My Favourite Apps for Christmas and Beyond

Here’s a roundup of a couple of my favourite apps. These are a few I use especially around the holidays.

1. Santa’s Bag

Free | In-App Purchases

This is the only app on my list that is actually branded towards Christmas, but it’s a great resource for any gift giving event. Santa’s Bag is an app that helps you organize all of the details around gift giving. They’ve thought of all the details and options – you can even change the decorative Santa’s skin tone in settings if you want.

On the summary page, you can set a budget for your holiday and the menu keeps track of your progress by gifts purchased, gifts to buy, and the total over/under budget you are. It also has a time clock counting down to Christmas.

You can also view your plans organized by recipients. You can log everyone you want to get gifts for and view them as a list. After you select a recipient, you can see more detail for that specific recipient. You can list gift ideas, links, merchants used, preferences, and even set a budget for each specific gift recipient.

Another menu lets you look at all your gifts sorted however you like. I personally like to use the status option which sorts the gifts by whether they are an idea, purchased, shipped, delivered, wrapped, and gifted. They even have an option for handmade gifts and stocking stuffers!

I love this app because it helps me remember the gifts I want to get or have purchased and keep track of where I’m at with each of them, so I don’t forget anything. The best part about this app is, it’s free! There is an in app purchase available to remove advertisement banners if those bother you.

2. AnyList AnyList App Icon

Free | In-App Purchases – Subscription

Now that you know how to organize all the gifts you’re going to get, you going to need ideas on what everyone wants. The perfect app for that is AnyList. Now hear me out because you may know AnyList as a grocery app. That is exactly what it is, but due to its shared feature, it makes it the perfect app for wish list sharing. My family uses AnyList for a shared grocery list. It’s great because it updates the list in real time on everyone’s phone so we can all add and whoever is at the grocery can quickly see what is needed.

Another great use we’ve found is that everyone can make their own wishlist and share it so we can see ideas of what everyone would like for birthdays and Christmas all in one place. The app has built in categories that you can use to organize the items or you can make your own. You can also add notes and links to help would-be gift givers understand better than just the tagline might allow. We use this to link to Amazon wishlists or certain specific products or add sizing information.

The only thing is you have to make sure everyone understands that the only person who can make changes to a wishlist is the owner. Since everyone sees the changes, if you cross something off the list then it gets crossed everyone’s list and it ruins the surprise.

The base app is free which allows you to do everything I mentioned before plus add recipes and meal plan, but you can also opt to subscribe to AnyList complete which adds the ability to put pictures on items, sort by aisle in the grocery store, use AnyList on a desktop computer, import recipes, add item pricing, turn on a passcode lock, receive priority support among other features. There are options for an individual subscription or a household subscription that lets you add others’ emails to your subscription. We’ve been happy just using the free version, but some of those features in the upgrade do sound awesome. I think you’ll be happy with the app either way you choose.  

3. PackTheBagPack the Bag App Icon

Free | Pro Version Available

Pack the Bag is another app I use year round to plan my travels both big and small. I’ve tried so many packing apps and this one is the one I come back to time after time. The app comes preloaded with lots of items you can choose to add to your packing list, but you can edit or add new ones to be more specific to your packing needs.

The items are primarily sorted by category. You can edit categories or add new ones if you like. You go down the list and choose which items you want to add to your packing list. If you fill out the dates of your travel, there’s even a shortcut that will automatically add 1 item for each day of travel. That’s great for things like underwear and socks that you use everyday. The best part about the categories is you can minimize them to allow for quicker navigation and reduce visual clutter when you’re using the app. Sometimes the same item is listed in more than one category, but the app will tell you if you’ve selected the same thing twice in different categories. I really like the suggestions already built in. They even had things I sometimes forget to include in my list when I do it from scratch. You can also add pictures and weight to each item. The app will actually total the weigh of your items as you pack them. Anything you add will stay in the list of options for any future lists you might create so taking the time to detail the items is nice for later trips to benefit from.

While you’re packing, you can turn on a filter that only shows unpacked items. Again, reducing visual clutter so you can see quickly what is still left to find. You can also turn it off to see everything or see just packed items.

The app is free and so useful as is, but as most free apps are there is an option to upgrade to Pack the Bag Pro. It is sold as a separate app which costs $3 in the app store.

