What are the ten elements for perfect Yuletide viewing?

They're Christmas films but they don't necessarily have a Christmas setting...

Television is one of the most important ingredients of any Christmas. Amidst all the food, the family feuding and the unwanted presents, television is the saving grace that allows an entire family to call truce for a few hours in order to watch a classic on the small screen. No, we're not that cynical about Christmas at all really.

However, you may have noticed that those films we have come to associate with the most wonderful time of the year are not necessarily Christmas themed but do have some striking similarities. With everything from aliens to hobbits to Jedi warriors, here are ten of the common elements of the Christmas-not-Christmas film.

1. Family is the best.

Even though you may feel like running away from your own family by three in the afternoon on Christmas day, you do love them and wouldn't spend the season any other way. Television stations could be given credit for preventing mass murder every year by screening films that will remind you how much you love that family who will always be there for you. Even if your Dad is Darth Vader...

2. There needs to be a musical number.

The turkey just goes down better on Christmas Day knowing that Julie Andrews is going to belt out a number from the mountains, doesn't it? No, it's not a Christmas film, in fact it's pretty grim in parts but the end of the year just wouldn't be the same without the Sound of Music or the bleak begging of an orphan in the brilliant Oliver. There needs to be a musical number.


3. A tedious journey is always welcome in December.

Whether they're off to Middle Earth or heading to infinity and beyond, nothing quite says Christmas like a tedious journey into the middle of nowhere. In fact, Peter Jackson most certainly cornered that end of the market for quite a few years. Following the end of the Lord of the Rings films, nobody knew quite what to do with themselves once the decorations came out again... until it hit television screens.

4. You need to able to have a nap and wake up while the same film is on.

If you're watching a film at Christmas, it needs to be an epic production and it needs to be an epic production for one reason: you need to be able to have nap time and still wake up with the same movie on. After all that turkey, pudding and tonnes of selection boxes, you're going to nod off. Good news that they're still in Willy Wonka's factory then or that Rhett is still trying to get Scarlett to fall in love with him.

5. Is the witch going to get me?

One word, Gremlins. Joe Dante really pushed the boat out when he decided that the cutest Christmas present in the world in the form of Gizmo would turn into maniacal mini-goblins who were hell bent on wrecking Christmas and everything else in between. Not only that but these films tend to be terrifying for the children featured in them. Being Home Alone at that age of eight would not be as fun as it sounds, a crazy man who wants to give you his chocolate factory is certainly questionable and how about being sent to a foreign land with a wizard and a terrifying green witch? Have we mixed up Halloween with Christmas?

6. Nothing says Christmas quite like a good disaster.

You know what we need to see every year? We need to see the White House being destroyed by aliens or a luxury liner sinking after it hits an iceberg. How uplifting.

7. An animation that brings you back to your childhood.

Pixar have managed to brilliantly tow the line between making films entertaining for children while also reminding adults of what it was like to be young. The children in your life will be laughing, while you will be upstairs in the attic looking for your childhood toys – weeping, praying that they have survived despite the fact that you abandoned them decades ago.

8. The world still needs to be saved, Christmas be damned.

Whether it's a hobbit, a man who wears a suit of iron or a secret agent that goes by the name of James Bond (you may have heard of him), yuletide certainly requires a hero. How exactly does 007 represent Christmas? God knows but he still manages to turn up every year for his eggnog martini, shaken, not stirred...

9. Sometimes we need a little magic.

The very essence of Christmas is the magic of Santa Claus and so we all need a little magic in our lives. If that magic involves a wizard who goes by the name of Harry Potter then all the better. If not, you can always rely on good old Mary Poppins to make an appearance. What the woman can do with an umbrella... breathtaking.

10. You’ve got to have faith.

Lest we forget why Christmas exists in the first place, a few religious films never go astray. However, we don't just mean faith in a god, we mean faith in mankind, faith in your fellow human being and in your loved ones and nothing reminds you of that faith quite like... Die Hard. Be strong, follow through, love your family and you just might make it through Christmas.