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Our top 5 Christmas family movies by age group

Following the latest news on restrictions, if you're wondering how on earth you are going to fill the minutes and hours until Friday, and your children have already completed their marvellous Twelve Days of Christmas crafts (if so, kudos to you!), then you need this list. Introducing your children to a classic Christmas movie that you can enjoy as much as them is a magical thing, and the best bit is that it's an easy win - an opportunity to bond, munch down on some homemade popcorn, and snuggle your way merrily through the week.

Bear in mind that most of the films mentioned below contain characters who question the existence of the big man in red. Happily, they all prove beyond ANY reasonable doubt that he is undeniably, most assuredly, REAL! Our age guide is based on the average age of children as determined by either the film makers, or Common Sense Media, a useful independent review website which collates parent and kids' views.

1. The Snowman

Pre-schoolers +

Charming and short ( it's only 26 minutes long) animation of the classic Raymond Briggs tale of a boy and his snowman. If they enjoy this, and you don't want to play it over and over, they will love the sequel too which is all about a boy who misses his dog, The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Both films will be on Channel 4 again this year. Showings will be on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as available on E4 and More4.

2. The Polar Express

Age 6 +

With a story from the pen of Jumanji author Chris Van Allsburg and directed by Robert (Back to the Future) Zemeckis, this film was always going to be something special. The tale of a young boy nagged by festive misgivings who finds himself whisked away by a kindly Tom Hanks who plays (among other roles) the train conductor on The Polar Express. This is not your ordinary animation as all the performances are real scanned in through CGI which lends an even more magical layer to this wonderfully imagined film. A thrilling journey, often at break-neck speed, taken by a group of sleepy pyjama-clad children to a magical world of Christmas, presents and the big man in red himself.

Available on Sky Movies*

3. Miracle on 34th Street

Age 6+

Whether you are a fan of this remake or of the original with a very young, and quite enchanting Natalie Wood, the story of Santa Claus arriving into a modern and rather cynical world can't fail to restore any festive spirit you might be lacking after such a challenging year.

Available on Sky cinema

4. Elf

Age 7+

We don't know about you, but if you don't think the idea of watching a grown man, (raised as an elf) picking chewing-gum off the pavement and maintaining that 'the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear', then...well, humbug. From discovering the 'best coffee in the world' to falling deeply in love with part-time seasonal elf Zooey Deschanel, this film has it all:

"I think you're really beautiful and I feel really warm when I'm around you and my tongue swells up."

Parents should know that although Elf has some mild swearing ("pissed," "hell," "damn," etc.) it's very family friendly at its core.

Watch on Sky TV

5. The Preacher's Wife

Age 10+

Made in 1996 the film pairs handsome angel Denzel Washington with preacher's wife Whitney Houston, part of a married couple facing challenging times. Comedy, romance and fantasy all combine to make a story that echoes the roots of that other festive classic It's a Wonderful Life with preacher Courtney B.Vance suffering a crisis of faith. Warm and family friendly, this was directed by Penny (Big) Marshall. Worth watching for Whitney's singing if nothing else.

Available on Amazon

* There's a free 7 day trial with NOW TV currently on offer for you to access Sky TV so you should be able to view most of the Sky films without a long tie-in.

Wishing you all some very merry Movie Nights, from us all at Life x

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