4. SplitwiseSplitwise App Icon

Free | In-app Purchase – Subscription

If you are doing any traveling or perhaps going in on a group gift, this app could help you a lot. This app takes any purchases and splits them as you want. You can do one time purchases and assign who is involved, or you can make a group and add multiple purchases from multiple people in the group.

As I mentioned before, you can have the app split it equally, but you can also choose other ways to split the payments as well making it really flexible. You can also choose whether you want traditional paybacks or you can choose to simplify payments. When you select this option, the app does the math to have everyone just do 1 payment instead of several redundant ones. So for example if Susan pays for something for herself, Bob, and Jeff and it cost $90; then Jeff pays $120 for the group. Instead of Jeff paying Susan $30, then Susan paying Jeff $40; the app would just tell Susan to pay Jeff $10. That’s a simple example, the app will take even more complicated scenarios and just tell everyone what they owe and to who – it’s awesome!

Something I don’t love about this app, it requires you to put in the participants email instead of allowing just names. It confuses people sometimes and not everyone wants to download the app. Now they don’t have to, but it does still email them. I do wish there was a way to track on your own without adding emails especially when I’m just trying to track for myself or I know that others don’t want the app. It’s a really good app other than that. Plus, if everyone downloads the app, then anyone can add their own expenses in real time.

Splitwise also integrates with PayPal and Venmo so the participants can link straight from the app to make a payment. Then the app updates automatically that a payment was made and updates the status to settled. You can also mark payments manually if you choose to settle up in a different way than the integrated options.

I use this app with my friends and family frequently for group trips, splitting food costs, or going in on annual costs.

The app is free, but does have a Pro option done as a subscription for $3/month or $30/year. Pro allows you to scan receipts, go ad-free, currency conversion, itemize expenses, plus other features.

5. RecipeBoxRecipe Box App Icon

Free | Optional Free Account

I definitely use this app more than just around Christmas, but I tend to be home, ready, and able to make all of my favourite foods in December.

I used to use a different recipe app before they went subscription only. That sparked me to find a great option in RecipeBox. The coolest feature is that it has a Focus Mode that will keep your phone from going to sleep for an hour while you remain in the app. This is great especially when your hands are covered in whatever you are baking and you want to review the instructions or measurements. It takes the most annoying part of digital recipe books and solves it!

You can categorize your recipes by categories, but also mark some as favourites to get back to quickly. You can add notes and urls in addition to the traditional things you expect to find in a recipe.

The app also has a Discover function where you can scroll through recipes or search for inspiration. There’s also a Shopping List and Meal Plan function in this app too so you have options.

I know I already said what the coolest feature is, so I’ll just call this the other coolest feature. You can import recipes directly from websites using your computer. and maybe the other other best part…the app is Free! No in-app purchases or subscriptions, you just have to make a free account if you want to use it across multiple devices or use the import feature.

6. The VaultThe Vault App Icon

Free | In-app Purchases

Finally, I had to add this app because it is just one of the all time best apps, and it always blows peoples’ minds when I introduce it to them. The Vault is an encrypted, secure app that allows you to store valuable information such as passwords or important information. It also allows you to include pictures. It is pretty free form, but it also allows you to search through the app for test to find what you’re looking for quickly.

I store all of my passwords in The Vault. I am able to sort it into categories. For example, I have a category for my blog where I keep the important information for the accounts used to run More Like Guidelines, and less secure information like the specific color codes used for my logo. I also have a category for my wallet. I put pictures of each of my cards in there along with the credentials to login to their apps. That way, if I ever lose my wallet then I have a list of all the cards I need to pause, and I have the phone numbers I’ll need to call. I also have the numbers typed out which helps for online shopping when I don’t want to go get my wallet and it lets me copy and paste.

Now I’ve mentioned a lot of really sensitive information being typed into the app, but of course they have a great solution for that as well. The app has built in features so that when you type something next to something like password, it will block it out with green dots so if someone is looking over your shoulder it isn’t immediately visible. You can slide your finger over it to reveal what is hidden. Same thing with credit card numbers and other data.

One other little pro tip I would give for this app. If you have an account that is associated with your address or phone number, type that into that account’s page. That way if one of those things ever changes, you can just type your address into the search and it will show all of the accounts that need to be updated to the new information.

