6 Classic Holiday TV Specials the Whole Family Will Enjoy

(Image courtesy of United Features Syndicate)
The holiday season can mean many things to many people. However, when you’re a family person, it’s about spending plenty of quality time with loved ones of all ages. Sitting down together to enjoy your favorite holiday TV specials all over again is, of course, a must.
The following are just a few of the specials we personally can’t imagine our holidays without. We grew up loving them as kids, and our own children love them just as much today as we did then. Did your favorite make the list?
  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
These days, just about every major holiday comes attached to its own special featuring Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang. However, this was the very first one. This was also the very first Peanuts special to feature the very memorable Vince Guaraldi jazz theme that is still inseparably associated with Peanuts today.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the few holiday specials that revolves around Christian themes like the birth of Jesus and the journey of the Three Wise Men. It’s a perfect choice for Christian households, for that reason, although even secular families typically can’t imagine the season without it.
  1. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
If your family members are fans of Jim Henson and the Muppets, then the chances are excellent that this one is a must-watch in your home. The story is adapted from Russell Hoban’s children’s book of the same name (which was, in turn, based on O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi.)
Emmet Otter is also one of the most elaborately complicated Jim Henson productions ever, thanks to the inclusion of full sets, as well as tracking cameras. It would definitely set the stage for the full-scale Muppet feature films we’d come to know and love in the years to come.
  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Everyone knows the Johnny Marks Christmas carol of the same name. This Burl Ives-narrated stop motion classic is arguably just as popular, thanks to its lovable cast of characters and its collection of highly infectious songs, some of which have become holiday classics in their own right.
Sit down with your loved ones and introduce the next generation to this heartwarming tale all about being yourself and embracing the things that make you different. They’re sure to love it just as much, now, as you did when you were little.
(Image courtesy of Warner Bros.)
  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
While there’s definitely something to be said for Ron Howard’s spectacular 2000 adaptation of this, this animated feature does justice to the core themes of the original Seuss story on a completely different level. Grinch approaches the holiday connection to concepts like greed and materialism in a way that’s been resonating with viewers of all ages for decades now.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is also notable for featuring the voice talents of Boris Karloff himself, both as narrator and as the titular character. It also features the unforgettable Thurl Ravenscroft tune “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” And, how can you beat the classic hand-drawn animation of Chuck Jones?
  1. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970)
If you and your loved ones are fans of the stop-motion magic of Rudolph, you no doubt also have a soft spot in your heart for this animated special, as well. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town also features the voice talents of Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney (who plays the lovable Kris Kringle).
Like many Rankin/Bass productions, Santa Claus also features a well-developed cast of characters that are impossible to forget. They include one of the most memorable Rankin/Bass villains, the sour Burgermeister Meisterburger, portrayed by the talented Paul Frees.
(Image courtesy of NBC Universal)
  1. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Here we have another must-see in the Rankin/Bass special series. However, instead of the stop- motion animation and elaborate puppetry we’re used to from its sister specials, we get to partake in hand-drawn animation.
Frosty is noteworthy for being the career highlight of comic Jackie Vernon who voiced the title character, as it’s what he’s best remembered for to this day. This unforgettable special is also memorable for Jimmy Durante’s narration, as well as his performance of the theme song.
Of course, these are only a few of the classic television specials that it simply wouldn’t be the holidays without. Which ones have permanent spots on your family’s watch list?