The Top 10 Christmas Stories of All Time

There are hundreds of Christmas stories ranging across every type of medium imaginable, from books and movies to plays and songs. With all of these amazing Christmas stories out there, how is anyone ever supposed to choose which ones to consume during the holiday season?

You have just under two weeks left to take in Christmas related media. Here are the top 10 Christmas stories of all time for you to enjoy before the holiday is over.

Books on a shelf with Christmas stocking wreath and candy cane

10. The Little Match Girl - Short Story

Let’s start off with something cheerful, shall we? This short story was published in the 1800s. Most people have heard the title of this story, but not everyone actually knows the tale, which is a shame. It is a very lovely, very sad Christmas story that serves as a reminder that there are many people in need in the world today, even as we enjoy an abundance of gifts and food.

The story may take place over New Years, but the Christmas imagery is impossible to ignore. As the young girl dies, she has dreamy visions of amazing Christmas decorations and a huge Christmas feast. It’s a sobering tale that I’d recommend to anyone. It certainly helps to give you perspective.

9. Sherlock Holmes - The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle - Short Story

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is the only Sherlock Holmes story that explicitly takes place at Christmas-- it’s also one of the funniest.  The mystery is light-hearted (a Christmas goose was stolen and a blue diamond was lost) and the resolution is silly. Written and set in Victorian London, this story gives the reader the feeling of what it must have been like to race through the streets of London at Christmas.

Around the short, amusing mystery is warm domesticity between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, as well as a few displays of deductive genius on the part of the Great Detective.  Read the story, close your eyes, and imagine yourself sitting beside the fire with Holmes and Watson, stomach full of stolen Christmas goose.

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas - TV Special

This is one of my favorite Charlie Brown specials of all time, as I’m sure it is for many people. Watching it as an adult gives me a much different feeling than when I was a child, though. This special uses satire masterfully to express the consumerism of the Christmas season.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I can appreciate how the story brings a deeper meaning to Christmas through Linus’ speech. All Charlie Brown specials are a bit “dark” and bleak, and as a writer I can’t help but try to deconstruct the things these characters say, but this special really turns all of the bleakness into a truly heartwarming story.

7. Skipping Christmas/Christmas with the Kranks - Book/Movie

This comedy has just enough sappy, heartwarming content splashed in to create a perfect balance. An older couple, choosing to skip Christmas because their daughter will not be home for the holidays, are thrown into chaos when she surprises them by returning at the last minute.

I prefer the movie to the book and watch it every year. The story gives you so many relatable holiday moments, like the grocery store being out of your favorite Christmas dish and having nosy neighbors trying to tell you how to celebrate the holidays. This is a really fun one that I think everyone should watch or read.

6. Home Alone - Movie

At the risk at sounding incredibly old and cliche, kids these days will never understand the plot of this movie. At least, not the way we understood it when I was growing up. With smartphones, wi-fi connections, and even smart homes, this movie just couldn’t happen in the modern era like it used to.

Home Alone does such a good job of explaining how every little thing goes wrong to result in Kevin home alone during the holidays while his family is in France. The phone lines are down, the family does a headcount but a a neighbor boy gets counted, even Kevin’s ticket gets thrown away. The writers do an amazing job at making this story work. What do you think Kevin does when he grows up if he can pull off all those boobie traps at age 8? He must be building military weapons or something.

5. Christmas Vacation - Movie

This is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. In terms of Christmas movies, this one truly is a classic, though not for the same reasons that most Christmas movies are. This comedy is utterly absurd, plays on gross humor, and is probably pretty offensive by today’s standards. But the movie is just so...good.

If you like a bit more humor and a lot less sappy in your Christmas movies, this one is a really good choice. The movie follows an “old fashioned family Christmas,” and all the stress and shenanigans that come from that. And there are morals woven into the story, most notably about how letting your expectations become unrealistic can negatively affect your experience. That’s something I try to keep in mind, because I definitely tend to build up expectations.

4. The Gift of the Magi - Short Story

This short story, published in 1905, is the heartwarming tale of two people who don’t have a lot of money but find a way to get each other a heartfelt gift through their own personal sacrifice. This really puts the emphasis on how we should all strive to give, rather than obsess over receiving.

This classic has been adapted into multiple mediums, and is also a popular story to borrow from when it comes to other media such as TV Christmas specials. While many people have done the original story justice in their re-telling, none is as good as the original.

3. The Christmas Shoes - Song

Christmas Shoes is one of the saddest song I’ve ever heard, and certainly one of the saddest Christmas songs out there. It may seem unusual to include a song in a list about Christmas stories, but this song manages to tell a very vivid, very heartbreaking story in under 5 minutes.

