Best apps for holiday fun, family and safety

While we do highly recommend unplugging from your phones and tech when celebrating with friends and family this holiday season, sometimes the right app might turn out to be a lifesaver. So just in case, we’ve provided a list of some of the best apps that might come in handy.

Weather watching

DARK SKY: Winter weather can be fickle, even here in California. The Dark Sky app provides detailed information and predicts when it will rain or snow, down to the minute, at your exact location to help you plan for the day or week. The app uses your phone’s GPS to know exactly where you are standing and works remarkably well. Both free and paid versions are available for Android and Apple devices.

Entertaining Kids

ELF YOURSELF: Good for kids of all ages, Elf Yourself allows you to upload photos of your family and friends and create fun videos that will get laughs for hours. Android and Apple versions available.

CHANUKAH GUIDE: The Chanukah Guide app by The Saber Team is fun and educational for kids. Users can light a virtual menorah, play the dreidel, read Hanukkah prayers in Hebrew, English, and other languages, and learn details about this Jewish holiday. Free for both Android and Apple devices.

ELF ON THE SHELF – Versions for both kids and adults with games, stories and fun for kids, and lots of ideas for creating fun scenarios and hiding spots for adults. This is one of our picks for best apps for holiday fun.

CHRISTMAS CRUSH: Colorful games, music and lots to keep kids of all ages occupied for those long car rides or family dinners that go on and on and on.

Party Planning

GOOGLE EXPLORE: Choosing a spot for your office, friends and/or extended family holiday get-together can be hard, but Google Maps rolled out a new feature with its Explore Tab to help. The Explore tab sorts local eateries, bars, and places of interest into categories like Cheap Drinks, Sports Bars, and Coffee Shops. When you long-press a venue, you can add it to a short list that is then shareable so you and your friends can vote on the best spot for a holiday party.

Ridesharing

UBER & LYFT: Speaking of parties, having a ridesharing app set up and ready to go should be on everyone’s must-do list for the holidays. Two you can always depend on are Uber and Lyft.

Stressbusting

CALM: Those few weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year are some of the most hectic times of the year—so it’s important to take the time to breathe. The Calm app offers hundreds of hours of guided meditations that cover topics like managing stress and calming anxiety.

Travel

TRIPIT: After you make your plans—like booking flights and rental cars—simply forward the reservation to an email, and the Tripit 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.

Fitness

MY FITNESS PAL: The free My Fitness Pal app is one of the best apps and the perfect partner to help track and control calorie intake and fitness activities for healthier holiday season. Want to know how many calories that party treat or special cocktail has? The app can help you figure it out. And it can let you know if you can afford to splurge as well. With fun exercise ideas, recipes and prompts, it’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.

Kristy CooperBest apps for holiday fun, family and safety