Time to talk about getting your Christmas entertainment sorted. In this post I’m going to be talking about the best Christmas animations.
I have already posted about British Christmas TV specials, catch up here. Today, I’m going to focus on not films, but animated shorts, from the UK and the USA. These are the Christmas classics. They are on TV every year, right in prime time Christmas scheduling and for good reason.
You watch these as a child and you are hooked, they are Christmas traditions. Forever linked to that warm fuzzy feeling that the festive season brings. If you are like me you probably have all these in your DVD collection or saved on your planner so they are at your disposal year round for Christmas merriment at a moment’s notice. If you have not got the complete collection below, you are missing out on some Christmas treats, seek them out now. They are all super cheap buys and also perfect to have to hand to pop on for all ages to watch and enjoy in that post Christmas dinner lethargy.
So here is my list of the Best Christmas Animations:
First shown Christmas Eve 1991, this animated short combines two Raymond Brigg’s books, Father Christmas and Father Christmas goes on holiday. This is my favourite Christmas animation. I could watch this every day and be very happy. One of the reasons for that is that it’s not too cute. This is Father Christmas as you have never seen him before, an animated year in the life of Santa. Being recognised everywhere you go, daily chores and delivering gifts all around the world in the middle of winter. Grumpy but lovable, Father Christmas recounts a holiday and we follow him as he tries out various locations before having a fantastic time in Las Vegas. He then returns home and we see him getting ready for and then delivering his gifts on Christmas Eve. He drinks, gambles, eats and says blooming A LOT.
Favourite quote: “here’s to another blooming Christmas”
This is so charming, in a very British way, you need to watch this. Make sure that you get the UK version with the brilliant Mel Smith doing the voice over; the US version is heavily edited. You can often buy it in a double bill along with my next choice….
Also based on a book by Raymond Briggs, this is actually earlier, from Boxing Day 1982. It has no dialogue, only beautiful music and the iconic Walking in the Air theme song. It tells the story of James and the Christmas that he builds a snowman, who comes to life.
With the snowman James explores his house and then they fly together over a winter landscape across the world to a snowman party where they meet Father Christmas. Calm and beautiful, this is great to have on in the background to any festive activity. Watch out for the tear-jerking ending! If you like this, there is also a sequel: The Snowman and the Snowdog.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
My first best Christmas animation pick from across the pond and it’s a USA family favourite from 1965. Charlie Brown is depressed about not being in the Christmas spirit (I’m not going to analyse why I like the ones with slightly grumpy characters best!) But with the help of his buddy Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang they all discover and embrace the real meaning of Christmas and celebrate together with a real tree.
Like in the Good Life Christmas special from the 1970’s Charlie Brown is concerned about the commercialisation of Christmas – apparently it’s not the new phenomenon that everyone would have us believe. As well as the iconic Christmas time is here, the music also features one of my favourite carols over the end scene, Hark the Herald angels Sing.
Mickey’s Once upon a Christmas
Of course, Disney’s big cheese and number one Mouse is in on the Christmas animation action. I actually have The Ultimate Mickey Mouse Christmas movie collection; which features Mickeys magical Christmas, Mickey’s once upon a Christmas and Mickey’s twice upon a Christmas. Each one is a small collection of Christmas themed cartoons. They are all excellent, but Mickey’s once upon a Christmas is my best Christmas animation pick and the most traditional of the three.
It features three separate segments:
> Donald Duck stuck on Christmas – I’m a complete sucker for anything where people get to relive Christmas every day. Throw in Donald Duck and Huey, Dewie and Louie and I’m there. Huey, Dewie and Louie wish that it could be Christmas every day and their wish comes true. This short follows them as they learn how that would play out in reality and what having the perfect Christmas should really be all about.
> A Very Goofy Christmas – Max doubts the existence of Santa Claus and Goofy is determined to prove to Max that he couldn’t be more wrong. Several Christmas disasters later, guess what, it all turns out just right, which is fine by me. If more proof were needed, my mum said that if you don’t believe, Santa doesn’t come. I still believe, hear the bells and he always leaves me a stocking, even now.
> Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of the Magi – Mickey and Minnie furiously spend Christmas Eve each trying to earn enough money to show the other just how much they care. But each ends up having to give up their most prized possession in order to be able to afford it. The presents that they give each other turn out to be useless to them, but as we all know, it’s the thought that counts. The film ends on a rousing selection of Christmas Carols, fabulous.
Best Christmas Animation Movie Spin-off’s
There are three up next that I have grouped together. They are all about 25 minutes long and are spin offs from the popular film franchises of the same name. We are also on familiar ground here story wise. All sticking rigidly to the Christmas is saved by plucky main characters formula. That doesn’t mean that they are not great additions to your Christmas animation collection though. They all have their own special moments, jokes and song’s that means they still get an annual outing for me.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Shrek the Halls
Note: also worth seeking out are The Penguins of Madagascar Christmas episodes from the series of the same name.
OK, maybe controversially, I’m also including the following in my best Christmas animations picks. Agree or not, there are intrinsically linked to Christmas TV for me. They are more British Christmas staples, on every year, watch them and you will see why:
Wallace and Gromit – Stop motion clay animation at its absolute finest. I doubt there is any Brit reading this who has not seen these. But I would definitely recommend checking them out if you have not heard of these beautifully made animations. I have the complete collection and they all get an annual outing.
The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man – The success of the Raymond Briggs Christmas animations above has led to a lovely situation. Now, here in the UK we have come to expect a new animation to be commissioned and released every year. They are not always heavily Christmassy, if at all. But they are always wonderfully made and stuffed with visual treats and famous voices. The Gruffalo, The Gruffalos Child and Stick Man based on the children’s books by Julia Donaldson are three of the best.
Where is How the Grinch stole Christmas? Sorry any readers from the US, but this is not really a big thing in the UK. <Takes cover under desk from the indignation> Very rarely can you find it on at Christmas time in Britain outside pay per view services. I’m sorry, that is just the way it is.
That’s it for today, I really hope you enjoyed this post.
Other posts like this: British TV Christmas Comedy Specials.
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You can also read about my picks of 2019 Christmas TV here.