Get Festive with These Holiday Apps, Movies, Music & Podcasts

Discover the best apps, movies, music & podcasts to enjoy over the holidays with this fan-favorite episode from 2018. From cooking apps for a festive dinner to interactive iPhone games for the whole family, this episode will give you everything you need for a merry, cheerful end to the year. Note: Our next episode will be January 9, 2020, where we'll be reporting live from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on all the most innovative gear for the iPhone!

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This episode was brought to you by OWC. Simplify your mobile life with the OWC USB-C travel dock. OWC has you covered with five available connection points including ports for HDMI, USB-C, two USB-A ports, and an SD card. This portable charger even lets you work while you charge thanks to 100 watts of pass-through power—and it won't slow down your charge time. The Travel Dock is the perfect accessory for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iPad Pro. Pick up your OWC Travel Dock today for only $54.99.

Question of the week:

Let us know how the apps, music, movies & podcasts we recommend work out for you! Do you have any others that we haven't mentioned that you want to share? Email to let us know.

Articles referred to in this episode:

Apps & media referred to in this episode:




  • Destiny’s Child 8 Days of Christmas
  • Christmas on Death Row (Apple Music Playlist)
  • Mariah Carey Merry Christmas
  • Swingin Christmas Classics (Apple Music Playlist)
  • Elvis Christmas Album
  • Buena Vista Social Club radio (Spotify)
  • Pentatonix A Pentatonix Christmas
  • Michael Bublé Christmas


Use Apple TV search to find these movies on your preferred platform.

  • Little Women
  • Diehard
  • Love Actually
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Elf
  • Nigthmare Before Christmas
  • Santa Clause Chronicles​
  • A Christmas Story


Useful links:

Transcript of episode 126:

Donna Cleveland:             Hi, and welcome to episode 126 of The iPhone Life Podcast. I'm Donna Cleveland, Editor in Chief at iPhone Life.

David Averbach:                I'm David Averbach, CEO and Publisher at iPhone Life.

Donna Cleveland:             So we have a special episode for you today in preparation for the holidays. We are going to go over all of the media that you should download on your iPhone, or iPad to enjoy with your family over the holidays. So stay tuned for that. We also have a lot of our other regular sections. So we'll be jumping right in. First we want to tell you about one of our sponsors, David, take it away.

David Averbach:                Yeah. So I'm going to tell you about OtterBox today. You guys all probably know OtterBox, they're known for their protective cases. They have protective cases for the iPhone and the iPad. But a couple things I wanted to point out to you guys. First of all, they have a wide range of cases now from the most protective to pretty slim cases that will still protect your phone. So if you haven't checked out their line in a while, make sure you check it out. The other thing that they have [inaudible 00:01:19] you don't know is they have really high quality mobile accessories. So they have rugged cables, they have portable power packs, they have all sorts of things. So make sure you check them out for pretty much any of your iPhone solutions, especially for the holidays, those make great gift stuffers. We all- ... stuffers. Stocking stuffers.

Donna Cleveland:             Stocking stuffers.

David Averbach:                Sorry, a jew trying to fake it over here. But, we all need cables. Everybody knows we need cables, also there's a little portable battery pack, so it's like really perfect. So make sure you check that out at as well.

Donna Cleveland:             Yes, I know, some of you may be doing your last minute Christmas shopping and so we've got some tips for you. Also, you can check out our last episode if you didn't listen already. We went over our favorite gear from our buyer's guide. We do a buyer's guide every year. That has products in all of the categories for your devices that you could be looking for. So, you can always check out episode 99 if you haven't already. We've got you covered here, it's not too [inaudible 00:02:21]. Next, we want to tell you about our favorite tip of the week. We have a daily free newsletter called iPhone Life Tip of the Day. If you go to you can sign up there for that.

Donna Cleveland:             This is something you can learn something cool you can do with your device in just a minute every day. So it's really no time commitment at all. This tip is how to trim a live photo on your iPhone. So I just keep live photos on all the time on my iPhone. For those of you who don't know, that is a ... if you press and hold your phone, your photo, it will play a three-second video clip that captures like one-and-a-half seconds before and one-and-a-half seconds after the freeze frame that it chooses.

Donna Cleveland:             I really, this is the only one to have turned on if you have decent amount of storage on your device, because it does take some extra space. But it's really excellent just in that you can convert these into GIFs, you can choose the frame that you ... you can choose the frame after the fact to get like, let's say, a group photo and make sure that everyone's eyes are open-

Sarah Kingsbury:               I love that.

Donna Cleveland:             It just affords you a lot of flexibility.

David Averbach:                Yeah, it's the best, yeah.

