Top 10 Christmas Specials

By Daniel Levine,

Christmastime is here, which means that a marathon of Christmas specials is usually required in most families. Here’s a top ten list of some great Christmas specials that will really put you in the holiday spirit.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
The string of classic Peanuts specials started with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Even though it was first aired back in 1965, ABC still airs it simply because it's a classic. For every holiday, there’s a Charlie Brown special, because Charles Schultz was just so good at presenting the world through a child’s eye with that great humor.

2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Let’s just forget the movie ever existed and remember Chuck Jones’ masterpiece. From Boris Karloff’s incredible narration to that song, it's a great piece of animation. Dr. Seuss’ work never looked so good outside of a book as it does here. The genius of it is that it's only 26 minutes long, meaning that you just get Seuss’ story, no embellishments or unnecessary additions.

3. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Rankin/Bass animation house were the masters of animated Christmas specials and all that started with Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. There’s something special and organic about the stop-motion special, which looks more like an animated story book than anything else. What I love about it is that it's based on a three-minute song (if that), but even with a 45-minute length, it still enchants. It gets everything right.

4. Frosty The Snowman
That song! It’s all about the song, plus the wonderful story and animation. It’s amazing how the first four on this list were all produced in the 1960s and yet we still watch them every year. They are all timeless pieces that can never grow old.

5. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney in the same special. How awesome is that? Of course, when you’re a kid, you really have no idea how cool that is, but you get wrapped up in the great story.

6. The Year Without A Santa Claus
Yeah, Rankin/Bass had a monopoly on specials! The sequel, which brought back Mickey Rooney to voice Santa, deals with the horrors of a world without Santa.

7. Twas The Night Before Christmas
This one features Joel Grey, best known for his work in Cabaret. It’s based on the classic poem by Clement Clarke Moore called “A Visit From St. Nicholas.”

8. A Chipmunk Christmas
You know...from the good old days, when Alvin and the Chipmunks were hand drawn. It featured their classic, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late),” which you can hear right here.

9. Frosty Returns
This one isn’t actually a sequel to the classic, since it was made by a different production company, but someone had to let Frosty return. This time, Frosty is voiced by John Goodman, along with Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss as Holly!

10. Jack Frost
Yes, that’s The Love Bug’s Buddy Hackett as the narrator. It’s another classic stop-motion special, telling the story of Jack Frost, who becomes human after falling in love.

Also, the worst holiday special award always goes to the Star Wars Holiday Special. You never want to see how the Wookies celebrate Life Day...ever.

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