Just because they’re holiday traditions doesn’t mean they have to be traditionally difficult. Bring your plans for the festive season into the 21st century with these technological tricks and tips. 

1. Keep Your Holiday Cards in the Cloud

Who needs to send a holiday card when you can share an entire holiday album? Save on postage by designing your own cards and loading them via a photo service (such as Flickr) onto the cloud where friends and loved ones can access them. Upload previous years’ too so you can track how much everyone has grown.

2. Time Your Holiday Lights

Programing holiday lights on your home used to require quite a bit of work. Luckily, you can now obtain a DIY control system from the hardware store and use your computer to make your festive decorations blink, dance, and and flicker in time with music.

3. Get Alerts When It’s About to Snow So You Can Salt the Driveway

Smartphone apps like Dark Sky can send you push notifications when a surprise winter wonderland is about to hit. Throw some salt down at first warning to avoid heavy shoveling later and make your neighbors think you’re a psychic as they’re digging themselves out after the blizzard. 

4. Print Your Own Ornaments

3D printers have proven to be a revolutionary innovation in fields like medicine and engineering, but they can be used for fun and festive reasons, too. Design and 3D print your own ornaments to add a high-tech and personal touch to holiday decorations.

5. Use a Fare Tracker to Book Tickets

Holiday travel can be difficult and expensive, but at least the Internet can lend a hand with the latter and help keep your wallet festively plump. Online fare trackers such as Yapta and Airfarewatchdog tell you when it’s the best time to book airplane tickets and hotel rooms, ensuring you’ll have plenty of money left over for presents.

6. Use Your Tablet When Sizing Up a Tree

That Douglas fir may look perfect in the lot, but it can be a different story when you take it home and can’t fit it through the door. Soon Intel® RealSense™ technology will enable your tablet to measure the exact dimensions of an object (like a holiday tree) just by taking a picture. 

7. Keep Your Home Toasty with a Smart Thermostat 

Coming in from the cold is now a high-tech affair with smart thermostats like Nest or Pek. On the way back from a day of sledding, increase the heat in your home via smartphone to make your return warm and cozy. These ingenious devices won’t make you hot chocolate (yet), so that’s still up to you. 

8. Print Your Own Wrapping Paper 

Get creative and personal by designing and printing custom wrapping paper for presents. It’s a nice touch that will also save you a trip to the store.

9. Make Long-Distance Calls to Relatives via Internet Phone

Don’t let phone bills spoil your festive spirit. Use online phone and videoconferencing services like Skype and you won’t feel guilty about staying on the phone with Grampa and Grandma that extra twenty minutes, and they’ll enjoy getting to see everyone’s smiling faces.

10. Store Loved Ones’ Measurements On Your Smartphone 

Take the guesswork out of shopping by recording friends and relatives’ measurements on your phone ahead of time. You’ll get the right size every time, and they’ll thank you for giving them a gift they don’t need to return.

11. Photograph Boxes of Decorations Before You Put Them Away

Use your phone to take photos while packing up holiday decorations and storing them away. That way, you’ll know exactly where everything is when you need it again next holiday season. Think of it as an extremely early present to yourself.

Holiday innovation is just the start—with 3D scanning, gesture control, and photo measurements, Intel® RealSense™ technology will keep you on the cutting edge year-round. Learn more here: intel.com