There are few film genres that are as re-watched as Christmas movies. As the nights draw in quicker and the winter wind bites that little bit harder, there can be nothing so tempting as huddling up on the sofa to watch that Christmas classic that just never seems to get old.

But as our appetite for this festive fare seems to be growing – this year there has even been the dedicated 24/7 Christmas channel Sony Movies Christmas launched on Freeview – these films are jostling for a place in our hearts and on our screens.

So how exactly does a holiday flick earn enough warm and cosy nostalgia points to get on the nice list? Well, as always, the story starts with the poster and the anticipation of the film to come. Below, I analyse some of the most popular trends during the festive season.

I’ll have a blue Christmas

Unlike the popular Elvis song, the snowy blue Christmas scenes featured in posters like The Polar Express and Miracle on 34th Street conjure up a fantastical, magical feel.

If you see this imagery on a poster, you will be almost guaranteed a film featuring a ‘Christmas miracle’ of some kind and the best films in this genre will make you feel ten years old again, too excited to sleep on Christmas eve!

The Polar Express & Miracle on 34th Street - Blue Christmas examples

All I want for Christmas is you

Christmas comedies are often character-driven and put their lead character up front and centre, keeping focus with a minimalist design – which is usually fairly flat, indicating that this movie isn’t going to make you think too hard.

The colour palette most often features one or both of the ubiquitous Christmas colours red and green – removing any ambiguity that this film is set during the happiest season.

elf, Jingle All The Way & The Santa Clause - All I want for Christmas is you poster examples

Just like the ones I used to know…

Many of our Christmas favourites are timeless classics from another era entirely. Even with newer marketing, they lean heavily into that, deliberately evoking that old-timey atmosphere with Technicolor palettes, handpainted imagery and fancy serif fonts.

Like vintage Christmas tree styling, more is often more with these posters and they can feature a lot of text and several images.

It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street & The Bishops Wife - classic Christmas examples

Kissin’ by the mistletoe

Festive romances usually follow many of the same ‘rules’ as other films in the romantic genre (simple white backgrounds, bold sans serif typefaces, lead characters back to back) but ramp up that holiday feeling with some Christmas trimmings such as snow (A Christmas Prince, The Knight Before Christmas), ribbons (Four Christmases, Love Actually) and of course, a christmassy colour palette.

The Knight Before Christmas, Love Actually & A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby - Festive romance example posters

Slay ride

Not everyone is looking for yuletide cheer this season. For those who want to scare themselves silly during these cold winter nights, the Christmas horror genre is one that just refuses to die.

Posters for these films make the most of dark and icy landscapes to shroud their characters in mystery evoking a feeling of threat. They are also expert in subverting traditional Christmas imagery – a magical glow can become ominous and festive red fonts can drip with blood or be slashed across the poster. In this genre, you definitely don’t want to be on the naughty list!

Black Christmas, A Christmas Horror Story & Crampus - Christmas Horror example posters

Merry Christmas everyone

It seems like there really is a Christmas film for everyone (and if you really don’t fancy the traditional choices, remember you can’t go wrong with Die Hard).

Understanding how Christmas movie posters communicate their themes and stories can be really crucial part of how you build an audience for your film, and maybe even make it a Christmas tradition for years to come.

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Happy holidays!