13 Helpful Apps to Take the Stress Out of the Holiday Season
If the holiday season is leaving you feeling stressed out or pressed for time, chances are there's an app out there designed to make things easier. Check out these apps for Android and iPhone that can help you with everything from finding the perfect recipe to finding someone who could wrap presents for you in a pinch.
1. Yummly // Free
If you’re hosting a dinner this season and aren’t sure what to make, turn to Yummly, home to over 2 million recipes. When you sign up, you pick what level of cook you are; then, the unique search feature lets you narrow recipes down by preferences, like dietary restrictions, cooking time, nutrition information, and more—this can help you find a dish that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. The app also allows you to add all the ingredients to a shopping list and order groceries from local stores.
2. Food Network Kitchen // Free
The user-friendly Food Network Kitchen app is home to an extensive database of recipes, so you’re sure to find plenty of options for meals. You can save your favorite recipes so they're easy to find, create a shopping list, and even order the ingredients from your grocery store. If you want to go premium ($7 a month or, for a limited time, $48 for an annual subscription), you can take advantage of the app’s live classes with chef Q&As. Even better, a portion of your annual subscription will go to charity.
3. How to Cook Everything // $10
You now have access to the best-selling How to Cook Everything cookbook. Alongside 2000 recipes and their variations, it also comes with 400 how-to illustrations, which take you step-by-step through the cooking process. The app also has handy built-in timers placed throughout the recipe, making meal prep that much easier. If you download the app onto your iPad, you'll have access to even more, like the ability to add notes to recipes and a constant-on button to ensure that the screen doesn't dim while you're cooking.
Available on iOS.
4. Happy Cow // $4
If you’re traveling and vegan or you’re hosting vegan friends and family, finding a place to go out to eat can be a bit of a challenge. But the Happy Cow app—which includes reviews, photos, and the ability to save restaurants for offline viewing—can help users find plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian restaurants in more than 180 countries.
5. Giftster // Free
Trying to figure out the perfect present for everyone on your list can be stressful and time consuming. Luckily, Giftster takes out the guesswork. This app is essentially a gift registry that connects you to family and friends. Each person in your group creates their list and adds items to it. It marks the items once they’ve been bought (though the recipient won't see what's been purchased) and members can reserve the items they want to purchase on someone’s list so more than two people don’t show up with the same present. There's also a Secret Santa option. And beyond the holidays, it can work for everything from birthdays to baby showers.
6. Santa’s Bag // Free
Not only does this app have a built-in Christmas countdown, it helps keep your shopping list and budget organized. First, you make a list of the people you want to buy for, and then add gift ideas, links, favorite stores, and notes for each recipient. The app also allows you to sort through your list by recipient, shopping list, extra gifts, ordered gifts, stocking stuffers, location, and more, so you can stay organized throughout the whole process.
Available on iOS.
7. Chanukah Guide // Free
Whether it's your first time celebrating Chanukah or you're just looking to brush up on the basics, this guide can help. The free app will walk you through all the aspects of celebrating the festival of lights, with prayers available in six languages, instructions on how to light the Menorah, and more.
8. Task Rabbit // Free
While the holidays bring a lot of joy, they also bring packed schedules and long to-do lists. So, if you’re looking through your planner and wondering how you can possibly get everything done, TaskRabbit can help. Whether it’s wrapping presents, assembling a child’s new toy, installing light fixtures, or even shoveling out from a surprise snowstorm, you can find someone on TaskRabbit to help you complete just about anything for an hourly fee.
9. Calm // $70 a year after free trial
Let’s face it, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one of the most hectic times of the year—so it’s important to take the time to breathe. Calm offers hundreds of hours of guided meditations that cover topics like managing stress and calming anxiety. The app also features relaxing music, soundscapes, and Sleep Stories designed to send the listener to dreamland (there's even one featuring Bob Ross!). Calm also gives users access to master classes that are led by experts and cover a wide range of topics from breaking bad habits to the power of rest.
10. Tripit // Free
Tripit helps take the stress out of holiday travel. After you make your plans—like booking flights and rental cars—you simply forward the reservation to an email, and the app puts together a schedule for you. You can also instantly send your travel plans to anyone you choose, so it takes all the guesswork out of when you’ll be arriving. Tripit is free, but if you want to pay the $49 a year, it comes with features such as showing airport security wait times and periodic travel updates.
11. Roadtrippers // Free
If you are going to be road trippin’ to your holiday destination, you may as well make it fun. This app will help you find restaurants, scenic points, and roadside attractions along the way. With the free app, you can plan up to seven stops, but if you want to be able to add more destinations, you’ll need to upgrade to Roadtrippers Plus for $30 a year or $7 a month.
12. Flush - Toilet Finder & Map // Free
If you’re on the road for a long time, it’s inevitable that you’re going to need to stop for a bathroom break. But what to do when there's no rest stop in sight? Before you hit the road, download Flush, which has data on over 190,000 bathrooms around the world. When you open the app, it displays the nearest toilets—and even lets you search without an internet connection. (Flush is only available for iOS, but don't fear, non-iPhone users: Toilet Finder is free, available on Android, and has data on over 150,000 restrooms.)
Available on iOS.
13. Fake Call Plus // Free
Seeing family over the holidays is great ... until you get stuck in an awkward conversation that never seems to end. If you're an iPhone user, Fake Call will come to your rescue. The app allows you to schedule a time for a "phone call" that will help you escape some of those not-so-pleasant discussions.
Available on iOS.