The Best Apps for Surviving the Holidays
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
The holidays are stressful. Let technology help you chill out this December.
By Molly Fosco
The holidays are stressful. Shopping, party planning and a lot of time with family you don’t always agree with. But thankfully, technology can help. From food inspiration to helping you survive the cold, these apps are guaranteed to make the holidays a little less stressful, a little more enjoyable and dare we say it … ? Fun!
For festive food
Even if you’re a seasoned chef (pun intended) you’ll inevitably need some help in the kitchen this time of year. There are plenty of cooking apps out there, but British chef Jamie Oliver’s is particularly useful for holiday planning. It provides 15 new seasonal recipes every week and has meal ideas for every type of event, from intimate gatherings to holiday parties with the whole neighborhood. And for those less experienced cooks, each recipe comes with photos, video and detailed step-by-step recipe instructions. There’s a free version, but the paid version ($6.99) offers more than 600 recipes you can download and keep forever. Unfortunately, the app has been known to crash iPhone X (the developer is working on bug fixes), but overall it’s nice to have on-hand during the holidays.
For getting your holiday cocktail game on point
DrinksFree is great for party drink inspiration. You can search drinks by category: cocktails, coffee, homemade liqueur, punch or party drinks, or by your favorite ingredients. Save your favorites and share the recipes with friends. The best part about this free app? It has a “random” feature where you shake your phone (literally) and a select cocktail recipe will show up on the screen. The app can be a bit glitchy at times, but it takes a lot of stress out of party decision-making.
For saving that dough
Shopping for holiday gifts is expensive but many of the stores where you already shop will give you cash back — as long as you have this app. Rather than download an app for every store, Ibotta works with more than 300 retailers for both in-store and online purchases. After signing up for a free account, browse through the current available offers and add them to a list. Go about your shopping but be sure to save your receipts. Afterward, upload a photo of each receipt and the app will match them with the offers you selected. You’ll get cash in your Ibotta account within 48 hours. At first, it can be hard to remember to save — or not lose — your physical receipts, but it does make Christmas shopping a lot more affordable.
For when you need to take a deep breath
For many of us, time with family around the holidays can be particularly stressful. Your mom is asking why you’re still single, your uncle keeps starting sentences with “I’m not racist but … ” Thankfully there’s an app for that. Calm gives you guided meditations to take you out of your head and into the world of relaxation. The app offers “sleep stories” — short audio stories that slowly lead you into a peaceful slumber — narrated by the world’s most soothing voices, like English actor Stephen Fry. The app also has a “Calm Body” section with videos showing you how to move and stretch your limbs to let go of stress and quiet your mind. Caveat: The best features come with the paid version for $59.99 per year.
For when you question your choice to live in such a freezing cold place
You know what’s even worse than going shopping downtown during the holidays? Not being able to find parking near any of the stores. This is a particularly cumbersome problem if you live in a part of the country that’s absolutely freezing this time of year. But if you use SpotHero you can find and reserve a parking place ahead of time. Just search for daily parking available in a specific area, reserve, pay and you’re set.
SpotHero CEO and co-founder Mark Lawrence can empathize with your parking woes — after racking up thousands of dollars in tickets, he decided there had to be an easier way to find parking. Seven years later, Lawrence’s app has more than 5,000 garages, lots and valets in the U.S. and Canada, and recently added 500 autonomous vehicle-ready garages. “In 2019, we will keep advancing our mission of making cities smarter, more sustainable and better to live in,” says Lawrence. Using SpotHero, especially this time of year, means you won’t waste time looking for a spot or end up walking blocks in the freezing snow and cold. Winter sucks, but it can suck a lot less when it comes to parking.