21 Animated Christmas Movies You Should Definitely See

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, not because Andy Williams said so. It's a time to be gay, enjoy homemade cookie specials, and relish the delightful tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

But if Christmas is for children, then be a child again! And nothing quite brings out the child in you better than a good animation. What better way to spend the holiday than enjoying one solo, with the family, or some festive-season company?

Everyone knows animation is the one-size-fits-all of the movie industry – a genre anyone can enjoy. So, whether you're looking to rewatch classic Christmas animated movies or searching for undiscovered gems, we have it all put together for you. Now, put on an ugly sweater and welcome the Christmas spirit while we (re)introduce you to tales you mustn't go another season without watching.

1. Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (2011) 

Ice Age A Mammoth Christmas 2011 Blue Sky Studios
Image Credit: Blue Sky Studios

Ice Age always feels like a Christmas movie, with the snow and music galore. However, Blue Sky Studios truly catch the season fever with this Christmas special. The plot revolves around the original cast, with Manny getting a family heirloom as a Christmas present for his daughter, Peaches. Sid shatters the heirloom in his clumsy manner and is placed on the “naughty list.”

Catches the Season Fever

Ice Age A Mammoth Christmas 2011 Blue Sky Studios 2
Image Credit: Blue Sky Studios

With Manny's refusal to believe in Christmas, Sid, Peaches, Crash, and Eddie travel to the North Pole in search of Santa and to get Sid off the naughty list. Finally, everyone, except for Scrat, has a happy ending.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 

The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Touchstone PIctures
Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures

This movie, also called Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a musical fantasy directed by Henry Selick in his directorial debut role. It turns out Grinch isn't Christmas' only nemesis. When the King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, bored with Halloween, discovers Christmas Town, it piques his curiosity – and interest. So, he plots extreme measures to commandeer the precious holiday, even as Oogie Boogie tries to swathe his evil scheme.

A Catchy, Well-Composed Soundtrack

The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Touchstone PIctures 2
Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures

The movie comprises a catchy, well-composed soundtrack, sparking humor, and a brilliant balance of both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. The Nightmare Before Christmas originated from a poem by Tim Burton.

3. The Polar Express (2004) 

The Polar Express 2004 Castle Rock Entertainment
Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment

Tom Hanks might be present-day Midas, spinning everything he's involved into gold. And here, not only does he voice multiple characters, he's also one of the executive producers. The Polar Express is an animated adventure film based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg that sticks closely to the original material.

Life Changing Lessons

The Polar Express 2004 Castle Rock Entertainment 2
Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment

It follows the tale of a boy who joins a strange train headed for the North Pole, searching for Santa Claus to confirm that he is real. It is a tale that pushes one to be adventurous and to the young, even questioning old traditions, driving the importance of belief – or the lack of it. The Polar Express conceptualizes the saying, “Christmas isn't a season, it's a feeling,” as well as other life-changing lessons.

The nostalgic masterpiece may lack the jolly tones of Christmas, but it leaves one inspired and enlivened in the end.

4. The Small One (1978) 

The Small One 1978 Walt Disney Productions
Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions

The Small One is a short feature produced by Walt Disney Productions, based on the book by Charles Tazewell. The movie is about a boy and his best friend, a frail, old donkey named Small One. When the donkey becomes a liability, the young boy is forced to sell it. He takes the donkey to the market in search of a good master. After so much rejection and harassment, the boy finally finds the right person deserving of Small One.

An Eloquent, Soul-Stirring Tale

The Small One 1978 Walt Disney Productions 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions

However succinct, The Small One is an eloquent, soul-stirring tale that portrays Christmas and kindness through the eyes of a young boy.

5. Klaus (2019) 

Klaus 2019 Netflix Animation
Image Credit: Netflix Animation

Klaus is an American-Spanish film written and directed by Sergio Pablos. The animation on it is top-notch, non-conventional, and makes it an even more compelling watch, aiding the storytelling. In this tale, Santa Claus is not a myth or Christmas fable, but an ordinary toy-maker.

