As another year winds down, it's the perfect time to spotlight a few apps that are in the spirit of the holidays. From greeting card and gift wishlist apps to ones that track your packages, we've reviewed 8 winners that just might become your go-to apps each holiday season.
My partner and I have used Felt so many times and is our go-to when we need to send a card. Be it a thank you card, a birthday card, or — in this case — a holiday card. They create the absolute best-looking physical cards that they print and mail for you. With a simple in-app purchase, you can send anyone a customized greeting card with your own photos.
The app is packed with thousands of designs that you can choose from for any occasion. You can upload a series of photos from your camera roll for a custom photo card. You can type a message, draw with your finger, and sign the card remotely. All cards ship in 24 hours or you can choose a date in the future to send the card so you don’t forget.
Felt even has upgrades, like including a small gift with your card or filling the card with its rotating collection of seasonal glitter. Gifts Felt offers include stickers, chocolate, framed photos, magnets, bath bombs, glassware, and more. Finally, Felt lets you “Felt Bomb” someone. This is where you and your friends all team up to send a barrage of cards that all arrive at once. This app is fantastic.
I review a lot of products in my day job so around the holidays, I always get asked what would be a great gift for someone. It’s exhausting! Instead, try out Gifster. It’s a wish list registry that you can use for your own shopping, create lists, or register for other events like weddings, birthdays, or showers.
If you have kids, they can create their own wishlists in time for the holidays. That list can be shared with you, extended family, maybe even Santa. It has a lovely UI that is a mix of flat and modern with the slightest bit of skeuomorphism such as showing pieces of paper torn off.
Items can easily be added to lists using either the Share Sheet in iOS or by pasting any URL from any website. It will automatically pull in the product name, images, links, price, and more information that you can access at any time.
Gifster is so helpful to avoid duplicate gifts, share lists with anyone you know and manage what you spend. When looking at a child’s list, a parent can even add their own suggestions before sharing it with family. Without notifying the youngling! It’s going to be super helpful this holiday season.
I tend to think that personalized gifts are cheesy. They’re usually cheap products that are super mass produced and then have a sticker, laser etching, or a photo added to make it personalized. They just don’t seem nice to me. I’m looking at you Things Remembered. Artifact Uprising I think is a more unique, upscale way to create some personalized gifts that are wonderful this time of the year.
Most Artifact Uprising products are photo-based. They combine your photos from your device or directly from your Instagram. One of my favorites is the walnut wood calendar. It uses real walnut, brass clips, and a metal stand to hold it up. You can then upload family photos that go above each month for a super modern, classy, personalized gift. You can also pick up photo shelves, display boxes, and of course, photo books.
Besides those gifts, Artifact Uprising is also a great photo printing company. You can get your standard photo prints from them for you to keep or pass out. The print quality is great and there are lots of options for sizes and frames to go with.
Around this time of year you may want more of your photos displayed around the house, on the coffee table for people to see, or you may be giving them as gifts. It’s a great time for reflection and a look back at everything you did over the past 12 months.
Once you actually sort out what you’re getting everyone, you need a way to track it all. Parcel is my go-to tracking app for packages. Just drop in a tracking number that is sent your way and Parcel will keep you updated with daily progress updates. You’ll see where things are currently and when stuff is expected to be delivered.
Parcel is constantly updated with its developer adding plenty of great features including customized widgets for both the Home Screen and the Lock Screen, Siri Shortcuts support to check-in with your voice, and a robust Apple Watch app.
There are more than 300 delivery services that Parcel supports, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, LaserShip, and more. For Amazon shipments, you can authorize the app with your Amazon login and any time an Amazon package is shipped, it will show up in Parcel. Plus, it looks great in its stock colorway, or you can choose to color-code the packages based on shipper.
Around the holidays my friends and family always gather to try some festive mixed drinks. There has been no better cocktail creation app that I’ve found than Mixel. It has a massive library of drinks and has a bunch of adorable pixel art to represent all of the drinks and necessary ingredients.
It shows a virtual bar, emulating the bar in your home. It even breaks the down between those sitting on a shelf and those tucked away in the mini fridge. Just list off all the ingredients you have at home and it will show you all the different drinks you can make by using them. You can also filter based on ingredients or spirits.
There’s a default selection of recipes in the app or you can upgrade with in-app purchases to find more exotic recipes with themed packs of more drinks or just add your own based on recipes you find online. Recipes are scalable, have step-by-step instructions, include nutrition information, have tags, and user ratings.
This is robust, adorable, and a great tool for coming up with recipes around the holidays to share with all your friends and family.
Norad Santa Tracker
There are lots of holiday-specific apps out there. You could go for the Elf on the Shelf game or perhaps the Mensch on a Bench sticker set. I love the classic Norad Santa Claus tracker, though, which is a renewed app-based version of the one I grew up watching on the local news.
It’s a bit of a bare bones app, but it does what it needs to do, and even a bit more. There is an advent calendar where each day of the month there is a new game to play. There is a “music stage” that is full of music that you can play in the app. There are stories too, including all about Santa, information on his sleigh, different holiday traditions from around the world, and holiday activities you can do with your family.
Of course the bread and butter of the app is the tracker itself. You can see a countdown in the app until Christmas Eve before you can actually start tracking Santa around the globe. This gives your little ones something to do as they settle in for the evening and building that excitement for Christmas morning. This is an app I’ll certainly be showing to my son as he gets older.
Aside from making food and cocktails, another common event at our holiday parties is gathering around and playing Jackbox. There are several Jackbox party packs currently available, all with fun and unique games you can play as a group.
What makes Jackbox unique, is that there is a central screen and everyone else plays on their own devices. Jackbox has a universal purchase so it can show on your iPad or even your Apple TV. Everyone enters a code on their phone via the web browser and you’re ready to play.
There are all sorts of games that use different skills like drawing, trivia, polls, reflexes, and more. My favorite is Trivia Murder Party where you and your friends visit a murder hotel and you must answer trivia questions and win mini-games to survive.
Food Network Kitchen
Every holiday brings food and more often than not, I turn to the Food Network app to find new things to cook. I store my food in Paprika and I still check out other apps like Tasty, Yummly, NYT Cook, but the Food Network Kitchen has produced some great food for me.
It’s a great app with a ton of recipes and ties into all the celebrity chefs you see on TV too. There are celeb chefs that I like so following along with them in this app is fun. If you’re more novice, there’s instructional videos too.
Each recipe has step-by-step instructions, including photos to make it easy. You can search for recipes by ingredient, also helping you make due with what you have already at home. If you are planning ahead of time, you can add everything automatically to s shopping list. And while cooking, you can binge some Food Network shows at the same time — ad free!
But enough about other people's apps.