How to plan your perfect Christmas
Christmas can be overwhelming. There are gifts to buy – and wrap – for everyone, endless meals to plan, bottles of grog to gorge on, and saccharine music to withstand. Oh, and some impromptu carol-singing (maybe).
Happily, all of this and more can be navigated by hand-picking some useful apps and gadgets. Here are our tech tips for planning the perfect Christmas.
Plan your gifting
With random shopping trips and endless hours online, Christmas gifting can get needlessly confusing. With the likes of Evernote, To-doist, Remember the Milk, Wunderlist and Any.do aimed at planning your day, there was bound to be an app for planning who's getting what.
Cue the Gift It app, a gift list organiser for iOS that comes with basic budgeting and a countdown to the big day.
Wrap with an app
You've been shopping since Black Friday, exhausted your credit card and bought everyone their dream gift. Now how do you wrap them?
If you're used to a war-zone of scrunched-up folds and bitten-off bits of Sellotape, check out the Gift-Wrapping Instant Expert app for a few tips on how to wrap presents, create bows and gift baskets, and produce custom gift tags. Crafty!
It's all video-based, so will feel familiar to the YouTube DIY-er in all of us. If you'd rather keep away from any wrapping, then many websites (such as Amazon) will gift wrap your purchases for you – you just need to tell them that what you're buying is going to be a gift.
Plan your TV watching
Those in the UK can find out exactly what's on when by consulting the Discover TV by Radio Times app, which can be customised depending on your region and TV package.
Is there any footie on TV on Boxing Day? Ask Live Football, an app that includes in-phone reminders, and can even handle remote record for Sky+ households.
For households around the world, the excellent TV Guide Mobile app will make sure that you don't miss any of your favourite shows, while the Findable.TV: TV & Movie Search app tells you what's on a range of streaming services, so you can find the perfect Christmas movie on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and more.
Check Santa's progress
There are tons of apps out there that show Santa's trip around the globe. One of the best is NORAD Tracks Santa, which gives an identical interface on its website and its apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
NORAD's (North American Aerospace Defence Command) job is to issue warnings about man-made objects in space. Obviously, this includes Santa, whose progress is mapped on Christmas Eve. Before that date there's a new game released every day in December. The website even includes free code to embed the map into any website.
Witness Santa's arrival
Locating Santa and his reindeers on an app will probably be enough for most kids, but it could lead to the follow-up question: "Can we see him in the sky?". The answer, if you're lucky, is yes. Just download the ISS Spotter app, enter your location and stand outside at the allotted time. If it's clear, a very bright white light will cross the sky from west to east, adding a bit of magic and wonder.
However, now might be a good time to tell the truth; six astronauts, including one Brit, are orbiting Earth in a 450-tonne spacecraft that's been up there since 1998. Showing your kid our species' greatest ever achievement? Priceless.
Learn a Christmas carol
If your carol-loving grandma is coming round, or you think you might end up in Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, knowing a carol or two could be a good idea. The Christmas Carols app will help you find one to learn from a library of 40, while Sing Along Christmas Carols gets you joining in.
If you've got a guitar you could even learn how to strum one of them. Although it's also a fine website, we recommend using Ultimate Guitar Tabs HD, by far the best app for guitarists.
Plan your festive food
While Waitrose is a British supermarket chain, eager Christmas chefs from around the world can still use its calculator for inspiration and a dash of self-restraint.
Don't ruin the sprouts
"Set timer for four hours" is going to be a favourite festive phrase on Christmas morning in kitchens across the world. Siri (as well as Google Now and Cortana) can handle the turkey, but what about the roast potatoes, the Yorkshire puddings and, most importantly of all, the sprouts?
Track your alcohol intake
A glass of champers with your breakfast can easily kick-start an all-dayer. A mid-morning sherry, a bottomless glass of wine with lunch and a couple of liqueurs later, and before you know it you're way over the legal limit for piloting your new drone around the neighbourhood.
Count the Christmas calories
It's an awful cliche, but the volume of new gym memberships taken out in January doesn't lie: Christmas makes us fat. However, instead of throwing away money on a contract you'll quickly let languish, download calorie-counting and target-setting apps like MyFitnessPal's comprehensive Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker and Lose It! for iPhone or Android.
You could even tot up just how many calories you get through on Christmas Day. Maybe not …