The film is a Christmas Special that tells the story of an kind hearted orphan named Jeffrey who longs for a family. Trying to survive on the icy streets, he manages to find work and a place to stay at a toy factory owned by the miserly Mr. Reeks who pays his workers in potatoes. From then on, every night Jeffrey takes the broken toys from the factory skips and repairs them for the children living in a nearby orphanage. His kindness catches the attention of one of the factory's resident mice, who vows to help Jeffrey find a home.
The Night Before Christmas provides examples of the following tropes:
- Animated Adaptation: The film is loosely based on the famous poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
- Animated Musical
- Bait-and-Switch: The baker asks Jeffrey in a threatening voice if he took some bread, then gives him some when he says that he didn't take any.
- Blind Without 'Em: At one point the mouse loses his glasses and doesn't realise that he's being confronted by cats.
- Cassandra Truth: Jeffrey's second use of Look Behind You.
- Christmas Special: One of several in Golden Films' library.
- Covers Always Lie: The scene on the DVD cover never happens.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Jeffrey is an orphan and a very good, kind person.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Reeks threatens to put Jeffrey in the local orphanage...which is a bad idea, why? Sure it's not the nicest place, but it's better than freezing to death on the streets.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Jeffrey is one. His cat, Paws, loves him just as much back.
- Living Toy: The toys come alive on Christmas Eve for a song and dance party.
- Look Behind You: Jeffrey does this twice to escape the sergeant, both times claiming that a runaway carriage is coming. The first time he's lying as a distraction, the second time there really is a carriage.
- Meaningful Name: The main villains are called Mr. Reek and Mrs. Bottoms.
- Older Than They Look: When Jeffrey (allegedly) wants a job at Mr. Reek's workhouse, he claims to be this, although it is no more than Blatant Lies.
- Police Are Useless: The three policemen who try to arrest Jeffrey make the Keystone Cops look competent.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The film uses this as well as its own original songs.
- Second-Person Narration: For the first half of the film, the mouse tells the story.
- Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: Level 7. Only the mice can speak to humans, and other creatures don't speak fluently (eg. the cats).