In the London suburb of Finchley, the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, are endangered by a Second World War attack of German bombers. They are then evacuated to the country home of Professor Digory Kirke, who is not accustomed to having children in his house, as Mrs Macready, the strict housekeeper, explains.
All the Whos down in Whoville enjoy celebrating Christmas with much happiness and joy, except for the cynical and misanthropic Grinch (Jim Carrey) the Whos with great wrath and occasionally pulls dangerous and harmful practical jokes on them. As a result, no one likes or cares for him. Meanwhile, six-year-old Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen) believes everyone is missing the point about Christmas by being more concerned about the gifts and festivities. After finding him mixing up the mail in the post office, Cindy Lou becomes interested in the Grinch and his history, asking everyone what they know about him, and soon discovers that he has a tragic past.
On Christmas Eve in the late-1950s, a boy witnesses a train called the Polar Express that is about to embark to the North Pole. When the boy examines the engine, the conductor lets him board the train. The boy meets other children, including a girl and a know-it-all kid. When the train picks up Billy, the hero boy applies the emergency brakes. Billy initially declines to board but changes his mind. The conductor summons a waiter team, who give the children hot chocolate, and the girl stows away one cup under her seat to give to Billy, who is alone in the observation car. The girl and conductor deliver the hot chocolate cup to Billy until the hero boy discovers the girl’s ticket is unpunched. He loses it before he can return it. After the ticket is abused by the wind and animals, it slips back in the train. The girl explains her lost ticket, and the conductor considers ejecting her before taking her for a walk on the top of the train instead. The hero boy locates the lost ticket and pursues them.
Jack Frost is awakened from the depths of a frozen pond with amnesia. Upon discovering no one can see or hear him however, he wanders off alone. Three hundred years later Jack, as the spirit of Winter, enjoys delivering snow days to school kids, but resents that they do not believe in him and still cannot see him. At the North Pole, the Man in the Moon warns Nicholas St. North (Santa Claus) that Pitch Black, the Boogeyman, is threatening the children of the world with his nightmares. He calls E. Aster Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), the Sandman/Sandy, and Tooth, the Toothfairy, to arms. They are then told that Jack Frost has been selected to be a new Guardian. Jack is unimpressed by this position, as he feels wronged for not being believed in, but North convinces him to aid them in facing Pitch.
Scott Calvin is a divorced 38-year-old advertising executive, who is also a father to his son Charlie. Charlie's mother, Laura, is now married to psychiatrist Neil Miller. After Scott reads "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to Charlie on Christmas Eve, he and Charlie are awakened that night by sounds on the roof. After confronting a man on the roof, who inadvertently falls off when Scott startles him, then vanishes leaving his Santa Claus outfit behind, they discover eight reindeer on the roof and Charlie convinces Scott to put on the suit and finish Santa's work for him. As the morning comes, the reindeer return to the North Pole to Santa's Workshop, where the head elf Bernard explains that, due to a clausical contract written on a card Scott found on Santa, in putting on the suit and entering the sleigh he has accepted the "Santa Clause" and has agreed to the responsibilities of that position. He tells a skeptical Scott that he has eleven months to get his affairs in order before reporting to the workshop at Thanksgiving permanently.
One Christmas Eve, during a stop at an orphanage, a baby boy named William, captivated by the sight of a teddy bear, crawls into Santa Claus's (Ed Asner) sack of gifts while he is delivering toys. Santa Claus unknowingly takes the boy back to the North Pole, and when discovered, is renamed Buddy because one the elves notices he is wearing "Little Buddy" brand diapers. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) volunteers to raise him.
On Christmas Eve, hundreds of Christmas elves helm the command centre of Santa Claus's mile-wide, ultra–high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. The current Santa: Malcolm and the Christmas elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by Malcolm's oldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter (among thousands of more elves) at mission control underneath the North Pole, while Steve's clumsy and panophobic younger brother Arthur answers the letters to Santa. During a delivery operation, when a child wakes up and almost sees Malcolm, a Christmas elf back in the S-1 inadvertently presses a button, causing a present to fall off a conveyor and go unnoticed.
The film begins with a woman giving birth to a baby. Within a few minutes of his birth, the baby starts saying: "Ho, ho, ho!". Mother Claus calls her son, Frederick, over to meet his new brother, whom she has decided to name Nicholas. Mother Claus lovingly refers to the new baby as her little Saint Nick. During Christmas, when Nick opens his gifts including Fred's, he decides to give them away to orphans which makes Fred angry. Mother Claus advises Fred to be a better person by stating he should be more like his brother; this in turn causes Fred to resent Nick. Feeling isolated, Fred often climbs a tree to confide his problems in a bird. On one occasion, Nick cuts down the tree, saying that now Fred can bring it inside since he liked it so much. However, the birdhouse Fred's confidant lived in is smashed, causing the bird to leave; this causes a temporary rift between Fred and Nick.
