Bing Crosby may not have been dreaming of a technologically driven Christmas, but that is probably because he could not have begun to fathom the gadgets and apps that have been developed to make our festive season that bit more convenient. Nothing can quite recreate the illustrious white winter holidays of which so many dream, although give it a few years and there will probably be an app to bring the snow. What technology can give us today, however, is a plethora of ways to spruce up decorations cleverly or to alleviate some of the inevitable stress that often threatens to derail festivities, meaning that you can put your feet up with the family sooner than ever before.

Shopping from home

Technology is obviously an integral part of life in the 21st century, but the past couple of years have witnessed a sharp increase in devices that enable everyday activities to be completed with greater ease. We identified the Amazon Echo as one of the hottest devices of the festive season in 2016, and technology such as this is only growing more prevalent. With BGR estimating that upwards of 10 million Echo devices will be sold by the conclusion of 2017, this kind of technology will be making holidays easier in a vast number of households. Consumers are able to add items to their shopping list with ease by voice, making keeping your list updated much easier and more efficient.

Of course, online shopping has redefined the festive experience for many. That mad dash to claim the last of a bargain will never be fully eliminated, but the continued expansion of online shopping means that many choose to complete their purchases entirely from the comfort of their own home. SaleCycle compiled statistics based on e-commerce for the 2016 holiday season, and the findings are as you might expect: online sales for that period rose by 11%, and it would be no surprise to find that figure has risen for the 2017 holidays. With such depth and variety of products found on online shopping websites, it is certain that technology has made the winter holidays a bit more relaxed when it comes to the pressure of giving gifts.

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‘Appy Holidays

While it is not yet feasible to make it snow on command, there are other ways to immerse yourself in a luxurious winter environment if reality just isn’t doing it for you. Of course, classic holiday movies are easy ways to dive headfirst into a festive mood, but they lack the immersive nature of winter-related apps. Sure, movies are great, but there are gaming winter wonderlands that allow players to participate in that hallowed festive environment.

Android apps such as Hidden Objects – Winter Wonder allow players to turn their screen into a rich winter environment to distract from the cold outside. Frozen Diamonds is a slot game with a holiday theme, its moving soundtrack evokes a spirit synonymous with the festive season, and its visuals transport players into the winter wonderland in which the game is set. For those seeking a less competitive gaming experience, If you’re lucky enough to own one of the leading smartphones of 2017, then a high quality screen will enhance the immersive nature of these games. But even when games aren’t exclusively holiday-themed, we often find holiday-themed stages, events and easter eggs. In Minecraft, players can build their own Christmas trees and decorations and in Sega’s 1996 title NiGHTS into Dreams you can play an exclusive Christmas-themed level. The game was recently released with updated HD graphics for the PC, PlayStation Network, and Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Outside of gaming, there is a multitude of ways to turn your portable device into a portable Christmas. From apps that simulate advent calendars such to the teaching of festive songs, from decorating your device with festive wallpaper to finding ideas for winter snacks, there are enough apps out there to fill a whole winter holiday. Some may well complain that the rise of mobile devices undermines festivities and a focus on family, but if used respectfully and in a restrained fashion there are many apps that can enhance the holidays. It is not always possible for families to congregate in the same location for the holidays, so it is fortunate that apps such as Skype and FaceTime enable people to benefit from face-to-face interactions even when far apart.

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Light up the holidays

Although the concept of Christmas lights dates back to the 12th century, advances in technology mean that displays grow more and more dazzling each year. With stunning sights across the country, there is no better way to instigate a festive feeling than by basking in the warm glow of a display of lights. Decorations are something that many people approach with utmost seriousness, a chance to reinvigorate the facade of their house that comes but once a year.

Now with LED lights that change color on their own to lights that activate in response to sound, technology gives people the opportunity to create more spectacular and more efficient light displays in their home to compete with the expansive displays that often adorn town centers. Of course, if you can control all of your lights from your smartphone then it will make things even easier.

Technology has enabled people to personalize their holidays to a greater extent, with a wide array of apps allowing users to individualize their festive experience. The huge and unrelenting development of e-commerce allows people to perform their shopping in a more relaxed fashion, with an almost boundless selection of items just one click away from purchase. It will be a gift in itself to continue to watch in awe at how technology reshapes and refines even the oldest traditions.

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