50 Beloved Christmas Specials from the 1970s on YouTube

Are you ready to get festive and take a trip down memory lane? If so, you’re in for a treat! With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to dig up those classic retro Christmas TV specials from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

Today we’re focusing on the 1970s, which I would propose was the highlight of the golden age of Christmas TV. So many good shows to watch and enjoy with the family. I found more than 50 of these great Christmas specials and Christmas-themed episodes that you can enjoy right now.

The best part of this stroll down memory lane? You can watch all of these vintage Christmas TV specials and special Christmas episodes of your favorite shows for free online on YouTube! So grab a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle up with your loved ones, and get ready to enjoy some true holiday nostalgia.

50 Beloved Christmas Specials and Christmas Episodes from the 1970s on YouTube

1. The Great Christmas Claus Switch (1970)

The special combines several Christmas special regulars (Ed Sullivan, the Muppets, and Art Carney) to tell the story of a plot to kidnap Santa (played by Carney). Ed Sullivan narrates the story.

2. Red Skelton Show Christmas Episode (1970)

Red plays his classic character, Freddie the Freeloader, with Leslie Nielson as a cop who wants to arrest him for selling chestnuts without a license. The special starts with a mostly silent skit, “The Gift of Giving.”

3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)

I recently walked into our living room and found my husband engrossed in this Christmas classic from the iconic team at Rankin/Bass. It still holds up as an example of Christmas specials done right. Narrated by Fred Astaire, with Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus, the special tells the story of how Santa Claus came to be.

4. The Night the Animals Talked (1970)

A minor holiday classic, this animated special is based on a Norwegian legend that the animals in the stable where Jesus was born gained the ability to talk that night. They bicker among each other at first and even refuse to let Joseph and Mary enter that barn, but they eventually learn to love each other as they realize they’ve just witnessed the birth of the Christ child.

5. The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1970)

This aired on January 15, so it’s not meant to be a Christmas special for folks in the U.S. Instead, it’s a behind-the-scenes look at Bob Hope’s USO tour to Vietnam to cheer up U.S. troops worldwide. Some of his zingers are a little hard-hitting for the time. In front of a crowd of 30,000 in Long Binh, Vietnam, he says, “This surprises me. President Nixon thinks you’re all at home.”

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid II” (1970)

This is a call back to an episode of the classic 60s “single woman in the city sitcom,” That Girl. Mary has just moved to Minneapolis and is looking forward to returning home to visit her parents when she finds out she has to work Christmas Day. Determined to salvage the holiday, she plans a giant celebration on Christmas Eve with Rhoda, only to give up her plans to help a co-worker spend the holiday with his family.


7. The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour Christmas Episode (1970)

I miss all the amazing variety shows we were blessed with in the 1970s. Glen Campbell’s show was a must-watch every week in my house. Glen shows off his family in this Christmas special with guests Anne Murray (the go-to guest for every Christmas special in the 70s and 80s) and Mel Tillis.

8. The Flip Wilson Show Christmas Episode (1970)

This show aired on Christmas Eve and has a few skits celebrating the holiday. Burl Ives reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Flip, as the Rev. Leroy, tells the story of Scrooge.

9. The Waltons Homecoming (1971)

This heartwarming movie introduced us to the Walton family, who would go on to warm our hearts for nine seasons. It’s Christmas Eve in 1933, and the whole Walton family is excited about their father’s return after taking a job fifty miles away. However, when a snowstorm threatens his arrival, John Boy goes out on a journey to find him.

10. A Christmas Carol (1971)

There are so many different versions of Dickens’ holiday classic, but this animated special is one of the best. It’s a straight retelling of the story without any additional plot elements. The voice of Scrooge, Alastair Sim, played Scrooge in the 1951 live-action movie, Scrooge.

11. Bing Crosby and The Sounds of Christmas (1971)

This was Bing Crosby’s 36th Christmas special! Bing, his family, and guests including Robert Goulet sing classic Christmas carols.

12. Sonny & Cher Christmas Episode (1972)

Sonny & Cher celebrate Christmas with William Conrad and their son Chaz (then known as Chastity). The beginning of this episode is one of the sweetest things I’ve seen on TV. Sonny and Cher explain the concept of a Christmas special and Christmas gifts to Chaz. It’s a beautiful glimpse into how much they loved their child.

13. The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Episode (1972)

This was a special Christmas-themed episode of The Julie Andrews Hour, a variety show that aired for one season in 1972-1973. This special episode was extraordinary, with a cast that included Jimmy Stewart, Jack Cassidy, Carl Reiner and Cass Elliot. The episode’s highlight must be Rich Little portraying Scrooge by doing an impeccable Jack Benny imitation.


14. Dean Martin Christmas (1972)

The Dean Martin show ran for nine seasons on NBC and his yearly Christmas show was the highlight of every season. This episode features several Christmas standards sung by Dean with his backup ensemble, The Golddiggers.

