8 Holiday Movies to Get You in the Festive Spirit

Between the last-minute gift shopping, tree trimming and holiday baking, many of us will delight in the time we spend on the couch with family and friends watching holiday movies.

Grab the hot chocolate and sugar cookies as we share our top picks for the holiday that will entertain you while you’re cozying up in warmth of your living room fire.

Elf

Perfect for the big kid in all of us, this classic finds a man mistakenly raised as one of Santa’s elves in the North Pole searching for his real identity in the Big Apple. From singing to dancing and Will Ferrell’s amiable goofiness at the reins of this holiday gem, it’s one the whole family will love.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

As the first of nearly 50 Peanuts TV specials and longest-running cartoon in history since its debut in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the ultimate family classic. With hopes to fend off the commercialism of the season, Charlie Brown sets out to find the true meaning of Christmas. It remains a film of great significance, especially in this technology-centric age.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Well, hot dog! Christmas isn’t complete without watching Frank Capra’s parable of small-town life, parallel universes, and redemption. Chock-full of tremendous lessons, this evergreen classic starring James Stewart and Donna Reed touches on true love, family and the morals and practicalities of life, while pointing to the divine purpose we serve for one another. In the words of Clarence, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Love, Actually

Considered an adult rom-com, this schmaltzy Christmas film is perfect to watch over the holidays with girlfriends because it is incredibly impossible to turn off. With the multiple stories (10 to be exact!) between kids, family and friends, there’s something for everyone. From cutesy comedy to heartbreaking romance, the film is a festive heart-warmer.

A Very Murray Christmas

This Netflix holiday musical directed by Sofia Coppola finds amazing human being Bill Murray worrying that no one will show up to his TV show due to a terrible snow storm in NYC. With celebrities like George Clooney, Chris Rock and Amy Poehler  lending their support, audiences are in for a real treat seeing Murray as his lovable and fun self go from cranky to snapping into the holiday spirit.

The Holiday

When was the last time you swapped houses and came across such catching gentlemen like Jude Law or Jack Black? Yeah, we thought not — but a girl can dream! In this holiday film, two women decide to exchange homes and find romance in their travels after hard breakups. With light laughs, this Nancy Meyers rom-com adds a pleasant dose of holiday cheer.

Meet Me in St. Louis

Though this Vincente Minelli musical covers a year in the life of the Smith family, the hardships they face arrive during Christmas. The holiday is a central device, and the film resonates with audiences as many face changes during the season. A beautiful moment comes from Judy Garland when she uses the power of song to tell her younger sister to, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s not a stretch to say this gem is regarded as the perfect comedy with all the Christmas trimmings. Lots of things go wrong during the holidays for a many of us, but never as much as they do for Clark Griswold. Somewhere between joy and nightmares, the third installment of the Lampoon franchise explores the festive problems we face during the holidays — especially with relatives.

What are some of your favorite festive movies to get you in the holiday spirit? Share with us in the comments below.

 

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Filed under: Film & Television, Holidays, Movies

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Travel Guide: Christmas in New York

The holiday season transforms some places into magical winter wonderlands. One of those places is the city of New York. We’ve all seen it in movies — snow falling on Central Park, the glow of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center — the only question is how to make the most of your time.

To help you get into the swing of things, I took the plunge and spent a few days in the most lavish city in the world to tell you first hand what to do, no matter what your taste.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Snow White Christmas windows dazzle holiday shoppers [Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue]

For the sightseer… Festive Decor

For those who love to walk around the city and take in the sights, the number one thing to see is the famous Christmas windows that many New York retailers put together this time of year. For many retailers, the windows are about showcasing some of their top brands, from Louis Vuitton to Armani, in festive scenes, but for others the windows are an excuse to showcase the boundless creativity of some of the city’s talent.

This year, Saks 5th Avenue and Macy’s went all out. Saks’ Snow White themed windows for the 80th anniversary of the Disney movie fuse child-like wonder with high fashion, while the windows at Macy’s flagship Herald Square location bring to life miniaturized versions of New York cityscapes populated by animals like polar bears and mice. Be sure to bring your camera and head down early to beat the crowds!

For the shopper… Christmas Markets

For those itching to spend some of their hard-earned cash, the city sports several outdoor holiday markets with retailers pawning their wares from jewelry to clothes to Christmas decorations and books. The markets are a great place to grab a hot chocolate or apple cider, wander around, and get your Christmas shopping done early. There are markets all over the city from Grand Central Station to Times Square, to Bryant Park and Columbus Circle. The best of them, for me, was the Union Square Holiday Market which had the greatest variety of retailers and just embraced the festive nature of the season. Be sure to check those out for all your festive gift-giving needs!

For the showgoer… Broadway Shows

With the introduction of Tony-Winning shows like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts, but scoring tickets for those shows can be tough, especially if you don’t plan months in advance. However, there are plenty of other great shows that you can check out if you still want to take one in.

For music lovers, six-time Grammy-nominee Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics for Waitress, based on the ’80s film about a woman who escapes the harsh reality of an abusive marriage through her love of baking. The musical currently stars Grammy winner Jason Mraz in the role of Dr. Pomatter. Bareilles will also rejoin the production  beginning in January in the starring role of Jenna Hunterson.

Those who appreciate great music will also love The Band’s Visit based on the 2007 film of the same name. The story follows the Egyptian Police Orchestra after they get stranded in the small Israeli town of Bet Hatikva overnight. The show stars Tony Shaloub (Monk) and Katrina Lenk, but the whole cast does an incredible job bringing the subtleties of the music and the humanity of the story to life. A definite Tony contender for this season.

For a show that even a true-blue New Yorker would love, check out the hit Come From Away, which is based on the events of 9/11, where 38 planes were diverted to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. The music will give you chills and the story will make you laugh and cry and, truly, what more could you ask for from a great night out at the theater?

Union Square’s Holiday Market is picturesque at night and perfect for holiday shopping. [Credit: Lauren Romano, The Stylish City]

For the foodie… Sweet Treats

Since you’ll undoubtedly be burning a lot of calories walking around the city, the best way to keep your blood sugar levels up is to stop for a sweet treat. This time of year, many of the city’s cafes and bakeries whip up festive goods that you can’t get year round.

In the theater district, Schmackary’s  is known for it’s big and bold cookie flavours from the sprinkle-laden “Funfetti” to the classics like chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal. Juniors, a restaurant near Time Square, is always busy but serves up delicious desserts and is known for their delicious spins on New York’s classic cheesecake.

For those looking for something fancier, Dana’s Bakery, which is tucked into an indoor food market down on 14th Street, serves up macarons in an array of flavors ranging from champagne to birthday cake. If you’re looking for sweet souvenir, New York’s famous Dylan’s Candy Bar can be found at 60th and 3rd and features two levels of sugary glory for your sweet tooth with their chocolate bars, bulk candies, and other treats.

With so much to see and do in the city at this time of year, the hardest part will be deciding what to do with your limited time. Hopefully a few of my highlights will help inspire you and help you make the most of your time in the Big Apple during the holiday season.

Are you a sightseer, shopper, showgoer, or foodie when you travel? What are your favorite places in the city at this time of year? Let us know in the comments below!

Filed under: Arts, Attractions, Events, Food, Holidays, Life & Style, Theater, Travel, Travel Guide

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