It is that time of year again! The time for the whole family to gather together, catch up, bond, play together, and celebrate a very special holiday together.
Alongside Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, there are 14 religious holidays celebrated across the world during November and December. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, the holidays are all about family and appreciating the connections you share!
Hallmark movies are feel-good, comfort food for the soul no matter the season. They are there to remind us to cherish our loved ones.
Netflix has such great movies to choose from to entertain the whole family this year. 2020 has been a horror film of note, so it is great that we can all look forward to blowing 2020 out of the water with films to entertain, excite, amuse, and lose ourselves in.
Here are some great ones to look forward to…
For the Little Ones
Klaus – Animated
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, J.K. Simmons, Norm MacDonald, and Will Sasso
Jesper is the worst postman in the academy. Coming from a well-off, politically powerful family, he is not happy when he is sent to Smeerensberg, a frozen town in the north to deliver mail and parcels where no deliveries have been made in years.
Here he finds Santa Claus hiding from the public eye.
The two team up to make and deliver toys and gifts.
The storyline is sweet, and the animation is brilliant. There is a fair amount of slapstick comedy involved with characters that will have you entranced.
Santa’s Apprentice – Animated
Starring: Julie Gayet, Jean-Pierre Marielle, and Nathan Simony
For Santa to retire, he must find and train an apprentice to take over the important job of making and delivering toys for all the good girls and boys. But Santa doesn’t want to retire; by training an apprentice he is just following the rules.
Santa must choose his apprentice from an orphanage, his first name must be Nicholas, and he must be pure of heart. On the other side of the world, Santa finds a young boy perfect for the job. Except, he lacks self-confidence, and he is terrified of heights.
Young Nicholas learns to climb down chimneys, guide a sleigh, hand out gifts, and believe in himself, so that when Santa does decide to retire, he will be ready to perform all the duties that go with the job.
This is a heartwarming movie the whole family will enjoy.
Angela’s Christmas – Animated
Starring: Malachy McCourt, Ruth Negga, Vivian Drew, Anya O’Connor, Brendan Mullins, Lucy O’Connell
This is a heartwarming story, set in 1910 in Ireland, about a little girl who wants to make sure that everyone has a wonderful Christmas.
The power of wonderful animation illustrating the sheer strength of innocence and the strength of a family that bonds well together will entertain and delight adults and children. And the animation truly is a marvel!
For the Grown-Ups
A Holiday Engagement
Starring: Bonnie Somerville, Shelley Long, Jordan Bridges, Sam McMurray, Haylie Duff, Carrie Wiita, and Chris McKenna
When a woman gets dumped by her fiancé right before Thanksgiving, she is humiliated and decides to hire an actor to pretend to be her fiancé rather than tell her family the truth.
In her thirties, she still feels judged by her family, and will do anything to gain her mother’s approval.
What started as a business relationship soon begins to change as the ‘engaged’ couple begin to develop feelings for each other.
El Camino Christmas
Starring: Dax Shepard, Kurtwood Smith, Luke Grimes, Emilio Rivera, and Kimberly Quinn
This gritty movie is full of dark humor that will have you laughing your way out of your seat.
On a quest to find the father he never met; a young man finds himself instead barricaded in a liquor store with a handful of strangers as his hostages on Christmas Eve. His hostages include Larry, who is very fond of alcohol, a Deputy, and a young mother and her child.
The situation spirals as the cops on the outside are not really cut out for handling this situation, and local journalists covering the events cause the unfolding comedy of errors to mount as they try to help Eric locate his dad – who is actually in the liquor store.
This is not a conventional Christmas movie, but it will make you laugh.
Love, Lights, Hanukkah!
Starring: Mia Kirshner, Ben Savage, and Marilu Henner
Restaurant owner Christina (Kirshner) receives the results of a DNA test at the busiest time of the year. The results uncover that she is actually Jewish.
As the world around her celebrates, she uncovers the unexpected gifts of a new family and a romance.
Starring: Emma Roberts, Kristin Chenoweth, Luke Bracey, Andrew Bachelor, Jessica Capshaw, Manish Dayal, Alex Moffat, Jake Manley, Cynthy Wu, and Francis Fischer
A chance meeting of two strangers, Sloane (Roberts) and Jackson (Bracey), who hate the holidays because they are always the only ones to show up for holiday celebrations without dates or significant others. They feel awkward as the only singles.
