What would the holiday season be without the flavor of gingerbread, the rustle of wrapping paper and the pungent fragrance of a genuine Christmas tree? Although Christmas looks set to remain a largely analog affair again this year, the Internet is full of many digital helpers and amusing electronic gadgets that are designed to make the run up to Christmas even more fun. Here’s a selection.
24 digital tidbits
There are more and more online Advent calendars to help shorten the wait to the holidays. The latest ones from WhatsApp send recipes and handicraft ideas to your smartphone every day – for example, from the Berliner Zeitung daily newspaper. Those interested in something more out-of-the-ordinary can make use of various platforms – some of them gratis – to design personalized digital Advent calendars for their family and friends.
Google’s Santa Tracker
This year, Google lets you pay a digital visit to Santa Claus. On a subpage called Santa Tracker, you can discover a virtual Christmas village, where the young – and the young at heart – can discover something new every day. The Santa Tracker includes Christmas-themed games and videos as well as interesting facts about Christmas traditions from all around the world.
Take a look into the future with the Christmas mirror
The first digital mirror (the Dirror) has arrived and will give you an idea of what Christmas might look like in the future. This smart item of furniture not only enables you to find the right music and lighting for the holidays, you can also use it to order the Christmas roast online and track its delivery to your door. The glass surface even functions as an Advent calendar, with digital doors opening when you touch the mirrored screen.
The magical Advent calendar
Deutsche Telekom, too, is getting into the act: the website www.der-magische-adventskalender.de revolves around a little boy called Jonas, who learns about sharing with the help of an Advent calendar. Every day you can open a new door and listen to an audio book episode. The story of the magical Advent calendar is read by German actor and voice artist Rufus Beck, whose voice was used in the German versions of the Harry Potter audio books.
Secret Santa on the web
In the run-up to Christmas, Secret Santa is a popular tradition between friends and work colleagues the world over. Now, the Internet can make organizing your Secret Santa much easier. The participants are invited by e-mail, the value of the gift can be set in advance and the software randomly selects who is to buy a present for whom. At Elfster.com and Drawnamnes.com, participants can also store wish lists to lend inspiration to the givers.
Digital-analog Christmas mail
In the digital age, real Christmas cards in the mailbox are becoming a rarity. But Inkly has found a way to transport the good old Christmas card into the digital world. You write your Christmas wishes by hand, photograph them with your smartphone and insert them – along with a personalized photo – into one of over 1,000 templates. You can then print out the digital Christmas card and send it to the recipient by snail mail.
More and more people are transforming themselves into Christmas elves on the elfyourself.com website. The idea is simple – and fun. You just upload a portrait photo and insert it in the image of an elf. What would Christmas be without some fun, right?