Donna Cleveland:             This specific tip though is just how to turn your live photo, because sometimes you may be capturing an action shot, and part of the live photo would be you swinging your phone up and then swinging it down. And you don't want that as part of it. If you just tap edit in the upper-right corner of that photo in the photos app, you'll see a timeline of your live photo and you can just press and hold on either end to bring in the sides and trim the video clip to be exactly, only include what you want it to include.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Can I add to this?

Donna Cleveland:             Yes.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Another thing is, live photos doesn't always get it right when it chooses which frame to show in the photo and you might think that it's not a great photo. If you go in there and scroll through the frames, you might find a really kind of a treasure of an image. Then you can select that one to be the frame, the image that shows in the still version of the live photo. And I have saved a lot of effie photos and turn them into amazing photos by using that.

David Averbach:                You know, it gives you so much more flexibility. I really recommend everyone have it turned on. It also-

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, [crosstalk 00:04:38].

David Averbach:                ... every once in a while you capture a really awesome little three-second video that you weren't planning at capturing, somebody does something funny while you're taking the photo, and that's always a really fun surprise as well.

Donna Cleveland:             So, in the camera app, if you haven't turned it on, you tap in the center, at the top of your view finder, it's a circular kind of like bullet icon, and if you tap it, it'll turn yellow, and something will say live right there, and that'll let you know that live photos is turned on. So, if you have the storage capacity for it, use live photos. And the tip that Sarah told you about how to choose your frame, you get to that the same way that you do to trim it. You hit edit and then you'll have not only the option to trim in the sides of your live photo, but also to scrub through and choose your frame [crosstalk 00:05:26]-

Sarah Kingsbury:               The key photo, it has a white square around it, and you just tap on the frame to get the actual image that you want to show.

David Averbach:                Can I complain? I have a bonus Apple complaint. You cannot have a live photo when you're in portrait mode.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yes, that is true.

David Averbach:                And I love portrait mode. And I love live photos. And the fact that you can't have a live photo on portrait mode, I get it, it probably just requires too much processing power, but what ends up happening is, I'll have a really nice framed portrait mode photo and then someone blinks and I'm just like, "Apple, give me live photo so that I can edit it."

Sarah Kingsbury:               So there's this great thing called digital cameras and iPhones are basically digital cameras, and that means, because you don't have film, you can basically take like huge numbers of photos all at once, and choose the best ones, you're welcome.

David Averbach:                Like a DSLR, are you saying?

Sarah Kingsbury:               No, what I'm saying is like-

David Averbach:                Like the rapid shot.

Sarah Kingsbury:               ... you don't just like take a shot and then be like, "I'm done." You take like 20-

David Averbach:                Wow, you just blew my mind.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yeah. Just take a whole bunch, there's no limits.

David Averbach:                Sometimes you miss a moment, Sarah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               You just keep tapping, and then you will be amazed by what you get, David.

David Averbach:                How about a little empathy over here, it's hard.

Sarah Kingsbury:               There's something about you that just inspires me to not feel empathetic.

David Averbach:                Donna is like, "All right, let's move on. You guys are annoying."

Donna Cleveland:             So, I think basically the takeaway, I was just trying to synthesize it into a productive point for our listeners, which would be that if you're in portrait mode, do what Sarah says and keep snapping photos. If you press and hold when you're a taking a photo, it'll just rapid fire, snap a ton of them. So that's one way to do it. If you're not in portrait mode, have live photos enabled and that way it'll capture three seconds, and you're bound to get a good shot within those three seconds.

David Averbach:                I'm actually wondering-

Donna Cleveland:             Is that a good summary?

David Averbach:                ... oh, you can't rapid fire in portrait mode.

Sarah Kingsbury:               No, you can't. You have to-

Donna Cleveland:             You can't. So you have to keep tapping.

David Averbach:                Yeah.

Donna Cleveland:             So you have to have nimble fingers. Okay. You can go to is where you can sign up to get awesome free tips like that every day. Good, I have a screen protector on my phone, so I didn't break it.

Sarah Kingsbury:               For those who are just listening, Donna just threw her phone on the table.

Donna Cleveland:             Next up, we want to tell you about our premium subscription, that's called iPhone Life Insider. And this is our, it's our full educational service that will help empower you to use your iOS devices the way you've always wanted to, to know how to do all the things you've been frustrated by. So go to to sign up. You'll get in-depth video guides, a digital archive to our magazine, extended version of the podcast, and live workshops where we go in-depth on different topics and you can ask us live and we'll answer your questions that you've been having issues with. We also have a feature called Ask An Editor, where you can email in and we'll personally lead you through to find a solution to the tech problems that you're having, so really we'll become like your tech friends that help you get the most out of your iOS devices when you sign up Sarah is going to share with us what one of our insiders has been having an issue with and how Sarah helped find out the solution.

