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12 Winter’s Tales: Short Films for the Holidays

By Robert Repass

These seasonal video treats, all available on YouTube, are sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

It’s December, and that means it’s time to roll some excellent short films that celebrate the holiday season. Whether you like to curl up by the fire with a special someone or party with a hundred of your closest friends, whether you enjoy sipping a little eggnog or downing lots of blended scotch, and whether you love a kitschy seasonal sweater or think that mistletoe is a four-letter word, we probably have a film for you. 

As with our “13 Fright Bites Halloween collection, these films all clock in at under 30 minutes. And the list is not meant to be a “best of”—rather, it’s a broad selection of good stuff: live action, animation, and musical numbers that range from touching to (borderline) tasteless, thoughtful to funny, and right-on-the-red-nose of the holiday spirit to dashing away from it.

Now sit back, turn off that Yule log video, and cozy up to the glow of your computer screen.

THE SNOWMAN

A snowman thinks his nose is just his nose—but a band of bunnies knows it’s a carrot! It’s bunnies versus snowman in this family-friendly animated short, which proves that friendship is stronger than root vegetables.

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Length: 4:30

NOKOMI

In this animated short, Nokomi befriends a snow monster in an ice cave and learns a little about life along the way—including a lesson about why befriending a snow monster in an ice cave is not always the smartest idea.

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Length: 8:22

CHRISTMAS PARTY

There are bad holiday office parties, and then there are very bad holiday office parties. (Viewer discretion is advised, due to mild drug use and a body count.)

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Length: 5:03

THE LUNCH DATE

The holidays remind us that sharing is caring. Check out this short, from the late 1980s, about a woman, a man, and a salad that demonstrates how things are not always what they seem.

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Length: 10:22

ALMA

This one is for people who are still basking in Halloween’s orange glow. All is not as it seems in this creepy animated short about an eerily familiar doll.

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Length: 5:29

(And if you enjoy horror during the holidays, also check out Santa, a spooky Christmas short.) 

THE MACCABEATS - CANDLELIGHT - HANUKKAH

What are the holidays without some music and a little history? Check out the Maccabeats as they lay down the story of Hanukkah—with a beat you can dance to.

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Length: 3:42

PEACE ON EARTH/LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, WITH WILL FERRELL & JOHN C. REILLY

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly channel Bowie and Bing in this Funny or Die tribute to that original holiday duet.

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Length: 5:43

COLD

This poignant film weaves together several interconnecting stories about people making their way through a long winter night in Toronto. (Due to mature themes and content, this one is not for kids.)

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Length: 25:19

EUGENE

This dark comedy suggests that getting everything you want means getting more than you bargained for.

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Length: 13:26

CONNECTION

Traveling is a big part of the holidays (and a big headache) for many people. In this short, based on a true story, two actors (Jude Law and Nikolai Khalezin) connect in surprising ways at an airport.

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Length: 10:12

THE DINNER PARTY

What’s a holiday without dinner with friends, a bit of betrayal, and not enough wine? (Viewer discretion is advised due to the adult themes, bad language, and outrageous scapegoating in this funny short.)

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Length: 3:49

UNWRAPPED

It’s a wrap-down! The paper and ribbons fly when two overworked friends, burning the midnight oil in a store’s gift-wrapping department, find themselves with only one piece of tape left.

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Length: 9:27

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This poignant short is about people, perceptions, and two very different sets of lives.

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Length: 5:08

Alert readers may have noticed that we packed more than 12 films into our holiday list—there were just too many to choose from! And many more great short films are to be found and shared on YouTube. Or why not pick up a camera and make your own holiday short?

(Check out these tips on editing video with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.)