At the heart of the Christmas story is an invitation. An invitation to come and encounter the birth of God in the form of a baby. Christmas is the time of year when we are once again in awe of the fact that God came to earth. That is worth an invitation. It’s not too late to extend an invitation to your students and their friends to come and enjoy a shared Christmas experience while watching some holiday classics. Not only is this a great way to simply spend time with your students, but these movies have a surprising way of offering conversation that can be helpful during the Christmas season. Consider throwing a last-minute Christmas party complete with good food, good friends and a fire-side chats.
Each movie on this list will have a very sophisticated ranking system using candy canes.
1 candy canes=coal in the stocking 2 candy canes = your grandma’s fruitcake 3 candy canes = a mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows 4 candy canes = a present under the tree looking like something on your list 5 candy canes = snow on Christmas day
A Charlie Brown Christmas
This timeless cartoon has been shown on television, to the joy of audiences of all ages, for years. Charlie, Snoopy, Linus and the gang wrestle with the true meaning of Christmas. In a culture where the Christmas season gets hijacked by commercialism and business, this animated film can help center our hearts on Jesus once again.
Run Time: 25 minutes
Ranking: 4 candy canes
Fire-side chats: Talk with your students about how this season can be a time when people everywhere begin to ask the deeper questions of faith. Why is it so easy for us to get wrapped up in all the tinsel and lights and forget about God coming to us in the flesh?
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Disney and Jim Henson bring to life the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Complete with all our favorite Muppets, from Kermit to Fozzy Bear, this movie has some of the best musical numbers and funny moments. As scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, we are reminded once again our lives are not defined by finances and fame, but by the way we treat people. That is where true joy is found.
Run Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Ranking: 3 candy canes
Fire-side chats: Talk with your students about the need for our perspectives to shift on life from time to time, just like Ebenezer Scrooge. Where have we become blind to the importance of people in our lives and the need to love them well?
Will Ferrell dressed up as an elf in New York city should be enough to sell this instant classic. This story follows Buddy the elf as he leaves the North Pole in search of his dad who leaves in a magical land called “New York City”. After being adopted and raised with elves in Santa’s workshop, Buddy wants to discover where he comes from and who he really is. Buddy’s child-like faith is infectious throughout his journey and he helps people restore the joy of Christmas to their lives.
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
Ranking: 5 candy canes
Fire–sidechats: Talk with your students about how their faith can impact people around them if they are willing to just be who they are. What would change in the world around us if more people believed that, through Jesus, God can redeem everything and everyone?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey)
In a magical land called Whoville there live the Who’s. They love Christmas and everything that comes along with it. Not far from Whoville lives the Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, who hates Christmas and all that it entails. Through meeting a little who-girl named Cindy Lou Who and stealing all the presents from Whoville on Christmas night, the Grinch comes to realize that Christmas is not something you buy or cover in wrapping paper. The Grinch’s heart is transformed as he discovers Christmas is actually about embracing the simple joys of love and relationship.
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Ranking: 4 candy canes
Fire-side chats: Talk to your students about how many have become cynical about the Christmas season because of all the fanfare that comes along with it. Instead of being a Grinch, what would happen if we all focused again on the joy of the season found in God coming close?
Jingle All the Way
All you need to know is that this movie is the typical tale of a work-a-holic father who tries to save his relationship with his neglected son and wife during the holidays… oh yea and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Something about being a super hero… yada, yada. The end.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Ranking: 2 candy canes
Fire-side chats: Talk to your students about the importance of investing in family. What part can each of us to play in having a healthy family?
Trevor Miller is a graduate of Columbia International University where he earned his degrees in youth ministry, outdoor leadership and Bible. He has a background working in student ministry and currently serves as the Pastor of Men’s and Young Adult Ministries for Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC. Trevor has a passion for creatively communicating the transforming power of the gospel. He and his wife, Jenna, currently reside in Lexington with their 2 boys, Eli and Owen.