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The Best Apps to Help With Holiday Gift-Giving

gift shopping apps
Glasshouse, Blu Sky, Sincerely

The holidays are a stressful time. Whether it’s worrying about crazy travel plans, wondering how you’re going to manage your drunk Aunt Carol at the family get-together, or not sleeping because the million-watt glow from your neighbors’ Christmas decorations keeps you up all night, everyone’s nerves are a bit more frayed this time of year.

Luckily, some tensions can be eased. For everyone with a smartphone, there are lots of helpful apps that can reduce at least one holiday stress: gift-giving. And who knows, if you manage to get her just the right present, maybe Aunt Carol will be so overwhelmed with gratitude that she’ll forget to ask you why you’re still single. It just might make for a Christmas miracle.

Gift Plan

iTunes

Keeping track of every holiday, every birthday, plus everyone’s sizes, favorite colors and bands can take up so much head space you’ll never remember where you put your keys. Let this app do the mental heavy lifting for you. It will sync with Facebook birthdays, keep track of special events and remind you when it’s time to buy a gift. This app even keeps you on budget. It’s like having your own tiny personal assistant living in your phone!

• $2.99 on iPhone, iPad

Packages

Occasionally it’s easy to figure out the perfect gift, but more often, it seems like an impossible task. This app can help you find a little inspiration. Just enter your relationship to the recipient and the amount you want to spend, shake the screen, and a present idea will pop right up!

• 99 cents on iPhone, iPad

Discount Calculator

iTunes

The one good thing about shopping during the holiday season is that stores tend to have lots of sales. Unfortunately, trying to juggle the mental math of an extra 15 percent off an item already discounted 20 percent can scramble even an MIT student’s brain. This simple app easily calculates the costs including tax and lets you know the final price of an item before you get to the register and realize you misplaced the decimal point in that $49 coffee pot.

• Free on iPhone, iPad

Shop Savvy

iTunes

There’s nothing worse than buying a present and seeing a better price for it somewhere else the next day. This app eliminates that overpaying worry by letting you comparison shop on the spot. Just scan the barcode of an item, and this app will show you if there are better deals on the same product at other local stores or online.

• Free on iPhone, iPad

Amazon Mobile

iTunes

Shopping doesn’t have to take the whole afternoon and it no longer needs to involve any fighting for parking spaces, braving the elements and elbowing fellow shoppers for that last toy. With the Amazon app, you can shop for anything you want, wherever and whenever it’s convenient for you. You can even scan barcodes for products you see in stores, if you’d rather have them delivered to your doorstep than haul them home with you.

• Free on iPhone, iPad

Sesame

iTunes

Holiday time is busy enough with travel, finishing up loose ends at work, cooking, cleaning your house well enough that even the pickiest mother-in-law can’t complain. The only time you have to holiday gift-storm might be the few moments on your way out of the supermarket. But don’t worry, no need to give everyone a toothbrush and a can of peas: Sesame is there for you. Their team of experts curated a slew of specialty gift packages, ranging from $29-$49 each. With just a simple click, a beautifully wrapped “How did you know?!”-perfect present will be on its way. All you have to do is sit back, smile and wait for the gushing thank-yous to roll in.

• Free on iPhone, iPad

Bartab

iTunes

With close friends, sometimes the best gift is just to treat them to a drink or two at the bar. Unfortunately, as everyone spreads out across the globe, it’s not always so easy to call your best friends up and organize a bar night. This app allows you to treat your friends to a drink even if they’re 3,000 miles away. While you’re at it, go ahead and send a photo of yourself cheers-ing with them and they might not even notice you’re not physically there.

• Free on iPhone, iPad

iWishfor

iTunes

Sure, it’s the thought the counts, but giving the perfect gift counts double. This interactive app takes the confusion out of gift-shopping and the disappointment out of gift-receiving. You can upload your perfect wish list and the app will automatically sync with your selected friends’ and family members’ lists. That way everyone can keep track of exactly what Grandma wanted this year, because frankly, she’s getting a little tired of those stitched hand towels with cats on them.

• Free on iPhone, iPadAndroid

Clingle

iTunes

This location-based social media app allows you to leave location-based video and text that your friends with Clingle will see when they go somewhere you’ve been. It also allows you to purchase gift cards for your friends that they can see when they walk into the store. Since you can add video and sound, this app elevates the impersonal gift card to the super personalized level.

• Free on iPhone, iPadAndroid

iThankYou

iTunes

While it’s better to give than receive, it’s likely you might end up on the receiving side yourself this holiday season. Make sure you let the givers know how touched you were by their gifts with this helpful app. It can sync with your address book, keep track of who gave you what and remind you to send a traditional card, or allow you to send an email thanking the sender, making sure there’s no accidental resentment around the holidays next year!

• $1.99 on iPhone, iPad

Photo by Aaron Savage
Photo by Aaron Savage
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