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The best Christmas movies: fun and festive on a small screen near you

Tune in to Christmas rescue missions, magic, hijinks, animals and romance as yuletide programmers roll out a holiday feast of Santa-inspired storytelling.

The grinch, played by Jim Carrey, conspires with his dog Max in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bloomberg News
The grinch, played by Jim Carrey, conspires with his dog Max in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bloomberg News

For the Grinch, Christmas came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. But the Grinch didn't have a TV set. For the rest of us, the holidays come with an avalanche of festive movies and specials that would have buried Whoville. Here's a sampler.

Start with ol' rubberface

Jim Carrey headlines a pair of holiday movie favourites, although you may not recognise him draped in wispy green fur in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (3pm on December 25 on OSN Movies Comedy) or as an animated Scrooge with a jaw bigger than Jay Leno's in Disney's A Christmas Carol (4pm today on Star Movies HD).

Animal talk

The Monty Python alumnus John Cleese stars in the live-action Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (9am on December 25 on OSN Premiere), which sees the title canine take his best shot at saving the day after a thieving elf makes off with Santa's sleigh. The Garfield Show: Home for the Holidays (5.35pm on December 24 on Boomerang) sees the orange tabby learn there's more to Christmas than eating. Then it's off to Antarctica for the animated hit Happy Feet Two (9pm on December 28 on OSN Premiere), featuring the superstar voices of Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Elves and fairies

The funnyman Will Ferrell's box-office mojo skyrocketed after Elf (9am and 9pm on December 25 on OSN Movies Comedy HD), in which he plays Santa's too-tall elf who heads to the Big Apple to find his biological father (James Caan). You'll be surprised to discover that puppy-dog-eyed fairies actually do the book-keeping on Santa's naughty and nice list in A Very Fairy Christmas (7am on December 26 on OSN Movies Kids).

Yuletide romance

More than chestnuts get roasting this time of year, especially in 12 Dates Of Christmas (1pm on December 25 on OSN Movies Comedy HD) as Amy Smart, in a Groundhog Day twist, must relive Christmas Eve over and over again as she decides whether to pursue her former boyfriend or move on. Meanwhile, in Desperately Seeking Santa (5pm on December 25 on OSN Movies Comedy HD), a PR manager (Laura Vandervoort) finds love when she holds a contest to find a "hunky Santa" for her mall.

Gothic shadows

In the ghoulish cartoon, Billy & Mandy Save Christmas (8.15pm on December 18 on Cartoon Network), the titular pair head to the North Pole to prove that Santa is real, only to discover that he's been bitten by a vampire. And, of course, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (8pm on December 24 on Fox Movies) sees Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, mess things up royally when he kidnaps Santa.

You gotta believe!

The 2011 animated movie Arthur Christmas (6pm and 8pm on December 21 on OSN Box Office 2) seems destined to become a classic as the title character, Santa's youngest son, aims to use his father's high-tech operation for an urgent mission. Also check out Miracle on 34th Street (noon on December 25 on Fox Movies) about a 6-year-old girl who has doubts about Kriss Kringle, a department store Santa; and Tim Allen in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (6pm on December 26 on Fox Movies) as he tries to stop Jack Frost from taking over Christmas.

Children, it's time for bed

For grown-ups only, A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas (8pm and 10pm on December 21 on OSN Box Office 3) sees Kal Penn and John Cho reprise their reckless roles to foment a holiday fracas on Christmas eve, while Billy Bob Thornton comically drags Santa's good name through the slush as a criminal who befriends a troubled kid in Bad Santa (5.45am on December 25 on MBC 2).

A treat for Santa

Baking cookies for friends and family during the holiday season is a yummy tradition. Take a heartwarming look at some of the best ideas in Winning Holiday Cookies (midnight on December 20 on Food Network).