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It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year! I decorated my tree the first week of November and I’ve been listening to Christmas music since then too. But one of my favorite things about this time of year is watching Classic Christmas cartoons. There are many animated specials, films, and special episodes out there so I tried my best to narrow it down. Here are 5 retro animated Christmas specials that you should watch now.
1. The Little Troll Prince (1987) - A Heartwarming Classic Christmas Parable
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10
In the magical days of 90s Cartoon Network, there was a special Christmas cartoon that I looked forward to every holiday season. “The Little Troll Prince” told the story of a little gnome in Norway who used to be a troll but learned about Christianity through a meaningful tale. The heartfelt story and catchy songs made each time it played a joyful moment for me. Created by Hanna-Barbera and supported by the Lutheran Laymen’s League, the cartoon's strong Christian themes meant it eventually stopped airing on Cartoon Network. With a fantastic cast including Danny Cooksey, Vincent Price, Cloris Leachman, Don Knotts, Rob Paulson, and others, it's now an extra feature on the Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas DVD. This animated gem from the 80s remains a treasured part of my memories.
It is currently available as a bonus on the Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas DVD.
2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970) - A Timeless Classic Christmas Tale
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
When I think of stop-motion specials, I either think of the Rankin/Bass movies or Robot Chicken. Most recognize the characters in these films, and my top pick among Rankin/Bass Christmas classics is “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (with Rudolph’s Shiny New Year as a close second). Chronicling the journey of an orphan named Kris Kringle to becoming Santa Claus, the film seamlessly blends captivating storytelling with exceptional music. The stop-motion Christmas specials hold a special place in my heart, but I find myself repeatedly drawn to this one, appreciating its enchanting narrative and timeless tunes.
You can watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town on Bluray, DVD, and 4K.
3. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) An Animated Christmas Special Bringing Holiday Magic
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10
Revisiting this Disney classic animated Christmas film is a frequent delight, and just last week, I once again immersed myself in its heartwarming allure. Comprising three engaging segments—“Stuck on Christmas,” “A Very Goofy Christmas,” and my favorite, “Gift of the Magi”—this anthology beautifully retells O. Henry's timeless story. In this enchanting world, Mickey and Minnie express their love through touching acts of selflessness, creating an irresistibly adorable storyline. The entire movie, steeped in the festive spirit of the holidays, radiates a timeless sense of wholesomeness, making it an undisputed Disney gem for those seeking to celebrate the season. Whether it's the joyful antics of Goofy or the endearing gestures of Mickey and Minnie, this classic animated Christmas film captures the essence of holiday magic, continuing to captivate audiences with its enduring charm.
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas is currently available on Bluray and DVD and is streaming on Disney+.
4. Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936) - Exploring the Charm of a Vintage Animated Christmas Classic
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
I find myself revisiting this short multiple times throughout the year, not solely confined to the Christmas season. Produced by Fleischer Studios, a powerhouse in animation during its time, this captivating piece features Grampy, a character originating from the Betty Boop cartoons. The narrative centers around Grampy's self-appointed mission to create a memorable Christmas for a group of orphans. With its distinctive rubberhose animation style and an infectious, catchy song, this cartoon stands out in my family's repertoire, becoming a cherished tradition that we watch repeatedly. The charm of Grampy's holiday efforts, coupled with the timeless appeal of the animation and music, makes it a heartwarming and memorable addition to our viewing experience, offering joy and nostalgia with each viewing.
Because Christmas Comes But Once a Year is in the public domain, you can watch it below.
5. A Flintstone’s Christmas Carol (1994) - Celebrate the Holidays with a Stone-Age Twist in this Animated Special
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
As a child, tears welled up while watching this film. The plot revolves around Fred and his involvement in a production of "A Christmas Carol." Unfortunately, Fred's immersion in the role of Scrooge leads him to neglect his family and friends, transforming him into a real-life Scrooge. While not my favorite Flintstone film, it stands among the best. The narrative strikes a balance—simple enough for kids yet intriguing for adults. Although the tears have faded with time, a lingering touch of sadness remains. Yet, akin to most Christmas movies, a happy ending prevails. This heartfelt film, with its nostalgic tinge, is certainly worth a watch!
A Flintstone's Christmas Carol is streaming on Tubi. You can also purchase the digital version on Amazon Prime or buy the DVD or VHS.
There are many more classic animated Christmas specials that I could add to this list. What are some of your favorites? Are they listed above? Let me know below!