Christmas is upon us once again, but this time it’s slightly different: there are Windows 8 apps that you can use to enhance and enjoy the seasonal cheer and get you in the mood for the visit from “the fat man.”
If you’re looking for music, entertainment, a tradition made digital or help preparing food for the biggest feast in the Christian calendar, the apps listed here – easily installed from the Windows 8 Store – are what you’re looking for.
Advent Calendar Fun
For adults, planning for Christmas starts early. Children, too, might be planning their Christmas list in the dying days of the summer holidays, but the celebrations don’t start until an Advent calendar is opened.
These days the physical variety treat kids to a chocolate or small plastic gift, something that traditionalists consider to be against the spirit of the season.
Santa’s Advent Calendar is a return to the more traditional approach. Naturally there are no chocolates on offer; instead, puzzles and songs can be found in the app, available for $1.49 (£0.99 in the UK) with a four-door trial period.
This is a fun alternative to a physical Advent calendar, particularly useful if you’ve forgotten that all-important Christmas custom.
Easily Find Christmas Meals & Snacks
You’re hopefully expecting to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas, but are you planning on cooking your own feast or buying it all in ready-made?
IFood.com’s free Christmas Food app is the ideal multimedia seasonal recipe solution for Windows 8, offering an amazing collection of over 1000 recipe videos (including some for vegan and vegetarian diets).
Recipes for cookies, muffins, chocolate brownies in a mug, roast dinners and of course eggnog are found in the library – put down the cookery book and move your Windows 8 tablet into the kitchen.
Make Your Own Christmas Music Fun
Even if you can’t cook, Christmas is a wonderful time to express your creativity, perhaps with cards, gifts or even wrapping paper.
For those of a more musical frame of mind, Christmas Bells is an interactive chimes app that is ideal for keeping you – or your children – occupied over Christmas. Pre-loaded with a small selection of popular Christmas carols, the app also has a free-play mode for you to generally make a racket.
Definitely aimed at tablet users (such as the Microsoft Surface devices or the Acer Iconia W7) rather than those clicking with a mouse, Christmas Bells highlights the next note in the sequence for you to tap, hopefully successful in making the carol sound half-way recognisable.
Four Hours Of Christmas Tunes!
Of course, sitting around tapping digital bells may not be the most constructive use of your time at this busy time of year. What about the mulled wine? The decorations? Who is going to put the tree up, and who drank all the eggnog?
Something that traditionally proves a problem in many households is “where did the Christmas CD go?” Well, worry no more, Santa-addicted MakeUseOf reader, as Windows 8 has the solution.
Simply install the free Christmas 8 app for four hours – that’s 240 minutes – of Christmas songs from the last 70 years or so. Although the app is limited to a snazzy graphic and a player, it will keep those Christmas songs pumping out for half your working day without any further interaction.
If this isn’t enough to set the seasonal mood, you’re doing it wrong.
Track Santa On Christmas Eve
No roundup of Christmas apps can be without a Santa tracking service. Throughout 2013 we’ve been outraged by the US government’s ability to read emails and pinpoint our location, so it seems somewhat unfair that we should have been subjecting the world’s nicest man to this same sort of treatment for the past 50 years. He may know where we live, but we also know where to find him on a map, and the amount of spam old Mr Claus gets would be enough to warrant several landfills every year if the Arctic wasn’t protected and he didn’t have magic dust to deal with it all anyway.
Thanks to NORAD, the habit of tracking old Santy Claus has been going on for years, gaining particular prominence outside North America since the rise of the web. While there is a NORAD app for Windows 8, it doesn’t seem to work so well, but SantaTrack (which unsurprisingly relies on Bing Maps) is a much better option, and it’s free.
In fact, this should be the last Windows 8 Christmas app you use before heading to bed on December 24th.