porch with red door and pinecone garland

Classic Christmas Movie Homes, Ranked

Molly Grace10 minute read
December 16, 2021

Everyone wants to be home for the holidays. But what about being in other people’s homes for the holidays? Specifically, the homes of the main characters of our favorite Christmas movies?

This holiday season, we set out to rank all of your favorite holiday dwellings, from the McCallister residence to the Bailey homestead. After all, what better way to ruin the magic of your favorite holiday movies than to pit them all against each other in a ruthless contest to find out which classic Christmas movie domicile is, in fact, the best?

8. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Location: A suburb of Chicago

Type of House: Colonial

Christmas Decorations Rating: 5 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 4 out of 10

Amount of Chaos: Maximum

When Aunt Bethany arrives to the rapidly deteriorating Griswold Family Christmas and asks, “Is your house on fire, Clark?” it’s honestly a miracle it isn’t.

While the Griswold abode would, admittedly, be a nice place to live (especially with the pool going in!), the entire home has seen a lot of wear and tear (to be precise, $52,000 worth of wear and tear, according to Apartment Therapy). On the outside, it’s your typical suburban home in a nice, quiet neighborhood, just a short drive from the Windy City. On the inside, if you can look past the charred ceiling, chainsawed newel post or all the broken windows, you’ll notice a menagerie of wallpaper patterns that’s like a tour of the Greatest Hits of Bad ’80s Home Decor.

As a residence, it’s fine, but it loses points for the man who inhabits it. Sure, we as the viewer love Clark Griswold! He’s the funny family man who’s always got some misadventure or misfortune to entertain us with! But as a homeowner, he’s an insurance liability – not just for his own home, but for his neighbors’ home, too.

Let’s talk about those neighbors for a moment. Poor Todd and Margo. What was their crime, really? Making a few dark jokes about a man who by the end of the movie would cause them several thousand dollars in property damage as well as actual physical harm? Todd and Margo are just trying to enjoy their simple, yuppie lives – they live in a kind of cool but strangely decorated home (modern design was weird in the ’80s), they exercise together in matching suits that make them look like they’re NASA scientists training for their next expedition, they share a margarita Christmas Eve dinner (which is a completely genius idea, by the way) – and I hope at some point they were able to find better neighbors.

The Christmas lights in “Christmas Vacation” are, of course, legendary, but at what cost? Clark caused a city-wide power outage and nearly died putting them up. The light-hanging sequence is like a PSA film of What Not To Do When Hanging Christmas Lights. At one point, the Griswold patriarch is seen up on a ladder (risky) in the middle of the night (riskier), with no lights to aid him (dangerous), while everyone else is asleep (incredibly dangerous)! In case it needs to be said: Please do not do this!

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7. “Christmas With The Kranks”

Location: A suburb of Chicago

Type of House: Colonial

Christmas Decorations Rating: 2 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 6 out of 10

Neighbors: C-

These upper middle-class Chicago suburbanites really like their wallpaper.

The home in “Christmas with the Kranks” is very much an average suburban home – as it should be, since that’s the crowd this movie is poking fun at. But because of that, it doesn’t rank especially high on our list. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a lovely, relatable Midwestern home. But it’s up against a lot of stiff competition.

Another reason this one didn’t do so well in the rankings is because the neighbors are over-the-top, in-your-face, inescapably insufferable. So the Kranks committed the gravest of sins: skipping Christmas to go on a cruise. Does that really warrant near-constant harassment or front page news coverage? Their only saving grace is that they all come together in Nora and Luther’s time of need to pull off an eleventh-hour Christmas party for the Kranks’ daughter, Blair. I think the message here is supposed to be that community and neighborliness are important, but really the more important lesson is that a neighbor who minds their own business is the best feature a home can have. And if your adult daughter tells you she isn’t going to be home for Christmas, she can’t be upset when you make other plans.

6. “Home Alone”

Location: A suburb of Chicago, again

Type of House: I’ll give you one guess

Christmas Decorations Rating: 4 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 7 out of 10

Likelihood of a run-in with a tarantula: Low, but not zero

Yet another entry in the “Christmas movies taking place in a colonial-style house in the suburbs of Chicago” log, but you really can’t talk about Christmas movies homes without talking about the “Home Alone” house.

