En español | Christmas carols on the radio, holiday shopping lists … and Netflix? Yes, Netflix! The streaming giant's slate of original holiday content runs the gamut from romantic comedies to family fantasy films, with a Dolly Parton musical and even a swingin’ variety show thrown under the tree for good measure. Get in the holiday spirit with these 12 terrific Netflix Christmas movies!
A Castle for Christmas (2021)
The plot: In this yuletide romantic comedy, best-selling American author Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields, 56) runs off to Scotland to escape a scandal. And once there, she falls head over heels in love — with a castle. When she tries to buy the estate (the real-life Dalmeny House, a Gothic revival mansion built outside of Edinburgh in 1817), she quickly comes into conflict with its owner, the grouchy Duke Myles (Cary Elwes, 58), who doesn’t want to sell it to a foreigner.
Stream if … you had to cancel a trip to Europe this year, and the next best thing is watching your ’80s crush gallivant around gorgeous Scottish backdrops.
Watch it: A Castle for Christmas
Single All the Way (2021)
The plot: Last winter, the Hallmark Channel debuted its first LGBTQ holiday movie, and Netflix is getting in the game this December. Peter (Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie) is sick of his family constantly nagging him for being single, so he convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to come home for the holidays to pose as his boyfriend for his parents, played by Kathy Najimy, 64, and Barry Bostwick, 76. But the plan begins to fall apart once Peter finds out that his mother has set him up on a blind date with her eligible-bachelor trainer (Luke Macfarlane from the ABC series Brothers & Sisters).
Stream if … you love Jennifer Coolidge, 60, as much as we do. She stars as Aunt Sandy, who is responsible for writing and directing the sure-to-be-hilarious town Christmas pageant.
Watch it: Single All the Way
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Love Hard (2021)
The plot: In this very 21st-century romantic comedy, L.A. journalist Natalie (The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev) matches with her dream guy, Tag (Darren Barnet from Netflix's Never Have I Ever), on a dating app. And on a whim, she decides to travel across the country to meet him. Upon arrival, she learns that she’s been catfished by Tag’s childhood friend Josh (Silicon Valley’s Jimmy O. Yang). He agrees to set them up on one condition: Natalie has to pretend to be Josh’s girlfriend over the holidays.
Stream if … you, too, need a date for Christmas.
Watch it: Love Hard
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A Boy Called Christmas (2021)
The plot: Billed as a Santa Claus origin story, this lush fantasy film follows the young Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) as he sets out on a snowy adventure with a reindeer and his pet mouse (voiced by Stephen Merchant from the British Office). He’s searching for his father, who is himself on a journey to discover a fabled elf village called Elfhelm. Filmed across Europe, including Finnish Lapland, the movie stars an incredible ensemble that includes Oscar winners Jim Broadbent, 72, and Maggie Smith, 86, plus nominees Kristen Wiig and Sally Hawkins.
Stream if … you and your grandkids have worn out the Polar Express DVD and need a new wintry classic to watch together.
Watch it: A Boy Called Christmas
Waffles + Mochi: Holiday Feast (2021)
The plot: Let’s get this out of the way first: You’re probably not the target audience for this delightful children’s cooking show, costarring Michelle Obama (57) and produced by the former first couple. But if you’ve got grandkids, they are! The 10-part series premiered this March and follows two puppets — one a half-yeti/half-frozen waffle, one a strawberry mochi — who move from the Land of Frozen Food and get a job at a supermarket owned by “Mrs. O.” Each episode, they go on adventures in their flying shopping cart to meet kids and celebrity chefs from around the world to learn about new ingredients. This November, the gang returns for a new special, in which they celebrate the made-up Freezie Day, learn about holiday traditions and jet (or ... cart?) off to Norway and Hawaii.
Stream if … your favorite part of the holiday is the roast goose or the gingerbread house or the fruitcake or ...
Watch it: Waffles + Mochi: Holiday Feast
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Father Christmas Is Back (2021)
The plot: In this very British comedy, the four Christmas daughters — type-A Caroline (Nathalie Cox), fashion editor Joanna (Elizabeth Hurley, 56), man-eating Vicky (Talulah Riley) and bookish Paulina (Naomi Frederick) — gather for the holidays at their family’s mansion in Yorkshire, when an unexpected guest arrives: James (Kelsey Grammer, 66), the father who walked out on them many Christmases ago. As an added bonus, John Cleese, 82, costars as their Uncle John.