Sarah Kingsbury:               So, this insider wrote in, "For some reason my fingerprint doesn't work. How do I reinstall it so I don't have to use the code?" This is really easy, and it also would apply to face ID as well, if for some reason your face changes, I don't know, you get different glasses. So you can delete and reinstall fingerprints for Touch ID, you go to your settings app, and you tap Touch ID and passcode, if you wanted to redo your face ID, you would tap Face ID and passcode, and you enter your device's passcode, and then you'll see a list, in his case, of the fingerprints you have set up. You can delete the current fingerprint if it's not working anymore by tapping on it and then tapping delete.

Sarah Kingsbury:               You can create a new fingerprint by tapping add a fingerprint at the bottom of the list, and you just follow the prompts to register the fingerprint. I would say it's a good idea to have a couple of thumbprints and a couple of fingerprints, just because sometimes you'll cut your finger, or your hand will be wet, or your skin is all really dry because of the winter. So having a bunch of options is great.

David Averbach:                I have kind of a bonus tip. It's an [inaudible 00:09:52] if you have Touch ID. From that same screen, if you navigate to where it shows all of the fingers you have set up. If you tap on your Touch ID from that screen, you're actually continuing to train that Touch ID. So what you do is you tap on it, and then you rotate your finger just slightly, tap on it, and that way it gives it like the full, because a lot of times what the problem is, is you trained it at a very specific angle, and then when you went to actually log in, you're kind of doing it quickly, and your finger is just a little bit kind of off center or a little bit angled on one side or the other. Just sitting there for about five minutes, sort of slowly changing the angle, especially like straight on, a little over, a little over.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Five minutes?

David Averbach:                Just do while you're watching TV, it's not a big deal.

Sarah Kingsbury:               I mean, they have improved the whole-

Donna Cleveland:             I love how snarky Sarah's being with David this episode.

Sarah Kingsbury:               They have improved the whole fingerprint registration thing and the reading of it so that it can read it from different angles more and it encourages you to put more of the different parts of your fingerprint on it. So it does work a lot better. Also, just bonus, he didn't ask about Face ID, but you can now add a second face, which means you could theoretically do it with a second person, but also you can do it, say if you wear glasses, or don't have glasses, or-

Donna Cleveland:             Or a hat, sort of like you know an accessory.

Sarah Kingsbury:               ... yeah. I mean, that was the problem for me as I originally set a Face ID with my glasses on, and then it wouldn't recognize me without them on.

Donna Cleveland:             So annoying, I'm sure.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yeah. I deleted that Face ID and then did it without my glasses, and then it had no problem recognizing with the glasses. But if it hadn't, I would be really happy to have this second Face ID option.

David Averbach:                Yeah, it is a nice option.

Donna Cleveland:             I need to. I need to do that. What it says, the wording is interesting, because it says, "Set a second appearance." Which makes me think that Apple is intending it for this purpose as opposed to ... they don't have it set up as well to share it with another person, really actually the only way to know that someone hasn't gone on to your phone and set up Face ID on your device is that you won't see the option to set up a second appearance. I just kind of absorbs it, unlike fingerprints, it won't show you a list of the fingerprints that have been registered, it'll just show you that Face ID has been set up. So that's actually something I could see being a security concern is that someone could go in and register their face in your phone.

David Averbach:                There you go. There you go.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, so. Careful out there.

Sarah Kingsbury:               All right.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay, so let's move in to our main section. If you go to to summarize you can sign up and also be able to ask Sarah your tech questions and access all of the other content that we're always coming out with and that I mentioned before too. So now we want to help you, next week is Christmas, a lot of you are going to have some time off of work. We wanted to help you figure out what you should be downloading on your iPhones and iPads to get festive and prepare for the holidays. We've got a lot of fun ideas here for you guys.

David Averbach:                Let me tell you guys about our sponsor first.

Donna Cleveland:             Oh yeah.

David Averbach:                We have, ZAGG is our second sponsor. We actually mentioned them last week, if you were listening, for ... it makes a great gift or if you got or about to get an iPhone, they have really great glass-screen protector it is called the [InvisiShield 00:13:20] Vision Guard. I got it wrong last week, but I got it right this time-

Donna Cleveland:             Good job, David. Good job.

David Averbach:                ... nailing it. And what's really awesome, first of all, ZAGG is one of the industry leaders in glass-screen protectors. Second of all, everybody needs to have a glass-screen protector, there's no excuses. Make it happen. Donna dropped her phone a few seconds ago. What was the first words out of her mouth? "Thank God I have a glass-screen protector."

