With only days until the guy in the red suit arrives, excitement may already be at a fever pitch. But creative technology can help make the time leading up to Christmas even more special.
Writing letters and leaving carrots out for Rudolph are mainstays of this season, but Santa is keeping up on his technology too. Apps and other tech offer fun ways for kids and adults to get in touch with and learn about all things Christmas.
ReindeerCam lets you peek in on the muscle behind Santa’s sleigh any time day or night. The big man himself visits every day, sometimes just to feed his reindeer, but other times he’ll read a story or some of his mail. You can watch many free videos or stream live through the app or website, but for a five dollar subscription, you get access to even more videos. Supporters can also add names to the “nice list” that scrolls along the website and will enjoy everything ad-free.
While checking Santa’s location on Christmas Eve often involves monitoring the NORAD tracker, it may not get specific enough for some waiting on the big guy. North Pole Flight Command is a website run by elves who coordinate Santa’s gift-giving journey. The online calculator takes into account the weather, head winds, reindeer stamina and real-time flight data to give an accurate time that Santa will arrive at your house. The website claims Santa arrives at most homes between midnight and 4 AM, in case you need to let your kids know the deadline for visions of sugarplums to fill their heads.
Use your smart home assistants to get in the holiday spirit. Just ask Amazon’s Alexa, or use “OK, Google” or “Hey Siri” to play Christmas music or have your kids ask the device to call Santa. Each one has its own way to respond that adds to the wonder. Apple devices will show a few different jolly messages, Google tells you about how the man in red is getting ready for a concert and needs help and Alexa responds with messages from elves, Jack Frost and Santa himself. Ask Alexa how many days are left until Christmas to hear a different message from St. Nick each day.
Head over to Zillow for a virtual tour of Santa’s house at The North Pole. Although the million-dollar home is not for sale, you can take a 3D tour of the main house with features like “an oven with 12 different cookie settings” and a dining room with cocoa on tap. You can also view three homes in the elf village and learn all about the property which also includes a toy workshop, stables and a garage to park a sleigh.
There are wonderful options online to help families focus on the spiritual side of Christmas too.
The Washington National Cathedral will broadcast a special service on Thursday, December 23, with scripture readings, hymns and other music to walk through the timeline of the Creation through Bethlehem.
The Vatican will air a live-stream of Pope Francis celebrating Holy Mass from Saint Peter’s Basilica on December 24 at 7:30 PM (1:30 PM ET). The Christmas Eve “Midnight Mass” from Vatican City hasn’t actually taken place at midnight since 2008.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is offering virtual tours of Temple Square from Salt Lake City. Set up a time with one of the onsite missionaries who will use any teleconferencing app you choose to let you experience Temple Square from the comfort of your own home. Customize the tour to what you’d like to see, including lights, international nativity displays and festive decorations inside the buildings. They can even allow you to view the entire Luke 2 animated presentation projected on the ceiling of the Tabernacle. In a phone interview, Ben Metcalf, Manager of Visitors’ Centers for the Church said the virtual tours have been a unique opportunity for guests. “People from all over the world have been able to tour Temple Square who would have otherwise never had the chance,” he said. Set up a virtual tour by calling 801-240-8945 or via email at [email protected].
With Christmas less than a week away, you may want a break from the cold weather and hustle and bustle of scurrying here and there. These online options are some ways to provide plenty of Christmas magic with just a few clicks.