Note: This post was co-written with Penny Park, executive director, Science Media Centre of Canada.

You missed the delivery cutoff for that perfect present, the kids are home from school and bored, you’ve already put on 10 pounds, and it’s only halfway through the party season!

Well, science and innovation are here to help. There really is an “app for that”—or there will be—and Canadians are busy working on them. According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, almost 52,000 Canadians are employed both directly and indirectly on the development of apps.

Get organized

Do you have relatives streaming in from all around the country? You don’t want to leave Aunt Sally fuming at the airport, so use FlightTrack, an app that helps ensure that you aren’t doing laps around the airport or waiting at the wrong terminal.

Creativity comes with a bit of a price tag, but you can make your own cards online with Cards or Ink Cards (and you don’t even have to go to the post office to mail them).

And if you need to get—or get rid of—gift cards, check out MaRS client CardSwap, a company that lets you sell unwanted gift cards for cash, buy gift cards and earn rewards, and even donate gift cards to a charitable cause through its website.

Are you feeling weak at the knees at the thought of orchestrating that huge turkey dinner and getting it on the table hot and on time? Co-ordinate your cooking times with Cookit.

Next, keep those kids of yours busy! At this time of year the most important person to follow is Santa. Know exactly where he is at all times with the NORAD Santa tracker app.

Someone else you’ll want to watch in the skies is Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is on his way to the International Space Station (ISS) to take command next March. You can track the ISS itself with NASA’s ISS Detector app. And while you’re up there, why not take a solar walk?

If you’re looking to the skies for other flying objects over the holidays, why not do a little bit of citizen science and take part in the Christmas Bird Count, a joint program between The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. BirdLog is available via the iTunes app store or at the Google Play app store.

Get outside!

But check the weather first!

Wrap yourself up, grab your phone and look for wildlife with Audubon Guides. If you’re in Toronto and looking for a different kind of wildlife, kids can meet dinosaurs up close and personal at the Royal Ontario Museum and use the ROM Ultimate Dinosaurs app to see them in augmented reality around the city.

If your interest in science is sparked, both kids and adults can take a break from the shopping and festivities to check out The Elements! If architecture is more your thing, tour Toronto with this app from Ryerson University.


When you’re relaxing around the dinner table or the fire, nothing says “the holidays” like music. If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can turn it into a musical instrument. Create your own orchestra and you could have a concert like they did at the University of Regina!

May your holidays be full of love and truly APPY.

Amorina Kingdon

Amorina Kingdon is a media officer with the Science Media Centre of Canada. She studied journalism at Concordia University and biology at Carleton University. See more…