10 Heartwarming Holiday Shows, Movies, and Specials to Watch as a Family This Month
From picking out the perfect tree and singing carols to lighting the menorah and frying up a batch of latkes, the holiday season is packed with heartwarming and festive family activities.
One of the most time-honored: snuggling up on the couch or heading to the movie theater to check out a seasonal TV event, classic holiday flick, or highly-anticipated blockbuster.
But given how much content is out there these days, it can be challenging to zero in on the best titles to watch. That's why we've rounded up 10 brand-new and classic family-friendly shows, movies, and specials that are sure to engage the whole brood this holiday season.
1. Michael Bublé's Christmas in the City
2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Bublé's holiday album Christmas, and to celebrate, the beloved Canadian chart-topper is hosting a NBC holiday special, live from Rockefeller Center. The show, which will be appropriate for all ages, will reportedly include plenty of comedy, music, and holiday festiveness brought to you by the singer and a slew of special guests.
And if you and your family can't get enough of his music after you've enjoyed the special, you can check out a deluxe re-issue of the album, which will feature seven new tracks on a bonus CD, including "The Christmas Sweater," a "Winter Wonderland" duet with Rod Stewart and a new version of "Let It Snow!" with the BBC's Big Band Orchestra.
Michael Bublé's Christmas in the City will air on Dec. 6 from 10-11 p.m. ET on NBC.
2. Waffles + Mochi's Holiday Feast
Since early 2021, former First Lady Michelle Obama has delighted preschoolers with her Netflix show Waffles + Mochi, a Muppets-meets-cooking-show kids' series from Higher Ground, the production team she and former President Barack Obama founded. Michelle stars as a supermarket owner alongside the titular puppets, two freezer-aisle foods that dream of learning how to cook. And the series delights kids of all ages with guest star appearances.
Now, for the 2021 holiday season, Netflix has debuted a Waffles + Mochi holiday special episode in which the titular characters learn that holiday traditions aren't just about food—they're about making memories with those you love.
Streaming now on Netflix
3. Robin Robin
Fans of Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run, and Wallace & Gromit are sure to love the latest animated flick from Aardman Animation. Starring Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Bronte Carmichael, and Adeel Akhtar, the Netflix stop-action short film tells the story of Robin, a bird raised by mice who sets out on a journey to learn all about who she really is and where she belongs. The heartwarming tale, complete with memorable music, is appropriate for kindergarteners and up.
Streaming now on Netflix
4. Rugrats Chanukah Special
For kids age 6+, this classic episode of the '90s Nickelodeon animated series is a must-watch to learn all about the Festival of Lights, which runs from November 28 to December 6 this year. The special, which originally premiered as the first episode of the fourth season of the show, tells the story of the Jewish holiday through the eyes of the Rugrats.
Streaming now on Paramount Plus
5. 8-Bit Christmas
Parents who grew up in the '80s and '90s will be especially pumped about this new holiday flick aimed for families with kids 8+. Neil Patrick Harris stars as a father who tells his kids the story of his one big wish as a 10-year-old: to be gifted a Nintendo entertainment system for Christmas. Commenters on YouTube say it has "A Christmas Story and Jingle All The Way vibes," which means it could also be a soon-to-be classic.
Streaming now on HBOMax
6. A Boy Called Christmas
You can't go wrong with a holiday movie starring Maggie Smith and Kirsten Wiig. In this new title streaming on Netflix, a boy named Nikolas goes on an adventure into the snowy north in search of his dad who is searching for elves. Along the way, Nikolas pairs up with a reindeer named Blitzen and a pet mouse. The charming holiday adventure film is appropriate for kids 8+.
Streaming now on Netflix
7. West Side Story
Forget Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers everyone will be talking about this holiday season are Tony and Maria, whose love story played out in 1957 New York City. The classic musical, with lyrics by the late, great Stephen Sondheim and music by Leonard Bernstein, is reimagined by Steven Spielberg in this highly-anticipated film adaptation written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tony Kushner.
The beloved musical, rated PG-13 and therefore most appropriate for teens, stars Ansel Elgort as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria, and Rita Moreno as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works. Moreno—one of only three artists to be honored with Academy, Emmy, GRAMMY, Tony and Peabody Awards—also serves as one of the film's executive producers.
In theaters December 10
8. Sing 2
If you and your kids loved 2016's Sing, you'll be psyched about the PG-rated sequel, appropriate for kids 7+, which hits theaters just in time for winter break. Written and directed by Garth Jennings, the film boasts a laundry list of stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Offerman and Jennings, all of whom will be reprising their roles. You can also look forward to meeting new characters voiced by voiced by Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Pharrell Williams, Letitia Wright, Eric André, Chelsea Peretti, and Bono.
In theaters December 22
9. Home Sweet Home Alone
With an all-star cast that includes Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Kenan Thompson, and Chris Parnell, the latest chapter in the Home Alone series is based on a screenplay by the late John Hughes. In the flick, 10-year-old Max Mercer gets left home alone while his family is in Japan for the holidays. Much like the original, he has to protect his home from thieves who are looking to snag a family heirloom. Rated PG, the film is most appropriate for kids 8+.
Streaming now on Disney+
10. The 2022 Rose Parade's New Year Celebration
Every year, families tune into the New Year's Day traditional Rose Parade, which will happen again this year in the heart of Pasadena, California. The parade's floats, decked out in flowers and considered to be a marvel of state of the art technology, are a sight to behold for people of all ages.
The Rose Parade, which begins at 8 a.m. PT on New Year's Day, is broadcast live in the U.S. by several networks/stations. Check out this list of broadcasters or check your local listings.