John Hughes is responsible for two movies on this list: “Christmas Vacation” and “Home Alone.” Hughes is famous for, among other things, setting a disproportionate number of his movies in the suburbs of Chicago. He also seemed to have a thing for colonial-style architecture, and the “Home Alone” home is a quintessential example of that style.

This home is gorgeous – on the outside. The exterior is stately and elegantly decorated for the holidays. The interior is spacious and has a lot of features that would make it a really beautiful home, if not for the eyesore red and green color scheme throughout the entire house. There are only so many combinations of these two colors you can include in a single movie, but this one endeavors to include them all, from the classic “red carpet/green walls” combo to the enterprising “red curtains/green countertops” blend. And don’t forget everyone’s favorite: “green walls/red furniture.” It’s Christmassy, sure, but at the expense of good taste.

In spite of its interior decor shortcomings, it’s obvious that this is a nice, expensive home. But just how expensive is it? We actually know the answer to this, as the “Home Alone” house is a real house in Winnetka, Illinois. As of 2021, the estimated market value of the home was a little over $1.3 million, according to the Cook County Assessor’s Office.

Another thing to note: if you move in here, be on the lookout for Buzz’s tarantula. Sure, the movie came out in 1990, but tarantulas can live up to 30 years, meaning there may well be a very old tarantula scuttering about the red and green decor, waiting to pounce on another unsuspecting cat burglar.

5. “Happiest Season”

Location: A small town outside of Pittsburgh

Seriously, another colonial? They are inescapable

Christmas Decorations Rating: 3 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 7 out of 10

Likelihood of running into someone you went to high school with around town: Too high

This house might just be the most beautiful one on this whole list. Yes, it’s another colonial (I’m beginning to suspect there’s some sort of conspiracy to set Christmas movies in colonial-style homes), but it’s one that looks so very colonial that you’d expect to see horses clopping up and down the enormous driveway and inhabitants dressed like Bridgerton extras.

But while it’s a very stylish home, it feels uncannily like the house of someone you’re visiting, where you never feel quite comfortable helping yourself to glasses of water and can’t figure out if you’re allowed to sit on that one couch or if it’s just for show.

The town they live in is adorable, but like the residents of the Caldwell home, everyone in it seems to be way too up in each other’s business. However, if you run with the right crowd (the people at the drag bar, not the country club), it might be a nice place to live.

4. “Elf”

Location: New York City

Type of House: Apartment (FINALLY! Something other than a colonial!)

Christmas Decorations Rating: 4 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 8 out of 10

Affordable on a book publisher’s salary? Probably not

Walter and Emily Hobbs’s apartment is incredibly enviable. For starters, it overlooks Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And it’s huge. They have a dining room and a table in their kitchen for less-fancy meals! There are zero downsides to living in this home.

The Hobbs home is located in the famous 55 Central Park West building. In fact, you might better know it as the “Ghostbusters Building,” as it’s where Sigourney Weaver’s character lives in the 1984 flick “Ghostbusters.” Per StreetEasy, previous sales of units in this building have gone for an average of about $4.5 million. Which begs the question: What does Emily Hobbs do for a living? Walter works as a children’s book publisher, and while the movie makes this look like a high-powered, high-paying line of work, ZipRecruiter reports that the average book publisher in the city earns around $75,000.

Because Walter is a Scrooge incarnate and Emily is presumably too busy to decorate thanks to her lucrative career, the place is pretty lacking in Christmas spirit until Buddy shows up and adorns the place in construction paper garlands and snowflakes. But even if he hadn’t, it’s hard to say anything bad about this place. If you’re going to live in NYC, this is the way to do it.

3. “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Location: Bedford Falls

Type of House: Victorian

Christmas Decorations Rating: 4 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 9 out of 10

Romance: “Full of it, that old place.”

The Old Granville House represents a bygone era when you could easily find a rundown mansion and fix it up into a beautiful home on a single income. Or maybe that era only ever really existed in the movies. Either way, while George is busy lassoing the moon, Mary is lassoing the man and home of her dreams.

While this place certainly is a dream home, I have a few concerns about it, chief among them being that there’s no way that structure was actually salvageable. Notice the way that, during Mary and George’s honeymoon, it rains inside the old Victorian? Long term, that can’t have been good for the structural integrity of the building, and their renovations had to have been much more involved than simply putting up new wallpaper.

Nevertheless, Mary is able to magically rescue this decrepit old place and turn it into a happy, beautiful home. It’s quite spacious, too, with enough room to fit the entire dang town in the living room. But according to George, it’s a cold, drafty place, which is a big downside.

