10 Movies to Boost Your Holiday Spirit & Get You in the Mood

Now that Thanksgiving is over (in the USA), Christmas season is fully upon us. Perhaps you’re a total Christmas Fangirl, who delves into this season with all the excitement of a toddler in a ball pit. But maybe you’re more like me and struggle to get into the holiday mood.

When you listen to today’s podcast episode for Sex Chat for Christian Wives, you’ll hear about my challenges with this season and my determination to do better this year. One thing I’ve resolved to do, to channel my inner Santa, is engage in holiday activities I truly enjoy. Among those are great Christmas-themed movies.

If they have a romantic bent, all the better … because that reminds me that the holiday season is also a time to enjoy being a couple. ‘Tis also the season to be intimate!

With that in mind, here’s a list of Christmas movies to get yourself in the holiday spirit and in the mood for romance with your spouse! (Quoted descriptions all from IMDb.)

Illustration of movie camera with spotlight on blog post title

10. Christmas in Connecticut (1947). 

“A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.”

Movie still of couple riding in sleigh during snowfall

Dennis Morgan & Barbara Stanwyck

A domestic diva, I am not. Thus, I’ve always related well to this heroine’s efforts to appear like she’s got it all together for the holiday season, even if the truth doesn’t quite line up. But amid the comedy of this movie is a nice love story. And I admit (as you’ll see below) that I’m partial to the classics.

9. The Family Man (2000).

“A fast-lane investment broker, offered the opportunity to see how the other half lives, wakes up to find that his sports car and girlfriend have become a mini-van and wife.”

Close-up of couple

Tea Leone & Nicholas Cage

Accused of being a knock-off of It’s a Wonderful Life and filled with sap and saccharine, I respond that this film is “guilty as charged.” But that’s also what makes it a gem to watch! This movie hits all the right notes on what we believe about the deep power of love and family.

8. The Shop Around the Corner (1940).

“Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal.”

Heroine standing at the corner reading a book, while next to her hero reads a newspaper (both ignoring each other)

Margaret Sullivan & Jimmy Stewart

If that sounds a lot like the plot of You’ve Got Mail, that’s because it is. Nora Ephron didn’t remake the movie, but she used the same setup. The original story, however, was charmingly done with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan and all takes place in the busy shopping season of the holidays.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

“When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.”

Heroine holding her daughter, with hero looking on

John Payne & Maureen O’Hara (and Natalie Wood)

Not only do we learn to believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, but a single mom finds love in the process. There’s also a remake from 1994 with Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott, which I thought I’d dislike (because I often dislike remakes) but it’s a rather sweet version as well.

6. White Christmas (1954).

“A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.”

Two couples dressed in Santa costumes and singing

Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Bing Crosby

I’ve always thought the plot of this film was a bit thin, but as an avenue for some fun dialogue, wonderful music and dancing, and a lot of Christmas glitz, it can’t be beat. Four incredibly talented actors/singers make this film a classic that’s still worth watching.

5. The Holiday Inn (1942).

“At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer.”

Hero playing piano and singing, while heroine sits nearby and sings along

Bing Crosby & Marjorie Reynolds

Speaking of musicals, this one has less glitz but more appeal to me. Bing Crosby is joined by Marjorie Reynolds and Fred Astaire in this delightful film that features many holidays, including Christmas. And this film boasts the first movie placement of Crosby crooning “White Christmas.”

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

“Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home cause confusion.”

Characters kissing on Pumpkin Hill with large moon behind them

Jack Skellington (“The Pumpkin King”) & Sally

Ah, Jack and Sally, what a beautiful kiss you shared on Pumpkin Hill! If a skeleton and a ragdoll can find love in the crazy world of Halloween Town, then there’s hope for all of us. Yes, I know this is a nontraditional choice, but it really is one of my favorites.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

“An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.”

Close-up of couple after dance/pool scene

Donna Reed & Jimmy Stewart

I know what some of you are saying: “Why isn’t this film number one on the list?!” Because as much as I love this film, it focuses some on romance but a lot more on family as a whole. It’s a terrific movie, well worth watching again and again, but not quite as good as the next two (in my opinion) for getting in the romantic mood.

