Organize and plan your shopping for the holidays

This time of year always seems a bit early for me to be thinking about holiday shopping, but in just a few short weeks the infamous Black Friday will be upon us in the US. While some people look forward to the experience and jump into it with gusto, shopping for holiday gifts can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for many of us.

Thankfully, for those of us who prefer to pre-plan everything from our holiday shopping budgets to what gifts we actually expect to purchase, there’s an app for that. Quite a few, actually:

Santa’s Little Helper: As the name suggests, this app for the iPhone and iPod organizes your Christmas gifts several different ways. You can arrange your purchases by group, store, type of gift, and also by individual person. One of its more useful features is the individual gifts page that allows you to include the item’s name, the person to whom it’s intended to be given, and the gift’s status, such as where you bought it and whether it’s been wrapped.

Toys R Us – The Great Big Christmas Book: This fun and colorful app makes me wish the iPad had been around when I was a kid. The Great Big Christmas Book is a creative way to involve your children in holiday gift-giving. Toys are distinguished by categories, allowing your child to create a list toys they’d like to receive. The prices are only seen in the parents’ section, and the wish list can be sent to friends and family alike with ease.

EverNote: Although not technically a holiday-specific program, EverNote is hard to beat when it comes to capturing, storing, and syncing just about any information onto multiple devices. It’s a great organizational tool, particularly for holiday shopping, and works on PCs, Macs, and even your iPod and phone. Tags are also a highlight of the program, making it even easier to categorize different holiday purchases.

GiftBox: For those who aren’t quite as enthusiastic about apps, GiftBox is a great alternative. A free, web-based program, GiftBox allows you to create an account and not only keep track of your gift ideas for friends and family but also notes the gifts you’ve received from other people. In other words, you’ll never have to worry about misplacing your thank you list again. You can also even go one step further and use GiftBox to send thank you eCards.

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