Holiday TV specials your family shouldn't miss

"Shrek the Halls," will air Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC
"Shrek the Halls," will air Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC

We've rounded up this season's can't-miss holiday TV specials to keep your family entertained from now all the way through the New Year. Whether you like 'em heartwarming, quirky, funny, or even scary, 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.)

"The X-Files: How the Ghosts Stole Christmas," age 14+, streaming on Hulu

For your teens who are too cool to watch anything sappy, this standalone holiday episode traps Scully and Mulder inside a haunted house, where they spend the spookiest Christmas Eve ever.

"Saturday Night Live Christmas Special," age 14+, streaming on Hulu

No one skewers the holidays like "SNL"; expect classic characters such as Alec Baldwin's Pete Schweddy sharing his favorite recipe, see what Stefon's got up his sleeve for Christmas activities, and listen to Adam Sandler's gem "The Hanukkah Song."

"Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors," age 7+, streaming on NBC

Dolly knows she's destined for a future far away from her humble beginnings in Sevier County, Tennessee, but for now, the family farm and the love of her parents is all she needs. But then tragedy strikes, pulling the family apart. Her mother copes by creating the titular patchwork coat for Dolly, which leads to lessons in compassion and hope.

"Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas," age 5+, Dec. 12, 12:30 p.m., Freeform

This early special from Jim Henson features a down-home family of otters with a whole lot of heart, lots of sweet songs, and the kookiest villains ever (evil reptile rockers the Riverbottom Nightmare Band).

"The Goldbergs: Han Ukkah Solo," age 14+, Dec. 14, 8 p.m., ABC

Prepare for the standard '80s flashbacks with a holiday flair in this Hanukkah-themed episode. The kids try to milk their moment in the spotlight when their school's holiday pageant only allows room for a single Hanukkah song.

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas," age 4+, Dec. 14 8 p.m., TNT

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.

"Toy Story That Time Forgot," age 4+, Dec. 15, 8 p.m., ABC

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.

"Prep & Landing," age 4+, Dec. 17, 8 p.m., ABC; "Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice," 8:30 p.m.

An elite organization of elves makes sure each and every home is ready for Santa. It's serious business for Wayne, who after 227 years is ready for a promotion in this flight-themed buddy comedy. Sequel "Naughty vs. Nice" finds Wayne and his crew dealing with a hacker trying to program their way onto the nice list.

"Yes, Virginia," age 4+, Dec. 18, 8:30 p.m., ABC

A stellar voice cast (Neil Patrick Harris, Alfred Molina) and charming CGI animation give curious Virginia's sweet tale a fresh life.

"Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas," age 6+, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., Fox

Families will have fun with this prehistoric crew's unusual versions of favorite holiday tunes. The story incorporates the origins of popular Christmas traditions _ and Skrat's never-ending search for acorns, of course.

"Shrek the Halls," age 6+, Dec. 20, 8:30 p.m., ABC

While everyone else is filled with cheer for the upcoming holiday, ornery Shrek has no desire to celebrate. For the sake of Fiona and their babies, he attempts to do his part to make the family's first holiday together a memorable one. Unfortunately, his friends take Shrek's lack of yuletide joy as cause for intervention and show up unannounced on his doorstep to "help."

"I Love Lucy Christmas," age 6+, Dec. 23, 8 p.m., CBS

A classic holiday episode is a great way to introduce your kids to Lucille Ball's comedic legacy. The usual lineup of unwitting participants includes neighbors Fred and Ethel and Lucy's loving but frustrated hubby, Ricky. Hijinks ensue.

"Happy New Year, Charlie Brown," age 4+, Dec. 26, 8 p.m., ABC

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.

"Rudolph's Shiny New Year," age 3+, Dec. 26, 9 p.m., ABC

This Rankin and Bass stop-motion animated holiday special takes place after Rudolph's triumphant Christmas. Now he has to help Father Time find Happy, the Baby New Year, in time for New Year's Eve.

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