Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
The most classic of Christmas classics, Miracle on 34th Street is the OG Santa movie. Sweet old man Kris Kringle serendipitously fills in for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade Santa, then becoming Macy’s regular Santa. Turns out he fits the role well. Maybe a bit too well. People start getting suspicious and try to get him sent to a psychiatric hospital, turning the sweet Christmas tale into a courtroom drama.
The Muppet Chrismas Carol (1992)
Continuing the tradition of Christmas Carol retellings starring existing characters, The Muppet Christmas Carol packs all the usual Muppet hijinks into the Dickens tale. It’s narrated by Gonzo the Great (who plays Charles Dickens) and Rizzo the rat. The best part of The Muppet Christmas Carol is that while most of the characters are played by the Muppet crew, Scrooge himself is played by Michael Caine.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas is absolutely more of a Christmas movie than a Halloween movie. The bulk of the film takes place between Halloween and Christmas, but the plot is fueled by the notion of Christmas. While Jack Skellington has turned into a staple of emo mall-kid subculture, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a chillingly good time with some iconic spooky songs.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Chrismas (1999)
Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie get caught in a time loop of forever Christmas, and must come to terms with their greed. Max Goof grapples with the fact that Santa might not be real, but his dad Goofy still tries to give him the best Christmas ever. Minnie and Mickey realize they can’t afford perfect gifts for each other given their crummy retail jobs, so they make sacrifices.
The CG follow up, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas, is also available on Disney Plus, but it doesn’t capture the same gooey Christmas warmth as the original. These short films are a little shallower, and the animation is a little stiff, but it’s still a fun time.