short christmas stories

22 Must-Read Short Christmas Stories to Warm Your Heart

Immerse yourself in the magic of the holiday season with our curated list of short Christmas stories. Whether you’re looking for heartwarming tales for kids, thought-provoking stories for adults, or just a good laugh, these narratives offer a sprinkle of joy, a dash of humor, and a whole lot of Christmas spirit. Get ready to be captivated!

Short Christmas Stories for Adults

The holiday season isn’t just for children; adults too can revel in the nostalgia, lessons, and warm feelings that Christmas stories provide. Here is a handpicked selection of short Christmas stories tailored for an adult audience, each offering its own unique message and moral.

1. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

Christmas Carol

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In Victorian London, the cold-hearted miser Ebenezer Scrooge despises Christmas and everything associated with it. However, his life takes an unexpected turn when he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

These ethereal figures show him scenes from his life and the lives of those around him, ultimately leading him to a profound transformation. Scrooge learns the true essence of Christmas and becomes a generous, kind-hearted man, saving himself and others from a life of misery.

Message or Moral: The story emphasizes the significance of kindness, compassion, and the transformational power of giving.

2. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry


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Della and Jim are a young married couple struggling to make ends meet. Despite their financial difficulties, each wishes to give the other a special gift for Christmas. Della sells her beautiful hair to buy a chain for Jim’s cherished pocket watch, while Jim sells his watch to buy combs for Della’s hair. When they exchange gifts, they realize the sacrifices they’ve made for each other, embodying the true spirit of Christmas and love.

Message or Moral: The story conveys the idea that the value of a gift lies not in its material worth, but in the thought and love put into it.

3. “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke

Wise Man

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Artaban, the fourth Wise Man, sets out to join the other three Magi in paying homage to the newborn King. However, he’s delayed because he stops to help people in need along his journey. Despite missing the significant events of Jesus’s life, he eventually understands that his acts of kindness are his true offerings to the divine.

Message or Moral: Kindness to others is a gift to the divine, and the search for goodness is a life well spent.

4. “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells

Every Day

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A little girl’s wish for it to be Christmas every day is granted by a fairy. At first, the constant celebrations are enjoyable, but soon the repetitiveness begins to wear on everyone. Gifts lose their charm, the special foods become mundane, and the girl realizes that the beauty of Christmas lies in its scarcity and the joy of anticipation.

Message or Moral: The story highlights the importance of moderation and appreciating special moments for their rarity.

5. “A Burglar’s Christmas” by Willa Cather


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A down-on-his-luck man decides to rob a house on Christmas Eve, thinking it to be his only option. When he’s caught by the homeowners, he’s surprised by their compassion and kindness. Instead of calling the authorities, they offer him food and a place at their table, providing him with the gift of a fresh start and restored faith in humanity.

Message or Moral: Redemption and transformation are possible, even for those who think they are past saving.

6. “The Fir Tree” by Hans Christian Andersen

Fir Tree

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A young fir tree in a forest is impatient to grow up, always desiring the next phase of life. When loggers finally cut it down for Christmas, it briefly enjoys being adorned with ornaments but soon realizes the fleeting nature of its existence. In its quest for the future, the tree has missed the beauty of living in the moment.

Message or Moral: The story cautions against longing so much for the future that we forget to appreciate the present.

Short Christmas Stories for Kids

Children are often the most captivated by the magic and wonder of Christmas, and what better way to celebrate the holiday season than with stories that both entertain and impart valuable lessons? Below is a curated list designed to captivate young imaginations.

1. “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg

Polar Express

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In this enchanting story, a young boy boards a mysterious train that appears on Christmas Eve, bound for the North Pole. Alongside other children dressed in their pajamas, he embarks on a magical journey through enchanting landscapes.

On this adventure, the boy not only receives the first gift of Christmas from Santa himself — a bell from Santa’s sleigh — but learns that the wonder of Christmas lies in believing.

