There’s no denying that Christmas is rooted in family, in physically spending time with each other where possible and enacting traditions formed down through the years.

At times, technology can almost be a dirty word, especially when it comes to children and their screen time. But we live in an increasingly virtual world. And while it’s important to be mindful of not missing out on real experiences, technology enhances our lives when administered in the correct dose.

With this in mind, Irish Country Living has compiled a list of apps that will boost cheer and excitement for children this Christmas; apps that will give a hint of magic to the festive season.

With many unfortunately unable to meet up this year, but taking into account the past few months, let’s assume we’re all up to speed on Zoom, shall we?

PNP – Portable North Pole

A PNP message.

With more than 10m downloads from the Play Store, Portable North Pole is one of the most popular Christmas apps in the world, and with good reason too. It’s used by Santa Claus to send personal messages to boys and girls! Santa, who as we are all aware knows everything, tells children whether they’ve been naughty or nice, a bit about what they do and encourages good behaviour. It creates what really is a magical encounter, and not just for the children, but all the family. Free and premium versions are available.

Norad Tracks Santa

The Norad Santa Tracker only kicks into use one day a year, but it’s worth the wait. It charts the journey of Santa and his reindeer across the world on Christmas Eve. You can see where Santa is at that moment and his planned flightpath. For over 65 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa’s journey across the world using military sensors and technology. It started when a young child accidentally dialled a NORAD unlisted phone number believing she was calling Santa after seeing a promotion in a local newspaper. The app also has other functions; a new game is unlocked everyday of December and there’s plenty of reading material.

Christmas Colouring Pages

A simple but enjoyable app, Christmas Colouring Pages is great for kids who want to express their artistic side this year. It’s a colouring and painting game (says it on the tin), which allows you to colour your own Christmas cards.

There are both pre-drawn options and a design your own function. You just click the colour you want, the section you wish to apply it to and off you go.

Santa Spy Cam 3

Santa Spy Cam 3.

Santa Spy Cam 3 is another app that helps you connect with the man himself in the North Pole. Santa Spy Cam records Santa’s elves when they visit your home in the lead up to Christmas and you can play it back for all the family to see.

The elves pop-up in lots of difference places around the house, so all you need to do is have your phone in the right place to record. Younger children will be particularly taken with this app. Free and premium versions are available.

For the whole family

Christmas Countdown

This is one for both children and adults. From holidays to weddings and parties, many people like to set a countdown timer on their phone as a daily reminder of fun they have to look forward to. This year, many of these events couldn’t happen, but we can now look forward to Christmas, albeit a little bit different. This app is a simple Christmas countdown timer, but it has a few different features.

It allows you to customise your screen and play music with your timer. There’s also a built-in advent calendar which gives you a different Christmas tip and song each day. Some features are premium.

Christmas FM

Once the end of November comes everyone is turning radio dials trying to tune into Christmas FM to get their yearly dose of festive songs and fun. To listen easily you can download the app on your phone too. The Christmas FM station transmitted over the airwaves is available on the app as well as their digital stations; Christmas FM Classical, North Pole, Christmas FM Classics and Halloween FM. They also have a charity partner each year. In 2020, it’s ALONE, who work with socially isolated older people. This app is free. Running from 27 November to 27 December.

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