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Family-friendly Christmas Apps

Fun ways to spread holiday cheer, electronically


Smartphones have infiltrated every part of our lives. Like the commercial says, no matter what you need it seems, there is an app for that. Even the holiday season isn't immune with hundreds of programs designed to make your life easier, help you shop smarter and simply be entertained. Here are our top choices for family-friendly Christmas apps.

Depending on your phone, apps can be purchased through iTunes or through Android Market, Amazon's App Store, App Brain or any other Android app store.

Please note, in some cases a review app was provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas app
Loud Crow Interactive Inc.
I don't know who likes this app more, me or my kids. It's everything you love about the animated classic tv movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas and more (if that's possible). It features Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, narrating an interactive storybook complete with original dialogue and digitally remastered illustrations, animation, and music. As you turn the pages, you'll have the opportunity to play Schroeder's piano, finger paint with the gang, go carolling with the Peanuts choir, and participate in the Spectacular Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights and Display Contest to unlock decorations for your very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. A great app you won't want to miss!

2. Santa Express for Kids (Letters to Santa)

Santa Express for Kids (Letters to Santa)
Long gone are the days of writing a letter to Santa Claus, slapping a stamp on it and snail mailing it to the big guy in red at the North Pole. In these modern times, communicating with Santa is as easy as whipping out your smartphone. In this app from Santa.com, kids can write and send (with the permission of parents) a letter to Santa. Parents can then go to the website and arrange it so Santa writes back.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
His heart might be "two sizes too small," but his app doesn't skimp on anything. This electronic retelling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, features three modes: "Read to Me" where you can listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read; "Read it Myself" — read the book in its traditional form; and "Auto Play" — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. As a bonus, you can touch pictures and the words will appear -- great for promoting reading. The Grinch might not like Who-Ville, but you'll want to visit again and again!

4. Christmas Countdown

Christmas Countdown App
Kyle Hankinson
Such a simple app, but one that provides you with important information and well. Choose a background -- snowman, Santa, reindeer or your own -- and watch as the days tick down. You can listen to holiday music or even your own. Each day the app will update its badge so the days will be displayed right on your device.

5. Angry Birds Seasons

Angry Birds Seasons
Rovio Mobile Ltd.
They are at it again and they are angrier than ever! The concept is still the same at the original game -- pigs have stolen eggs from the birds and the birds retaliate by slingshotting themselves, attempting to knock down structures and getting the pigs inside -- but there is a holiday twist. A new level opens every day until Christmas (like an advent calendar). Warning -- this game is highly addicting (not necessarily a bad thing)!

6. Christmas Fun – All In One

Christmas Fun All in One
Kids Games Club
The weeks leading up to Christmas are always filled with fun, food and gifts. But thanks to the Christmas Fun - All in One app, there can also be learning. The app, geared at kids ages four and up, includes sing-a-long songs, chances to dress up Santa and a snowman, coloring pages and games. There are also opportunities to purchase more games once inside the free version of the app.

7. Talking Santa

Talking Santa App
If your preschooler is asking to call Santa on a regular basis, you may want to take a look at the Talking Santa app. A fun app that is easy to use, just talk into the microphone on your phone and Santa will repeat what you say. You can also tickle, poke and swipe at Santa to get a reaction out of him. He'll also show you what he's got in his bag and let you know if you are naughty or nice! (You can be nice by giving him some cookies. Feeling naughty? Throw a giant snowball at him!) You can also record videos and messages and send them to friends via e-mail and Facebook.

8. Christmas List Pro

Christmas List Pro
Developers Simplify Lives
To keep track of all of my holiday gift purchases, each year I break out a marble notebook and write out all the names of the family and friends I buy presents for. The notebook comes with me everywhere. I've lost it quite a few times. This year I'm thinking about switching to the Christmas List Pro app. It features functions that allow you to track gifts by person and how much you spend. The best part is that it's password protected which means that your surprises will stay that way until December 25.

9. iFinger

Lean Mean Fighting Machine
If you are the world's worst wrapper (like me), this is the app for you. Measure the present you need to wrap and input the dimensions into the app. It will calculate the size of the paper you need. Even better, while you are wrapping, use the iFinger to hold wrapping paper in place, allowing you to use your free hands to get the tape and fold corners. Definitely a "why didn't I think of that?" app!

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