Iconic Christmas Films

Everyone has that tradition that they follow every year. For some, like myself, it involves crowding around the television with family and watching their favorite holiday movie under comfortable blankets. And seeing as there is no shortage of Christmas movies out there, the hardest part comes down to picking which one to watch. What always helps though is knowing that the classics can never steer you wrong, that much is always certain.

A film for the whole family to enjoy, right down to the little ones all wrapped up in their footie pajamas and clutching their stuffed animals, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Running for only 26 minutes, this book-turned-animated-movie was created by one of the greatest minds for children books, Dr. Seuss. A story that is simple and to the point, it’s not hard to see why this 1966 movie classic has captured the hearts of so many generations. Not to mention it’s extremely difficult to go wrong when you have Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, singing the infamous song “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” or the legendary film actor, Boris Karloff, bringing life to the Grinch himself.

Or how about going back one year for the treasured, A Charlie Brown Christmas? The name of Charles M. Schulz is no stranger to anyone who has grown up with the Peanuts comics printed in the Sunday paper. Here is another opportunity for grandparents, parents, and kids alike to enjoy when they watch this piece of holiday spirit. This is another short film at 25 minutes but the length of a movie does not make it what it is; it is the story of learning the spirit of Christmas for what it is. It also helps that the musical score is composed by none other than Vince Guaraldi, a composer behind all the soundtracks for the Charlie Brown films.

Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that will warm your heart and remind you that no one is ever too old to believe. When the original mall-Santa is found drunk and completely unreliable, an old gentleman by the name of Kris Kringle is taken in to fill the position. And with commercialism running wildly rampant, people easily forget just what it means to celebrate Christmas. This is the lesson that Kris Kringle hopes to teach a Macy’s executive named Doris Walker as her daughter, Susan, sees that perhaps the story of Santa Claus may not be a silly story after all.

And during this time of hope and cheer, there are still some who may lose their hope and faith when times are looking grim. For one such fellow, George Bailey, he sees everything he has worked so hard to preserve in his hometown begin to fall apart. He blames himself and starts wondering if it would be better for all if he simply ceased to exist. It’s a Wonderful Life was released back in 1946 and has since become one of the biggest Christmas movie icons to date. Witnessing a man struggle with his own inner turmoil, while his friends and loved ones want only for him to forgive himself. Their love for him manifests into a guardian angel who, in turn, shows George what life would be like for those in a world without him.

When in doubt, though, if you haven’t any idea what movie to settle on, you can never go wrong with A Christmas Carol. Originally a classic tale written by Charles Dickens, over the decades the novella has been adapted to various versions made for movies, television, radio, and theater. To date, the most recent movie rendition was released in 2009, a computer animated film starring Jim Carrey as the voice of the famous bah-humbug of a man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts, by Disney. For a family viewing, I would recommend either The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) staring Kermit the Frog and his pals, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), which is filled with recognizable Disney characters. While those two are geared towards younger audiences, these are the ones that can be enjoyed by different generations because of the nostalgic feel that come with their versions in their story-telling.

Brighten the Season with the Perfect Music for Your Christmas Party

You want your Christmas party to be a hit, and picking just the right music can help set the mood, whether your party is a subdued, formal event, a casual gathering of friends, or a raucous party. With the wide variety of Christmas music out there, there is no need to rely on the same old renditions of stodgy carols. No matter what the theme of your party or the tastes of your guests, there is a set of tunes that is perfect for the event. Consider some of the music below for your perfect Christmas party playlist.

Is your party a formal affair? There are few pieces that suggest the season with more taste, warmth and class than Handel’s Messiah.

You can also find string quartet or choral arrangements of Christmas hymns such as “O, Holy Night,” “What Child is This,” and others. Look for a CD like “Christmas Adagios,” which contains performances of pieces by Vivaldi, Franz Gruber, and Mozart, along with many other composers. One of the advantages of “Christmas Adagios” is its long playtime — over two hours — which can help cover a large segment of the evening, and simplify your music selections.

Another high class option is to choose jazz arrangements of popular and classic Christmas songs. “Louis Armstrong’s Christmas,” which contains performances by Eartha Kit, Duke Ellington, and other jazz and big band greats. Other recommendations to round out the music selections include: “Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas,” Ray Charles’ “The Spirit of Christmas” and the compilation: “Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas.” Brian Setzer’s “Christmas Comes Alive” is a relatively new album with that same old time jazz feel.

One unusual option is to seek out a World Music theme for your Christmas party playlist. Putumayo puts out a Christmas compilation each year with a range of artists from all over the world. Another great choice is Pink Martini’s “Joy to the World.”This CD is full of eclectic choices, featuring performances from such diverse musicians in languages including: Ukranian, Spanish, and Chinese.

There have also been plenty of rock music additions to the Christmas music canon. Fans of southern rock, punk, blues, and other rock and roll subgenres can find compilations to set the holiday mood. Several rock musicians have released entire Christmas and holiday themed albums, as well. Classic rock fans will enjoy Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Christmas Time Again.”You can’t go wrong with Steve Lukather’s “SantaMental”to please guitar god fans. The album is a lot of fun, with guests performances from musicians like: Slash, Steve Vai, and Edgar Winter.

One of the best Christmas party music strategies would be to mix up the tunes a bit so that everyone hears a bit of what they like. Play one or two jazzy pieces, followed by a traditional carol, then a bit of rock, for instance. Don’t forget to include music that does not strictly adhere to a Christmas theme, as well. By the time Christmas parties roll around, some people feel that they have already experienced an overload of Christmas music, and the everyday tunes will be a nice change of pace throughout the evening. No matter what sort of music you choose to set the festive holiday mood, guests will appreciate the special attention and the atmosphere created by your Christmas tunes.