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How to master the holidays with just your cellphone

Are you ready for a holiday helper? Look no further than the palm of your hand. That’s right — your smartphone is at your service. Find your way to holiday Zen by tapping and swiping items off your checklist with these five simple tech tips.

1. Shopping with apps

Shoppers will love the “appification” of retail. Many major retailers have their own apps to showcase products, deals and personalized shopping experiences. Stuck for a gift? Browse a variety of gift cards straight from the Amazon app. Looking for something more unique? Put your camera roll into use by creating a memorable photo gift with the Shutterfly app. How about a more practical present? Try gifting your favorite app by sharing it directly from the App Store. Whatever the choice, your fingers will soon become the smartest shoppers around.

2. Saving with digital coupons

As a crafter, I’ve been pleased with coupons inside the Michael’s store app. I used to depend on paper coupons, which often got lost or became expired before I could use them. With a phone always handy, savings are accessible from the checkout line. Store mailing lists are also useful for finding deals. By setting up a “coupons” email folder, I control spam by organizing promotional emails in one place. Similarly, rewards programs are easy to track when rewards points are viewable from within an app, like Kohl’s.

3. Shipping with online tools

USPS launched a new site to streamline mailing and shipping. Visit This is Our Season from your mobile browser and find “everything you need to send gifts and greetings with ease.” This includes ordering boxes, buying stamps, tracking a package or scheduling a pickup.

4. Connecting with convenience

Traveling for the holidays and need a quick way to catch up on work or correspondence? Use your phone as a mobile hotspot. From my iPhone, which uses AT&T wireless, I can go to Settings, then Personal Hotspot, and obtain a Wi-Fi password for my laptop. Also known as tethering, connecting to the Internet through smartphones has gotten simpler over the years. Curious whether your carrier offers this service? Just search your carrier name with keyword terms like “Wi-Fi,” “hotspot” or “personal hotspot,” and some guidance should appear.

5. Celebrating the season

Given the close proximity we share with technology, we might as well make our smartphones cheerful. I dressed mine up with festive ringtones, poinsettia wallpaper and holiday emojis in my texts and emails. And guess what? It’s working! Message notifications are much more festive when I hear “Silver Bells” instead of dreaded dings. Looking for inspiration? Search trending hashtags on Instagram. Seeing images from #winterwonderland will provide plenty of motivation to share your own #holidaycheer.

‘Tis the season to deck out your tech. Happy holidays!

@LorraineAkemann | Co-founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

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