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Shopping and entertaining are key components of the holiday season. Some people relish the thought of heading to stores and finding deals, while others are less excited, even during the holidays. However, using the myriad apps designed for today's tablets and smart phones can make shopping a bit easier.

Smart phones can brighten your holidays

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Check prices

Wondering if you are getting the lowest price on items can be frustrating during the holiday season. Comparison shopping is time-consuming when consumers must walk or drive from store to store. However, apps designed for comparison shopping can make the process as simple as taking a photo.

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Apps like Amazon's Price Check, Barcode Hero and Barcode Scanner enable individuals to enter the name of the product or scan the barcode on the packaging. Shoppers are given comparison prices from various stores, some online and some brick-and-mortar. Depending on the app, you also may be able to read customer product reviews to determine if the buy is a smart one. These apps can save you time and money, which is something many holiday shoppers desire.

Set an alarm clock

Sometimes holiday shopping can seem interminable, or you may get engrossed in the task and spend too much time in the stores. Set the alarm clock on your phone to go off at a specific time, and it will serve as your reminder to wrap up your shopping or move on to another task.

Organize receipts

Those who want to keep receipts handy and digital can use apps like Receipt Keeper and Receipt Hog. These programs can store information to help you budget while ensuring you never lose a receipt. With Receipt Hog you also can earn money for your receipts. The app is designed by a market research company that tracks purchases. For each receipt you upload, you can earn coins to be redeemed for cash, donations and goods.

Keep lists handy

Instead of making a hand-written list, use the notes function on your phone to keep your list handy at all times. Even those who do not have a phone with Internet access can keep lists handy. Snap a photo of the paper list before you leave the house and then refer to it while shopping.

Amuse the children

Shopping during the holidays can be stressful. But shopping with children in tow can be even more stressful -- particularly if children are bored and crabby. While you cannot foresee every situation, ensuring children are well-rested, well-fed and entertained during a shopping trip can make the process go more smoothly. Download a child-friendly game for your phone so your son or daughter can play. Or stream movies or TV shows on your phone to keep kids busy.

Keep in touch

It can be difficult to make time for face-to-face visits during the busy holiday season, but you may have time for quick texts or updates to social messaging sites. Use your phone to keep in touch with friends and family and wish them well during the holidays.

Having a smart phone handy can make the holidays easier in a number of ways.

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