2. Sleepless in Seattle (1993).

“A recently widowed man’s son calls a radio talk-show in an attempt to find his father a partner.”

Heroine holding teddy bear and and hero with son facing her, all on top of the Empire State Building roof

Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks

This enchanting film is about finding love in unexpected places. What always strikes me about this movie is that, despite it lasting an hour and 45 minutes, Ryan and Hanks only spend about two minutes together on screen. I like that choice, because the storyline shows how much personal growth these characters must do to be ready for a life together — a lesson worth considering ourselves.

1. While You Were Sleeping (1995).

“A hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient.”

Couple standing outside in front of Christmas tree

Bill Pullman & Sandra Bullock

Lonely Lucy has no one to spend the holidays with, until her crush on an injured businessman leads her to a family who welcomes her with open arms. However, the kind of man she thinks she wants isn’t who she really needs. (Welcome to how God often works, by the way.)  I appreciate how romance takes the lead, but family is always right there as well.

Perhaps you notice a few of your own favorites missing from my list. Confessions: I’ve never seen Home Alone or Elf, and I disliked A Christmas StoryLove Actually has some great storylines and others that are just, well, ick to me. Meanwhile, I really like Gremlins and Die Hard, but concluded that they’re not the best choices for boosting one’s holiday spirit or getting you in the mood. 

But feel free to come up with your own list. And don’t forget that there are puh-lenty of made-for-TV Christmas movies every year, all in the spirit of holiday cheer and romance, which you can find on Netflix or Hulu or wherever you watch.

Your turn: What did I leave off the list?

46 thoughts on “10 Movies to Boost Your Holiday Spirit & Get You in the Mood

  1. Krysten

    I could take or leave Home Alone but I would highly suggest you watch Elf. I also can’t stand A Christmas Story and I just can’t get behind Die Hard being a Christmas movie.
    I’ve just started following your blog in the last month and I love it!

    Reply
    1. Helen

      I second that motion. You should definitely give that one a try! I love it, it never fails to make me laugh. Of course, how much you enjoy Elf will depend largely on how much you enjoy watching Will Ferrell being the delightfully silly ham that he is. I personally adore that, but I realize he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        See, that’s the issue! I’m not a Will Ferrell fan. (Nor an Adam Sandler fan, by the way.) But I keep hearing that it’s his best movie, so…

        Reply
        1. Helen

          Oh gosh, don’t even get me started on Adam Sandler! He has made precisely one good movie that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed (The Wedding Singer), and from there it’s been nothing but downhill ever since.

          Reply
          1. Terry

            For me my one Adam Sandler movie is “50 First Dates”…very sweet storyline, and the scene where Lucy goes to town with a baseball bat on the creepy friend next to the road is one of the few movie scenes that make me roll. My husband doesn’t get it but he enjoys seeing me laugh.

            “Pixels” wasn’t bad either, but not as good.

        2. Terry

          That’s like my mom and Don Knotts…But I recommend The Lego Movie if you can only take Will Ferrell in small doses. He only comes in toward the end and his character is quite different from the hamminess he’s known for. Not a romantic (or Christmas) movie but one my husband and I both enjoy; I think it’s the only one I smiled all the way through in the theater.

          Reply
  2. Jess

    The Santa Clause and The Grinch are musts in our house. I have more that I watch with my kids and by myself, but my husband will watch those two with me every year.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      The Santa Clause was on my draft list, but it’s not really a romantic Christmas film, just a great story! And yeah, the Grinch…love the original.

      Reply
      1. Eric

        The Santa Clause 2 should be on the list as it focuses on Santa trying to find a wife. It is romantic.

        Another rom-com Christmas movie is Four Christmases starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.

        A Christmas Story is one of my favorites, but it is certainly not a romantic movie.

        Reply
  3. Chris

    “Irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker”. Ya, J after reading this blog for a while i can see you are the kinda gal that skipped right over BB guns and went straight to the .30-06.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Um, I don’t even know what a .30-06 is. I just know that my family and I didn’t like A Christmas Story, not a one of us. Sorry!

      Reply
      1. Chris

        The book is better than the movie. The movie just combined several but not all of the short stories from the book. Most of the book has nothing to do with christmas. The narrator of the movie, gene shepherd, is the author of the book, “in god we trust, all others pay cash” and it is hillarious.

