Some of the best things to enjoy about the Thanksgiving through Christmas season are the classic TV Christmas shows we watched as kids. There’s nothing better than sitting down with your little ones to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas—complete with Linus’ retelling of the birth of Christ in the Gospel of Luke.
But you don’t have to have kids at home for these programs to bring a smile to your face. From Thanksgiving (Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow) all the way through the holidays (Doctor Who Christmas Special). Whether you like them heartwarming, quirky, funny, or futuristic, you’ll find traditional faves, worthy underdogs, and a few new additions to the classic holiday-special canon. Though not all these shows feature families (or even humans!), they embody the spirit of togetherness, warmth, and tradition. (Check your local listings to confirm show dates and times.)
Rumor has it that the 11th Whovian holiday special will have the Doctor’s wife, fellow doctor and time-traveler River Song (ER’s Alex Kingston), meeting her husband for the first time in his current incarnation (Peter Capaldi plays the quippy time lord).
Watch Frosty, a roly-poly goofball with a heart of gold, strike up a friendship with cute kid Karen as he tries to get to the North Pole in this 1960s classic.
Did you know your heart grows three sizes every time you watch this special? It’s nearly impossible not to be moved by the green antihero’s redemption tale. Just try watching him serve that first slice of roast beast to his trusty dog without a grin on your face.
Lucy gets up to her standard shenanigans in this set of holiday episodes. The usual lineup of unwitting participants includes neighbors Fred and Ethel and Lucy’s loving but frustrated hubby, Ricky. Hijinks will ensue.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, age 4+, all on ABC at 8 p.m.: It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown: Nov. 30; A Charlie Brown Christmas: Dec. 2
What do these Christmas specials have in common? Circumstances cause the Peanuts gang to create their own traditions, and while they may not always find total success (does Charlie Brown ever get to kick that football?), friendship always saves the day. Bonus: Kristen Bell hosts an extra-special special about the beloved Christmas special this year.
Merry Madagascar, age 6+, Nov. 28 on CW at 9:30 p.m. Wild-animal favorites Alex, Marty, and Melman made it to Madagascar; now they want to get back to New York. The best vehicle for the job? Santa’s sleigh, of course.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, age 3+, Dec. 9 on CBS at 8 p.m.
Rudolph and his misfit crew learn what it means to stay true to themselves in the old-school stop-motion special. Finding it a hard sell? Kids who love Will Ferrell in Elf will be tickled to find Buddy’s origins in this retro, Rankin/Bass Productions world.
Toy Story That Time Forgot, age 4+, Dec. 2 on ABC at 8:30 p.m.
Set days after Christmas, this action-packed treat offers plenty of positive messages about friendship, loyalty, and being true to yourself as Woody and the gang go face-to-face with a colony of battle-ready dinosaurs.
Wild Kratts, “Creature Christmas,” age 6+, Nov. 25 on PBS (check local listings)
The friendly, knowledgeable, and just plain fun Kratt brothers are back with their favorite critter buddies to celebrate the holidays, animal-style.