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November 25, 2013

Get organized for the holidays with your Lumia

The holiday season is upon us, and there is so much to do! It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the preparations – cooking, shopping, holiday cards, and generally rushing around.


What if it could be different? This year, we think it will be easy to get organized, and you will be able to meet the holidays with ease, with your trusty Nokia Lumia by your side.  Now, this requires some preparation, but follow our lead, and you’ll be set.

Start with a clean slate

For starters, clear the decks on your current Start screen. Seriously. Get rid of all the tiles you have in place now, except for say the phone, messaging, email, Internet Explorer and the Windows Phone Store icons. After that, we need a clean slate – trust us, we’re about to fill it right back up again. (Note: All of the apps listed are free to download, unless otherwise indicated.)

Let’s drive

First up, place HERE Maps and HERE Drive on your Start screen. You are going to need directions sooner or later, and these apps never fail. Plus, HERE Maps even offers guidance inside many of the leading shopping malls – that will come in handy later. Equally, you might want to explore the new Waze app for Lumia, which offers crowd-sourced information like traffic conditions to help you steer clear of jams.

For help finding your car in a crowded parking lot, grab the free Car Reminder app – it pinpoints your location, and you can even set timers to get reminders for parking meters. No one needs a ticket this holiday season.

Of course you should also have a handy weather app that is a glance away – the Weather Channel is a personal favorite. And tap in to the new Nokia MixRadio to make sure you have the right tunes to get you through the day.


Keep good notes

Heading to the grocery store? Try Clear List for colorful, easy-to-follow to-dos and list creation. Alternately, try InNote for keeping assorted typed or even hand-written notes along the way. You can quickly jot down ideas – say for that list of goodies you want to add to your “Dear Santa” letter, and you can even add photos or voice recordings to your notes for easy reference.

What’s cooking?

And then when it is time to cook, make sure you have Epicurious loaded up for great recipes – they even have them in collections like “Thanksgiving dessert” or “Christmas dinners”. Then, at the dinner table, be ready to pass around the fun Wishbone app – there’s plenty to go around.

Planning to invite friends and family over for dinner or a party? You can send personalized invitations using the Sendtiment Cards app (paid).

If you’re just too tired to cook or feel like a splurge, get recommendations for the best places to eat out with Yelp, and make reservations in a couple of clicks with OpenTable.

Take some time for yourself

If you get stuck in line and need a quick way to pass the time, grab a new game or two – Joining Hands 2 (paid, or free trial) is fun, and somehow those cute little critters evoke the joy of the holidays with their hand-holding ways. If your day has had its moments of frustration … don’t take it out on the store clerk! Arm yourself with Snowball Assault and go after some animated penguins instead.


Not into games? Why not catch up on a show? You can get Netflix for streaming TV or movies; and in the U.S. there is the new Redbox Instant by Verizon app.

Capture holiday memories

And of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without pictures. Make sure you are ready with Nokia Camera and you will capture every moment with ease. If you want to put yourself in the picture, check out either TapShoot (free trial available) or Remote Shot Beta – they can be used to connect your Lumia to another one, and get the perfect picture with everyone in the frame (a tripod mount may help here, too). Or, if you want to impress your friends at a party, try the Voice Camera app, which can be set with various verbal cues to activate the camera.

In the end, you will want to share your holiday memories. How about a photo card from Postcard on the Run? You get a printed card with your choice of picture, and you can even add a special scratch-and-sniff scent to the card (gingerbread cookies anyone?). This app is free, but card delivery is paid.

Black Friday bonus

If you live in the United States, you know this Friday is “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving when every retail store in the country has some kind of mega sale. Your Lumia can keep you ready for your shopping blitz, too.  Make sure you have Groupon for daily deals in your area, and then also check out the SlickDealer app to find sales and specials near you – you can even search for “Black Friday” offers. The Local Scout app helps put your shopping in perspective, too.


Oh, and make sure you set an alarm so you get up in plenty of time to hit the shops the moment those doors open. For this, grab the Night Stand Clock app (paid, or free trial) – it has a big, easy-to-read digital clock face, and you can use it in landscape mode to get a very clear view of the time – even when you’re only half awake.

So there you have it: A nearly fool-proof way to tackle the holidays like a champ. How you handle the in-laws is your own business.

Did we miss anything? Share your tips for staying organized – and sane – during the holidays in the Comments below.

Photo of gingerbread house by Trey Ratcliff.