        Reply
  4. E

    Total Christmas fangirl here! But, I am restraining myself until Dec 1st to watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music and break out the decorations. Although we are all eagerly anticipating breaking out the advent calendars, and looking forward to 25 days of chocolate before breakfast! 😃

    We mainly watch kids Christmas movies, the family favourite (that is a putting up the tree AND Christmas Eve must watch) is Shrek the Halls.

    I really love Little Women, and count that as a Christmas movie because there is a big Christmassy theme in it.

    And I enjoy watching ‘Christmas specials’ of regular to shows.

    Oh my! How could I forget the Griswalds! Another must watch for our family!

    Reply
  5. Brian

    I follow the male stereotype of disliking the vast majority of romantic movies (especially romantic comedies), but I have to say that there is something about The Family Man that really touches me. I would go so far as to say it might be Nicholas Cage’s best performance. Maybe it’s because the entire focus is from a male point of view, but I think it’s one of the rare movies that focuses on romantic themes that really appeals to me.

    Reply
  6. Terry

    We’d never heard of Die Hard being a Christmas movie until just recently, but upon a Google search it apparently does take place over Christmas. “Love Actually” we rented this years ago (as the cast was intriguing) and turned it off after 10 minutes because it was just too raunchy (and we had an overnight guest so this was embarrassing). Does it get better? Shrek the Halls was more about farts and other potty humor than the supposed “Christmas Story,” which is apparently Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” – silly us to think it came from the Bible.

    We’ve enjoyed “Christmas with the Kranks,” and “Elf”, and we always try to catch “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” when it comes on. The husband likes the Griswalds but my tolerance for silliness is limited. Among the ones you listed we’ve never heard of #’s 10, 8 or 5, and have never seen #’s 4, 2 or 1; so we’ve got some brushing up to do! Maybe TCM or one of the other networks will feature a few of these.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      In my opinion, Love Actually is what I said: Some storylines are really nice, and others are raunchy and not worth watching. It’s a question of whether you want to wade through the weeds for the few roses in there.

      Reply
    1. j

      Same! We quote from it so much, especially at this time of year when serving mashed potatoes (which are so creamy 🙂 )
      Possibly this movie made me a Sandra Bullock fan.

      Reply
  7. Terry

    I’ve also noticed that “The Sound of Music” is featured on TV around Christmas every year. Apart from “My Favorite Things” having been hijacked as a Christmas song, does anyone know why this film is connected with Christmas?

    My husband also follows the male stereotype of disliking most musicals, but this is one of the few he will sit and watch because, as he says, it makes sense for it to be a musical given the story line.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t know. But we did always watch it around Christmas. However, I love that song “Something Good,” as a lovely romantic moment in the movie.

      And if you want a list of musicals to watch…that’s my wheelhouse, baby! I love musicals, but I also struggle to get Spock to watch them with me. Even though I’ve promised that I won’t make him watch the ones that I know would come across as too sappy. *sigh*

      Reply
  8. Dave

    When I saw this post on my Android phone, all I could see of the title was “10 movies to boost your …”. Given the context, naturally I thought it would be “10 movies to boost your sex drive”! Have to admit I was a bit disappointed … 🙂

    Which leads to two questions,

    Do you have such a list? Now that would be useful and interesting!

    If it’s okay to watch a movie to get in the mood for Christmas, why is it not okay to watch a movie to get in the mood for sex?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Um, it depends on what you mean by “a movie to get in the mood for sex.” Because oftentimes what people then watch is something that fuels a fantasy about someone else or relies on third parties to get you aroused, which is a bad idea. I think that’s why I focus on romantic movies that get a couple spending time and snuggling up together, and then you two can take it from there. You know, with some ideas from my book to inspire you! 😉

      But here is a list of Movies to Inspire Romance. And this list really focuses on stuff men would want to watch too! Promise.

