Can Technology Ease Your Holiday Stress?

It's easy to feel more stressed than jolly during the holidays. Follow our helpful tech tips that will make this holiday season joyful.

Ease Holiday Stress With Tech 04:08

Carley Knobloch shares tech gadgets and apps to help ease holiday stress.

With all the cooking, decorating, gift-buying, wrapping and card-sending happening around the holidays, it's easy to fall into the "I'm too busy juggling to be jolly" mindset. Sharing holidays with friends and family is truly a present of its own, but if I'm not organized, I’m likely to forget about the eggnog spill while I’m sprinting to the mailbox to mail late holiday cards. Thankfully there are a ton of tools that take the stress out of everything from cards to festive dinners. 

10 Ways to a Stress-Free Holiday Season

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Cook Familiar Recipes

Resist trying that new vegan eggnog recipe on your party guests. Instead, stick with standbys that you've made before and that won't throw you a curveball. Make cooking even easier with a clever recipe app.

More: 8 Best Apps to Organize Your Recipes

Navigate Airports With Ease

If you're traveling for the holiday, you can cut the time it takes to search for your itinerary with GateGuru, an app that will wrangle your flight info and airport information in one place. A service like Yapta can track flight prices and help you get a refund when the ticket you already bought drops in price.

Send Online Cards

Digital cards are no longer a far cry from the real deal. Services like Paperless Post, Punchbowl and Red Stamp offer gorgeous cards with custom digital envelopes, liners and stamps. Note: Many of these services offer paper versions too, in case Aunt Elsa refuses to do email.

Photo By: Red Stamp

Don't Do All the Work

An app like Potluck or PitchIn makes it easy to ask others for help — just create an online list of the tasks you need accomplished (or in the case of Potluck, the dishes you need), and let your friends sign up to volunteer.

Photo By: Potluck

Get Help Addressing Holiday Cards

If you choose to go with paper holiday cards, Postable's online address book can invite your friends to fill in their addresses for you instead of chasing folks to get their contact information. 

Stick to a Budget

Apps such as Budgt and Level Money offer a clear look at your spendable cash, what you've already used and exactly what's left, so you can avoid big bills in the new year.

Pick Up Last-Minute Gifts

E-gifting apps like GiftRocket let you send a cash gift with a message of how you think the recipient should use it. So, you can include messages like, "Share a night out with your honey!" or "Now you can get that guitar you've always wanted!" You can direct deposit the gift into the recipient's bank account or as a credit on their credit card.

Stock Your Kitchen

Use Shelf Scouter's barcode scanner to help you track what you already have and create shopping lists. Then, let the app tell you whether it's cheaper to buy online or at your local store.

Photo By: Shelf Scouter

Stay Calm

If the sugar plums dancing in your head are more like whirling dervishes, try an app like Headspace or Stop, Breathe & Think. In just a few minutes at a time, they'll train your brain to stay calm and carry on — no matter what relative is trying to rattle you.

Take Notes

Whether it's a successful recipe, a special item you tucked into your guest room or gift ideas that blew people away, you'll want to remember them for next year. Use an app like Evernote or a paper diary to jot things down, so you'll have a go-to "nice" list ready for next year.

One way I simmer my nerves in the kitchen is by using a digital thermometer that warns me via text message when my roast is ready. Say goodbye to overcooked anything! Another way I lower stress in the kitchen is by keeping all my recipes organized in a clever recipes app

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Store Passwords Safely

It's tempting to keep all your passwords in one document on your computer, but you're begging for them to be lifted or hacked. Instead, use a safe, strong password manager such as LastPass or Dashlane to help you store them. 

Don't Use a Debit Card

If they fall into the wrong hands, debit cards are unlikely to offer the same protection as credit cards. It's easier for someone to drain your account and hard for you to recover the money.

Keep Tabs on Online Orders

Online purchases are tough to keep track of while they're being processed and shipped. The Slice app tracks your packages and keeps track of your receipts, and lets you know if the item you purchased has gone down in price, so you can get a refund.

Check the Return Policy

Before you hit the purchase button online, know whether you can send it back, if you or the company will pay for the return and whether there's a restocking fee.

Look for Https

Hold it, happy shopper! Only type in your credit card info into a browser if you see the letters "https" instead of "http" in the URL (the "s" stands for secure) or the image of a lock before the URL. 

Don't Shop Using Public Wi-Fi

While it might be tempting to knock out your gift list at Starbucks, it's too easy for a hacker to steal your personal data. Public hotspots don't often include security, such as over-the-air encryption. 

Get Coupon Codes Online

Before you make a purchase, check online sites like RetailMeNot and Coupon Sherpa for coupon codes — you might find big savings.

Photo By: Carley Knobloch

Never Forget a Coupon

Always forgetting your printed coupons at home? Scan them with SnipSnap, which will automatically turn them into mobile offers and notify you when you're near the store.

Avoid Identity Theft

Make sure your online identity and finances are safe with a watchdog site like LifeLock, which is constantly scanning to be sure no one is using your information. It alerts you if there's anything suspicious, and its team will help you if you become a victim.

Shop With the Big Guys

You may want to shop local to help the little guy, but not so much online. If you're unfamiliar with the site and it isn't secure, then the deal you're getting might not be such a deal.

Check Your Charges

Don't wait for your credit card statement to arrive. Make a habit of regularly checking it online, or set up alerts with your bank, so you'll get a text if your cards are used by someone else.

Use an Anti-Virus Software

Like a vaccine for your computer, a program like Bitdefender, Norton or McAfee can add an extra level of protection against malware and other online viruses.

When it comes to gifts, step away from the mall. Instead, shop online to buy for everyone from Mom to the mail carrier. I like to use search engines that scan the shelves of nearby stores and tell me where to buy the item. No more running from store to store or waiting on the phone. To keep track of online gift purchases (a stress in itself), I use an app that scans my inbox for receipts and lets me know when gifts get delivered or if something goes on sale. Finally, when it comes to holiday cards, it's probably no surprise that I pass on the paper. Sending digital e-cards saves money and time (and the planet) so I can bask in the spirit — instead of the stress — of the season. 

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