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah.

David Averbach:                But what makes this one unique in addition to just being a high quality glass-screen protector is that it protects your eyes against blue light that your phones emit. So blue light can both be damaging to your eyes, but also, if you're using a phone at night, it can actually keep you up. It's-

Sarah Kingsbury:               It's [crosstalk 00:13:58] too, it disrupts your circadian rhythms. If you can diminish how much blue light you're being exposed to, that's a good thing to do.

David Averbach:                Yeah. So this does that, and it's still very affordable glass-screen protector. So make sure you check it out, we'll have a link in our show note at iphonelife.como/podcast.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. Last episode, we also mentioned that if you have an iPhone 10 or later, it's now $300 to replace your phone screen. So really you have no excuse not to have a screen protector on there.

David Averbach:                Really no excuse.

Donna Cleveland:             So, yeah, check out ZAGG. Okay. Moving into our media for the holidays. We wanted to ... one thing that we wanted to do is tell you some of our favorite Christmas music and movies that you can download on your devices from around the office. So we'll tell you our favorites, we also have some that other people in the office have been like, "Oh, mention this one, mention that one." First of all, let's talk about Apple Music and the Christmas playlist that you can get. Sarah is our Apple Music person in the office.

Sarah Kingsbury:               So, I'm not actually a huge fan of like classic Christmas music. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas, and that really involves a lot of Christmas music as well. But there are some ones that are a little more fun. Destiny's Child 8 Days of Christmas album is pretty amazing.

Donna Cleveland:             Oh, I totally have to check that out.

David Averbach:                I know, I just saw that on the list. I was like, "What?"

Donna Cleveland:             I wonder if Spotify has it too.

David Averbach:                I'm sure it does.

Sarah Kingsbury:               It's so good, and there's a disagreement among my daughters about whether this counts as like authentic acceptable Christmas music, but I was the final arbiter and it does.

David Averbach:                I agree. I agree.

Sarah Kingsbury:               If you want a little hip hop in your Christmas, there's Christmas on Death Row, it's so good.

Donna Cleveland:             I'm excited, I love hip hop.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Of course, there is the Mariah Carey classic Merry Christmas album.

David Averbach:                Classic.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:44] Mariah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               There's Elvis' Christmas album I make my children listen to Blue Christmas every single year. They have it. But it's just part of our traditions including being forced to pose by the tree with ugly Christmas sweaters. If you are more into the classics, this is one that I don't hate, this playlist from Apple Music called Swingin' Christmas Classics. You can check that out as well.

David Averbach:                Those are really good.

Donna Cleveland:             If you're looking for one that Sarah doesn't hate, I just, I haven't been listening to Christmas music yet, but I put on this list on Spotify that I've been listening to, Buena Vista Social Club Radio on my iPhone, it's kind of just like festive music, kind of world music. If you're someone, and you're not Christmas music necessarily, but you want to feel ... I feel like it's impossible to be in a bad mood listening to this music. That's what I'll say about it.

Sarah Kingsbury:               I also feel like the Buena Vista Social Club is so, I feel like it's dinner party music. You can enjoy just listening to it, but it's really great in the background.

Donna Cleveland:             It's good, it's really [crosstalk 00:16:41].

Sarah Kingsbury:               I've never had a guest who didn't enjoy it.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah.

David Averbach:                Well, during the holidays you tend to have a lot of gatherings and people over and it's impossible to have a playlist that everybody's going to like. I feel like Buena Vista Social Club would hit that.

Donna Cleveland:             It does. Yeah. When you think of it is my friend had a [inaudible 00:17:00] girlfriends over last week to make [inaudible 00:17:02] at her house as like a festive thing. She had this radio station on, I'm like, "What is this? This is fun."

David Averbach:                One of my go-tos for that is like for the playlist you want just to be universally like everybody doesn't mind it at least, is Motown, everybody likes Motown.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yeah.

David Averbach:                Everybody, but Sarah. You're uninvited.

Sarah Kingsbury:               I didn't say I didn't like it. Another good one is Brazilian Jazz.

David Averbach:                Yeah. Brazilian Jazz is perfect. Yeah. Which is kind of similar to [crosstalk 00:17:28] Social Club.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yeah, if you're entertaining, try those out. Let's talk about Netflix.

David Averbach:                Yeah, wait, let me, because I ... we have down here Spotify, so I have a few as well. Pentatonix is really fun. They do acapella songs. They have a Christmas album, and I decorated my Christmas tree last night and listened to them. It's a little bit like-

Donna Cleveland:             What is Pentatonix?

David Averbach:                ... they're an acapella group.

Sarah Kingsbury:               They're acapella. They make all of the instrumental sounds themselves actually, it's pretty cool.

