The last quarter of the year might feel increasingly like it’s just a non-stop train of holidays — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, for many, the moment the calendar ticks over from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 is
exactly the right time to break out the garlands and start hanging the ornamental snowflakes. But if that sounds like you, you might want to add something else to do your holiday prep to-do list this year, too: Download these apps. They’re perfect for people who love the holidays — and in a lot of cases, they’ll make the whole season go a heck of a lot more smoothly than they might otherwise, too.
By “apps for
people who love the holidays,” though, I don’t just mean apps specifically geared towards the holidays. Sure, there are a couple of those present here — a list like this one wouldn’t be complete without them — but the lesson here is not to underestimate how much non-holiday-themed apps you probably use every day can make your holiday season merry and bright. From apps that help you get your shopping done to apps that keep you on top of important logistics like the weather and travel details — along with a few fun picks to keep you entertained throughout the coming months, of course — each of these apps can give your holiday season a boost.
If you’re already anticipating
Netflix’ 2019 holiday movie lineup or breaking out your “This Is My Hallmark Christmas Movie Watching Mug” cup, turn on your phone and navigate to your app store while you’re at it. You’ll want to get these programs installed, STAT.
Admittedly, this one might only be relevant if you live north of the equator and/or in an area that gets cold enough for snow around the holidays — but if you dream of having a big ol’ snowstorm to enjoy either safely from the warmth of your coziest couch or while you’re in the thick of it, sledding, building snowpeople, and having snowball fights, the
Will It Snow? app is for you. The concept is simple: The app sends you a push notification according to the settings you’ve programemd it to have when snow is in the forecast, as well as details about exactly when it will occur and how heavy the snowfall will be. Get it here.
I mean, yes,
the Target app is terrific no matter what season it is — but it’s especially great during the holiday season. From the personalized deals and offers you get access to through Circle to the ease afforded by the Drive Up and Pick Up options, Target’s app will absolutely make getting your holiday shopping done a lot simpler than it might otherwise be—whether you’re shopping for gifts or for décor and other party supplies. Get it here.
‘Tis better to give than to receive — and
RoundUp makes the giving part easy. Whenever you make a purchase with the card linked to your RoundUp account, the app will literally round that purchase up to the nearest dollar; then, at the end of the month, Roundup will automatically donate all that extra spare change to the nonprofit of your choice. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Get it here.
If you tend to do a lot of online shopping during the holidays (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t these days?), you’re no doubt typically tracking a billion packages at that time.
Rakuten’s Slice app makes sure that none of them falls through the cracks — that is, it lets you keep all of your tracking numbers and their associated information organized, no matter which delivery service is handling the packages. As a bonus, Slice also lets you know if the price of an item dropped after you bought it and aids in helping you get a refund for that amount. Get it here.
I am endlessly amused by
Yule Log videos. They take the idea of the fake fireplace to such an extreme that I just can’t help but laugh at them. And hey, guess what? If you’re like me, you’ll be pleased to know that you can enjoy that sense of hilarity right on your smartphone. The Fireplace Live HD app has a number of fireplaces to choose from, along with soundtracks, a flashlight option, and even a sleep timer option. Whether or not you have an actual open fire in your home by which to roast chestnuts, at least you can still relax in front of some virtual flickering flames. Get it here.
Starbucks winter drink menu usually debuts within the first days following Halloween, so if you’re already eagerly anticipating your first Peppermint Mocha of the season, get the Starbucks app downloaded soon. It should make ordering a cinch — and open the door to any adjustments you might want to make to your drink of choice. Get it here.
Regardless as to how you feel about
the whole “VSCO girl” thing, the app from which the trend/meme gets its name is actually a solid photo editing tool. If Instagram isn’t quite your thing — or if it is, but the filters included within it have never quite done it for you — VSCO will get your holiday photos spiffed up and literally picture-perfect, whether you choose to share them on social media or not. Get it here.
FlightAware Flight Tracker
The holidays are great, but traveling during them often… isn’t. Flight tracking apps can be a lifesaver, though, and this one is one of the best. CNTraveler describes FlightAware as “
a bit of a Swiss army knife” due to the sheer number of things it can do — including but not limited to sending you push notifications whenever your flight info changes. There’s even a “Misery Map” that shows you which airports are currently suffering the most, if a little bit of schadenfreude cheers you up when you're dealing with an hours-long delay. Get it here.
What are the holidays without some seasonally appropriate music? Thanks not only to
Spotify’s virtually endless library of music, but also to its huge variety of playlists — both those curated by Spotify itself and those created by the app’s millions of users — you’re sure to find the perfect soundtrack for whatever celebration you’re having here. Get it here. Dreidel ARena is a dreidel simulator that gets an added kick from augmented reality technology: When you tap the dreidel on the screen, it will appear to spin on whatever surface at which your phone is currently pointed. If you really want to, you can play for virtual gelt instead of the real stuff — but why on earth would you do that when there’s chocolate on the line? Get it here.
Coloring Book For Adults
As wonderful as the holidays can be, they can also be full of drama. It’s OK to step back and take a breather if you need one, though — and spending a little time with a calming activity like coloring can do wonders for your stress levels. Developer App Labs has tons of
coloring book apps for both iOS and Android devices, all of which are free to use. Boot one up when you need a break. Get them here.
In the internet age, it’s become a time-honored tradition to track exactly where Santa (supposedly) is on Christmas Eve as he makes his way around the world, delivering presents as he goes. It’s true that the two best apps for tracking Santa aren’t standalone programs you can download to your smartphone — but they’re still worth loading up, whether it’s on your phone’s browser or on an actual computer. The
NORAD Santa Tracker is probably the best known of the bunch, but Google’s version has been giving that classic a run for its money in recent years. Check them both out — but try not to worry about it too much if they seem to show Santa being in two different places at once. He’s magic, remember? Get them here and here.