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Out of the Sandbox

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

In just a few days, all the holiday shopping, spending, sharing, and waiting will be over.  Even though we're all in the business of making fun, times like these can stretch our limits. So here are a dozen (plus one) cheerful ways to de-stress while you count down.
December 18, 2013

In just a few days, all the holiday shopping, spending, sharing, and waiting will be over.  Even though we’re all in the business of making fun, times like these can stretch our limits. So here are a dozen (plus one) cheerful ways to de-stress while you count down.

Follow that reindeer! There are plenty of Santa trackers, and most offer something besides GPS, but here are two faves.  NORAD has been flying with St. Nick for 50 years. This year, in addition to new games, music and a video library, the site will debut a 3D globe on Christmas Eve. Using Bing Maps, you can follow Santa through the sky in high-tech style.  Google’s Santa Tracker offers similar fun using Google Maps. But the best part is an Advent calendar that will keep you busy every day leading up the 25th. Each virtual window reveals a mini game (though none house dark chocolate). Another click lets you send personalized Santa voicemails or emails.

Check out the neighborhood.  The Christmas and Holiday Light Displays app tells you where the best houses are lit up in your area. If you think your own display is pretty spectacular too, you can add it to the map.

Watch something besides It’s a Wonderful Life. Fans of Toy Talk’s The Winston Show will be happy to watch the newest sketch, “In the Movies.” Using a combo of speech recognition and artificial intelligence, the show actually enlists  the audience to solve a spy mystery or act as an alien. It’s a wonderful life in app-land too.

Believe in miracles. For those cynics who don’t believe in Santa Claus, take a moment to watch how one airline made flying during the holidays an out of this world experience.

Give a little. ‘Tis the season to donate to those who need your help. Donorschoose.org lets you select who and how you want to help school kids. The grateful classrooms thank you with pictures and notes when they achieve their goal. As little as $5 to The Children’s Miracle Network will create a miracle for a hospitalized child. Last time I checked, nearly a million kids…and counting…were helped over the holidays.

Embrace a brand new Santa Claus. Keep your Santa story fresh and focused by following the brand refresh guidelines created by UK ad agency Quietroom.  This comprehensive Santa Claus playbook brings believing into the 21st century.

Roast some virtual chestnuts. A seasonal fireplace app will warm your heart, if not your hearth.

Seeing is believing. The Santa Spy Cam lets you videotape Santa and his elves as they roam around your house and ‘hood. Guaranteed to make you say, “Yes, Virginia.”

Get in the picture. With selfie being named “word of the year” by the Oxford Dictionary, even President Obama wants to get in on the act. The iSnapxRemote app is free. Buy the tiny remote to get professional looking results.

Take a moment to play. A mini-game break can do wonders for your mind. Cut the rope: Holiday Gift combines physics and festivities. Tiny Tower has decked the halls of its addictive building game with ornaments, holiday-themed events and entries in the BitBook. Even 94 Seconds has gotten into the spirit, giving away normally paid-for categories free every day.

Hark the herald angels sing. The Christmas Radio app puts you in the spirit quicker than a White Christmas. I could play this all year long.

Elf off the shelf. JibJab’s oldie-but-goodie Elf Yourself e-cards never go out of style. Choose your friends, choose your music, choose your dance. Then push send. No postage necessary.

But wait, there’s more! The fun doesn’t end when all the presents are opened, Download Apple’s free 12 Days of Gifts app now. Then from December 26 to January 6, you can upload a free gift every day from the App Store or iTunes — songs, apps, books, movies. The catch: each is only available for 24 hours.

Happy holidays!
Send good thoughts to wendy@sandboxsummit.org

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