The Sentinel

Classic Christmas Short Stories you can read right now

Dec 25, 2022
“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry
Probably one of the most famous Christmas short stories, this is the tale of a young married couple who desperately want to buy beautiful Christmas presents for each other, but lack the money to do so. They each make a sacrifice to buy the other a present, and the results are humorous and poignant.
“A Christmas Dream, and How It Came to Be True” by Louisa May Alcott
Alcott seems to have a genuine love for Christmas. She includes memorable Christmas scenes in her novel Little Women, but she also wrote a number of Christmas short stories and novellas. (You can get them all gathered into one volume here.) Alcott was a fan of Charles Dickens’s Christmas stories, and “A Christmas Dream” is a children’s version of A Christmas Carol. This would make a great Christmas story to read aloud to your kids!
“The Elves and the Shoemaker” by The Brothers Grimm
In this familiar Christmas tale, a poor cobbler is rewarded for his honesty and hard work when two elves step in to save him from ruin. Like most of the Grimm fairy tales, this one is very short; it would make a nice Christmas bedtime story to read to young children!
“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas recounts memories of an old-fashioned Christmas from the perspective of a young boy. Thomas uses his skill as a poet to make this a lyrical and sense-engaging story
“Christmas at Red Butte” by L. M. Montgomery
Montgomery was a prolific writer of short stories, and she has several Christmas and New Year’s stories in her bibliography. (Fourteen are collected here, along with Christmas excerpts from the Anne novels.) A departure from her usual setting of Prince Edward Island, “Christmas at Red Butte” takes place in a log cabin on the Saskatchewan prairie.
“A Christmas Tree” by Charles Dickens
This short story is told as a memoir, in which the ornaments on a Christmas tree inspire an elderly narrator to reminisce about childhood. There’s no dialogue in this, but if you settle in, unhurried, with a glass of eggnog, you’ll enjoy the meandering trip into memory
“A Kidnapped Santa Claus” by L. Frank Baum
In this fantasy Christmas tale by the author of The Wizard of Oz, Santa lives in a castle in the Laughing Valley. Santa has helpers, but he also has enemies, and on Christmas Eve he’s lassoed out of his sleigh by five daemons. This short story is a follow-up to Baum’s longer novel, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
“The Other Wise Man” by Henry van Dyke
Traditionally, when we think of the wise men of the Christmas story, we think of three kings. For this story, van Dyke imagines a fourth wise man who misses the rendezvous with the other kings and must journey to visit the Christ Child on his own. The quest that follows is an immersive and richly detailed story.
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Fancy a Christmas-y mystery? It’s the holiday season in London, and when a stolen jewel turns up in a highly unusual spot, Holmes must use his powers of deduction to discover the identity of the thief.
“The Burglar’s Christmas” by Willa Cather
Written under the pen name Elizabeth L. Seymour, Cather’s story is a retelling of the prodigal son parable, set in Chicago on Christmas Eve. Cather started out as a writer of poetry and short stories; she published “The Burglar’s Christmas” when she was 23, a good 15 years before her first novel.