Parental Guidance: Christmas Edition

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of some holiday favorites.

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Christmastime is here, as the kids sing in one of my favorite holiday movies. This time of year is tailor-made for gathering together with the family and revisiting some classic movies. Here are a few favorites that are suitable for all ages:

A Charlie Brown Christmas


Part of the fun of being a mom is rediscovering the films and shows I loved as a child. My 4-year-old son, Nicolas, is totally into this animated classic in which Charlie Brown learns the true meaning of Christmas beyond the material trappings. Plus you've got all that great, jazzy music from composer Vince Guaraldi which will be stuck in your head while you're cleaning up wrapping paper and leftovers.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Be sure and pop the animated classic into the DVD player, not the Ron Howard live-action version starring Jim Carrey. Boris Karloff provides a rich line-by-line reading of the favorite kids book and voices the scheming green monster who dares dash off with all the shiny finery brightening up Whoville for the holidays. He's a mean one, Mr. Grinch -- but kids as young as 4 will love him.

A Christmas Story


It's on 24 hours a day around Christmas, so if you turn on the television you're sure to come across it at some point. Even though you've seen it a million times, it always charms, and your own kids are sure to fall for it the same way you did. This comedy about a 9-year-old boy who desperately wants Santa to bring him a BB gun accurately captures the mixture of emotions children experience around Christmas: all the wonder, expectation and anxiety rolled together.

The Nightmare Before Christmas


One of Tim Burton's many marvels of stop-motion animation. Serving as writer and producer this time, Burton helps brings his signature gothic look brilliantly to life in this fairy tale in which the king of Halloweentown discovers the wonders that await in Christmastown. It may be slightly scary for only the littlest kids.



Seriously, how adorable is Will Ferrell? It is impossible not to smile -- "I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite" -- watching the 6-foot-3 comic prancing around New York in his red-and-green get-up as the perpetually perky Buddy the Elf. The childlike innocence and enthusiasm he exudes is just dead-on.