2. “The Holiday”

Location: A village outside of London

Type of House: Cottage

Christmas Decorations Rating: 0 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 7 out of 10

Cottagecore Potential: Unlimited

You can’t have a conversation about the most-coveted Christmas movie homes without talking about Rosehill Cottage, Kate Winslet’s home in “The Holiday.” Everybody wants to live in this home – or, at least, they think they do. But do they really?

Look, it’s an overwhelmingly adorable cottage. But it’s built like a cave on the inside. Quaint? Sure. Ripe for seasonal depression? Absolutely. If you’re going to live here, you better bring a SAD lamp (or, failing that, a regular lamp).

That being said, this would be an ideal summer house. Think about it: breezy walks down the long country road into town, frolicking in the surrounding fields, days spent gardening or reading under a tree.

The reading nook, obviously, is delightful. The entire house should look like and be as well-lit as the reading nook. It’s the perfect example of how to achieve cozy while avoiding cave-like (it helps that it’s not surrounded by stone).

Though not as interesting as picturing yourself curled up by the fire or soaking in the tub, when you’re considering making a house your new home, it’s important to take into account some of its more practical features, such as whether there’s a conveniently located grocery store nearby or how far away the closest hospital is. Rosehill Cottage doesn’t seem to be a particularly practical home to live in, and I can’t help but wonder how easy it is to get an ambulance up that long, difficult-to-navigate country road (morbid, I know, but I like to be prepared).

Overall, this home does earn the number 2 spot because, in spite of its impracticalities, it’s just a super dreamy place to imagine living in. However, I’d probably just as soon live in Jude Law’s house (but only if he was actually going to be there).

1. “The Family Stone”

Location: A small town in Connecticut

Type of House: Obviously, it’s another colonial

Christmas Decorations Rating: 2 stars on top of the Christmas tree

Livability: 10 out of 10

Number of tears: Too many to count

This home is the perfect mix of beautiful and livable. There’s no stuffiness, you’re never afraid you’re going to break something or make an unforgiveable mess, because the home is so exceptionally, wonderfully lived-in. It’s filled with nice, familiar clutter. There are scuff marks on the doors and cabinets. It’s home.

This house is – surprise, surprise – another colonial, this time with big farmhouse vibes, thanks in large part to the large, wraparound front porch. Though this movie takes place in the fictional town of Thayer, Connecticut, the home featured in it is a real home in Riverside, which is a part of Greenwich, Connecticut. In Riverside, homes typically go for around $2.8 million, so this house, like many others ranked here, would no doubt fetch quite a high price if the Stone family decided to sell it.

Of all the homes on this list, this is the one I’d move into in a heartbeat. Just not with the family that resides in it in this movie. At least, not without a little group therapy first.

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Honorable Mention: “A Christmas Story”

Location: A town in Indiana

Type of House: Craftsman

Christmas Decorations Rating: 4 stars on top of the Christmas tree (extra points for the leg lamp)

Livability: 5 out of 10

Likelihood You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out: 100%

The home in “A Christmas Story” is an adorable little green and yellow craftsman located in the Indiana suburbs of Chicago (the fictional town the movie takes place in is based on Hammond, Indiana, hometown of Jean Shepherd, who wrote the semi-autobiographical book this movie is based on). It earns its spot as an honorable mention because it is, to many, the most iconic Christmas movie home.

Of note, you can also visit the real life "A Christmas Story" home in Cleveland, Ohio

But, for this home to be a little more livable, it needs two things: a better furnace, and for their neighbors, the Bumpuses, to keep better control of their dogs.

The Real Winner: The Meaning Of Christmas

There’s a reason so many Christmas movies revolve around the homes they take place in: home is where you go to be with your loved ones, all cooped up in one spot, getting on each other’s nerves, but ultimately finding comfort in them during what is the most inhospitable season of the year. Winter is dark and cold, and there’s no better way to ward off the winter blues than curling up in a cozy home with the people you love.

To wrap up, let’s take a moment to thank all those beautiful colonials that have made up the backdrop of some of our most beloved holiday films. This list has a total of nine movie homes on it, and five of those – or 56% – are colonials. Thanks to Chicago as well for being a great city and the perfect place, it seems, to set a Christmas movie.

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Molly Grace

Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.