Tech the Halls! by Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
Make the most of the holiday season using your mobile device to help with shopping, planning, hosting and travel. There are a wealth of ways your tablet or smartphone can add convenience and save you time and money this holiday, and we have lots of ideas below brought to you by our friends at U.S. Cellular. But saving time and money only works if your mobile devices are good to go. Stash a charger in your car, and charge your devices overnight so they’re ready when you need them.
A big concern for many during the holidays is shopping – getting the right gift for the best price. Luckily, an abundance of apps exists to help with holiday shopping. Some compare prices among retailers to show you the best deal, while others alert you when an item is offered at a price you’re willing to pay. For shoppers juggling coupons or rewards cards, apps can help organize and store them. When you make a purchase, the cashier simply scans the image of the coupon or card on your phone.
Some stores offer an app version of their holiday catalogs, which lets you create wish lists and make purchases directly through the catalog on a phone or tablet. In addition to apps, you can use your mobile device to send pictures of gift ideas to friends and family, or snap pics to compare similar items at different stores or see if one store will price-match another.
Getting the best deal is great, but if you can successfully navigate the crowds, too, that’s even better. GPS apps on your phone can keep track of people in your group when shopping or at holiday events like parades. Other apps provide maps of malls all over the world so shopping in unfamiliar territory is a breeze.
Whether you’re planning holiday shopping or holiday brunch, your mobile device can keep you on track economically. Use free online invitations and calendars to organize holiday events like Secret Santa and potlucks from your phone or tablet. Making lists and checking them twice has never been more efficient with apps that let you synch your notes across all platforms, so you can create a list on your laptop at work, then access it on your phone later. Tips and ideas for decorating, recipes and party planning are only a click away when you use social media or access retailers’ QR and text codes in magazines and stores, which link to information on topics like food and wine pairings, table decorations and party planning calculators.
Hosting and Entertainment
Hosting this holiday? Look no further than your tablet or smartphone. During holiday get-togethers, video chat with absent friends and relatives for an inexpensive and convenient way to bring everyone together, and play holiday music on your device from your own collection or using free streaming music sites.
Holiday recipes stored on your tablet allow quick and easy access for baking. Your device’s alarm clock or timer can be used for cooking too, or to remind you to call Great Aunt Betty. Holiday photos are a snap when you take pictures with your phone, then email or upload them directly from your device to an online photo site. You also can use your phone or tablet’s camera feature to capture festive holiday photos for postcards, greeting cards, ornaments and more.
Don’t forget movies and other entertainment during the holidays. Use your mobile device to purchase tickets remotely when possible, then print out a paper receipt at a kiosk when you get there or show your electronic receipt to the cashier and bypass the lines.
For travel, use a GPS app on your phone to go over the river and through the woods instead of under the bridge and through the wrong part of town. Have weather service apps and emergency numbers programmed in your phone to save time, and take pictures of travel documents like airplane tickets and passports in case they’re lost. Or better yet, use an airline app to turn your phone into your boarding pass. You can even use your device to regulate holiday lights while you’re away from home for peace of mind.
And remember: It wouldn’t be the holidays if you didn’t have some wait time. Keep entertainment on hand wherever you are with movies, books and games on your mobile device to keep you and your kids entertained. Happy Holidays!