Message or Moral: Believe in the magic of Christmas and the power of faith.

2. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Robert L. May


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Rudolph is a young reindeer born with an unusual, glowing red nose. He faces ridicule and exclusion from other reindeer but gains recognition when Santa picks him to lead the sleigh on a foggy Christmas Eve. Rudolph’s special feature, once a point of mockery, turns out to be the very thing that saves Christmas.

Message or Moral: Our differences make us special and can be our greatest strengths.

3. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss


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The Grinch is a grumpy creature who despises Christmas, mainly because his heart is “two sizes too small.” He decides to ruin the holiday for the joyful Whos in Whoville by stealing their presents and decorations. However, when he sees that their Christmas spirit isn’t dampened by the lack of material things, his heart grows, and he returns their gifts, joining in the celebrations.

Message or Moral: The essence of Christmas is not in material gifts but in the love and unity among people.

4. “Frosty the Snowman” by Walter E. Rollins and Steve Nelson


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Frosty is a jolly snowman brought to life by a magical hat. With a brief time to live before melting away, Frosty maximizes his time, playing and singing with the children who built him. Though he melts away, the story promises his return, teaching children about the cycles of life and the importance of making the most of our time.

Message or Moral: Make the most of your time and cherish the moments you have.

5. “The Elves and the Shoemaker” by The Brothers Grimm


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In this classic fairy tale, a poor shoemaker and his wife are amazed to find that elves come to their workshop at night to make shoes. The quality of these shoes is so extraordinary that the shoemaker becomes prosperous. Feeling grateful, the shoemaker and his wife decide to make clothes for the elves, who, in return, provide them with lifelong happiness.

Message or Moral: Acts of kindness are rewarded; the cycle of giving creates abundance.

6. “The Nutcracker” by E.T.A. Hoffmann


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On Christmas Eve, young Clara receives a nutcracker from her godfather. That night, the nutcracker comes to life to fight off the Mouse King and takes Clara on a magical journey through the Land of Sweets. She learns about courage, friendship, and the beauty of imagination.

Message or Moral: The power of imagination can transport you to magical places, and courage can overcome adversity.

Short Inspirational Christmas Stories

The holiday season is often seen as a time for reflection and inspiration. Short Christmas stories with uplifting messages can remind us of the profound joy and meaning that the holiday can bring. Here are some stories that can inspire both young and old.

1. “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen

Match Girl

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A poor young girl tries to sell matches on a freezing New Year’s Eve but has no luck. To keep warm, she starts lighting the matches she was supposed to sell. With each match struck, she sees beautiful visions, including her deceased grandmother, who takes her away to a better life in heaven, far from her earthly suffering.

Message or Moral: Even in the darkest of times, hope and comfort can be found; the story also calls attention to the less fortunate and inspires acts of kindness.

2. “The Legend of the Christmas Rose” by Selma Lagerlöf

Christmas Rose

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In this story, a young shepherd girl named Robber Mother feels she has nothing to offer the Christ child and is too unworthy to visit Him. However, an encounter with an angel reveals that she can offer the Christmas Rose, a flower that blooms in the cold of winter, symbolizing hope and new beginnings.

Message or Moral: Every individual, no matter their circumstances, has something valuable to offer the world.

3. “Why the Chimes Rang” by Raymond MacDonald Alden

Chimes Rang

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A church has a set of magical chimes that ring only when a gift is offered at the altar that comes from the heart. For years, they haven’t rung until a young boy offers his meager gift, causing the chimes to ring out, signifying the true meaning of giving.

Message or Moral: It’s not the size of the gift that matters, but the sincerity and love behind it.

4. “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde

Selfish Giant

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A giant returns to his garden after a long absence only to find children playing there. He banishes them and builds a wall, causing eternal winter to fall over the garden. When he finally lets the children back in, spring returns, and he learns the importance of sharing and kindness.