      Reply
      1. Dave

        Sorry J, I’m exploring the logic here … if your rule is “don’t do any activity that could cause you to fantasize about a third party” … then I’d better not go to work, go to the gym, drive my car or watch TV … I see beautiful women in all those places. I was taught that those stimuli are normal and we are to channel the resulting desire toward our spouses.
        My opinion at this time is that if a couple watches erotic movies or reads erotic stories then channels any resulting arousal towards fantastic love-making together, then all is good.
        But I also strongly feel that pornography should be treated like alcohol — potentially hazardous, potentially addicting, not for everyone, and to be consumed in moderation and caution.
        I am a life-long Christian but sometimes think outside the box …

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Dave, really think about that: Are you seriously comparing being around women generally with a naked woman having sex on screen for your arousal? C’mon, let’s not rationalize. We all know that degrees matter, which is why the Bible is fine with moderation but not gluttony.

          And I think you’re prioritizing God’s desire for you to have pleasurable sex in your marriage over all of the other commands in the Bible about how to treat people with honor and kindness and goodness. It’s not “thinking outside the box” to take the easy road to sexual arousal; it’s using the porn actors as objects for your sexual pleasure. How about investing instead in getting aroused solely with your wife?

          Reply
    2. Blair

      Haha, that’s what I thought at first too! In my defense, what was I supposed to think a post on a sex and marriage advice blog entitled 10 Movies to Boost Your Holiday Spirit & Get You “in the Mood,” *suggestive eyebrow wiggle* meant, if not “The Sex™”? That’s where my slightly dirty mind went, anyway, but I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. Lol!

      Reply
  9. Wayne

    I’ll start with some of the ones you already mentioned. I like Miracle on 34th Street, and different things about both versions. They each reflect the times well in which they came out, and my wife and I lean strongly toward older movies anyway.

    Shop Around the Corner, and You’ve Got Mail are good, too, and funny. Sometimes I think they’re a good description of what marriage is like – passionately loving some things about our spouse, so-so about others, and still others that make us pray without ceasing for patience. It’s a Wonderful Life has actually moved me to tears. I’ve often wondered what if, when it comes to my life and the effect it’s had on others. We just don’t know sometimes. Sleepless is one of my wife’s favorites. I like it okay, but her love for it draws me in. I don’t get tired of watching it with her, or flicking it on when she’s out – or even recording it if I am watching something else.

    Others may come to mind. I think I’m into romantic movies more than most guys, or maybe I just am more open to it, open about it or both, but sometimes it takes me a minute to remember a movie like this that makes me to “oh yeah!” when I do remember.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      You know, I was lucky in that my father didn’t have any issues watching and appreciating all kinds of movies — from action movies to romantic films. So you’re in good company in my mind! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Melissa

    Agree with all on your list! If it’s a classic Christmas movie – then I own it. Two not mentioned that I highly recommend are Serendipity (with John Cusack) and It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947 classic that’s making a comeback).

    Reply
  11. Sarah

    The Holiday is one of my favorite movies and takes place over Christmas-New Years week. While the relationship between Cameron Diaz and Jude Law isn’t exactly a model christian romance, the friendship developed between Jack Black and Kate Winslet is sweet, as well as Kate’s friendship with the old gentleman. That movie, for me, is just overall warm and I enjoy it every time.

    Reply
  12. Secret Agent

    Why include “The Nightmare Before Christmas” ??? It’s not what I call a true holiday movie and is down right ugly to the eyes.

    Reply
  13. Lynn

    Laugh if you like, but I love the old Alistair Sim ‘Christmas Carol’ or even the ‘Mister Magoo Christmas Carol’ – they both make me teary-eyed and my husband thinks that’s sweet.

    Years ago I saw a television movie with Whoopie Goldberg as a woman who is destined to become Santa (it’s complicated!), and that was a charming movie.

    Reply
  14. Heather

    Love this list! I’ve seen a few of these. Another great one that I would say is one of my very favorites to watch during the holidays is called It Happened On Fifth Avenue. The story goes like this: Every year when a certain rich man goes to his Winter home in Virginia, his Summer home in New York City becomes vacant. When that happens, a drifter illegally takes up residence there. But when an unemployed veteran gets evicted from his apartment, the drifter invites him to stay in the rich man’s home with him without revealing he’s squatting. The rich man’s daughter shows up at the house and falls for the veteran and tries to help him get in his feet again. It’s really such a romantic story! I highly recommend it!

    Reply

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