David Averbach:                Yeah. It's really cool. They do a little bit like club remixes. I mean, they're not really because they're acapella. But it's a modern take on Christmas classics. Let's put it that way.

Donna Cleveland:             I feel like acapella is so dorky but also really impressive and can be really cool.

Sarah Kingsbury:               It's so good. It's really not dorky. I didn't include it on my list because my older daughter was in about five different choirs all through high school, and I had to listen to a lot of acapella music and including a lot of Pentatonix, so I don't have to listen to that anymore, and I don't.

David Averbach:                I do feel like acapella can be dorky, but Pentatonix pulls it off.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay, yeah, kind of like in Pitch Perfect.

Sarah Kingsbury:               [crosstalk 00:18:36].

David Averbach:                Another one that's a little bit, can be a little bit dorky, but my partner loves it, so I'll bring up, Michael Bublé Christmas. If you want a little bit of jazz, feel free to judge her if you want.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Okay. I'm judging.

David Averbach:                I'm just the medium. Just telling you. I have fun, because I tend to like a lot of indie rock, there's like indie rock Christmas on Spotify-

Donna Cleveland:             I would be into that.

David Averbach:                ... I like that. This is one from our editor, Leanne, and she said that you can find Edwardian era Christmas songs, which is like the 19 ... I think she said it was like 1910, 1920s, that era. So it still has the crackling of the gramophone type stuff. And she really enjoyed it, and I want to check it out.

Donna Cleveland:             She said she found that on Amazon Music.

David Averbach:                Yeah. But I have a feeling-

Donna Cleveland:             So [crosstalk 00:19:18] have to have an Amazon Prime account.

David Averbach:                Yeah. I have a feeling you can find it on Spot- ... most of these I think you can find anywhere.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay. So we have music covered? Can we move on to Netflix?

David Averbach:                I think we have music covered. Netflix, let's do this.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay. Netflix, it's a great idea if you're traveling somewhere for Christmas, you may want to get in the spirit and download as you probably know by now, you can download Netflix if you have a, I mean you download the app, but you can actually download movies so that you can watch them on the plane, and be offline and watch your stuff. So make sure to do that ahead of time, if you want to. Otherwise, we also just have recommendations if you're watching a movie with your family on Christmas, let's get started with our list here. So Little Women is what Leann recommended. I also would definitely second that. I love Little Women. If you want like ... a lot of these were like if you want to cry on Christmas, watch this.

David Averbach:                Also, if you want to cry on Christmas, Die Hard is a Christmas classic.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Really, that makes you cry?

David Averbach:                No, I'm joking about the crying part. But it's a Christmas classic.

Donna Cleveland:             It's a Christmas classic.

David Averbach:                You don't think of it as being Christmas, but it is, and it's great.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, maybe one of my favorite Christmas movies.

David Averbach:                Another one, and we [inaudible 00:20:22], we had fun brainstorming [inaudible 00:20:25]. This is one that's a little more modern Christmas classic, very controversial people love it or hate it. I happen to be on the love it side. Love Actually, I think it's really fun.

Donna Cleveland:             Love Actually, yeah.

David Averbach:                Are you guys pro Love Actually?

Sarah Kingsbury:               I was for a long time. But then maybe I just read too many pieces about why it's bad, and I can't stop thinking about that while I'm watching it, and it's hard for me to enjoy it now.

David Averbach:                There are so many think pieces about why it's bad. And they're not wrong. But like still, it's a Christmas movie, let's think piece other things sometimes.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, I have a soft spot for Love Actually. I'm really curious if I watched it now for the first time if would like love it as much, it's definitely also nostalgic at this point, like it's kind of a tradition to watch it. One that I watched for the first time last year, I'm shocked I hadn't watched it before was It's a Wonderful Life. Again, if you want to cry on Christmas, watch that.

Sarah Kingsbury:               It's A Wonderful Life, it's been a long time but it's a good one.

Donna Cleveland:             It's such a tearjerker, it was really good I think.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Elf is so amazing.

David Averbach:                It's so underrated.

Donna Cleveland:             Elf is probably my favorite. I mean, I love [crosstalk 00:21:26].

Sarah Kingsbury:               I love, it's so universal too. I feel like some of these-

Donna Cleveland:             Yes, everyone loves it.

David Averbach:                Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               ... you know, like not everyone is going to like or they won't be appropriate for children. This one, everyone can enjoy together. It's a really good one.

David Averbach:                Absolutely.

Donna Cleveland:             That's a really good point. Yeah. I know, I agree. I feel like Love Actually, like my mom hates it, [inaudible 00:21:45].

David Averbach:                [crosstalk 00:21:46], and there's a lot of nudity.

