No other American holiday generates entertainment content like Christmas.
Thanksgiving? Only if you count football. Halloween? Not there yet—but it’s gaining, Morticia. Valentine’s Day? Romantic comedies are still only an inconvenient fraction of your dating life, just being honest.
When it comes to cozying up for the season with tales of giving, receiving, and learning “valuable life lessons” (not to mention fab winter fashions and tie-in toys), you can’t beat a good, or even bad, Christmas movie.
Because we here at HowtoWatch.com are obsessed with data, maps, and “festive” eggnog mixers, we set out to determine each state’s favorite holiday flick.
As a starting point, we used Thrillist’s comprehensive “50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time” list, which, to its credit, acknowledges the glaring, Nakatomi Tower-sized omission of Die Hard (it stings, but we’ll allow it).
Then, we ran the titles through Google Trends to determine the most popular, or most-searched, Christmas film in each state. It’s science as solid as NORAD’s Santa sleigh tracker.
The results turned up many expected favorites, and a few surprises. Shake that snow globe and take a yuletide ride through our findings.
The Top 3
America’s three favorite holiday movies were Elf, Scrooged, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Forget Anchorman—Will Ferrell’s most iconic role is Buddy from modern Christmas classic Elf. The candy-coated comedy is America’s clear holiday favorite, followed by Bill Murray’s biting Dickens makeover, Scrooged.
Naturally, Home Alone made the list, as did cautionary BB-gun-control allegory A Christmas Story. Holiday o.g. A Christmas Carol, the king of remakes, rounds out the usual suspects.
- Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania: Elf (2003)
- Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire: Scrooged (1988)
- Rhode Island: Home Alone (1990)
- Ohio: A Christmas Story (1983)
- New Jersey: A Christmas Carol (1951)
Three—count ’em, three—states chose creepy-sexy-cruel Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman thriller Eyes Wide Shut as their Christmas favorite.
Admittedly, it does feature more holiday imagery (and nudity) than Die Hard—as does stoner comedy A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
Arthur Christmas, an animated British hit but stateside cult item, is as pleasant a surprise here as Krampus is disturbing. On that note, dark slasher comedy Christmas Evil delivers both the chills and the feels.
- Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
- Texas: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)
- New Mexico: Arthur Christmas (2011)
- North Dakota: Krampus (2015)
- Oregon: Christmas Evil (1980)
Not all holiday movies have to be sugar-cookie sweet, and few up the profane game like Chevy Chase’s delirious National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
On the decidedly R-rated front, Billy Bob Thornton’s uber-quotable Bad Santa introduces a kamikaze Kringle for a new generation of degenerates.
Jingle All the Way and Ernest Saves Christmas are cringe-worthy bookends of dumb fun, and Almost Christmas nails nasty-to-nice family holiday dynamics like few others.
- Iowa, South Dakota, Tennessee: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
- Alaska: Bad Santa (2003)
- Virginia: Jingle All the Way (1996)
- West Virginia: Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
- Mississippi: Almost Christmas (2016)
Surprisingly, there weren’t many animated movies in our seasonal stats.
Tim Burton’s stop-motion, Halloween-esque The Nightmare Before Christmas is a favorite in the southwest, while Tom Hanks’ slick The Polar Express dazzles the Carolinas. Muppets aren’t technically animation, but they still love The Muppet Christmas Carol way up in the northeast.
- California, Nevada, Utah: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina: The Polar Express (2009)
- Maine: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
True love among twinkling lights is as genuine a Christmas-flick theme as Santa Claus, peace on Earth, and John McClane shooting up terrorists (OK, we’ll let the Die Hard snub go now).
Sandra Bullock’s boyfriend-in-a-coma rom-com While You Were Sleeping is no more or less Christmas-y than Hugh Grant’s sticky-sweet About a Boy, or Ryan Reynolds’ pre-Deadpool romp Just Friends, but it’s the thought that counts.
The Best Man Holiday and cheese champion Love Actually, however, put Christmas front-and-center.
- Hawaii: While You Were Sleeping (1995)
- Delaware: About a Boy (2002)
- Wyoming: Just Friends (2005)
- Georgia: The Best Man Holiday (2013)
- Vermont: Love Actually (2003)
Since the North Pole isn’t eligible (or habitable), state pride turned up in just a handful of instances.
New Yorkers are partial to NYC-set Christmas sequel Home Alone 2, which also features a cameo by obscure character actor Donald J. Trump. Connecticut and Missouri skew local with 1940s charmers Christmas in Connecticut and Meet Me in St. Louis.
- New York: Home Alone 2 (1992)
- Connecticut: Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
- Missouri: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
The Golden Oldies
Speaking of classics: Don’t count your grandparents’ Christmas favorites out of the running just yet.
Mainstays like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, and Babes in Toyland are so deeply ingrained upon American culture that it’s impossible to imagine the holidays without them.
Even lesser-known films like Bob Hope’s The Lemon Drop Kid (which gave the world “Silver Bells”) and Holiday Affair (a studio PR ploy to rehab star Robert Mitchum’s image after a marijuana bust) are still holding strong after 60-plus years.
- Idaho: White Christmas (1954)
- Indiana: The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)
- Oklahoma, Wisconsin: Holiday Affair (1949)
- Maryland: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
- Illinois: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
- Washington: Babes in Toyland (1934)
|State||Favorite Holiday Movie|
|Alaska||Bad Santa (2003)|
|Arizona||The Polar Express (2009)|
|Arkansas||Holiday Affair (1949)|
|California||The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)|
|Colorado||Eyes Wide Shut (1999)|
|Connecticut||Christmas in Connecticut (1945)|
|Delaware||About a Boy (2002)|
|Florida||Eyes Wide Shut (1999)|
|Georgia||The Best Man Holiday (2013)|
|Hawaii||While You Were Sleeping (1995)|
|Idaho||White Christmas (1954)|
|Illinois||It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)|
|Indiana||The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)|
|Iowa||National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)|
|Maine||The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)|
|Maryland||Miracle on 34th Street (1947)|
|Massachusetts||Eyes Wide Shut (1999)|
|Mississippi||Almost Christmas (2016)|
|Missouri||Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)|
|Nevada||The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)|
|New Hampshire||Scrooged (1988)|
|New Jersey||A Christmas Carol (1951)|
|New Mexico||Arthur Christmas (2011)|
|New York||Home Alone 2 (1992)|
|North Carolina||The Polar Express (2009)|
|North Dakota||Krampus (2015)|
|Ohio||A Christmas Story (1983)|
|Oklahoma||Holiday Affair (1949)|
|Oregon||Christmas Evil (1980)|
|Rhode Island||Home Alone (1990)|
|South Carolina||The Polar Express (2009)|
|South Dakota||National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)|
|Tennessee||National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)|
|Texas||A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)|
|Utah||The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)|
|Vermont||Love Actually (2003)|
|Virginia||Jingle All the Way (1996)|
|Washington||Babes in Toyland (1934)|
|West Virginia||Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)|
|Wisconsin||Holiday Affair (1949)|
|Wyoming||Just Friends (2005)|
Christmas movies are big, and contentious, business—not everyone agrees on a favorite (certainly not us or Bruce Willis, for that matter).
Care to weigh in on HowtoWatch’s Xmas examination? Let us know, then pass around this map like your aunt’s fruitcake via social media. Happy holiday viewing!