Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost is nipping at your nose. And your VCR is warming up for the annual screenings of such Christmas favorites as "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "White Christmas."
But if you feel you're in a Christmas video rut, here are some alternative video offerings:
New this Christmas is Buena Vista Home Video's "A Classic Christmas From the Ed Sullivan Show" ($16.95), with more than a dozen holiday performances from "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Highlights include: Bing Crosby performing the Oscar-winning "White Christmas," Connie Francis singing a heartfelt "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Johnny Mathis crooning "Sleigh Ride" and comics David Frye, George Carlin, Senor Wences and Rich Little doing Christmas-theme comedy bits. Also on hand are The Muppet Reindeer, the Cowsills, the Supremes, Alvin and the Chipmunks and, of course, Topo Gigio.
CBS Video is introducing a line of "television video cards" ($9.98 each), consisting of a classic TV episode, a greeting card built into the video packaging and a special gift wrap. For the holidays, CBS is offering Christmas episodes of "I Love Lucy," "The Honeymooners," "The Twilight Zone" and "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Walt Disney Home Video's catalogue features a stocking full of Christmas good cheer for the wee ones, including: "A Walt Disney Christmas" ($12.99), "Mickey's Christmas Carol" ($14.95), "The Small One" ($12.99), "Very Merry Christmas Songs" ($12.99), "A Disney Christmas Gift" and "Jiminy Cricket's Christmas" ($12.99), which features a rarely seen cartoon, 1932's "Mickey's Good Deed."
Young viewers and baby boomer parents will also enjoy Disney's 1961 musical, "Babes in Toyland" ($19.99), based on the Victor Herbert operetta and starring Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ray Bolger and a young Ann Jillian.
Laurel and Hardy also go the Victor Herbert route in the classic 1934, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" (Goodtimes Home Video, $19.95). This version is colorized.
If the holidays put you in a romantic mood, check out "The Shop Around the Corner" (MGM/UA, $19.95). James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star in this 1940 romantic comedy as two feuding clerks at a Budapest store who don't know they actually are pen pals. The legendary Ernst Lubitsch directed. MGM remade the movie nine years later as "In the Good Old Summertime" (MGM/UA, $19.95), with Van Johnson and Judy Garland.
One of the best Christmas films of recent years is "A Christmas Story " (MGM/UA, 19.95, MGM/UA Home Video). This 1983 comedy, based on humorist Jean Sheperd's memories of Christmas, is a delightful and crazy look at a young boy's attempts (Peter Billingsley) to get a BB gun for Christmas. Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon play his decidedly bizarre parents.
If you love musicals, catch the 1944 film, "Meet Me In St. Louis" (MGM/UA, $19.95), directed by Vincente Minnelli. Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien and Mary Astor star in this Technicolor concoction about a close-knit family living in turn-of-the-century St. Louis. The highlight is Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The 1942 musical-comedy "Holiday Inn" (MCA/Universal, $19.95), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and featuring the music of Irving Berlin, has been overshadowed in recent years by Crosby-Berlin's 1954 hit "White Christmas" (Paramount Home Video, $14.95). "Holiday Inn" is the superior film, thanks to Mark Sandrich's light-hearted direction, Astaire's fancy dance numbers and Crosby crooning "White Christmas" and "Be Careful, It's My Heart."
It's impossible to grow tired of watching Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gesley Kirkland creating dance magic together in the American Ballet Theatre's production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" (MGM/UA Home Video, $19.95.), which originally aired on CBS in 1977.
Of course, the 1990 blockbuster "Home Alone" (FoxVideo, $19.95) is a fun way to put the family into the Christmas spirit. Macaulay Culkin plays a young boy who is accidentally left alone by his family during the holidays.
If you're looking for more off-beat escapist fare, there are the two popular "Die Hard" thrillers (CBS/Fox, $19.98 each). In 1988's "Die Hard," Bruce Willis must rescue the inhabitants of a skyscraper office building who are being held hostage by terrorists on Christmas Eve. In 1990's "Die Hard 2" ($19.98), Willis finds himself battling the bad guys who are holding an entire airport hostage on Christmas Eve.
Then there's 1984's "Gremlins" (Warner Home Video, $19.98), Joe Dante's black comedy about a small town that is overrun by nasty little gremlins during the holidays.
And in the recently released "Batman Returns" (Warner Home Video, $24.95), the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton) matches wits with the evil Penguin (Danny DeVito), who is bent on taking control of Gotham City during the holiday season.