Message or Moral: Selfishness leads to isolation and unhappiness, while sharing brings joy and fulfillment.

5. “An Orange for Frankie” by Patricia Polacco


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Set during the Great Depression, Frankie waits eagerly for his father to bring home oranges for Christmas — an extraordinary treat during tough times. When his father is late, and the oranges are almost gone, Frankie’s family members each give up their own so he won’t be disappointed.

Message or Moral: Sometimes sacrifices made for the happiness of others are the most rewarding gifts of all.

Funny Christmas Short Stories

Humor has a unique way of making even the most familiar tales captivating. Here are some funny Christmas stories that will not only entertain but also deliver a chuckle or two — perhaps even a lesson wrapped in humor.

1. “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris

Santaland Diaries

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In this darkly comic account, David Sedaris recounts his stint working as Crumpet, an elf in Macy’s Santaland. With a caustic wit, Sedaris describes the over-the-top training sessions, the various “Santa personalities” he has to assist, and the often bizarre behavior of parents and kids alike in the holiday setting.

The story paints a picture that contrasts sharply with the idealized images of Christmas, revealing a commercialized, stressful, and yet strangely human landscape behind the scenes of holiday cheer.

Message or Moral: Sometimes, the most hysterical situations are born out of the most mundane or stressful environments. The story reveals that there’s a human experience behind every commercialized façade.

2. “Six to Eight Black Men” also by David Sedaris

Black Men

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David Sedaris takes a deep dive into the Dutch Christmas tradition of Sinterklaas, who is accompanied by ‘six to eight black men’ as his helpers. His bemused analysis of how this figure and his entourage would translate in American culture yields hilarious observations.

Through interviewing locals and partaking in the festivities himself, Sedaris exposes the absurdities that arise when differing cultural norms collide, and he does so in a manner that provokes thought as much as laughter.

Message or Moral: Traditions can seem absurd when viewed through the lens of another culture, but they often serve as a mirror reflecting our own cultural oddities.

3. “Reginald’s Christmas Revel” by Saki (H.H. Munro)

Christmas Revel

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Reginald, Saki’s recurring character known for his irreverent wit and disdain for convention, finds himself reluctantly participating in traditional Christmas celebrations. Despite his initial skepticism, he introduces his own brand of mischief and humor into the proceedings, turning an otherwise staid family gathering into an unpredictable and uproarious affair.

From creatively “improving” the Christmas tree decorations to putting a satirical twist on holiday customs, Reginald disrupts the conventional festivities in ways that leave the reader chuckling.

Message or Moral: Tradition for tradition’s sake often loses its meaning; sometimes, it takes an irreverent outsider to breathe new life into staid customs and make us reconsider why we do what we do during the holidays.

4. “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Blue Carbuncle

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While not an outright comedy, this Sherlock Holmes adventure has its share of light moments. The story begins when a man loses his hat and Christmas goose, only for the goose to be discovered with a precious gemstone in its belly. Holmes and Watson’s journey to solve this peculiar mystery features humorous exchanges, quirky characters, and unexpected turns that contribute to its charm.

Message or Moral: Even in the gravest circumstances, a touch of humor can elevate the experience, making the process of problem-solving more enjoyable and memorable.

5. “The Christmas Mouse” by Miss Read

Christmas Mouse

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In a small, quaint village, the Appleton family discovers a mouse has taken residence in their pantry on Christmas Eve. What ensues is a hilarious chain of events as each family member, armed with makeshift mouse-catching gear, embarks on a hunt that turns chaotic. Amid the frenzy, the family can’t help but laugh at their own silliness, realizing that this unplanned adventure has only enriched their holiday celebration.

Message or Moral: Sometimes, it’s the unexpected and even disruptive moments that create the most enduring and heartfelt memories.


With 28 diverse short Christmas stories covering multiple categories, you’re sure to find a story that resonates with you this holiday season. Revisit classics or discover new gems as you celebrate the magical spirit of Christmas.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.