It’s Holidays Week here at Android.Appstorm! We will dedicate our time this week to bring you the best apps for the year-end festivities. From gift shopping to games, cooking and hosting, managing your to-dos, decorating your phone, it will all be about spreading the cheer and reducing the stress of the Holidays season.
Now that we are past Thanksgiving and Black Friday here in the States, it’s time to start really thinking about my favorite time of the year: Christmas and the Holiday season. No matter what you celebrate, there is probably a ton of planning that needs to be done as people get together with family, exchange gifts, travel, and more from now until the new year. In this how-to, I’m going to give you some tips and apps you can use to stay sane and manage it all.
First up is gift giving. For me at least, there are a ton of things I need to think about. Who am I buying gifts for this year? How much do I want to spend? What on Earth am I going to get her? I have a pretty big family and a core group of friends and co-workers I exchange gifts with. With My Christmas Shopping Lists I can keep track of who I am buying gifts for, what I have left to buy, how much I’ve spent (total and per-person), and more.
The app is incredibly simple and easy to use (it also looks really nice, save for the annoying ads displayed at the top of the screen). You add a person, select one of the avatars (they have men and women as both adults and children) and then add gifts and prices. Selecting the context menu will bring up a notes section for you to add things like interests and ideas. Best of all: this app is free.
If you’re looking for other options for keeping track of gifts, there are other apps dedicated to the idea holiday shopping. One worth noting is Christmas Gift List Planner, which is a bit more robust feature-wise. You can do everything My Christmas Shopping Lists does, as well as get suggestions, scan barcodes to automatically add items to your lists, and more.
There are also other methods I’ve employed in the past. For the last couple of years I’ve used Evernote, creating a section for each person, adding ideas and costs, highlighting what I bought and then totaling everything up myself. This has actually served as a nice archive for me to see how much I spend year to year, and to help me make sure I mix it up as far as gifts go (who wants to get/give a DVD every year?). The big benefit to using Evernote is that it’s cross platform so you can access it on any device.
As well as gift giving, ’tis the season for travel. Whether it be on a holiday or otherwise, lots of people are traveling to see family and friends this month. On top of everything else you have to do, it could add some extra stress to this season unless you have a great way to stay organized. I’m here to tell you that great way is an incredible app called TripIt.
I signed up for TripIt over the summer when I realized I would be traveling a lot in the fall and needed a good way to keep track of everything — flights, hotels, itinerary, etc. You can create trips, add events and reservations, and add confirmation emails. One of the great things TripIt does is extract all of the important information from a confirmation email and add it automatically to the proper trip, based on date, so you don’t need to do double entry (or single entry really).
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even allow TripIt to monitor your email for confirmations, which will get added automatically, without you having to forward them yourself. I generally don’t recommend this since I try to preach privacy to my students, but when testing it out, it worked really well.
TripIt is an amazing travel companion; I used it several times this past fall and it really helped me keep all of my plans straight.
You Be the Host
Of-course, if your family is anything like mine, you will be the host. This eliminates the need to make and track travel plans yourself, but it also puts the pressure of planning the whole day on you. How many people are coming over? What time will they be there? Are some only coming for dinner or dessert? Are people staying over? Who’s bringing dishes? The list goes on and on.
I wish I could say there was a single app that let you keep track of everything I just mentioned but there isn’t, so we’ll have to get creative.
There are a ton of cooking companions out there for Android, most notably ChefTap. This app will download recipes to your device, sync with several online accounts, and even scan your bookmarks for recipes to import. In the kitchen, you can switch to step-by-step mode to keep track of your progress and stay on point. Plus, it’s beautiful, free, and there are no ads to boot!
If you’re more of a baker, our very own Kim Barloso did a great review on a beautiful app called The Baker App. It looks fantastic, and gives you the ability to add recipes, buy new recipes via in app purchasing, and it even helps you with ingredient conversions. This app will ensure that you have some really great desserts for your guests!
My preference in this particular area is to just use Google Tasks, and a fantastic app called Tasks to keep track of my todos, but if you’re looking for an app specific to event planning or don’t want to clutter your day-to-day todo lists with more infrequent occasion planning, Ultimate Checklist might just be the app for you.
This is a checklist app that comes pre-loaded with many lists to help you get started as you plan your party. There are over 50 pre-loaded lists to choose from and over 12,000 items on those lists. You can also customize, sync, and more. Best of all, “Christmas Party” is one of the pre-loaded lists.
I would also mention/recommend Evernote again here, as you can create a notebook with guest lists, recipes, party notes, and all the other small tidbits you need to manage.
No matter what or how you celebrate, there will be some planning and therefore some craziness involved when it comes to the holidays. Hopefully some of my recommendations will help you stay a little more sane this season while masterfully managing everything. Do you have other tips and tricks you would recommend?