Sometimes going home for the holidays can be a case of collective insanity. I tend to fly on the big travel days when the airport security lines are ridiculously long, my flight is more expensive, and my family is more stressed than normal.
This year, I plan to use my iPhone as a problem solver for all my holiday woes. From traveling, to shopping, to entertaining the kiddies, these iPhone apps cover everything but those family fights (even the iPhone’s not that miraculous!).
This app doesn’t just tell you your current flight status, it actually predicts the likelihood that your flight will be delayed. It takes into account factors such as weather, incoming aircraft, other delays, and historical data, and then gives you a percent chance that your plane will be on time, less than 1 hour delayed, and more than 1 hour delayed.
At $7.99 it’s a bit pricey, but its ability to forecast delays definitely makes it worthwhile (you can also access the same data on their site for free if you’d prefer). It worked like a charm for my flights, but obviously results may vary. Now, if only it could actually prevent delays.
For those of you driving instead of flying, you’ll love this app. GasBag helps you find the cheapest gas station in any given area so you can fill up without breaking the bank. Simple and easy to use, although it doesn’t have data for every location and station. Another app to check out is GasBuddy ($2.99) which serves a similar purpose.
Save Money on Gifts
This great app allows you to scan the barcode of any item in a store and see prices online and from nearby retailers. With this app you can ensure you’ll get the best price for every gift, even when you’re shopping in a hurry. Warning: you may get so caught up with the coolness of this product that you scan way more products than necessary.
With Heroes actor Greg Grunberg as the co-founder, this app has made quite a splash. At a time when everyone is looking for ways to save money, this app helps you do just that.
You won’t find a coupon for every store, and not all of them will be useful, but in my opinion, if you find even one great deal from this app then it has more than proved its worth.
Take Stress Out of the Holiday Meal
Around the holidays, grocery stores can be as crowded as the aiports. That why it’s important to know exactly what you need so you don’t have to make more than one trip. With GroceryIQ, you can create lists of items you need to get and even organize your lists by aisle or store so you can shop as efficiently as possible. If only this app could buy the groceries for you, then it really would be perfect.
With 25,000 recipes, this app should have everything you need to make your holiday meals happen. It even has holiday-specific recipes for Christmas cookies, edible gifts, and Christmas and Hanukkah dinners. My favorite category is the aptly-named “I can barely cook.” You can also email recipes and use its step-by-step mode.
Keep the Kids Entertained
Sometimes on hoildays everyone gets cooped up in the house for a bit too long. This can lead to stress, fights, and kids throwing footballs in the living room. Sometimes the best solution is simply finding an excuse to get out. The Movies app allows you to see what movies are currently playing near you, look up reviews, and find theaters and show times.
The iPhone has a huge selection of apps for young kids, however, the one problem those apps don’t solve is the worry associated with actually handing your precious iPhone over to a child. Goofy Mad Libs has the perfect solution, where you can ask kids for the Mad Libs, read them the silly story, and never have the iPhone leave the comfort of your own hands. This app even has a free version called Mad Libs Lite if you’d like to try it out first. It’s also great for car trips.
Throw the Perfect Holiday Party
The perfect holiday party requires the right drinks, and Mixology will help you create them. Select drinks by category (including hot drinks which may be just right for a holiday-themed party), liquor type, or name. You can also use the liquor cabinet feature to select what you have on hand and have the app suggest what drinks you could make.
If almost 8,000 drinks sounds like too many options, you can also shake the phone to get a random drink selection and take the choice out of your hands. As a bonus, there are bartending tips and techniques if you want to impress your friends (or just not embarrass yourself).
The right selection of music requires a lot of time considering your guests, your song selections, and how each song fits your party’s mood. Or, you could just use the Pandora app instead.
Select a song or genre for Pandora to work from and you’ll have a whole party’s worth of music with one minute of prep. Pandora even has Christmas and holiday music, so it can truly accommodate any taste (good or bad).