15. The House Without a Christmas Tree (1972)

Jason Roberds stars in this made-for-TV movie, doing what he does best: playing a supremely grumpy man. Roberds plays a bitter widower who refuses to let his daughter get a Christmas tree. She finally wins a tree in a contest at school but gets rid of it due to her father’s reaction. Surprise! He eventually realizes the error of his ways.

16. Julie Andrews Christmas Special (1973)

Peter Ustinov plays Santa Claus, who has decided to retire, much to Julie’s dismay. Peggy Lee also guests.

17. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

This special, starring Joel Grey, is the most well-known of the Christmas Specials featuring Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem. This time, the crisis is that Santa has struck the entire town off his list due to an insulting letter. Everyone must work together to convince Santa to visit on Christmas Eve (spoiler alert: they do!)

18. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Not a Christmas Story” (1974)

This episode aired a month before Christmas, but I think it still qualifies as a Christmas episode. Sue Anne Nivens has just completed taping her Christmas special and invites the WJM crew to enjoy the food at a Christmas dinner. Everyone declines but ends up getting trapped at the station by a snowstorm. Oh, also they’ve had a giant fight and no one is speaking to each other. Hilarity, obviously, ensues.


19. Perry Como Christmas Show (1974)

This beautiful special features Perry’s retelling of the very first Christmas. Peggy Fleming and perennial Christmas special guest star Rich Little join Perry, along with The Carpenters.

20. The City that Forgot about Christmas (1974)

Starring Sebastian Cabot and Charles Nelson Reilly as the Wicked Mayor, the sweet story was produced by Lutheran Television. Benji is upset that his family is too busy getting ready for Christmas to spend time with him so he goes to complain to his Grandfather. His Grandfather tells him the story of a town that had forgotten about Christmas. One day a carpenter comes to town and tells the residents that Christmas story, much to the displeasure of the evil mayor.

21. John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975)

The picture quality isn’t great on this sweet special from John Denver, but it’s still fun to watch John Denver sing the songs he did so beautifully. John duets with a not-quite-yet-gray-haired Steve Martin, who plays his banjo and sings with a butterfly on his nose.

22. Sonny & Cher Christmas Episode (1976)

This episode from Sonny and Cher’s post-divorce tv series shows off their great chemistry and features some of their best Christmas songs. Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo(!) guest.

23. Christmas in Disneyland (1976)

This lighthearted special showcases the beauty of Disney at Christmas. Art Carney plays a grandfather who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. His family, including Sandy Duncan and Glen Campbell, try to change his mind.

24. Donny and Marie Osmond Christmas Special (1976)

This special is sure to get you in the Christmas mood with its lush scenes of snowy Provo, Utah. All of the Osmonds appear in the show along with guest stars Andy Williams and Paul Lynde.

25. Young Pioneers’ Christmas (1976)

This ABC Movie was a sequel to the TV Movie, The Young Pioneers. The movies are based on a book by Rose Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter. The story is loosely based on the experiences of her parents when they homesteaded in Dakota Territory. The story starts with tragedy – the death of the young couple’s baby – but the couple still finds a way to help others at Christmas.

26. The Lawrence Welk Show (1976)

This is the 2002 rebroadcast of the 1976 Christmas episode of the Lawrence Welk Show. How well I remember Saturday nights in front of the TV as my mom put my hair up in curlers for church the next day while we watched this show. This episode even features Lawrence singing!

27. Laverne & Shirley, “Oh Hear the Angels Voices” (1976)

In this classic episode from Season 2, Laverne and Shirley help Frank with his annual Christmas dinner for the needy.

28. Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1976)

This Rankin/Bass animated special is the sequel to the 1969 special, Frosty the Snowman. This time around, Andy Griffith narrates the story, which sees the children reunited with their favorite magical snowman. Once again, an evil villain tries to steal Frosty’s magic hat.

29. Rhoda, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” (1977)

OK, ok, this is not a Christmas episode. I’m including it because we don’t have enough TV shows that illustrate just how fraught deciding on your New Year’s Eve plans can be. In this episode, Rhoda has separated from her husband, Joe, and dreading a New Year’s Eve alone.

30. Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special (1977)

It just wasn’t Christmas without a Bob Hope special; this special from 1977 is one of his best. Guest stars include Olivia Newton-John and a very young Mark Hamill. Make sure you watch the banter between Bob and Mark, who is completely at ease with every lousy joke in the bit.

31. Johnny Cash Christmas Special (1977)

My dad eagerly awaited every Johnny Cash Christmas Special. I don’t remember watching this one with him, but I know he loved this special, which highlighted all of Cash’s favorite Christmas memories and featured performances from friends like Roy Clark, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

32. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Old Christmas (1977)

This was Bing Crosby’s last Christmas special, filmed just five weeks before he died. In addition to being the last time we could hear the old groaner sing “White Christmas,” this special also includes the classic matchup of Bing and David Bowie singing “This Little Drummer Boy.”

