By Leslie Chen
Theoretically, the holidays should be dedicated to time spent with loved ones while getting in the spirit with festive music, gift giving and good food. Realistically, though, you probably spend most of your time running around figuring out what needs to be done and stressing over the possibility that you forgot to put someone on your shopping list.
It might be difficult to relax during this time of year, but the holidays really don’t have to be dominated by stress. Just as the intuitive technology of your 2014 Chevrolet Malibu effortlessly tunes in to you—fulfilling both your needs and your wants—so too do the best holiday apps. Here are five that can help simplify the season—all from the convenience of your purse or pocket—so you’ll have more time to focus on what’s most important.
Secret Santa is part of many people’s holiday traditions, but with everyone’s busy schedules it can be hard to find a time to gather and physically draw names out of a hat. Elfster is an app that conveniently takes care of this: Once you create a gift-exchange group, the app electronically draws names for you and then notifies each person in private. You can construct a wish list of items you want and even send anonymous messages to figure out the perfect gift to give.
Red Stamp (Free)
Sending out cards to countless relatives and friends during the holiday season can become quite a hassle. With Red Stamp, you simply select a card design; write a message (or choose a provided one); opt for text, email, Facebook, Twitter or traditional snail mail; and click “Send.” You can also use a photo of your own if you want something more personalized.
The Christmas List ($0.99)
One of the most stressful aspects of the season is figuring out what to buy and for whom. The Christmas List app lets you create a list of possible gifts for each person (while organizing individuals into categories like Family, Colleagues or Friends), track your spending and even add a password to keep that top-secret gift list under wraps.
Holiday Recipes & Party Planning Guide by food52 ($3.99)
Sending out cards, buying gifts and trying to stay within budget all while having to think about hosting a holiday party? Yes, it can be overwhelming, but this app from New York Times writers Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs will help make things less daunting and a lot more doable. It includes HD cooking videos, step-by-step slide shows, party-planning tips and recipes for everything from starters and main courses to sides and desserts. There’s also a bonus tutorial on how to make your very own gingerbread house!
This is the all-in-one Christmas app that will get you through the holidays. It includes a Christmas countdown calendar for your busy schedule, a gift list organizer, holiday-themed games and even wallpapers to fully “festify” your phone.
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Leslie Chen writes about pop culture for Trend Hunter.