Why should adults have all the fun? The holiday season brings new TV series and specials for your children, too. We’ve made our list and checked it (more than) twice, and we think your children (ages 2-12) will find these TV shows very nice. Plus, if you can get them to sit in front of the TV for at least 30 minutes you might have time to address those holiday cards, wrap those presents, plan those big meals and maybe get a moment of peace. No judgment here!
1. The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special / A Sesame Street Thanksgiving
Premiere Date: November 11 at 7 p.m. and November 18 at 9 a.m. on HBO
Abby and her pals take ride in a hot-air balloon, but just as they’re ready to return home, Abby loses her wand in the brand new Sesame Street special, The Magical Wand Chase. While trying to get back home, the Sesame Street gang meet people in their community who speak different languages, eat different kinds of food (Cookie Monsters loves churros!) and listen to different kinds of music (Elmo enjoys the Nigerian drums). Elizabeth Banks makes a special appearance as a trouble-making bird. A week later, the venerable children’s series kicks off its 48th season (!!) with a Thanksgiving feast and a celebration of how traditions vary across families and cultures. Rosita is worried that her grandmother serves tamales at Thanksgiving before she realizes that her friends eat all sorts of foods when they gather to celebrate the holiday—from mashed potatoes to sushi. In this extremely precarious time, children’s programming like this, which rejoices in and admires the uniqueness of different cultures and traditions, is more important than ever.
2. My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
Premiere Date: November 17 on YouTube
If you have a daughter like mine, your child can’t get enough of My Little Pony. Hasbro is partnering with YouTube to offer up 45 episodes of its new series My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. A new episode debuts each Friday after the November 17 premiere. The girls, all inspired by their pony counterpart (Twlight Sparkle, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash), navigate high school while going to museums, attending music festivals and waiting in line for the hot new videogame. And just in time for Christmas shopping, Hasbro will debut a brand new line of Equestria Girls fashion dolls to go along with the series. The dolls will be available starting in December, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your relationship with Santa.
3. Stretch Armstrong & the Flex Fighters
Premiere Date: November 17 on Netflix
November 17 is a busy TV day for Hasbro Studios. When Jake Armstrong and his two best friends are inadvertently exposed to an experimental chemical, they suddenly discover they have super powers. Featuring the voices of Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Gary Cole and Kate Mulgrew, the 26-episode series marks the first time Hasbro Studios has collaborated with Netflix.
4. Big Hero 6: The Series
Premiere Date: November 20 at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel and Disney XD
Big Hero 6: The Series won’t really begin until early next year. But fans of the hit 2014 movie will get a sneak peek at the series when the one-hour made-for-TV movie Baymax Returns debuts, followed by the first two episodes of Big Hero 6: The Series. Set in San Fransokyo, Baymax Returns explores a moment from the 2014 film. The series picks up immediately after the movie. Maya Rudolph, Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Alan Tudyk and the legendary Stan Lee all reprise their roles from the feature film.
5. Disney Junior Holiday Episodes
Premiere Date: December 1 and 8 on the Disney Channel
If you’re like me, you’ve seen the same episodes of your children’s favorite shows over and over and over again. So I’m delighted to inform you that Santa is flying in with brand new episodes this December. Kion and his friends surprise Timon and Pumbaa with a Christmas celebration on The Lion Guard (December 8 at 11:30 a.m.). Chip and Dale are racing to win the Golden Star Tree Topper on Mickey and the Roadster Racers (December 1 at 10 a.m.). Bingo and Rolly look for Bob’s Christmas present on Puppy Dog Pals (December 1 at 10:30 a.m.). And Sofia learns that Chrysta has no one to celebrate the holidays with on Sofia the First (December 1 at 11:30 a.m.). Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Andrew Rannells and Ming-Na Wen all lend their voices to the episode.
6. Peppa Pig, “Father Christmas”
Premiere Date: December 8 at 11:30 a.m. on Nickelodeon
Peppa Pig and her playgroup put on a Christmas show for Mummy and Daddy in the brand new holiday special from this beloved British import. Father Christmas himself makes an appearance and the half hour will also feature the episodes “Santa’s Grotto,” “Santa’s Visit,” “Mr. Potato’s Christmas Show,” and “Snow.”
7. Ready Jet Go!: Holidays in Boxwood Terrace
Premiere Date: December 11 on PBS Kids (check local listings; times vary)
Jet gets to direct the annual Boxwood Terrace Christmas pageant in this new special. Jet searches for the Christmas spirit and looks everywhere until he realizes it has been right in front of him all along. This great series, which encourages children’s curiosity about the world around them, also features NASA astronomer s Dr. Amy Mainzer in live-action segments.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal) or her blog .