Whether you're in need of some cheer, some fab party recipes or help with gift-shopping, you don't need to look further than your iPhone. There are plenty of programs that can help you navigate the season. This is my short list of 5 stand-out apps for the holidays (plus a bonus one). These are available right now in the App Store, and most are free (or crazy cheap). Enjoy!
Christmas Memory Match ($0.99)
Since I can't fit a proper tree in my little Brooklyn apartment, I decided to search for the yuletide spirit on my phone. This family-friendly app did the trick. It's a memory match game that features Christmas-themed graphics and jingle-bell sounds. Sure, it's corny, but it's also adorable and brings in the holiday fun. And who knows? Maybe if I play this a lot, it'll sharpen my memory enough to remember what the heck my mom told me she wanted for Christmas.
If your thoughts turn to Chanukah (Hanukkah) this time of year, consider this iPhone Menorah. It has a cute animation that shows how to light the candles in accordance with the Ashkenaz customs. The app also plays professionally recorded and beautifully sung prayers and features translations in Hebrew, English and Transliterated.
Amazon Mobile (Free)
Ever been out shopping and wondered, "Didn't this Bluetooth headset cost less online?" Or that Garmin nüvi? Now you can answer that on the spot with Amazon Mobile. It's got a nice, clean interface that lets you compare prices, read reviews, access your account and wish list, and purchase items on Amazon.com. It's also got Amazon Remembers, an experimental feature that takes the product pic you snapped (say, for future reference), looks for a similar item online and alerts you if it finds one for sale. (Once Amazon allows users to check other people's wish lists, this will be a darned near perfect app.)
Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner (Free)
I'm already a huge fan of Allrecipes.com, so this had me at hello. The Dinner Spinner delivers (no-kidding) thousands of this website community's favorite recipes. Holiday dinner hosts and amateur chefs can do quick look-ups, and parse reviews and photos without stepping away from their stoves. For regular dinners at home, it has an Urbanspoon-like randomization feature. When you're not sure what to make, shake the phone or hit "spin" and the app chooses for you.
Pocket Cocktails ($0.99 holiday special -- regular $4.99)
What's a Christmas dinner or holiday get-together without egg-nog or hot toddies? (Well, it probably means you're at my parents' house, but I digress.) This groovy retro-styled mixology guide has gorgeous full-color photos and detailed recipes of more than 300 drinks. Search by name or ingredient, add favorites or play with the fun iteration of the shake/random-selection feature: When you jiggle the phone, it sounds like a cocktail shaker with ice in it. (And if you are at my parents' place, you can look up a "mocktail" to match the warm, yet teetotalling mood.)
HONORABLE MENTION: Party Pro ($0.99)
Pocket Cocktails may be mid-century marvelous, but if you're a hardcore reveler, Party Pro might be more your speed. As if its 20,000+ drink recipes weren't enough (7,000+ for the free "Lite" version), this app has metric conversion, bartending techniques and -- for those who'd rather tipple than mix -- a GPS bar locator for major cities worldwide. Just make sure to program a taxi number in your phone before you use this.