The app is free, but does have several in-app purchases for some of their more advanced features.

These are some of my favourite apps that I like to use. I hope you find them helpful or maybe they’ll inspire you to go find a new favourite app of your own because, after-all, these are More Like Guidelines anyway.


Apple AirTags and How I Use Them

I was very excited when Apple announced their AirTags. I’ve been looking into getting some trackers for years, but I didn’t like the existing options. They were expensive, and the options for when the battery inevitably died were not satisfactory. I am so pleased with the price of AirTags and the expected experience for when the batteries die next year. Plus, I already like and use the Find My app!

I recommend buying the 4 packs of AirTags. They are cheaper purchased in a multipack than they are solo. A 4 pack retails for $99, which comes out to roughly $25 a piece. That’s a lot better than $29 for individually sold devices. Especially since, if you’re like me, you’ll want to stick them on everything!

#1 – In My Trailer

Hidden inside a cabinet just to make sure it doesn’t move.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I travel a lot, and when I’m not working, I’m living in my RV. That’s a big ticket item that I leave unattended for long periods of time – sometimes months at a time – so naturally I try to use every resource available for securing my trailer and preventing the unthinkable. First thing I did when I got my set of AirTags was to put one in my trailer as a “low jack”. Now, I can see it’s position while I’m away.

One key to this is to make sure that it is somewhere out of site. If a thief can find the tracker, then they can disable it or toss it out. I hid mine inside the trailer, way in the back of a cabinet that is deeper than it looks. Also, I don’t want it to be too difficult to get to for myself because I will have to change the battery eventually. I do check the trailer’s position every once in a while just to make sure it is where I expect it to be.

#2 – On My Keys

I have so many keys because all my trailer locks are different!

Wow! What a surprise. I know this is one of the most obvious places an AirTag is going to go, but it was my number 2. I don’t lose my keys very often because I usually put them on their hook right away, but it also can’t hurt. Plus, whatever the keys are in now has a tracker in that too.

#3 & 4 – On My Luggage

I guess I should say in my luggage.

Like I mentioned before, I travel a lot. I basically live out of suitcases for work, and I fly several times a month. At the time of writing, I’m actually in an airplane right now waiting for takeoff. It’s also my second flight this week! So knowing where my luggage is located is essential so #3 & 4 went into my suitcases.

A couple tips. It is not ideal to attach the AirTag on the outside like a luggage tag. Not so much for risk of being stolen, but it is likely it could be ripped off in the baggage process. I actually had mine on the outside right next to my luggage tag, but the clerk at the desk told me to put it in a pocket so it wouldn’t be ripped off and lost. In my large bag, I have it in the large front pocket. In my Briggs and Reilly carryon, I have it in the pocket for the portable charger on the back. There are more and more accessories coming out for AirTags, and I’ve seen some luggage tags on Amazon designed to also hold an AirTag. Again, just keep in mind it runs the risk of being ripped off and lost in transit.

#5 – In My Car

Yes! I did buy a second pack. I tested out my first pack, and decided I liked them so I bought another. I actually found them on Woot! for a $5 discount off the 4 pack. Score! It may not be much, but for a brand new Apple product, I’ll take it.

So yes #5 went to my car. I liked the idea of the “low jack” in my trailer so much, I decided to put one in my car. Again, placement is key so it’s not in immediate view. I put it in my glovebox. Not the sneakiest of hiding places, but I didn’t want to forget where it was, and that’s out of the way.

#6 & 7 – On My Bike

The 2 bike options opened to show where the AirTags go.

I have been buying some equipment to be able to transport my bike with me, but this does require it to be outdoors and vulnerable. Of course, I’ll be locking it up, but…..just in case.

I have 2 tags on my bike. I had a spare, and I liked the backup of having 2 on there. Incase one of them is found, the other is still there. One of the cases I used looks like a reflector for the back of the bike. I have had an issue with this style. The first one I bought had a weird connection design, and it didn’t fit anywhere on my bike. I replaced it with the other reflector I found on Amazon, and it was also too small. Luckily, I had a longer screw and could use it to connect the second one. It is frustrating that out of the box they don’t fit.