Four years after the second film, Scott Calvin/Santa Claus (Tim Allen), and his wife, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), are expecting their first child as Christmas Eve approaches. Carol is missing her family, so Scott invites his in-laws, Sylvia and Bud Newman (Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin), up to the North Pole, along with his former wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson), her husband, Neil (Judge Reinhold), and their daughter, Lucy (Liliana Mumy), to keep Mrs. Claus company. Meanwhile, he is summoned to a meeting of the Council of Legendary Figures consisting of Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler), Father Time (Peter Boyle), the Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas), Cupid (Kevin Pollak), the Tooth Fairy (Art LaFleur), and the Sandman (Michael Dorn). Jack Frost (Martin Short) also arrives and is in trouble. He is jealous that he has no holiday or special occasion in his honor, and has been promoting himself during the Christmas season. Mother Nature accuses him of attempting to upstage Santa, and suggests sanctions against him. When Santa says that he is dealing with how to get the in-laws to come without revealing that he is Santa, Jack Frost manages to negotiate a light sentence of community service at the North Pole, helping Santa and the elves put up various Canadian-themed paraphernalia, as Carol's parents believe Scott is a toymaker in Canada. However, Frost's ultimate goal is to trick Santa into renouncing his position, with unknowing help from Curtis who accidentally blurts out what the Escape Clause is and where it is. Thus, Jack Frost sneaks into Santa's hall of snow globes (which contain images of all the Santas throughout world history) and steals a special one containing Santa Claus (aka Scott Calvin) that will invoke the Escape Clause, in which Santa must hold the Globe and say "I wish I'd never been Santa at all" thus sending him back in time and undoing his career as Santa. When Lucy discovers this crime Jack Frost freezes her parents and locks her in a closet. Jack Frost causes trouble for the family that makes Scott think that he must resign to make things better.
The story starts in a forest called Holiday Woods with seven trees containing doors leading to towns representing various holidays: Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween and the Fourth of July. Halloween Town is a fantasy world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves and witches. Jack Skellington, a skeleton known as The Pumpkin King, leads them in organizing the annual Halloween holiday. However, in a monologue, Jack reveals he has grown weary of the same routine year after year, and wants something more. Wandering dejectedly in the woods, he stumbles across the seven holiday doors and accidentally opens a portal to Christmas Town, whose residents are charged with organizing the annual Christmas holiday. Impressed by the bright and cheery feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his understanding of Christmas, to the Halloween Town residents. However, they fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything to their ideas of Halloween, although there is one Christmas character they can relate to: the fearsome lobster-like king of Christmas Town who flies at night, named "Sandy Claws". Meanwhile, Jack who barely understands Christmas himself, obsessively tries to study the holiday but fails to grasp any further meaning of it. He ultimately decides that since he cannot understand it, he should improve it, and announces that the citizens of Halloween Town will take over Christmas this year.
When Cole's Department Store's Santa Claus gets drunk before taking part in the Thanksgiving parade, Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins), Cole's director of special events, fires him and must find a replacement immediately. She spots an old man (Richard Attenborough) berating the inebriated Santa, and begs him to take over. He introduces himself as Kris Kringle. Kris does so well during the parade that he is immediately hired to be Cole's main Santa for the holiday period. All the children in New York begin to believe that he is the real Santa, with the exception of Dorey's six-year-old daughter Susan (Mara Wilson). Dorey's boyfriend, Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott), does his best to convince Susan to believe. While being babysat one night by Kris, Susan shares with him her Christmas wish, she would like a dad, a house (used every year for the Cole's catalogue photoshoot) and a baby brother. Kris asks if she would begin to believe in Santa if she got all those things. Susan agrees that she would.
A man who claims to be Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) arrives at the Orlando International Airport in Florida. Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) is working as a taxi driver. He takes a passenger to the airport, but speeds and the passenger falls out of the taxi. Ernest later picks up Santa Claus, who tells Ernest that he is on his way to inform a local celebrity named Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark) that he has been chosen to be the new Santa Claus. Carruthers hosts a children's program named Uncle Joey's Treehouse in the Orlando area similar to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood with emphasis on manners and integrity with the catchphrase "They never get old. They always stay new. Those three little words, Please and Thank You.
Somewhere in the 14th century, Claus is a peasant woodcutter in his mid-50s who, with his wife Anya, delivers his gifts to the children of a certain village. One night, Claus, Anya and their two reindeer, Donner and Blitzen, are rescued from certain death in a blizzard, only to be transported to the vast "ice mountains, way up at the top of the world." Their expected arrival is heralded with the appearance of several elves, or as Claus's people call them in their legends, the Vendegums, led by the venerable and wise elf named Dooley. Inside the elves' home, Claus and Anya also meet inventive elf Patch, and the more down-to-earth Puffy. Dooley tells Claus it is his destiny to deliver toys to the children of the world every Christmas Eve, which the elves will make in their large workshops. Donner and Blitzen are joined by six other reindeer and fed magic food that allows them to fly. When Christmas Eve comes, Claus is approached by the oldest of elves, the Ancient One, who renames him as "Santa Claus".
Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing which tells time", a sundial. Ralphie's desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a department store Santa Claus, all giving him the same warning: "You'll shoot your eye out".
Ginny Grainger (Steenburgen) is the mother of two children, Cal (Robbie Magwood) and Abbie (Elisabeth Harnois). Her husband, Jack (Gary Basaraba), has been out of work since June, and they have to move out of the company house by January 1. Jack fixes bikes as a hobby in the basement and hopes to give one to his children's poor friend, Molly Monaghan, for Christmas. Although he would like to open a bike shop of his own, doing so would use up all their savings, which Ginny sees as a foolish move. In order to make ends meet, she works as a cashier at a grocery store.