Top-Notch Animation

Klaus 2019 Netflix Animation 2
Image Credit: Netflix Animation

The award-winning film follows the story of Jesper, the spoiled son of a wealthy General who sends him to an island to reform him, and Klaus, who lives in a house filled with toys. Fate brings them together, and they strike a win-win liaison. Jesper gets to keep his inheritance, and Klaus donates his many toys to the children of Smeerensburg. Rather than being another Santa story, Klaus offers the limelight to the lazy, reckless Jesper, a character anyone could relate to. It also gives depth to the characterization of the good old Saint Nick.

6. Trolls Holiday (2017) 

Trolls Holiday 2017 DreamWorks Animation
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Everyone loves a good musical – what more when it features the one and only Justin Timberlake. Trolls Holiday is a Christmas special, bringing back the cast of Trolls, which the movie is based on, both produced by DreamWorks Animation. It shows the importance of holidays and celebrations – and even friendship.

The Importance of Holidays and Celebrations

Trolls Holiday 2017 DreamWorks Animation 2
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Seeing that the Bergens have no more holidays to celebrate, the Trolls set out on a course to change things, which doesn't go as expected. Still, the story wraps with a happy ending. Asides from JT, there are other incredible voice actors in the film – even though the singing was not as applaudable.

7. Angela's Christmas (2017) 

Angelas Christmas 2017 Brown Bag Films
Image Credit: Brown Bag Films

Frank McCourt, who wrote the book that the film is based on, says that the book is a true story his mother (Angela) told him as a child. It's a heartwarming tale about Angela, whose only wish for Christmas is that everyone else has a beautiful celebration after visiting the church on Christmas Eve with her family.

It Should Be Watched a Thousand Times Over

Angelas Christmas 2017 Brown Bag Films 2
Image Credit: Brown Bag Films

Damien O'Connor directed the short film, which was written by Will Collins. It can – and should be – watched a thousand times over as it pictures love, kindness, and the true essence of Christmas.

8. Alien Xmas (2020)

Alien Xmas 2020 Chiodo Brothers Productions
Image Credit: Chiodo Brothers Productions

Sci-fi meets Christmas in this animated film directed by Stephen Chiodo, based on the book by Chiodo and Jim Strain. In another Grinch-inspired tale, an alien race embarks on a quest to steal the Earth's resources after exploiting the resources on their own planet. X, the extraterrestrial being sent to Earth, ends up as a gift to an elf's daughter, Holly. Holly gifts X a puppy and then some, forming a bond that leads X astray from the original mission. Through this act of kindness, X becomes a changed man – er, alien – and helps others to see the light.

An Alien Race, Grinch Inspired Tale

Alien Xmas 2020 Chiodo Brothers Productions 2
Image Credit: Chiodo Brothers Productions

By showing the other aliens the gift of love and compassion, he convinces them to change their ways, turning them away from greed.

9. Robin Robin (2021) 

MV5BNjkwOTc0YTctY2FjYS00ZTEzLWI5NWQtN2ZiY2Q4NjkzNmQ2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEzMTI1Mjk3. V1 FMjpg UX1024
Image Credit: Netflix/Aardman Animation

There have been many cases of movie characters who, over time, feel like they don't “belong”. Tarzan, for instance, and Mowgli, of The Jungle Book – hey, you can't really blame them. Robin Robin takes the same narrative, except this time with a bird who grew up in a family of mice. As Robin grows older and physiological differences become more apparent, she wishes nothing more than to become a mouse, just like the rest of her family.

Nominated for Best Animated Short Film

Robin Robin 2021 Aardman Animations 2
Image Credit: Netflix/Aardman Animation

But it's not just wishing – Robin goes to lengths to prove that she can be a mouse, too. The British-American musical directed by Dan Ojari and Mikey Please was Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Short Film.

10. A Christmas Carol (2009)

A Christmas Carol 2009 Walt Disney Pictures
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

A Christmas Carol is Disney's third adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 classic novel of the same name. The plot follows the story of the grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge, who chances upon the ghosts of Christmas, haunting Scrooge to change his ways.

Exciting Visuals and Musical Score

A Christmas Carol 2009 Walt Disney Pictures 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The visuals and musical score are exciting, and this may not be as lighthearted as most Christmas tales, but the film remains a spectacular attempt at recreating the characters and events from the novel to a fault. Also, Jim Carrey is the actor who voices Scrooge and the three ghosts, once again, flaunting his range and expertise.

11. Arthur Christmas (2011)  

Arthur Christmas 2011 Columbia Pictures
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Enough said about Santa Claus. This sci-fi film, directed by Sarah Smith, brings Arthur Claus, Santa's son, to the spotlight.

A Technical Malfunction

Arthur Christmas 2011 Columbia Pictures 2
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

On Christmas Eve, Arthur discovers a girl may not be getting her Christmas present because of a technical malfunction on his father's ship. But when you have to deliver thousands of gifts in one night, such mistakes are bound to happen! Eager to ensure everyone, including the girl, has their version of a happy Christmas, Arthur makes it his mission to deliver the gift himself.

Arthur Christmas is an underrated gem, with the right amount of goofy and heart-warming scenes.

12. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018) 

The Grinch 2018 Universal Pictures
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, based on the book first published in 1957, is a retelling of the story of the grumpy Grinch who despises the festive noise that the Whos of Whoville make around Christmas time. When he learns they want to make Christmas bigger than ever, he takes matters into his own hands and steals the decorations and gifts that bring joy to Whoville. The Grinch pulls off his daring plan with the help of his dog, Max, and a few friends, but realizes that his hatred and bitterness for Christmas isn't enough to break the spirits of the Whos.

A Heartfelt Moral

The Grinch 2018 Universal Pictures 2
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

His heart, which was deemed two sizes too small, triples in size when he witnesses The Whos' strength and love in their darkest hour. The film explores loneliness and serves laughter, nostalgia, and a tear-jerking story with a heartfelt moral.

13. Frozen (2013) 

Frozen 2013 Walt Disney Pictures
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

With her estranged sister sending the kingdom into an eternal winter, Anna risks everything to find Elsa and undo her magic. Elsa, born with icy cold magic, is separated from her family as a child after accidentally injuring her sister. When Elsa ascends to the throne as queen several years later, she accidentally freezes the kingdom and flees to her own ice fortress, locking herself away. In a gripping story about family, love, and a truly action-packed adventure, Anna risks her life for a sister she barely knows.

An Action-Packed Adventure

Frozen 2013 Walt Disney Pictures 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Frozen is Disney at its best, with heartwarming lessons ranging from self-love to the essence of family. It was also one of the first projects that portrayed a woman who became her own knight in shining armor.

14. Smallfoot (2018)

Smallfoot 2018 Warner Animation Group
Image Credit: Warner Animation Group

In a world where Yetis believe the existence of humans or “Smallfoot” is a myth, Migo, a yeti, accidentally discovers a whole world beneath the clouds, away from their home at the top of the mountains. When he tries to convince the others that the humans are real, they shun Migo for his lack of proof. Cast away from his family, the character, voiced by Channing Tatum, has to bring back evidence to redeem himself and show the Yetis the world below.

Excellent Animation and Killer Songs

Smallfoot 2018 Warner Animation Group 2
Image Credit: Warner Animation Group

The film centers on self-discovery, love, and trusting one's guts, amongst others. Smallfoot is a must-see Christmas film with excellent animation and killer songs!

15. Shrek the Halls (2007) 

Shrek the Halls 2007 DreamWorks Animation
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Shrek, probably DreamWorks' most successful franchise, amazed the world when it debuted in 2001. Its mix of fairy tales, subversion of the norm with unusual tropes, and hard-hitting comedy made it one of the best-animated works. In this special, Shrek believes he can finally take a breather and relax in peace now that he has his happily ever after, but as the holiday approaches, he notices everyone but him getting excited.

A Heartfelt Special

Shrek the Halls 2007 DreamWorks Animation 2
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

For the sake of Fiona and their children, the green ogre decides to turn off his Grinch switch and try something new. Shrek the Halls, which brings back the original cast, is a heartfelt special that reminds fans why the franchise was such a success.