This song tells the tale of a young boy who is trying to buy his mother a Christmas present, and he wants to get the perfect gift because she may die that very night. If you’re in the mood for something painful, give the song a listen.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Children’s Book

This story is such a great mix of absurd and heartwarming. The utter imagination that Dr. Seuss brings to all of his stories is astounding.

I actually never cared much for the animated version of The Grinch, but I adore the Jim Carrey version. I think it adds a lot to the source material in a way that is true to the original work. This is a great example of a humorous story with a heartwarming message.

1. A Christmas Carol - Novella

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. Originally a novella, it has been adapted for a huge variety of mediums including plays, movies, and special TV episodes. No matter what format you consume this classic in, A Christmas Carol tops every list in terms of the best Christmas story ever created.

A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, a story of redemption, and a history lesson all at once. Every time I experience it my heart feels warm. When I think about Christmas I often think of the classic setting of this tale. It is remarkably magical, haunting, and sobering.

I go see A Christmas Carol at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee every year. They put on an amazing show. If you can get to the theater to see it live, I’d highly recommend it.

Which of these Christmas stories is your favorite? Did it not make the list? Let me know in the comments, and have a Merry Christmas!

More Christmas:

2018 Literary Gift Guide

Holiday Book Gift Guide

2018 Literary Gift Guide

Book with a bow and title "2019 Literary Gift Guide"

Looking for the perfect literary gift for the book geek or writer in your life this Christmas? There’s still plenty of time to shop before Christmas arrives.

I’ve included five items for readers and five for writers in this literary gift guide. They’re all items that I use myself or items I plan to buy for myself sometime soon. I have exactly 0% advertising on my website so you can be sure my recommendations are completely objective.

So, let’s get started!

Gifts for Readers

1. Binge-Reading Kit

Binge reading kit

Got a book nerd to buy for but have no idea what they’ve already read? This Binge-Reading Kit is a super cute and fun item to get for readers this Christmas. It comes with 14 items in the kit that are helpful for any serious readers; bookmarks, ear plugs, a reading light, and a bunch of other things! And it’s only $20!

Get it here!

2. Conceal Floating Bookshelf

I have wanted these for such a long time, but unfortunately I can’t install shelving in my apartment. Someday I’ll get my hands on these. Not only are they great for storage purposes, but the floating book aesthetic is just really cool.

Get it here!

3. Over Tub Caddy

Over the tub caddy holding book wine and candle

As a kid, I dreamed of inventing this item to make reading in the bath easier. Probably it already existed and I hadn’t even realized it. With an over tub caddy you can keep your book dry, keep a beverage close at hand, and with this one you can even add a candle! Perfect for book lovers who love baths.

Get it here!

4. Papercuts: A Party Game for the Rude and Well Read

This is just Cards Against Humanity for book geeks. This is perfect for the book nerd who has other book nerd friends! I’ve not played it, but I am high key interested in it. Besides, I could use a break from Cards Against Humanity.

Get it here!

5. Literary Scarf

I bought a Sherlock Holmes scarf as a treat for myself years ago and I pull it out to wear every winter. Granted, it isn’t the warmest scarf out there, but it’s very cute and I get tons of compliments on it. This is a fun literary take on a classic Christmas gift.

Get it here!

Gifts for Writers

1. Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition 2019


If you take writing seriously, then you absolutely need to own this book. In this book writers will find materials dedicated to the publishing process and marketing advice, listings of book publishers, query letter examples, lists of professional writing organizations, and much more. I’d recommend this book for any writer who looks to pursue publication within the next one to two years. With the deluxe version writers will also get a one year subscription to This single book is an invaluable resource.

Get it here!

2. A Yearly Subscription to Writer’s Digest Magazine

A one year subscription gives you 8 issues, each one filled with writing tips, author interviews, and tons more. This is another great way to give the writer in your life tons of advice about their craft, publishing, and marketing, and it’s a gift that literally keeps on giving all year.

Get it here!

3. The Writer’s Toolbox

writer 2.jpg

My best friend bought me this for Christmas last year and it is tons of fun. The games and exercises in this toolbox can help generate new ideas or simply help you past a roadblock. Or, if you’re just looking to do some free writing, it is great for helping you experiment!

Get it here!

4. A Ticket to a Writing Conference or Writing Retreat

This is a more expensive gift, but one your writer friend will love. A conference is a great place to network, attend sessions and workshops, get critiques, and meet new and established authors. A retreat allows writers to spends days to weeks focusing on nothing but their writing. You’ll have to do some research to see which one works best for your writer.

5. Really Good Headphones

write 4.jpg

Writers may write at home, at coffee shops, or anywhere that has an internet connection. Sometimes the ambient noise is nice, but sometimes it is too distracting. A good pair of headphones, especially noise cancelling headphones, can do wonders. I’m linking to the pair I use, which block out most sound and have great sound quality.

Get it here!

I also wrote a holiday book gift guide last year if you want to pick out a book instead! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!