As the holiday season rolls around, we invest a ton of time getting ready for the meals and gifts – but why not get your must-see movies prepared as well?  There’s no point in waiting til the last minute to find your favorite festive flick – only to discover it’s missing from the DVD sleeve or already rented.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest films for the holiday season so you can avoid the aggravation and disappointment (you will feel so organized and prepared!)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947, 1994) – Whether you pick the old classic featuring Maureen O’Hara or the rebooted version starring Elizabeth Perkins, you will love the tale of a six-year-old girl who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus until she meets a man who just might be the real thing.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – The holidays can be a rough time for many and George Bailey is no exception.  As he prepares to end his life, his guardian angel enters the picture and shows him how much of an impact he’s made, for the good, in his community – but will it be enough to stop George from committing suicide?

A Christmas Story (1983) – Over the years, so many scenes from this delightful film have become woven into the fabric of the holiday season. Relive little Ralphie Parker begging for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (who can resist saying “you’ll shoot your eye out”?), his friend getting his tongue stuck to a flag pole, his brother’s unfortunate snowsuit and that incredibly womanly lamp.

Home Alone (1990) – Vacations can be as stressful as they are rewarding, especially with kids.  There’s so much to remember and, sometimes, we can forget something – even a child.  When his family rushes off to catch their flight to France, eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left behind and, not only must learn to fend for himself, but must also find a way to protect his home from ruthless burglars.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – We’ve followed the Griswolds on their eventful trip to Wally World and disastrous trip to Europe, it’s only natural that they invite us into their homes for the holidays.  Viewers will be more than able to relate to the emotional and financial strain that can come from having house guests, finding the perfect Christmas tree and the unexpected.

Jingle All the Way (1996) – We’ve all done it.  Our children rarely fail to let us know exactly what is on their holiday wish list and, despite this information, we get busy, leave our shopping for last-minute and then discover that the must-have toy of the season is all sold-out.  One man, however, will stop at nothing to make his son’s wish come true on Christmas Eve – but it won’t be easy.

Gremlins (1984) – Looking for something less cheerful?  This dark comedy underscores the dark side of Christmas from rich bullies, lost loved ones and the distance to which we will go to try to find the perfect gift.  After a legion of evil creatures is unleashed on a small, unsuspecting town, one family learns the consequences of not following rules.

Elf (2003) – Every year, so many holiday movies are released but very few actually find a place among the classics but Elf is one of those examples.  It follows the story of a human who was raised in the North Pole and, after learning that he is not one of the elves, sets out to find his biological father in New York City.  He learns very quickly that things are very different from how he was raised but he’s determined to win over his new family and remind the world about the magic of believing in Santa Claus.

A Christmas Carol – There are so many versions of this classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy man who fails to see how his lack of compassion and kindness truly affects the lives of those around him.  To help open his eyes, the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future give him a sobering glimpse of the consequences of his actions.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – So sweet, so classic and still remarkably relevant, this holiday special is a great choice for families and can lead to some excellent discussions. Charlie Brown is disheartened by the materialism and commercialism he sees in the world around him during the holiday season. After taking on the role of director of the school Christmas pageant and finding the perfect tree leaves him frustrated, he relies on the support of a friend to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Imagine if the North Pole was real and there were truly geographical regions associated with each holiday.  Would they know that the others existed?  When Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, he doesn’t know what to make of it. He loves the cheer and novelty so much that he tries to bring Christmas to his kingdom but things end up going horribly wrong.

Polar Express (2004) – A young boy struggles with his doubts but, on Christmas Eve, boards a magical train to the North Pole.  Along the way, he embarks on an adventurous journey that teaches him that it’s never too late to believe.