Here we go guys: We’re down to the final stretch before the holidays hit, and I for one can feel the frenzied excitement in the air. I can also feel my brain cells crackling away as I try to organize meals and kids activities, frantically buy/wrap/hide presents, plan get-togethers, and mentally cross off 18 other things on my (totally unwritten) to-do list. And all this after having just wrapped up both of my boys’ school parties, presents for teachers, and goodie bags for friends. So yeah, if you’re feeling depleted and a little bit ADD during the month of December, I am right there with you.
It takes a herculean effort to get through the holiday season, but luckily apps are a great resource to tap into to ease the strain of the mountain of activities we now face. Here’s my personal list of go-to apps that have helped me utilize my time, money, and (most importantly) sanity.
1. Santa’s Bag
Great for: Sticking to a budget.
Hands down, this is my absolute favorite app for the holidays. It lets me make a quick list of the people I want to give gifts to, set a budget, and keep track of how much I’m spending. Like most people, I try very hard to stick to a holiday budget, but don’t always succeed. This app actually keeps me on track. And no, the countdown on top doesn’t freak me out at all. (Is it really only four days until Christmas? Insert face-screaming-in-fear-emoji!)
Great for: Finding the perfect kids’ toy.
If you’re exhausted from trying to find something new and different for your kids and six nieces and nephews, Toytoy has got you covered. It has a very thorough catalog of toys for you to browse through, and you can even create a wish list to share with family and friends. Just don’t have your kid use it alone, unless you want a list with 147 items being sent to Grandma.
Great for: Maintaining control amid the chaos.
I have no intention of spending the holidays watching my boys glued to their iPad — and that includes playing espionage games of them sneaking off with it every time I get busy with something. OurPact puts a kibosh on this most-detested parental duty by restricting your child’s access to their most prized devices. (Muhahaha.) It only takes a minute to sync OurPact from your phone to your child’s device, and suddenly you are the MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE! I preset schedules for when my children can access their iPad, evaporating the need for hourly arguments, negotiations, and tears (mostly mine!). So for example, if I block the iPad between 7 PM and 10 AM, all the apps on my sons’ iPads disappear. That’s right — they can’t access anything but the basic utility apps, so no more waking up at 7 AM to find a bleary-eyed toddler stuck to a device since God-knows-when.
Great for: Asking parenting questions without judgement.
This is a terrific app that lets parents post questions and comments anonymously. So ask those embarrassing questions or confess those nerve-racking thoughts here. And then, this is the important part, walk away from it.
Great for: Traveling during the holidays (and not going crazy in the process).
For those of you brave enough to travel during the holidays, this is a great resource to keep you on top of all 8,241 parts of your travel details. Forward your itineraries to the app and it compiles everything for you, all in one place.
Great for: All things food.
This is the only recipe app I have on my phone and it’s been that way since the beginning of time. Most of the recipes were migrated over from when the site was Recipezaar and the reviews are always on-point! The search functions are easy to use and the Christmas Cardamom Butter Cookies by Bergy will not disappoint. Did I mention it will compile your grocery list too when planning a menu? A-mazing.
Great for: Making sure you have the best holiday tunes possible.
We always have music playing in our house, but there’s just something incredibly cozy about playing festive music around the holidays. My favorite station right now is Michael Bublé (Holiday) Radio, but the Diana Ross and the Supremes station is always elevating, whether for parties or just doing the dishes.
8. Head Space
Great for: Keeping you all zen and whatnot.
Head Space provides you with guided meditation, on the go. It’s perfect for when you need to de-stress real fast, find your focus again, or just straight-up not lose your sh*t over all the holiday stress. It’s also good for all ages (and I personally love using it on days when I can’t make it to yoga for a mental stretch).
Great for: Keeping track of (literally) all the things.
If you’re constantly running to-do lists in your head like me, this app is for you. It lets you write, complete, and even share checklists and keeps you on track for world domination. Plus, it’s also web-based, which means you can access it from your app or from your computer, if you’d like to access your notes from work or at home.
10. Decide Now
Great for: Ending your indecision for life.
If all these holiday details have you feeling worn out with a bout of decision-fatigue, this app is for you. Customize your own spinner wheel and let chance make the most mundane decisions for you. The sounds effects are also pretty adorable!
Great for: Actually getting those invites in the mail on time.
When it’s time to finally celebrate, utilize this app to send beautiful invitations and manage them right from your phone. I love that they have Disney and Sesame Street characters and allow for easy potluck set-ups!