Add These Hidden Gems to Your Holiday Media Collection

There’s nothing wrong with the standard Christmas classics. After all, “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” have achieved their status as holiday staples for a reason. Reading the same stories, watching the same movies, and hearing the same songs year after year, though, can get a little boring — especially if your Christmas shopping is done at the mall, accompanied by a loud sound system. If you find yourself growing weary of the same old standbys, change up your repertoire with these often-overlooked Christmas-themed choices.

Short Story: “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

William Sydney Porter, who wrote under the pen name O. Henry, is regarded as a master of the short story. One of the most prestigious short story prizes in the country is named for him, and he is still being read today, over a century after his death. Perhaps his most beloved story is “The Gift of the Magi,” which focuses on a couple’s efforts to buy presents for one another.

Jim and Della, the story’s main characters, are a young couple with very little money. As Christmas approaches, each goes out of their way to show their love for one another by finding the perfect gift, despite their limited means. Given that O. Henry is known for his unpredictable endings, we won’t spoil how “The Gift of the Magi” turns out, but suffice it to say, the story sends a powerful message about the true spirit of giving.

Movie: “Arthur Christmas”

Released in 2011, “Arthur Christmas” proves that there are still new ways to explore tried-and-true holiday legends. The movie asks a simple question: How could Santa possibly deliver all of those gifts in one night? Its answer is both comic and surprisingly practical. Turns out, Santa helms a high-tech aircraft and employs not only a huge staff of highly trained elves, but also his two sons.

Steve is the eldest son. He helps train the staff and create the plan of attack. Arthur, his younger brother, works in the mailroom answering children’s’ letters. But when one kid’s Christmas wishes go unanswered, it’s up to Arthur to save the day in this beautiful CGI adventure that packs in as many laughs for parents as it does for their children.

Music: “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway and “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder

Christmas music runs the gamut from festive to melancholy, but it’s all too rarely funky. Nobody wants to spend their entire Christmas party sitting down. As you craft your Christmas playlist this year, break up the Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé with something a little groovier. These two cuts from a pair of soul music masters will have your entire family boogieing faster than Santa can get down a chimney. Donny and Stevie have never failed to deliver rock-solid grooves and beautiful melodies, and their Christmas tunes are no exception.