The other style I bought seems to be the most popular on Amazon. It goes under the water bottle holder and is really unassuming. It is more secure than the reflector, and it kind of just blends into the bike because it’s so boring you just ignore it.

The AirTag holder is bolted under the water bottle holder.

#8 – On My Backpack

AirTag on the outside of my Osprey.

I have an Osprey Backpack I use at work, and plan to use when I get the chance to hike again. I use my keychain case to hook it on the top handle. I know, I know not hidden like the others. Here’s the thing, AirTags have an awesome feature where if something is lost, anyone with a modern smartphone can tap their phone to it, much like they might do for Apple or Google Pay, and then it shows them contact information to try to reunite the bag with its owner. This is actually the original reason I left the AirTag on the outside of my suitcase as well, but I heeded the staff’s warning. In the case of my backpack, I think the risk is enough to keep it visible.

There are some fun cases starting to emerge on Amazon. So if you want to be a little more discreet, you could get a case that isn’t as obvious as to what it contains and just looks like a keychain.

Some Other Ideas I’ve Seen

On Your Wallet

Not a bad idea I have to say. I know that should be the #1 place for my brother. I’ve considered it for myself as well. I’m just concerned it will make it that much more bulky. There are some clever holders for sliding your tag into a card slot like these, or I’ve seen someone at work who just attached one of the classic keychain type to the outside. There are even some wallets popping up with a dedicated slot built into the design like pictured. Definitely, a top priority item you don’t want to lose.

On Your Dog?

One of the most popular cases I’ve seen for AirTags are designed to go on a dogs collar. Personally, I think the ones that are made to have the collar slide through them like this are better than the dangly ones. I’m not so sure about putting one on my dog. I’ve considered it, but it’s not priority on my list.

On Your Child!

Looks like mom & dad’s Apple Watch

I’m not making this up! There are AirTags cases that are designed to help you track your kid. I have to say, this really isn’t a bad idea once you think about it. The best ones, I think, are the ones that look like watch bands and the AirTag slides right in to look like a watch. Better yet, if you buy the AirTag off Apple’s website, you can get free engraving. You could put essential “if found” information such as your phone number or name. If your visiting someplace where kids are likely to go off on their own or wander, this could be a great idea. I can’t help but think of The Children’s Museum when I see these bands. I would definitely strap some kids with these if I were to take them there.

On Your Scooters

Similar to bikes and cars, you may want to tag your scooter or other mobility device. I read an article about how a guy from NYC was able to track down and recover his stolen electric scooter using AirTags. That’s part of why I double tagged my bike. He made sure it was incognito so the thieves couldn’t find the tracking device before he could find the scooter again. There are some cases that are adhesive that could work well in this case. Or another reflector option could be ideal. I’m hesitant on the adhesive styles because of 2 reasons. I don’t know how well they’ll stick, and are they one time use? Knowing I’ll have to change the battery once a year, I want to make sure I don’t have to change out my cases also. Plus, they are more obvious in my opinion.

On Your Remotes

If I would have had this, I wouldn’t have lost my remote for so long.

This one has tempted me. I’ve even looked for a case for my Fire TV remote. I lost it for a long time once, and I wished so bad it had a “find my remote” function. I mean, come on! why isn’t this a built-in thing yet? I digress. Remotes are one of the common uses for the stickable cases I mentioned before. My hesitancy comes from how bulky they are. I haven’t seen a remote solution that isn’t just totally bulky looking and functionally. Maybe if they come up with a design that isn’t so bulky or when the tags get thinner, I’ll add it. If this doesn’t bother you though, it would be a great addition to one of the most misplaced things in your household.

On Your Other Apple Devices

Trick heading! This is not necessary. I’ve been seeing cases and accessories for iPhones and AirPods, but these devices have Find My tracking inheritantly built in. The only exception I’d make is that I have noticed that my AirPods have find my for each earbud when they’re out of the case, but anytime I’ve lost them they were inside the case and they wouldn’t show up on tracking when in the case. While I can see that lending the solution to get an AirTag case for your AirPods, personally I would just prefer Apple to fix that so I can track the case too. I don’t want to have to give up my Capt. Jack Sparrow AirPod case.

As always, there are no rules on the best uses for where and how to use your AirTags. If you have any great ideas not mentioned here, please add them in the comments! These are more like guidelines anyway.