How Technology Can Simplify Your Holiday Season - The Explorer: Family Living

How Technology Can Simplify Your Holiday Season

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Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 11:00 pm | Updated: 2:32 am, Mon Dec 23, 2013.

(Family Features) The advancements in technology have changed many things in our daily lives including how we celebrate the holidays. From making shopping easier to planning holiday getaways, the endless capabilities of smartphone devices have made the holidays easier and better than ever before, allowing you to save time and money all with the touch of a button.

From travel to shopping, here are some of the ways to use technology to enhance your yuletide celebrations and resolve some of the stress-inducing activities of the season.

Holly jolly entertaining with ease

Time spent with loved ones is what the holidays are all about. Here are some ways your smartphone can make these occasions even more joyous:

  • Festive films and shows: Whether you want to entertain the kids while waiting to board the plane or just want to catch your favorite holiday movie from the convenience of your phone, you can do so with ease with the Netflix app. Included with your Netflix membership, this easy app lets you download and stream thousands of your favorite television shows and movies to enjoy at any time you please.

  • Merry-making invitations: Send out invitations to your ugly sweater party or caroling bash with unique, perfectly decorated invites with the Evite app. This helpful tool also allows you to manage guest lists and RSVP to other events in a snap.

  • Good tidings and great tunes: The holidays would not be complete without the sounds and songs of the season filling the air. From kids’ school parties to a holiday feast with family and friends, you can create your own personal holiday playlists to fit every event and mood. This unlimited access to music at your fingertips is a gift in itself.

Holiday shopping simplified

So many gifts to purchase and so little time. Try these handy helpers to get all the gifts you need and still have time to stop and enjoy the eggnog:

  • Guesswork-free gifts: Some apps, such as the Pickie’s Best Gift Giver tool, use the Facebook likes and preferences of your gift recipients to create a list of suitable items they would love. It also combines all of these recommended items in a convenient, click-through catalog to make purchasing gifts easier. Make the shopping experience go even more smoothly by ensuring your phone has a strong, reliable signal. The zBoost SOHO cell phone signal booster kit increases signals up to 2500 square feet, making it perfect for your home or office. For more information, visit www.zBoost.com.

  • Lists you’ll love: When it comes to keeping track of presents, there’s no need for pen and paper. The Christmas Gift List app allows you to create a budget for each recipient and then track gifts as they are purchased.

  • One cool countdown: Follow the @ChristmasCount on your Twitter app for jolly updates on your favorite holiday. Besides keeping you aware of how many days you have left to shop, it also includes trivia and giveaways to keep you in the spirit.

  • See Santa save: Ever wondered if you could get a gift at a better price? The RedLaser app allows you to search for a specific product and find its price at all retailers within the area. It’s “In-store pickup” function allows you to purchase the gift directly from your phone for easy pickup and to ensure availability during those last-minute scrambles.

Taking the stress out of travel

If your holiday plans require traveling with the family, the proper planning tools are essential. Try these holiday helpers that make traveling a breeze:

  • Joyful journeys: Need a break from the family? Want to explore the best attractions in grandpa’s hometown? The Tripomatic app allows you to customize your own travel itinerary by entering the dates and location of your stay. Along with top attractions for your vacation spot, the app also pulls up an easy download of city guides so you can find the best diner, historic monument or shopping venue in town.

  • Travels by road: If your holiday travels require a car ride, give the RoadNinja app a try. Restaurants, gas stations and other points of interest are posted for each highway exit on your route. Make sure you can access such helpful apps by ensuring you have the proper signal in your car. The zBoost zForce Cell Phone Signal Booster improves signal strength for voice and data to help you enjoy the journey.

  • Plans and planes: Keep all of your travel plans in one spot with the TripIt itinerary app. By linking to your email account, it sorts and places confirmation emails and other travel documents into the app.

  • A cheerful stay: Whether you didn’t plan far enough ahead, or your mother’s house is overflowing with relatives, a peaceful hotel room is at hand with the Hotel Tonight app. By specializing in last-minute deals provided by area hotels, you end up with a luxurious room at a lower price.

Festive holiday apps for kids

Let the little ones in on all the merriment with these great apps designed just for them. Just download onto your device and let your child play away while embracing the holiday spirit.

  • Gingerbread Crazy Chef — Cookie Maker
    With ingredients for dough and plenty of fun ways to decorate, kids learn to make their own gingerbread cookies with this creative app.
  • Jolly Jingle
    This musical app teaches the words to popular holiday songs, encouraging kids to join in on the fun by singing along.
  • Toca Hair Salon — Christmas Gift
    Let the kids take Santa to the salon for a special haircut or dye job. Kids will have a blast giving Santa a makeover just in time for his big night.
Illustration by Tom McFarland

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