Donna Cleveland:             It's not great for kids.

David Averbach:                Yeah, you can't watch Love Actually with kids.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. I feel like, so it's more adult. It's A Wonderful Life, it might be a little too old-timey for kids. But-

David Averbach:                Elf, everyone loves Elf.

Donna Cleveland:             ... Elf. Yeah. Nightmare Before Christmas, that was one Ray Anne, our video editor, she's switched to more of a video role here now. She loves that one. We said, we're not sure if that really ... she loves Halloween, and we're like, "It feels more [Halloweeny 00:22:09]"

David Averbach:                I allowed it. I feel like it can be a Christmas movie. This is one actually, I just started watching last night and it's new. Santa Claus Chronicles. Netflix made their own Santa Claus movie.

Donna Cleveland:             Is it good?

David Averbach:                It was ... this is one unlike Love Actually, is very like kid oriented. But it's fun. It's Kurt Russell I think. Did I get his name right?

Sarah Kingsbury:               That is, there's an [crosstalk 00:22:32].

David Averbach:                There is a person named Kurt Russell? Well, he plays Santa Claus-

Sarah Kingsbury:               There is a person.

David Averbach:                ... he does a really good job. He's not a chubby Santa Claus. He doesn't say ho ho ho, and he's really snarky.

Donna Cleveland:             Interesting.

Sarah Kingsbury:               [crosstalk 00:22:43] Santa.

David Averbach:                I don't know if you're just watching a Christmas movie alone to watch that one, but if you have kids around, it's tolerable. And that's like a win.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Okay. I have a few more things. We didn't talk about, I really hate the movie Rudolph that live, like the [inaudible 00:22:59] one. I don't recommend it. But what about, is it called The Christmas Story? Where he wants the BB Gun? Is that what it's called? I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about, the one where he wants the BB Gun for Christmas.

David Averbach:                I remember it, but I don't know.

Donna Cleveland:             I have no idea what you're talking about.

Sarah Kingsbury:               "You're gonna shoot your eye out." And there's the lamp shaped like a leg. You guys probably like-

Donna Cleveland:             Like Home Alone?

Sarah Kingsbury:               No.

David Averbach:                But Home Alone is a great one.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, I love Home Alone.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Okay. But here's something that my kids and I watch every year, which has nothing to do with Christmas, it just somehow became a tradition, High School Musical. It's not currently streaming on ... the first one, only the third one is streaming.

David Averbach:                [inaudible 00:23:34] with it.

Sarah Kingsbury:               The first one is the good one. It's another one that everyone can watch, and there's songs, and there's dancing, and it has not really anything to do with Christmas, but it's great. If you need a family movie that's really fun. That's a good one.

Donna Cleveland:             Miracle on 34th Street. I just have to put that out there too. That was one I watched a lot growing up.

David Averbach:                That's a classic.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               And do you know what is going to be a classic next year because it's still on theaters? Is the new Grinch. I went and saw it, and I hate animated movies and I loved it.

David Averbach:                I thought it was okay. I mean, I don't know, I just get forced to watch so many animated movies these days-

Sarah Kingsbury:               Yes, that's my thing.

David Averbach:                ... that I'm very like-

Sarah Kingsbury:               I don't watch animated movies anymore, because I watched so many when my kids were young and I don't have to anymore. And as soon as they were old enough to just drop off at the theater, ii did. But it was over Thanksgiving, and I felt like for family togetherness I had to do this, and I went and saw it, and I actually really enjoyed it.

David Averbach:                It wasn't bad. I think you're right. It wasn't bad.

Sarah Kingsbury:               So, sometimes, I don't know about you guys, but my family, we like to do puzzles over the holidays.

Donna Cleveland:             I love puzzles.

Sarah Kingsbury:               But, maybe you still want to listen to things. That's why I would recommend podcasts. I mean, a lot of the podcasts I listen to are political, that's not necessarily the best thing when you're together with all your family-

David Averbach:                Yeah, good call.

Sarah Kingsbury:               ... so one that I like, I've only listened to a couple episodes so far, is Homecoming. It's a show on, I think, Amazon now, but you can actually listen to, it was originally a podcast, and so there's sort of like an overarching story and it's Catherine Keener and David Schwimmer the two main voices. And it's really well done so far. A lot of people I know have listened to it and loved it. That's definitely worth checking out or some other kind of-

Donna Cleveland:             I've got to check that out.

David Averbach:                Yeah.

Sarah Kingsbury:               ... more fictional sort of radio show style podcast that you could listen to as you do things like puzzles or cook together.

David Averbach:                That's fun.