16. Beauty and the Beast (1991) 

Beauty and the Beast 1991 Walt Disney Animation
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Beauty and the Beast is a timeless tale that has been retold many times. Yet, few have yet to live up to the legacy of the first animated movie made 30 years ago based on the story of French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Teaches The Importance of Compassion, True Love, and Kindness

Beauty and the Beast 1991 Walt Disney Animation 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation

A witch visits a prince under a wretched disguise, but the arrogant prince acts cruelly toward her. In return, she curses him, turning him into a beast, a wicked spell that only true love can break. All hope seems lost for the beast and other occupants of the castle, who were also victims of the curse. Until the beautiful Belle comes along – or, well, is captured. Desperate to break his curse, the prince imprisons her, but he soon learns that true love cannot be forced or bought. Beauty and the Beast teaches the importance of compassion, true love, and kindness, all of which Christmas depends on.

17. Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) 

Olafs Frozen Adventure 2017 Walt Disney Pictures
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

This twenty-minute Christmas special reunites the original cast, with Anna and Elsa catching up after their time apart. When the sisters realize that the people of Arendelle are leaving for the holidays, they discover they lack their own traditions. Olaf sets out to find women's traditions but finds himself in over his head after separating from Sven.

Themes of Self Discovery and Holiday Cheer

Olafs Frozen Adventure 2017 Walt Disney Pictures 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The short highlights themes of self-discovery and holiday cheer. Fans of Frozen and anyone aching for a good adventure will surely enjoy this, despite the mixed reviews.

18. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special 2020 Lucasfilm Animation
Image Credit: Lucasfilm Animation

Following the First Order's defeat, Rey trains to become a Jedi. Rey has difficulty training and discovers a crystal that allows her to travel back to previous Life Days, where she meets past Jedi. She inadvertently discovers a secret plan devised by Palpatine in the future, putting her in a race against time to save the present.

A Fun, Exciting Forty Minute Film

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special 2020 Lucasfilm Animation 2
Image Credit: Lucasfilm Animation

The special encapsulates everything great about Star Wars, incorporating references and callbacks to the previous films and Life Day Specials in an adventure of self-discovery, allowing Rey to be trained by the great Jedi of the past. Overall, it's a fun, non-canon, and exciting forty-minute film.

19. Rise of the Guardians (2012) 

Rise of the Guardians 2012 DreamWorks Animation 1
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Before Elsa, there was Jack Frost, the winter spirit. When Pitch Black threatens the world with nightmares, a collection of fairy tales seeks a new Guardian in Jack Frost. The invisible legend uses his powers to defeat the Nightmare King and prevent him from annihilating the other guardians and filling the world with darkness and nightmares.

The Power of Belief and Friendship

Rise of the Guardians 2012 DreamWorks Animation 2
Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

The film centers on the power of belief and friendship, with Chris Pine and other cast members delivering a thrilling performance. Rise of the Guardians took pre-existing fairy tale concepts and turned them into a masterpiece.

20. Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

Mickeys Once Upon a Christmas 1999 Disney Television Animation
Image Credit: Disney Television Animation

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas is a collection of stories produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. It comprises Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas, A Very Goofy Christmas, and Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi.

Unique Stories of Christmas

Mickeys Once Upon a Christmas 1999 Disney Television Animation 2
Image Credit: Disney Television Animation

The tales tell independent, unique stories of Christmas, giving every member of the Mickey Mouse Club their chance to shine on the merry rounds of adventures surrounding the characters.

21. Prep and Landing (2009)

Prep and Landing 2009 Walt Disney Animation Studios
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

This is it, people! 364 days of planning, one night of perfect execution!

Santa visits billions of homes every night, but have you ever wondered who prepares things for his arrival? Prep and Landing is the elite organization in charge of preparing for Santa's jolly arrival. Wayne works with Prep and Landing and is looking for his next big promotion after several centuries.

Individuals Coming Together

Prep and Landing 2009 Walt Disney Animation Studios 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

But things don't go his way, and someone else takes the job, leading to Wayne becoming complacent, jeopardizing Merry Christmas. The film looks at the many individuals that come together to make the season of perpetual hope what it is.

More From Wealth of Geeks

review movies for money
Image Credit: Shutterstock

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.