The holiday season is best spent curled up on the couch with a warm cup of cocoa, a cozy blanket, and a heartwarming movie. But in 2021, with endless streaming services at your fingertips, it can be overwhelming to even think about scrolling through the hundreds of titles available to you in order to pick the perfect thing to watch. So here it is—a definitive list of the best movies on Netflix to watch this holiday season.
Now, just because this is a list of movies to watch during the holidays doesn't mean they're all necessarily holiday-themed movies. This list has a little bit of everything—from actual Christmas movies to family-friendly fun. And they’re all guaranteed to give you that same warm and fuzzy feeling, even when there's no mention of Santa Claus, falling snow, or the winter season at all.
1. White Christmas (1954)
For nearly 70 years, watching Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Danny Kaye croon about our days being merry and bright has become a holiday tradition for millions of people. With its catchy song and dance numbers, its nostalgic (and sometimes silly) storyline, and all-around charm, it's no wonder White Christmas is one of the most celebrated holiday movies of all time.
2. Titanic (1997)
The holidays are the perfect time to watch a long, grand epic of a film. The sun goes down early, so you can start in the afternoon, and the cold means you can curl up under a blanket and truly shut out the world for a few hours of enjoyment. What better movie to take you away than James Cameron's Titanic?
3. Serendipity (2001)
Serendipity is more of a love story than a holiday movie, but it also relies heavily on the magic that is New York City at Christmastime. The modern classic follows two people, Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) who meet by chance and decide to leave their potential romance up to fate. Years go by, circumstances change, but their spark never dies.
4. Just Friends (2005)
Just Friends is a Christmastime-set comedy about a young man (Ryan Reynolds) and his attempts to romance his high school BFF Jamie (Amy Smart). Naturally, chaos ensues.
5. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, the final installment in the Harold & Kumar trilogy, is a wild holiday comedy that reunites stars John Cho, Kal Penn, and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris for one last drug-fueled ride.
6. Crimson Peak (2015)
For those still in a Halloween mood, Crimson Peak is a great gothic ghost movie that’s haunting, but also has some really pretty winter scenes that provide a bit of a holiday atmosphere. The film stars Mia Wasikowska as Edith, a young woman who falls in love with a seductive stranger, Sir Thomas (Tom Hiddleston). But when she moves to his house on Crimson Peak and begins living with his dismissive and cruel sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain), she starts to wonder if this really is the love she’s been looking for.
7. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
The Christmas Chronicles is pretty much the definition of “fun for the whole family.” Kurt Russell stars as a new kind of Santa Claus, who must team up with a brother and sister to save Christmas. There’s even a sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, which is also streaming on Netflix.
8. The Princess Switch (2018)
For those who love a good Hallmark Christmas movie, Netflix’s The Princess Switch is a great alternative. The movie takes the whole “swapping lives with an identical stranger” trope to a whole new holiday level when a baker switches places with a princess. And they both manage to fall in love.
9. Klaus (2019)
Netflix’s original animated film Klaus rewrites the Santa Claus legend to be about two men—a postman and toymaker—who team up to spread joy in a town clinging to despair and sadness. It’s kind of a modern update on the old Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town from 1970, just with J.K. Simmons voicing Klaus instead of Mickey Rooney.
10. Christmas on the Square (2020)
Leave it to Dolly Parton to put a new spin on A Christmas Carol with her original Netflix film, Christmas on the Square. The musical, featuring original music by the queen herself, is the perfect holiday watch for those who love a good old-fashioned story about embracing the spirit of Christmas, wrapped in campy, sappy, and music-filled packaging. The movie stars Christine Baranski as businesswoman threatening to evict an entire town who learns the power of love and empathy thanks to a few holiday angels.
11. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
Another Christmas musical, Jingle Jangle is probably one of Netflix’s best original Christmas movies to date. (Sorry, A Christmas Prince!) The movie has everything you want in a holiday classic: toys, magic, family—not to mention song and dance and enough Christmas-coordinated outfits to have you seeing everything in red and green.
12. Love Hard (2021)
If you’re in the mood for a good Christmas-themed romantic-comedy, look no further. Love Hard stars Jimmy O. Yang, Nina Dobrev, and Darren Barnet as a trio in a love triangle that includes fake dating, catfishing, and a cyrano act.
13. Single All the Way (2021)
Single All The Way is a more traditional Christmas romance movie, full of equal parts holiday cheer and warm and fuzzy feelings. The movie follows unlucky in love Peter (Michael Urie), who brings his best friend/roommate Nick (Philemon Chambers) home for Christmas in lieu of a boyfriend. But when he starts to fall for the guy his mom sets him up with, Peter starts to realize there might be more to his feelings for Nick than he thought.
14. The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star (2021)
If you love a good cheesy Christmas movie, but are over the romance, look no further. The Princess Switch 3, the newest installment in Netflix’s original Christmas trilogy, isn’t so much a romance as it is a heist movie. It has all the holiday sweetness of The Princess Switch with a little extra action added in.
15. The Mitchells Vs The Machines (2021)
The Mitchells vs. the Machines isn’t a holiday movie by any measure, but it is a truly great family film. The animated movie is about a family that inadvertently becomes humanity’s last hope against an army of robots, but it’s also about embracing your weirdness and the importance of spending time with family.
A version of this story ran in 2020; it has been updated for 2021.