard Paul Evans.  The best of the several Christmas TV movies based on his books is 1995's The Christmas Box starring Richard Thomas.  And, Debbie Macomber has had several of her much beloved books made into TV movies including 2009's Mrs. Miracle, 2010's Call Me Mrs. Miracle, and 2011's Trading Christmas.

Look for all the entertaining pop culture references in this fun 2002 TV movie.

If you're looking for something more fun for the whole family, you could try 1986's The Christmas Star starring Ed Asner, 1984's The Night They Saved Christmas with Jaclyn Smith and Art Carney, and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie from 2002. 

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface but there are plenty of titles here to explore.  If you own a copy of my encyclopedia Tis the Season TV, then you can look up any of the titles mentioned above for more information.

If you don't already know, every day I post Christmas TV listings in two places: on Twitter @TistheSeasonTV and on the facebook page Tis the Season TV.  If you're looking for more suggestions on Christmas TV movies when they begin airing in November and December, those are the two places to find it.

What Christmas TV movies do you recommend to people who ask?  Share with me in the comments below.


  1. You should be the go-to person for Christmas movie recommendations! You always have great stuff to either introduce us to or remind us of! Thank you, Joanna!

  2. Home Alone is the number one choice in my household but really any film with traditional snowy scenes with Christmas Lighting get me in the mood for the festive season.

  3. Love at the Christmas Table...Lifetime channel
    Trading Christmas- Hallmark channel
    The Christmas Card- Hallmark Channel
    Christmas Shoes

  4. Have you seen Navivity! (2009)? In which Martin Freeman stars as a harassed primary school teacher tasked with directing the school's musical nativity play. It's family fun with a bit of UK flavour! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1242447/?ref_=fn_al_tt_4

    1. Oh yeah--I've seen the first one, Nativity 2 (with David Tennant) and I'm looking forward to Nativity 3 (with Catherine Tate) this year. I like silly Christmas movies--that franchise is a fun one! Thanks for recommending it.

  5. Hi --- As the writer/director of "A Diva's Christmas Carol", I'm very grateful for the kind words, and for you including the movie on this list. I hope you know that the film will play nine times this year on Hallmark channel, plus two times on VH1!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I'm looking forward to watching Diva's Christmas Carol again this year. GREAT movie!

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