With more than 300,000 apps available in the iTunes App Store, it's likely that you may never come across some of the most useful apps. For many, Christmas is the busiest time of the year, and these apps can be a big help - and a bit of seasonal fun. If you love downloading apps, make sure you have these on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad this holiday season. (For related reading, also check out 5 Financial Apps Worth Buying.)

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Gifts HD -$5.99

This helpful app looks like a desk, and displays a "People to Buy For" list, a gift idea list and a to-do list. On top of that, the desk shows a calculator and a running total of your holiday budget, which allows you to set individual budgets for each person on your list, as well as a total. But it doesn't stop there. This app also tracks the status of the gift as "purchased," "mailed" or "received," and it features a built-in web browser so you can check items off your list as you shop online. To top it off, there's a handy countdown to Christmas or Hanukkah.


BBC's Good Food Festive Recipes - $2.99
This holiday recipe app from BBC Worldwide allows you to select from more than 100 triple-tested recipes. It also includes videos, a glossary guide and turkey timer. You can search by course or type (vegetarian recipes are included), and each recipe includes a photo. The app also lets you save your favorites recipes and send them to friends, and it is appropriate for all levels of cooking.


Pocket Santa - $2.99
If budgeting is your primary concern, then this is the app for you. Like Gifts HD, Pocket Santa helps you keep track of who you bought for, what you bought, and how much it cost. The app then tracks how much you have spent and if you are over or under budget. You can also generate a shopping list based on the items you have entered for each gift recipient. (For a look at more budgeting apps, see Money-Saving Smartphone Apps.)

A Classic Christmas - $0.99

For a hefty dose of holiday cheer, this app features narrated classic Christmas stories, including "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and classic holiday music such as "O' Christmas Tree" and "Deck the Halls." Finally, this app features a holiday alarm clock, allowing you to wake up to one of the classic holiday songs or choose one of several elf voices to rouse you from your sugarplum dreams.

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    Happy Hanukkah - $0.99
    This colorful app lets the user send one of 70 Happy Hanukkah "e-cards", complete with messages like "Happy Hanukkah" and easily-added personalized text. And with the price tag of less than a dollar, you aren't likely to find a cheaper way to send greeting cards this holiday season.


    Elfster - Free
    It's not technically an app, but you can access the site from your iPhone. Elfster reinvents Secret Santa and makes it easier than ever. Not only does it allow you to invite participants and send out the names, it also keeps a wish list for each person and allows you to send anonymous questions like "what is your favorite color?" in order to help you narrow your gift choices. You can even suggest gifts for other people.

    The Bottom Line
    These apps can help you organize your shopping list and your budget this holiday season. Since you already carry your phone with you, these apps are particularly helpful for keeping you on track. Just don't forget to add in a few apps of holiday fun to remind you of the less stressful parts of this time of year. (Also to help you navigate this year's holiday, take a look at Top Holiday Budget Busters.)

    Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: Insiders, Door Busters And Debt Contagion.

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