Donna Cleveland:             I feel like another one you could try that's probably just pretty uncontroversial is Happier with Gretchen Rubin. It's one that just has hacks for being happier. It's her and her sister. They go through a theme each episode, and take questions from listeners and stuff. I've used that for car rides with family when I wanted to avoid political conversations, and I'm like, "All right, I think it's time to turn on a podcast." So, you can check that out.

David Averbach:                Speaking of cooking. I talked about this app before, but I really enjoyed New York Times cooking app. So if you're doing any holiday cooking and you want to find some recipes, A, they have really good recipes, but B, they also have tutorials so if you're cooking something that's kind of a staple and you want to make sure you get it right, you can check that out as well.

Donna Cleveland:             Good call.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Again, in the line of like group listening to stories and stuff, Audible, I mean you can use it when you're traveling for the holidays, but finding a story and listening to it together can be a nice experience together. So that's something worth checking out.

David Averbach:                Absolutely.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, definitely.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Until we have any other just apps that we think people should check out-

David Averbach:                Well, I've got some, we've got some family games here [inaudible 00:26:36] to go over with you. A couple of them are ... one of them is not an app, but I just want to recommend it anyway, because we use in the office. It's called SneakySanta. So if you are doing a secret santa, which is always a fun way to change up the gift giving and maybe you don't have to give gifts for everyone that way. It's a website. It's free. It's really easy to use and then it manages your whole secret santa experience.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. I just want Elfster. That's the one I've ... there's an app. So if you want to [crosstalk 00:27:06] your iPhone or iPad. Elfster is also free.

Sarah Kingsbury:               We have used that one in the past-

Donna Cleveland:             And it worked well.

David Averbach:                It worked well. Okay, good call.

Donna Cleveland:             So that's another. Another option for you, heads up, this one we have to put in there, it's the Ellen DeGeneres one, where you hold your phone on your forehead, and there's a word on there, everyone else tries to guess what it is-

David Averbach:                That's a really fun one.

Donna Cleveland:             ... or everyone else describes it, so that you ... and you try to guess what it is.

David Averbach:                Yes.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Right, it's a really good one.

David Averbach:                Along the same lines, there's an app called Party Phrase. Which is basically if you've ever played Catch Phrase. Catch Phrase, it's like a cross between hot potato and taboo. But it's fun because it's ... I put it on here because it's something that you can do with large groups of people. Basically you get a word, and you have a timer, and you try to get your team to guess the word, and you pass the ... typically it's a actual little game that you pass to the next person before the buzzer goes off, and the goal is not have the buzzer go off on you. But it works perfectly as a phone app. And it's called Party Phrase instead Catch Phrase.

Donna Cleveland:             Oh, because I love catch phrase.

David Averbach:                Yeah, it's fun.

Donna Cleveland:             So you don't have to buy and carry this accessory around with you. You can just use your phone.

David Averbach:                Another one that we use every year is, it's an app called White Elephant. As you can guess, it's for white elephants. Then it's like you don't have to have everybody's name written on a piece of paper and drawing numbers and stuff. It just manages it. It's a really, really simple app. But it's free. Basically you put everyone's name who's doing the white elephant and then you hit randomize. Then it does a random order, so you can figure out who goes first, who goes second.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Some really important advice for white elephant, you need to decide beforehand and make really clear whether this is a joke white elephant or a serious white elephant where people are expecting nice gifts. Because you don't want to be the person who shows up with a nice gift while everyone has jokes, or vice verse, which is even worse. When you bring like say a toilet seat, and everyone else is all like soaps, and chocolates and stuff, and you're all like.

David Averbach:                Also, if you're playing ... if you're doing white elephant with kids, and we've learned this lesson the hard way, you got to give them a little bit of emotional pep talk about of what's about to happen, because otherwise kids, they don't love getting gift stolen from them. It turns out, fun fact.

Sarah Kingsbury:               You would've guessed.

David Averbach:                So, yeah, white elephant is always very emotional time for our office. But we make it work.

Sarah Kingsbury:               We get through it every year.

Donna Cleveland:             So we wanted to recommend too, like [inaudible 00:29:22] most people, they want to capture memories on Christmas over the holidays. So really [inaudible 00:29:29] wanted to give you some tips for taking good photos. I was going to use the tip to use your timer for a group family shot, we did actually cover this, well, it was in our insider only section of our last episode.

David Averbach:                You're right.

Donna Cleveland:             But I was just going to recommend, there's in the camera app at the top, there's an option to do a three or 10-second timer and so you can use that to hit the shutter button and then run and get into the shot. Or the tip that David gave is if you have an Apple Watch, you can control the shutter from your Apple watch. So that's an even better option if you do have an Apple Watch.

