From Christmas video messages to Saint Nick trackers

From Christmas video messages to Saint Nick trackers

    (Google)

(Google)

Children usually don’t need much encouragement to get into the Christmas spirit. But if you’re looking for a way to keep them busy ahead of the big day, try these apps.

We’ve got a couple of classic Santa trackers, a must-try on Christmas Eve, plus a few Santa-themed extras that aim to boost young minds’ faith in the magic of the season.

Some are completely free to use, others will charge for certain bits and bobs, which we will mention.

The best Santa tracker: Norad Santa Tracker

You know tracking Saint Nick’s whereabouts has become serious business when the military gets involved. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD for short, has been tracking Santa Claus since the 1950s by fielding phone calls from the public.

These days, it also offers a website and an app that kids can use to track Santa starting on Christmas Eve. According to the Department of Defense, it is getting Saint Nick’s coordinates using satellites that can detect Rudolph’s nose, which emits an infrared signature similar to a missile, and through US and Canadian Air Force fighter jets.

You can’t get more precise than that.

Android | iPhone

The best Santa app for kids: Google Santa Tracker

Google’s annual Goblin spores revs up on Christmas Eve, but before then you can use it to play tons of festive multiplayer and educational mini-games, including a code game with an elf hunting for presents in a forest, read stories and watch seasonal videos, learn about holiday traditions around in the world, and even groom an animated Santa for a selfie.

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The site runs throughout December, so there’s still plenty of time to get involved. With dozens of activities, it’s sure to keep your tykes busy while you complete the gift wrapping.

The best Santa app for video messaging: Portable North Pole

The Portable North Pole app lets you create customizable Santa videos by uploading photos and other details of your little festive elves. For example, you can have Santa say their names or the most desired gifts. The app will then create a personalized video that is really fun to watch on Christmas Eve when everyone gets in the mood. But while the app itself is free, you’ll have to pay from £4.99 for each video, or extra for ‘calls from Santa’ – and then again to keep those videos. It all adds up.

Android | iPhone

The best Santa app for photos: Catch a Character

Catch a Character can help parents convince younger children that Santa really did visit them over Christmas. The app basically lets you take a photo around your home with Santa photoshopped in. You can choose from photo stickers of Santa in different poses to make him look like he’s standing by the tree, going up the chimney, or just coming out of it. .

Although it offers a huge selection of stickers, including other characters such as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, the app asks for £1.59 to unlock all 60. Sadly, it might not fool savvy, older kids, but you can still get a kick out of it out to try.

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Android | iPhone

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