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10 Essential iPhone Apps for the Holidays

The holidays can be a challenge: Shopping, planning, parties--and plenty of family time. These ten apps for the iPhone and iPod touch can help the season go more smoothly. Pass the eggnog!

iPhone Apps to Make Your Holidays Happy

The holidays can be a challenge: Shopping, planning, parties--and plenty of family time. These ten apps for the iPhone and iPod touch can help the season go more smoothly. Pass the eggnog!

Christmas Countdown ($0.99)

Haven't finished your Xmas shopping yet? Christmas Countdown tells the exact number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the big day. Even better, it does so while playing cheery Christmas classics, including Jingle Bells and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. You can play your own songs too. (Given the economy, Ray Charles' "Busted" could be this year's theme.)

Slacker Holiday Radio (free)

Slacker Holiday Radio is a convenient--and cheap--way to add a holiday sound track to your winter festivities. This limited-edition app provides access to 11 holiday radio stations chosen by Slacker Radio. Traditionalists will love Holiday Classics; grinches may gravitate to Dysfunctional Holiday. Add some iPod-dock speakers, and you've got a ready-made holiday sound system.

Hanukkah Match (free)

OK, maybe we're a little late for Hanukkah 2009, but this simple and fun matching game is still a lot of fun for kids over the long winter break. Your goal: Match the cheerful Hanukkah items as quickly as possible. You can play with Hanukkah music or your own iTunes tracks. And don't forget to compare your best scores with other players worldwide.

Christmas Camera ($0.99)

Christmas Camera makes it easy to shoot Xmas-themed photos with your iPhone camera. Choose from several templates, including Santa, Snowman, and Xmas Window. You can preview your pics on the camera screen too. A fun app that young kids will love.

Holiday Gift List ($1.99)

Holiday gift-buying is stressful and pricey, particularly if your Santa list is long. Holiday Gift List helps ease the misery by organizing your shopping list. Arrange your list by person, set spending budgets, and edit gift lists, if necessary. There's optional password protection too--handy for keeping family snoops at bay.

Flight Before Christmas (free)

Ah, Christmas morning and Junior is excited about his new iPod touch. Flight Before Christmas, a freebie from Enabled Games, is a fun intro to touchscreen gaming. Guide Santa's sleigh to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls. Think of it as Flight Control with a yuletide twist. Just remember to watch out for the helicopters, planes, and UFOs, because air traffic control is off on a long tryptophan nap.

Christmas Recipes ($2.99)

Even if your idea of cooking is Lean Cuisine and a microwave, Christmas Recipes provides the culinary know-how you'll need to prepare a family feast. Each recipe includes a color photo and a brief description, and the instructions are easy to follow. The classics are all there, including sweet potato pie and turkey stuffing. I'll pass on the stewed turkey necks, though.

Festive Holiday Cocktails ($0.99)

What would the holidays be without an Apple Mistletoe Tini, or a splash of Sparkling Cranberry Blush? Festive Holiday Cocktails shows how to mix together dozens of tasty alcoholic concoctions for New Year's Eve and other winter parties. You can shake your iPhone or iPod touch to discover new "yummy" drinks too.    

Crazy Snowboard - Holiday Special ($2.99)

Can't hit the slopes? This nifty snowboarding game is the next best thing. Crazy Snowboard - Holiday Special has all the 3D boarding action you'd expect, including 30 bone-breaking missions and 16 touch-activated air tricks. Smash into snowmen and elves; grind giant candy canes. Hey, isn't that what the holidays are all about?

Snowfight ($0.99)

Even if you live in a sunny clime, you can always enjoy a good snowball battle. In Snowfight, you face off against the neighborhood kids in a classic winter skirmish. Like to play hard? Adjust your "hitpower" to really pack a wallop. But fear not: Snowfight's cute graphics and whimsical music keep the action fun. Another great time-waster for kids.