Stream if … you need proof that your family isn’t the only one that gets a little shouty over the holidays. (Rich British families: They’re just like us!)
Watch it: Father Christmas Is Back
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Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square (2020)
The plot: Dolly's generosity made headlines this year when her $1 million donation helped fund a COVID-19 vaccine. Consider her the 2020 gift that keeps on giving: The Queen of Country's latest offering is this campy musical, directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen, 71. Parton, 75, stars as a homeless angel who tries to convince the Scrooge-like Regina Fuller (Christine Baranski, 69) not to sell her hometown's land to a mall developer. Black-ish matriarch Jenifer Lewis, 64, costars as the beauty shop owner, Margeline.
Stream if … you think A Christmas Carol could use a few more rhinestones.
Watch it: Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
The plot: In this lush period musical with songs by John Legend and others, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, 59, stars as a toymaker named Jeronicus Jangle who is betrayed when his apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan Michael-Key, 50), steals the plans for his talking, singing matador doll called Don Juan Diego (voiced by Ricky Martin, who turns 50 on Christmas Eve this year). Populating this musical village are Downton Abbey patriarch Hugh Bonneville, 58, and Broadway's Anika Noni Rose, but you're sure to fall in love with 11-year-old breakout Madalen Mills, who plays Jeronicus’ spunky granddaughter.
Stream if … you could go for a toe-tapping new musical to sing along to after a tough year.
Watch it: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Holiday Rush (2019)
The plot: A Million Little Things actor Romany Malco, 53, stars as widowed DJ Rashon “Rush” Williams, who loses his job when his station changes format. He and his producer, Roxy (Star Trek: Discovery's Sonequa Martin-Green), buy the old station where they used to work, and sparks begin to fly one holiday season. In a fun twist, Rush and his kids are forced to move in with his Auntie Jo, played by none other than Darlene Love, 80, the vocal legend behind 1963's “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).”
Watch if … you've worn out your copy of A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector and want to hear Love blow the roof off the joint with a classic.
Watch it: Holiday Rush
Holiday in the Wild (2019)
The plot: When her husband abruptly ends their marriage, Kate Conrad (Sex and the City star Kristin Davis, 56) decides to spend her holidays alone on the second honeymoon they had planned to take together to Zambia. Once there, she meets charismatic pilot Derek Hollistan (Rob Lowe, 57) — and, perhaps more importantly, a baby elephant whose mother has been killed by poachers. It doesn't take long to start imagining the trio posing for next year's family Christmas card.
Stream if … you think no Nativity scene is complete without a few safari animals thrown in for good measure.
Watch it: Holiday in the Wild
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
The plot: If you still think of Kurt Russell, 70, as a teen Disney star or a 1980s heartthrob, it may take a few seconds to adjust to his bushy white beard and red suit. But he makes a mighty fine Santa in this fantasy film coproduced by Home Alone director Chris Columbus, 63, about two kids who stow away on his sleigh. Goldie Hawn, 76, had a cameo as Mrs. Claus in the 2018 original and shows up in a much bigger way in the sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2 (released Thanksgiving Weekend 2020). It's the perfect lightweight entertainment — complete with animated elves — for a multigenerational watch party.
Stream if … you're in the mood to pour yourself some mulled wine and hang out with Hollywood's coolest power couple for a few hours.
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
The plot: It helps to have talented friends. In this irreverent homage to Christmas variety specials, Bill Murray, 71, teams up with Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola and musical director Paul Shaffer, who turns 72 on Nov. 28. It's Christmas Eve, and Murray is waiting in his suite at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel as an impending blizzard threatens to cancel his show. As he wanders the halls of the hotel and its iconic Bemelmans Bar, he performs classic and contemporary carols with the likes of Chris Rock, 56, George Clooney, 60, Miley Cyrus and Maya Rudolph.
Stream if … you miss singing carols around the piano with friends after a few too many eggnogs.
Watch it: A Very Murray Christmas
Nicholas DeRenzo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and travel. Previously he was executive editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset and New York magazine.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Dec. 7, 2020. It has been updated with new movies to watch and links where you can stream them.