The Best Christmas Stories – Novels, Films and Picture Books

My favourite part of Christmas is the anticipation. Hoping for snowy days, smelling cookies in the oven, imagining people’s faces when they receive your gifts! In my opinion, traditions are key for this anticipation–remembering the events of the past and thinking about them continuing to occur, come what may. Traditions are our stories, and they make us feel grounded and safe.

In my family, stories are an important part of winter! From the much-loved picture books we’ve loved since I can remember, to some cute romcoms and wintery literature, here are a few of my favourite Christmas stories!

Please share your favourite festive stories with me in the comments!

White Christmas (1954, Film)

51p0oFR+pQL._SY445_The classic Christmas film with songs, dancing, and so many layers of comedy that I’m still finding new jokes on what must be at least my twelveth year watching it. A story of two war veterans, Bob and Phil, that become a singing sensation, filling up the seats of every concert. There’s just one problem, Phil thinks showbusiness has gone to Bob’s head and wants 45 minutes a week to himself. To achieve this lofty dream he hatches an elaborate plan to hook Bob up with a girl, taking them both to Vermont to perform a show with a sister act, Betty and Judy. The problems: Bob’s having none of it, the inn they’re staying at is about to go out of business, and there’s no snow.

Why it’s special to me: Good characters, good acting, good songs, and some nice drama. There may not be any plot twists or extreme character arcs, but it’s cute, funny and it has a very good ending. Also, as far as I’m concerned, my sister and I make the perfect Betty and Judy–singing their song Sisters is just too fun.

Christmas Tree Memories (Picture book)

51713M7M7NL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_A little-known, beautifully illustrated book about a family who spends every Christmas evening remembering the story of each of the ornaments on their tree. From the stained-glass cookies the mice tried to eat in kindergarten to the pine cone figures made with Grandma the year they got snowed in, each one is special and unique.

Why it’s special to me: There is no drama, no epic climax, no character arcs, but to me, it embodies exactly what Christmas should be: spending time with your family and just appreciating the lights on the tree, the cat asleep on the chair, and the platter of snickerdoodles.

Let it Snow (Novel)

9780141349176John Green wrote a Christmas short story! The novel is made up of three short stories written by three different authors, wound together to create one big story of a town where three romances blossom. Each story has multiple links to the others: telling the tales of Jubilee who’s sent to her Grandparents’ house after her parents are caught in a riot, Tobin and his friends who start a hell-bent race through a snowstorm to deliver the game Twister, and Addie who’s trying to make it up to her boyfriend and her friends after some stuck-up actions.

Why it’s special to me: My mum gave me this book as a Christmas present a few years ago. It’s the ideal light-hearted wintery romance in my opinion: cute, clever, and funny. It’s also very satisfying just how well the three tales intertwine.

The Family Stone (Film)

pboxA modern holiday tale, the unique Stone family get together every year, dragging along any partners and children they’ve acquired. But this year is different because no one likes Everett’s new girlfriend, who has issues keeping her mouth closed. In this comedic tangle of accidents, mix-ups, and family troubles, you’re left feeling that whilst things may never be perfect, family is family and it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few tears.

Why it’s special to me: My parents have watched this every year for a very long time. It was only in the last several years that I was permitted to join them, and goodness–touching, funny, and mildly heartbreaking, I plan to continue watching it every year for as long as possible. I also hope that in ten years or so, we’ll end up with our own family Stone Christmas, and filling my parents’ house to the brim with holiday chaos. Basically, I consider this film #familygoals.

The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler’s Sons (Picture book)

51FWQAPNE1L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In this traditional Tyrolean folktale, the poor cobbler and his sons are faced with their worst Christmas yet. No food and only thin blankets from warmth, the sons wait for their father to return from a trip when there’s a mysterious knock at the door. Could this miserable man possibly be the legendary goblin king who brings magic to one hut each year?

Why it’s special to me: We’ve owned this picture book for as long as I can remember. I used to make my mum read it to me and my siblings before I learned how to read. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a funny folktale, reminding us that even the Scrooges of the world can have a kind heart.

 

There are so many other stories I could have included in this list: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the 1964 Christmas stop-motion animated television special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, to name a few. We seem to keep adding more each year, too… But I love them all.

What are your favourite Christmassy stories? Tell me in the comments!

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