One particularly bad Christmas, the two meet and decide to enter into a pact to be each other’s plus one for every festive season holiday and get together for the next year, with no strings attached. They are not dating, just escorting each other.
After a year of crazy celebrations, the two find themselves unexpectedly loving the very thing that brought them together more than expected.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Stuart, Anna Faris, and Chris Klein
In this hilarious romcom, a record executive (Reynolds) returns to his hometown with a major pop star (Faris) on his arm.
Things get complicated when he realizes he is still head-over-hills for his best friend Jamie (Smart). Chaos and hilarity follow as he tries to work out the dynamics of this relationship.
The Spirit of Christmas
Starring: Thomas Beaudoin, Jen Lilley, Kati Salowsky, Robert Walsh, and Brett Leigh
When a young lawyer (Lilley) is given three weeks to get a bed and breakfast sold, she discovers the place is haunted by a very old ghost who does not approve of his home being sold.
But her job depends on her getting the place sold within the three weeks. If she is going to keep her job, she will have to haggle with the ghost who comes back to life every year twelve days before Christmas.
The fact that he is super-hot (when alive) does not help. In her bid to set him free so that the bed and breakfast can be sold, she finds herself falling for him.
Will she be able to finally set him free and keep her job? Or will their mutual infatuation continue to keep him earth-bound?
Christmas on Ice
Starring: Abigail Klein, Ryan Cooper, Caroline Portu, Will Lyman, and Meara Mahoney Gross
When the city’s mayor (played by Lyman) announces that he will be closing down the public skating rink, former U.S. figure skating hopeful, Courtney Bennett (Klein) teams up with a professional hockey player, who is the owner of the new indoor skating center, and is a single dad, Noah Tremblay (Cooper) to change the mayor’s scrooge-like heart and save her beloved skating rink.
As they work together, they find they have more than just a passion for ice skating, as they fall for each other.
Once Upon a Main Street
Starring: Venessa Lachey, Ryan McPartlin, Patrick Duffy, and Polly Draper
When Amelia Lewis (Lachey) bids on an available storefront, her goal is to open a Christmas shop that is open all year. Her dream comes to a screeching halt when she learns that Vic Manning (McPartlin) also has a bid for that shop.
The seller, Elder Dubois (Duffy) lives in the next town over. He is not in the mood for arguments, people, or even Christmas. This is his first Christmas without his beloved wife. For many years he has been involved in the “Battle of the Main Street”, a competition for Christmas decorations. This year he is supposed to chair the competition.
In a bid to win his favor, Lewis and Manning agree to take over all his responsibilities for the competition.
The two bicker, fight, and constantly try to one-up each other but eventually learn to work together in the spirit of the holidays. Of course, there is a happy ending as they learn to cooperate, compromise, and find love in the process.
A Christmas Prince
Starring: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, and Sarah Douglas
A Christmas Prince is the first in a set of three movies. What could be more fairy tale like than falling in love with a real live prince during the holiday season?
An aspiring journalist is sent abroad to get the scoop on a prince. While doing research and interviewing the prince, the journalist gets more than what she was hoping for – MUCH more!
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
Starring: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Sarah Douglas, and Theo Devaney
The second movie in the A Christmas Prince series sees Amber getting the wedding jitters as she questions whether or not she is cut out to be a queen as she is forced to follow all the traditions and rules regarding royalty to plan her own wedding.
Love, drama, and suspense weave through this heartwarming tale.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby
Starring: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Honor Kneafsey, Billy Angel, and Crystal Yu
In the third instalment of this romantic series, King Richard and Queen Amber are preparing to welcome their first child into the world when a priceless artifact is stolen from inside the palace.
The artifact, a sacred peace treaty, must be found to save their family, the kingdom, and the citizens from an ancient curse.
The Ugly Truth
Starring: Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler
This is one of my favorite comedy movies. A news producer is forced to work with a ruggedly good looking self-proclaimed ‘love guru’ for the sake of news ratings.