David Averbach:                And the other, if you're an insider I'm repeating myself, but the other nice thing about the Apple Watch app is first of all, it does have a three-second time option so that you're not staring at your watch while you take the photo. Second of all, you can see the photo, which is really nice, it's obviously a pretty small screen, but it's big enough to see that someone blinked, if someone out of the shot.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. [crosstalk 00:30:21] someone half face in there.

David Averbach:                There's nothing worst than having like 12 people crowded into a shot, you take it, and then one person has to walk back to go look at it, and then determine that the photo didn't look good, and then everybody has to go back and get back in the shot. It's way easier to do from the Apple Watch if you have an Apple Watch.

Donna Cleveland:             Then, I recommend, most likely everyone is taking pictures and you all want to share them. If you all have iPhones, you can use iCloud Photo Sharing to do that. Otherwise, I recommend downloading the Moments App and you just have to get everyone's buy-in to use the same app. So tell everyone to download the Moments App. It's an app made by Facebook. So if you have security concerns around Facebook, which is understandable, then don't do this. But if you're not too worried about it, the app does work great.

Sarah Kingsbury:               And, you know what this eliminates?

Donna Cleveland:             What?

Sarah Kingsbury:               That annoying thing where everyone it's like, "Okay, now take a picture with my phone, and my phone." You only need one phone, and you just share the photo.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah, and then you also get pictures with everyone looking like slightly different places, which is awkward too.

David Averbach:                It works really great. It's really seamless. I mean, Facebook, I understand the privacy concerns, but just to clarify, it does not post the photos on Facebook.

Donna Cleveland:             No. You're just saying if you are opposed to Facebook as a company.

David Averbach:                Yeah, exactly.

Donna Cleveland:             But this is a private photo sharing app.

David Averbach:                Exactly. Exactly. But I will say, if everybody has iPhones, which for large families probably unlikely, but the iCloud Photo Sharing, I used to hate on it, but it's gotten a lot better.

Donna Cleveland:             It has gotten a lot better? I think it haven't.

David Averbach:                Yeah. I was 12, improved it a lot.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay, because I was going to say I haven't used this since I was 12. Because I've always been disappointed in it.

David Averbach:                It was.

Donna Cleveland:             For photo editing in general, I don't think it's great to over edit your photos, because it looks pretty obvious and it can make, you know, if your photos are like over saturated or whatever, I don't think that's great. But for photo editing, that looks more subtle. VSCO is a good app, and they have a few presets that are free, otherwise it's kind of expensive. It's like $20 a month or something for their premium. But I just-

Sarah Kingsbury:               I thought it was $20 a year. I just approved that subscription for my daughter.

Donna Cleveland:             Is that, is it $20 a year?

Sarah Kingsbury:               I better look into it.

Donna Cleveland:             Okay. But it makes me feel better. Because I did like a week free trial, and then I just saw something threatening to charge me $20 and I assumed it [inaudible 00:32:26]. So, anyways. I'm going to have to verify that.

Sarah Kingsbury:               I'm going to have to go research that before I start-

Donna Cleveland:             [crosstalk 00:32:31] be $20 a year. But anyway, they have filters that just are better than the ones that you can find on Instagram or in a lot of other apps. Then it also has nice photo editing features like your contrast and highlights and things like that.

David Averbach:                Great.

Donna Cleveland:             Cool. Okay. So I think that wraps up our media recommendations, unless there's anything else you guys wanted to mention.

David Averbach:                No, we'd love to hear from you guys.

Donna Cleveland:             Yeah. I think question of the week would be which of these recommendations did you like? Or do you have any others that we haven't mentioned? Email us at and we'll see you guys next time. We mentioned this last episode, but we are going to be away for three weeks now, over the holidays, and our next episode will be January 10 at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, and we'll be going over all the coolest gear that we see on the show floor there. So you'll definitely want to stay tuned for that.

David Averbach:                Once again, thank you everybody for sticking with us for 100 episodes. I can't believe we're at 100 episodes. We really appreciate this, we really appreciate you guys listening. And happy holidays.

Sarah Kingsbury:               Happy holidays.

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Author Details

Donna Schill's picture

Author Details

Donna Schill

Donna Schill is the Editor in Chief at iPhone Life, where she oversees all multimedia content production for iPhone Life Insider, the premium educational platform for Apple enthusiasts and lifelong learners. After earning her master's degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Donna joined iPhone Life in 2012, where she has produced dozens of magazine issues, co-hosted hundreds of podcast episodes, and taught over 20 live online courses. When not glued to her iPhone 15 Pro Max, Donna can be found traveling, writing and podcasting (, or hiking the Iowa prairie where she lives with her partner and their German shepherd, Fox.