12 Best Cartoon Christmas Movies for the Holiday

Cartoon Christmas Movies

Certainly, Christmas officially begins when the clock strikes midnight on November 31, and garlands and candy canes magically appear on front lawns and storefront windows. 

However, it won’t be the happiest time of the year until you get yourself a cup of hot chocolate, cuddle up in your favorite blanket, and turn on a beloved Christmas movie.

That is particularly accurate if you fall under the sandbox category. If you go back to your childhood, your favorite holiday memories likely include a specific movie you only watched during December. 

Also, it’s time to start their traditions if you have children. Here are heartwarming cartoon Christmas movies that are guaranteed to pique their interest.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

  • Director: Henry Selick
  • Star casts: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, and Ken Page.
  • IMDb rating: 7.9/10

This is one of the amazing cartoon Christmas movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 American animated musical movie. It was directed by Henry Selick and produced and written by Tim Burton. 

It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of “Halloween Town,” who stumbles through a portal to “Christmas Town” and decides to celebrate the holiday, with disastrous results.

Danny Elfman wrote the movie’s score and provided the singing voice of Jack. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas was released to critical acclaim, grossing over $76 million worldwide and becoming a cult classic.

A sequel, Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge, was released in 2006 for multiple platforms.

2. An Elf’s Story: The Elf On the Shelf (2010)

  • Director: Chad Eikhoff
  • Star casts: Brendan Dooling, Michael May, Doug Williams, Leslie Bellair, Shameik Moore, Cory Rouse, and Matt Henson.
  • IMDb rating: 5.1/10

Everyone has discovered a spot for an Elf on the Shelf. The yearly visitor is put in unusual circumstances and serves as Santa’s spies at the North Pole.

Due to the emergent tradition’s popularity, a Christmas movie was made about it. 

Chipey is sent from Santa’s workshop to look at the problem since the little lad hasn’t yet gotten into the festive mood.

Although it might be challenging, Taylor and his new friend jointly learn the season’s significance. This is one of the amazing cartoon Christmas movies.

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

  • Director: Bill Melendez
  • Star casts: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Bill Melendez, Karen Mendelson, Geoffrey Ornstein, and Peter Robbins.
  • IMDb rating: 8.3/10

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 1965 American animated television movie. It is based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. 

In this movie, the lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season.

Lucy suggests he direct a neighborhood Christmas play, but his best efforts are compromised by his self-doubt and inability to remain optimistic. 

When an attempt to restore the proper holiday spirit with a forlorn little fir tree fails, Charlie Brown needs Linus’ help to discover the real meaning of Christmas.

4. The Polar Express (2004)

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Star casts: Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola, Michael Jeter, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye, and Peter Scolari
  • IMDb rating: 6.6/10

In 2004, an animated adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s charming children’s book hit theaters, bringing in a new audience for even more family entertainment.

The Polar Express is undoubtedly one of the best cartoon Christmas movies.

According to the legend, a little kid discovers The Polar Express, a train bound for the North Pole, stopped outside his home on Christmas Eve.

He only wants a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh when he learns he has been chosen to get the first Christmas present.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

  • Director: Chuck Jones and Ben Washam
  • Star casts: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray, and Dal McKennon
  • IMDb rating: 8.3/10

The Grinch is a 1966 Christmas special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. It is based on Dr. Seuss’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas and was animated by the Japanese studio Toei Animation. The movie aired on CBS on December 18, 1966, and has become a holiday classic.

In the movie, the Grinch (voiced by Boris Karloff) is a grouchy creature who lives in a cave atop Mount Crumpit overlooking the town of Whoville.

He hates Christmas and plans to ruin it for the Whos by stealing all their presents and decorations. 

However, after meeting Cindy Lou Who, a young girl who changes his heart, the Grinch realizes that maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

The movie was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation and won a Peabody Award.

It has been released on home video numerous times and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2011. This is one of the amazing cartoon Christmas movies.

6. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (2000)

  • Director: Phil Roman
  • Star casts: Elmo Shropshire, Michele Lee, Susan Blu, Alex Doduk, Jim Staahl, Kathleen Barr, and Jim Fisher.
  • IMDb rating: 4.4/10

Young Jake sees his vibrant grandmother being run over by Santa’s reindeer, but his parents and older sister don’t believe him since they don’t think Santa exists.

Their journey reveals his wicked cousin’s sinister motives and even takes him to the North Pole. 

Jake is adamant about finding his missing grandmother and proving to everyone that Santa Claus was at his home on that terrible night.

7. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976)

  • Director: Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
  • Star casts: Red Skelton, Frank Gorshin, Morey Amsterdam, Harold Peary, Paul Frees, Billie Mae Richards, and Paul Frees.
  • IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is a stop-motion animated musical movie produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. It aired on ABC on December 10, 1976. 

The movie is a sequel to the 1964 special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and features the voice of Red Skelton as Santa Claus. Rudolph is tasked with finding Baby New Year, who has run away from home. 

Along the way, he meets several other endearing holiday characters, including Father Time, Happy the Baby New Year, and Sir Cornelius. 

Together, they all learn important lessons about friendship and working together.

This is one of the cartoon Christmas movies that will bring holiday cheer to viewers of all ages.

8. Arthur Christmas (2011)

  • Director: Sarah Smith and Barry Cook
  • Star casts: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, and Marc Wootton.
  • IMDb rating: 7.1/10

How can Santa visit so many houses so quickly? is the opening question of this clever Christmas movie.

The answer seems to be a high-tech army of elves sent out in SWAT style from a quiet spaceship posing as a group of stars. 

Santa’s oldest son Steve, who modernized the operation, says it wasn’t always like this.

One gift remains undetected, so it must be delivered by Grandsanta and sensitive younger son Arthur using traditional reindeer and sleigh. 

All of this causes an irrational intercontinental dash and excessive padded-out catastrophes.

9. Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

  • Director: Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
  • Star casts: Roger Miller, Brenda Vaccaro, Paul Frees, Don Messick, Linda Gary, Iris Rainer, and Shelly Hines.
  • IMDb rating: 6.9/10

Nestor, the Long-Eared is a 1977 Canadian animated Christmas movie created by Peter Sauder and directed by John Kimble. It was produced by CINAR (now DHX Media) and aired on CBC Television.

In the movie, Nestor is a young donkey taken from his home in Bethlehem and made to work for Herod’s army.

He befriends a group of singing mice who teach him the true meaning of Christmas. When Herod’s soldiers come to capture the mice, Nestor leads them to safety.

The movie was nominated for two Emmy Awards, winning one for Outstanding Animated Program, and is one of the best cartoon Christmas movies.

10. The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975)

  • Director: Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
  • Star casts: Angela Lansbury, Cyril Ritchard, David Kelley, Dina Lynn, Greg Thomas, Iris Rainer, and Joan Gardner.
  • IMDb rating: 6.9/10

The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow is a 1975 American animated movie produced by Rankin/Bass Productions.

It was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., from a script by Romeo Muller. The special premiered on NBC on December 13, 1975.

The movie tells the story of how the first Christmas snow came to be. On Christmas Eve, a little girl named Heidi, who lives in the Alps, is visited by an angel who tells her that she will be responsible for bringing the first snow to Christmas morning. 

When Heidi sets out to do so, she is joined by her animal friends, including a friendly fox named Rudy.

Together, they make their way to the North Pole, where they meet Santa Claus and his elves.

With their help, Heidi finally succeeds in bringing the first snow to Christmas morning.

The movie features the voice talents of Mia Farrow as Heidi, Robert Morse as Rudy, Paul Frees as Santa Claus, and June Foray as Mrs. Claus.

The musical score was composed by Maury Laws and Jules Bass, with songs written by Maury Laws and sung by Dora Bryan.

11. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

  • Director: Larry Roemer
  • Star casts: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Larry D. Mann, Paul Soles, Stan Francis, Alfie Scopp, and Janis Orenstein.
  • IMDb rating: 8.0/10

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a 1964 Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated movie.

The movie, which is based on the song of the same name, tells the story of Rudolph, a reindeer who is deemed unsuitable for flying because of his red nose. 

He eventually proves himself to Santa Claus and becomes a Christmas hero. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has become a holiday classic and is shown annually on television. This is one of the best movies like cartoon Christmas movies.

12. Klaus (2019)

  • Director: Sergio Pablos and Carlos Martínez López
  • Star casts: Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Neda Margrethe Labba, Sergio Pablos, and Norm MacDonald.
  • IMDb rating: 8.1/10

This peculiar origin narrative of Santa Klaus is the first animated movie from Netflix, and it stars Alva, a cynical teacher; Jesper, the worst postal worker ever; and Klaus, a large, bearded man with a talent for toymaking but little interest in children. 

They reside in Smeerensburg, the world’s most unhappy city. If the setting seems like a grump fest, it is. However, fear not because even Smeerensburg may rejoice when icy hearts melt.

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