20 Memorable Christmas Dinner Scenes
Sitting down for a big yuletide meal is an annual ritual for millions of families. The best Christmas dinner scenes in movies capture -- and, if we're being honest, sometimes exaggerate -- that experience. Many Christmas-themed films use such sequences because they offer a lot of important possibilites. For starters, showing the characters sitting down to eat together is realistic. There is also an opportunity to pull various elements together in a meaningful way. Everyone can talk, fight, or make up. Aspects of their personalities can be revealed. If the writing is good, these moments become highlights of the films.
The most famous Christmas dinner scenes in movies include the Griswold clan dealing with dry turkey and the doddering Aunt Bethany mistaking the Pledge of Allegiance for grace in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And who could forget the Parker family eating at the only open establishment, a Chinese restaurant, in A Christmas Story? Those are funny Christmas dinner scenes. Others are more dramatic, like the one in Same Kind of Different as Me, in which tensions between a family rise to the surface. Believe it or not, there are even a couple of great horror examples.
Vote up the best Christmas dinner scenes in movies from the list below, regardless of which genre they are from.
- As the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. However, things go awry quickly. His hick cousin, Eddie (Randy Quaid), and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark's employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs.
- Actors: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Diane Ladd, John Randolph
- Released: 1989
- Directed by: Jeremiah S. Chechik
- Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a "Red Ryder air rifle." Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.
- Actors: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, Scotty Schwartz
- Released: 1983
- Directed by: Bob Clark
- Divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) has custody of his son (Eric Lloyd) on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa's place before the next Christmas arrives. Scott thinks he's dreaming, but over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard. Maybe that night at the North Pole wasn't a dream after all -- and maybe Scott has a lot of work to do.
- Actors: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz
- Released: 1994
- Directed by: John Pasquin
- The Grinch and his loyal dog, Max, live a solitary existence inside a cave on Mount Crumpet. His main source of aggravation comes during Christmastime when his neighbors in Whoville celebrate the holidays with a bang. When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos' holiday cheer once and for all.
- Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Tristan O'Hare, Kenan Thompson
- Released: 2018
- Directed by: Scott Mosier, Yarrow Cheney
- The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Other Muppets -- Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Sam the Eagle -- weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases -- past, present and future. They show him the error of his self-serving ways, but the miserable old man seems to be past any hope of redemption and happiness.
- Actors: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, David Rudman
- Released: 1992
- Directed by: Brian Henson
- After snarky youth Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) loses track of his father at the airport, he mistakenly gets on a plane headed for New York City -- while the rest of the McCallisters fly to Florida. Now alone in the Big Apple, Kevin cons his way into a room at the Plaza Hotel and begins his usual antics. But when Kevin discovers that the Sticky Bandits (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) are on the loose, he struggles to stop them from robbing an elderly man's toy store just before Christmas.
- Actors: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara, John Heard
- Released: 1992
- Directed by: Chris Columbus