The two enter a challenge of sorts. If he can help her secure a relationship using his unconventional means, he can stay on at the channel. Fail, and he has to quit and move on. But misadventure and love intervene, and the two find themselves in a situation neither saw coming.
This is not a family movie, but it is a great, lighthearted bit of fun, and is guaranteed to make you laugh.
The Princess Switch
When a baker and a princess (both played by Vanessa Hudgens) meet by chance they are struck by just how identical they look.
The two decide to have a little fun by exchanging lives for a while. What follows is a trail of hijinks and shenanigans as they try to pull off each other’s lives by fooling those around them who know ‘them’ best.
For the Whole Family
Starring: Barry Bostwick, Jennifer Stone, Devon Werkheiser, McKayla Witt, and Joshua Cody
Santa’s only daughter has been promised in an arranged marriage to the son of Jack Frost. She is also expected to take over the family business. Together, she and her promised husband are expected to unite the Frost and Christmas businesses.
She wants nothing to do with either. Instead, she secretly applies to a college and is accepted. Reluctantly, Santa agrees to allow her to attend one semester before she must return to the North Pole to marry and fulfill her obligations.
Santa hopes the one semester will help his daughter get the ‘real world’ experience out of her system, and let her see that she is destined for a better life in the North Pole than can be lived anywhere else or with anyone else.
Cassie Claus (Stone) and her trusted elf set off on an adventure that will affirm that she has a different outlook of the ‘real world’ than her father.
Pursued by two boys hoping to win her affection, she has to find a way to make her father understand that she cannot marry a complete stranger and that if she marries she wants to marry for love, not business.
Will she win the battles of business, family, and love?
Starring: Mario Lopez, AnnaLynne McCord, Paulina Chavez, and Marycarmen Lopez
Since his wife died during the Christmas season, David Morales (Lopez) struggles to overcome all the emotions and challenges of being a single dad to a teenager and being a high school principal.
To keep himself occupied and distracted from the painful memories, David moonlights as a delivery driver.
Hoping to help him find joy again, his sister (who lives with him and his daughter) and fourteen-year-old daughter play matchmaker.
They pair him with a beautiful musician who lives on his route and sparks fly.
Let It Snow
Starring: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, and Joan Cusack
When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town, a group of high school students find their friendships and love lives colliding.
This movie is lighthearted and a feel-good gem. Teen angst, love, friendship, and hope are portrayed beautifully by the fantastic cast. The storyline is based on the book by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson.
Teenagers will really enjoy this movie.
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kit Conner, Ewen Bremner, Warwick Davis, Stephen Graham
When Santa’s sleigh crashes, Santa gets the attention of the local police force. On the run from the police, Santa is forced to hide out in a backyard shed where he is soon discovered by a young boy.
The boy calls his father, who has just been paroled from a sentence regarding him being a getaway driver.
Santa is forced to ask the father and son to help him hide from the police and round up his reindeer so that he can do his rounds and ensure that Christmas is not ruined for everyone.
This delightful family comedy is full of British sarcasm and fun fails.
48 Christmas Wishes
Starring: Madeline Leon, Liam MacDonald, Clara Kushnir, Ethan Yang, and Elizabeth Ellsworth
When all the town’s letters to Santa are lost, it is up to two elves to leave the North Pole on a quest to locate all the missing letters before Christmas Eve. Chaos and hilarity ensue.
This fun film will have everyone laughing.
Starring: Amy Acker, David Haydn-Jones, Emma Duke, Patrick Creery, and Gina Holden
Having found a letter written to Santa by a seven-year-old girl who’s only wish for Christmas is a wife for her dad, a privileged young woman sets out to help make this wish come true.
As she gets to know the girl and the dad, the young woman starts to see the world from a different perspective and becomes more a part of this wish than she could ever have foreseen.
This is a sweet movie for the whole family to enjoy.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Pharrell Williams
The Grinch is a beautiful illustration of the famous book by Dr Seuss. The movie sticks closely to the book, telling the story of the Grinch, who hates Christmas and sets out to ruin Christmas for everyone in his town, only to find out that to the townsfolk Christmas is about more than gifts of meals, it is about being together, caring, and sharing.
When he tries to understand what it is about Christmas that makes people happy, he finds himself swept up in the spirit of community and is forever changed.
