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December 6, 2012

5 ingredients for a smooth holiday

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Embrace technology

What happened to knit socks and chocolate coins? A recent Nielsen study showed that half of children ages 6 to 12 have placed Apple's iPad at the very top of their gift lists, with Wii and iPods not far behind. But electronics are also a handy resource for parents who need help staying organized this time of year.

When you strap in for your holiday shopping marathon, download a few apps to make the ride a little smoother. IGive Gifts, Gift List Manager and the Christmas List (or Christmas List Pro for Android) allow you to track what you've bought, as well as shipping and delivery. The Christmas List, which also provides a budget-monitoring system to help prevent overspending, is password-protected to keep snoopy family members at bay.

SaleLocator, which is free on Apple and Android, provides up-to-date information on nearby sales as well as driving directions and e-mail alerts. Barcode-scanning apps, such as RedLaser and ShopSavvy for iPhone or Barcode Scanner for Android, come in handy for comparing prices and tracking discounts on the go.

Evernote, a year-round day-planning app, kicks into high-gear during the holidays with tools to help you plan your travel and drum up dinner menus. Use it to keep track of who gets what so thank-you notes are less chaotic.

When you're building your own wish list, consider sites such as Amazon or Pinterest that allow you to display and link to the items you're lusting after. Amazon's Friends and Family Giving lists can be connected through Facebook so that you receive birthday reminders and gift suggestions based on information they have "liked" through social media.

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