10 Apps You Need To Survive The Holidays

From gift buying to wine pairing, these apps will help guide you through the season.

10 Apps You Need To Survive The Holidays
[Photo: Flickr user Erik Drost]

Could the end of 2016 come any sooner? One week into December, you’re probably turning your attention to packing lists or menus for your holiday party. Whatever your plans are between now and the New Year—be it jet-setting or lazing on your parents’ couch—you might want to have some of these apps on hand.


1. TripIt: This app will compile a dossier, if you will, of all your travel plans, giving you an overview of your hotel bookings, flight itineraries, and restaurant reservations in one place. If you’ve been procrastinating and need to book last-minute flights, another app worth downloading is Hopper.


2. Airbnb: The home-sharing platform recently debuted Experiences, which pairs travelers with hosts for local tours, classes, and other excursions. The Experiences feature is only available in 12 cities at the moment, but many of the outings—some of which span multiple days—are under $200 and range from cycling through Miami to a 3-day music and dance immersion in Cuba.

3. Chances are you’ll need a place to keep track of all your to-dos, between party planning and buying Christmas presents for friends and family. With, you can manage your to-do lists as you would with other similar apps—but you can also use its nifty new AI-powered assistant to take care of tasks that’s algorithm has determined a chatbot could help complete.

NYT Cooking

4. NYT Cooking: The New York Times cooking app is a bottomless trove of recipes—and it’s totally free, even if you don’t subscribe to the Times. Edited by food editor Sam Sifton, the app boasts more than 16,000 recipes from the newspaper’s archives and is aesthetically pleasing to boot, especially on an iPad. If you’re hosting a holiday party or attending a holiday potluck (or five), be sure to check out the Christmas 2016 section.

(Not)Recipes by Food52

5. (Not)Recipes by Food52: When you have a smattering of leftovers and groceries after your holiday party, you may not want to sift through recipes or put together an elaborate meal (if you’re in the mood to cook at all). Think of Food52’s app as an iteration of Instagram, but exclusively dedicated to food. It offers inspiration, rather than instruction, but photos are usually accompanied by captions descriptive enough for you to throw something similar together.


6. Audible: If your holiday plans involve a lot of traveling or hours spent in cramped quarters with family members, audiobooks are one way to pass the time and avoid any discussion of the election. Audible—otherwise known as that app you keep hearing ads for on your favorite podcast—has a library of more than 180,000 audiobooks and a 30-day free trial for new users.


7. Spring: This is how shopping on your phone should be. Spring’s minimalist app makes shopping for gifts far easier, especially if you’re crunched for time or trying to avoid the mad rush of your local mall. Shipping is free, and Spring features wares from 1,300 brands. This recommendation comes with a warning: Buying things on Spring is perhaps too easy. Gird your wallet.


8. Vivino: For those of us who aren’t sommeliers-in-training, wine pairing can be tricky, as can be remembering which bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon you liked that one time. For your party planning needs, there’s Vivino: Snap a photo of a bottle’s label, and the app will pull up information about the wine in question. If you’re going out to dinner with your family instead, Vivino can also pull up ratings and reviews when you scan a restaurant’s wine list.


9. Spotify: Everyone’s favorite music app has a wide array of playlists, curated by genre and mood and occasion. Spotify’s holiday playlist selection is already fairly robust (including but not limited to Christmas Classics, Acoustic Christmas, Christmas Pop, Jazzy Christmas, A Cappella Christmas), but you can also create collaborative playlists with your family to cover all your musical tastes. Another solid resource for holiday playlists is music discovery app 8Tracks.


10. Talkspace: Maybe, as many people felt during Thanksgiving, you’re a little worried about facing some of your relatives and talking politics. Talkspace, an online therapy app that matches users with licensed therapists, could help if, say, you need guidance on how to have productive conversations with family members if you’re on opposing sides of the political spectrum. (In fact, the app saw a significant upswing in users following the election.) And if you need some time to decompress, check out the popular meditation app Headspace.


About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.