With the incredible cast, this is a lovely movie for the whole family to enjoy.
A Christmas Exchange
Starring: Laura Vandevoort and Rainbow Sun Francks
Molly Cooper (Vandervoort) is looking for joy, adventure, and love. She swaps her quaint farmhouse for London financier Patrick Kingston’s (Francks) posh, upmarket apartment.
The two exchange emails and phone calls and slowly begin to look forward to each other’s communications.
Living in each other’s private homes, they get to know each other through the small clues in their homes and find love where they least expected.
Starring: Margarita Allen, Andrea-Marie Alphonse, Selena-Marie Alphonse, La La Anthony, and Deon Cole
Widowed hip-hop radio DJ Rashon has been spoiling his four children ever since the death of his wife. When he loses his job right before Christmas, the family is forced to downsize their luxurious lifestyle.
Forced to move back in with Aunt Jo, in the home they lived in before Rush got famous, the family has to work through the humbling experience and learn to appreciate what they have.
When Rush and his producer Roxy fall in love, the kids have to learn to adapt to this new situation.
The family learns the meaning of Christmas lies in what you value most, not what you own, but who you have around you.
The Christmas Candle
Starring: Hans Matheson, Samantha Barks, Lesley Manville, Sylvester McCoy, James Cosmo, Susan Boyle, and Barbara Flynn
Old and new worlds collide in this movie when a progressive pastor, recovering from a recent loss, tries to get rid of a miracle-granting candle in his quaint English village. When the candle goes missing, what follows is a Christmas to remember.
A Welcome Home Christmas
Starring: Jana Kramer, Brandon Quinn, Tim Reid, Charlene Tilton, and Craig Morgan
An avid military supporter, Chloe (Kramer), is paired up with a newly returned home vet, Michael (Quinn), for the annual Christmas toy drive. Together they recruit other veterans and active military personnel to help with the drive.
While excitement builds as people look forward to the Officer’s Christmas Ball, where the kids will all get to meet Santa, Chloe and Michael realize they have received the best gift of all: time with each other.
Starring: Amber Stevens West, Marco Grazzini, and Cheryl Ladd
Ambitious reporter Charity (West) is assigned to profile a handsome bachelor. Erik Gallagher (Grazzini) insists that all the gifts he hands out every year really do come from Santa himself.
He organizes fund raising every year to help the less fortunate every Christmas; and he claims that his charity is funded by the generosity of Santa.
As she investigates him and gets to know him, she discovers the true meaning of Christmas as she investigates this much-loved bachelor and upstanding member of the town. In the end, she must decide whether to expose the source of his funding for Christmas or let the magic live on.
The Holiday Calendar
Starring: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, and Genelle Wiliams
A struggling and disillusioned photographer inherits an antique, magic advent calendar that her grandmother wanted her to have. But this is not an ordinary advent calendar. This calendar has the ability to predict her future.
From landing a dream job to landing a dream romance, the calendar brings back her joy and passion for her career and love life.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
Starring: Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, Jennifer Lewis, and Treat Williams
Right before Christmas, a wealthy, nasty woman returns to her quaint hometown following the death of her father to evict everyone so that she can sell the property to a developer who wants to build a mall on the site.
She is confronted with wonderful stories from the locals, meets up with an old flame, and finally has a glorious encounter with an actual angel. She is forever changed by the experience.
Lots of great music, a stellar cast, and a heartwarming storyline make this a wonderful movie.
With so many wonderful, heartwarming movies to choose from, there is bound to be a lot of gathering around Netflix with the family this year.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Mawlid el-Nabi, Solstice, Zarathosht, and Rohatu.
Enjoy this time with family and friends, and they should help you get into the spirit of Christmas. Just like many of the characters in these movies discover, the holidays are not about what you own, where you live, your age, spiritual beliefs, gifts, or your lifestyle. What matters is appreciating those around you.
Di-Anne Devenish Seebregts was raised in an environment where daily life consisted of hiking, environmental conservation, growing fruit and vegetables, and raising poultry for meat and eggs.
She combined her passion for the writing word with her love of the pride that comes with not relying on others. She raised three children (who are now adults) to value the environment, and understand the value of being self-sufficient.