Throwing a holiday party? These Windows Phone apps can help

Holiday parties: they’re fun when you’re a guest and a pain when you’re the host. But with a little planning and some help from your Windows Phone, you can survive (and enjoy) planning and hosting a holiday party with apps that make entertaining easy, fun and interactive.

Food

Whether you know what you want to serve or are like me and haven’t a clue, the free Allrecipes app can help. You can search thousands of top-rated recipes by food name or categories like “holidays.” A search for “Roasted Chestnuts” delivers a four-star recipe and a search for “holiday” offers a variety of considerations, from holiday burritos and biscotti to pumpkin bread and peppermint bark each with star-ratings based on reviews from a community of millions of home cooks.

The Allrecipes appThe Allrecipes app

After selecting an item, you’ll get an overview and can pan to see ingredients, directions (for preparation), nutrition info and even reviews from people who used the recipe. The Holiday Burritos and Mimosa sound like a good combo to me, so I pinned the individual recipes to my start screen for easy access at the supermarket. Later, I can also pin the directions to my start screen so that it’s easy to glance and prepare at home.

The Allrecipes appThe Allrecipes app

Epicurious and Betty Crocker are also great recipe apps to try. Both are free and feature thousands of recipes that you can search and share from your Windows Phone.

Drink

Although I’m mostly a beer and wine guy, it’s no surprise that cocktails are a crowd pleaser at holiday parties, especially when they go with the season. Similar to All Recipes, Cocktail Flow ($2.99) allows you to search for recipes by name or category. But even better, it also offers themed cocktail packages. A Christmas package includes 35 different cocktails, such as Eggnog Martini, Poinsettia, White Christmas, and Peppermint Stick, that can be downloaded to your Windows Phone.

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If you’re hosting a dinner party for the holidays, Food and Wine Pairing is another great app to try. For wine simpletons like me, it recommends an appropriate wine for any meal. So after I’ve decided on the main course with All Recipes, I hop over to Food and Wine Pairing to choose the wine – done.

Entertainment

Why interrupt chatting with friends at your party to put on another CD, when you can download, play (and later conveniently delete) several hours-worth of holiday soundtracks with a subscription music service? Both Spotify and Zune are less than $10 a month and are great for this. Simply enter your holiday of choice in the search bar and you’ll be amazed at how many artists, albums and tracks exist.

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I’ve downloaded several albums from both services in minutes with both Wi-Fi and 4G connections. Once the tracks are in your collection, add them to one giant playlist and you’ll have holiday tunes playing long after you want them.

With camera phones, taking pictures is almost part of the entertainment at most parties these days. The bummer of it is that you rarely get to see photos other than those you took. Flickr solves this problem by allowing you and your guests to take photos from Windows Phone, Android, or iOS phones and instantly upload them to a public, invite only or completely private group that you can create for your holiday celebration. Here’s a thought: post a few notices around your party about the shared Flickr group to encourage your guests to participate.