33. The Carpenters at Christmas (1977)

I now declare that 1977 was the best year in Christmas specials. Can you imagine being able to see legends like Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, and The Carpenters on TV in a single month? The Carpenters and their guests, who include Harvey Korman and Kristy McNichol, sing classic Christmas songs and some new material as well.

34. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1977)

This live-action special, loosely based on the classic Christmas poem, has a stellar cast including Alice Ghostly, Anne Meara, and Martha Raye. In a rare serious role, Paul Lynde plays the frazzled dad, Clark Cosgrove.

35. Christmas at Walt Disney World (1978)

Possibly the most random Christmas special I’ve ever encountered, this show stars Shields and Yarnell, the 70s mime duo, as The Clinkers. The Clinkers, who appear to be living mannequins?, travel from LA to Orlando for a vacation at Walt Disney World. You know, as mannequins do. Guests include Pablo Cruise, Phyllis Diller, and Avery Schreiber.

36. All in the Family Christmas Special (1978)

This was the final Christmas-themed episode of All in the Family, and, like many episodes, it realistically portrays the troubles of a typical family. Archie and Edith travel to California to visit Mike and Gloria for Christmas, but they discover that the Stivics have separated and Gloria has been seeing another man.


37. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)

The Sesame Street gang celebrates Christmas in New York City while Big Bird tries to figure out just how Santa Claus can get down all those chimneys.

38. The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait (1978)

This was the second (and final) Christmas special from the Carpenters. I watched this show as a kid purely to see Kristy McNichol and her dreamy brother Jimmy, but as an adult, I now appreciate just how beautiful Karen Carpenter’s voice was. The classic Christmas songs from this special are tailor-made for Karen’s sultry alto.

39. The Pink Panther in: A Pink Christmas (1978)

My favorite cartoon character, The Pink Panther, is his usual suave self as he prowls the big city before Christmas. He competes with the Big Nose to see who can sell the most Christmas trees before ultimately realizing the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a fun special for Pink Panther fans. The video is high quality, and like most Pink Panther cartoons, it’s mostly silent, relying on sight gags for the humor.

40. Christmas with Luciano Pavarotti (1978)

A perennial classic, this is Luciano Pavarotti at his best, singing traditional Christmas carols at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal.

41. The Gift of Love by O. Henry (1978)

June Lockhart, Marie Osmond, and Timothy Bottoms star in a story of self-discovery set at the turn of the last century. A young orphan living in NYC has to come to terms with her relatives’ expectations for an “acceptable” marriage when she suddenly falls deeply in love with a Swiss immigrant. Will she choose what’s expected or listen to her heart?

42. Raggedy Ann and Andy in The Great Santa Claus Caper (1978)

Alexander Graham Wolf, inventor and efficiency expert (who resembles Wile E. Coyote in both looks and sound) is hatching a cunning plan to take over Santa’s workshop! Comet the reindeer needs help – so she turns towards her trusty pals Raggedy Ann & Andy, along with their pup Raggedy Arthur. Why them? They’re easy to carry around and they don’t mind the chilly weather one bit!

43. Donny & Marie Christmas Show (1978)

Donny and Marie join with their entire family for this Christmas episode filmed in Utah. Donny’s wife, Debbie, (along with her seriously great 70s hair) makes her first appearance as an Osmond.

44. Perry Como’s Early American Christmas (1978)

Perry, along with guests John Wayne and Diana Canova, celebrate Christmas as our forefathers did in this special filmed in Colonial Williamsburg.

45. The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, “Once Upon a Starry Night” (1979)

Based on the popular TV movies, this series ran for two seasons on NBC. Once again, heavy snow threatens to ruin Christmas as it does in so many Christmas specials. Thankfully, Christmas is saved thanks for Grizzly’s heroic actions.


46. Johnny Cash Christmas (1979)

Johnny Cash welcomes Andy Kaufman, who gives us a killer Elvis impression. Other guests include Tom T. Hall and Anne Murray. Be sure to notice Cash’s poinsettia tux.

47. WKRP in Cincinnati, “Jennifer’s Home for Christmas” (1979)

When you think of holiday episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati, you probably think of turkeys. But this Christmas episode is worth revisiting as well. It’s charmingly sweet and funny. That work gang all gathers together to give Jennifer a Merry Christmas.

48. John Denver & The Muppets Christmas (1979)

John Denver brings his squeaky-clean charm to this Christmas special, which features Miss Piggy in all her best piggy diva glory. Don’t miss John Denver marching in precision as a toy wooden soldier while being serenaded by Miss Piggy. Their slow-mo reunion at the end of the song is priceless.

49. Donny & Marie Christmas Special (1979)

Marie sports the latest hairstyle, the famous Dorothy Hamill cut, and they’ve got Dorothy Hamill on the show, so you can decide who wore it best. This special is also the TV debut of Donny’s son, Donald Clark Osmond Jr.

50. An American Christmas Carol (1979)

Henry Winkler stars in this retelling of Dickens’ classic Christmas story. Winkler stars as Benedict Slade, a New England businessman in the 1930s, who learns to love Christmas after he is visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve.