Media Money with Julia Boorstin

App-Makers Tap Into the Holiday Spirit


App-makers are pulling out all the stops to offer holiday-themed games, treats, and tools for smartphone and tablet owners alike. We put together a list of our favorites. (Read More: Hottest Gadget Gifts for the Holiday.)


NORAD Santa Tracker: A must-have for Christmas Eve, this app follows Old Saint Nick's progress across the globe.

The defense organization started tracking Santa's progress in 1955 after its phone number was accidentally featured in a department store's Christmas Ad.

Though the North American Aerospace Defense Command has used Google since 2007, this year it's working with Microsoft's Bing. But Google isn't dropping its Santa-tracking efforts, instead it's setting up a new Santa Tracker, using Google Maps and Google Earth, along with a Google Santa Hotline.

It's a Holiday App, Charlie Brown!

Elf on the Shelf: The popular "Elf on the Shelf" book and toy franchise is available as ten different elf apps for Android and Apple's iOS platform, with games like a snowball fight.

The concept: A magical elf flies to the North Pole to report to Santa whether children have been naughty or nice, then plays hide-or-seek with kids.

Last year CBS debuted an animated Christmas special based on the book, which is turning into an entertainment empire for its creators. Last year, the brand generated a reported $16 million. (Read More: Top Holiday Toy Crazes of All Time.)


ElfYourself: For those who want to be an elf, there's an app for that too. OfficeMax's "ElfYourself" app is the number two free Apple app. Users can upload photos to turn themselves and friends into elves. There's a choice of music to create a custom video, which OfficeMax encourages people to share via email or Facebook.

Charlie Brown Christmas: And what would the holidays be without the Charlie Brown Christmas. An app retells the TV classic as an interactive book. And it's drawn some holiday love fromStarbucks, which features it as its free app of the week. It's ranked as the number two paid entertainment app in Apple's iOS store.


Not all holiday apps are fun and games — a number of Christmas list apps for Google's Android and Apple's iOS platform help plan holiday shopping, manage holiday to-do lists, track spending, to keep shoppers on budget. And of course, the apps can be password-protected to maintain the holiday surprise. (Read More: Gifts She Won't Want to Return.)

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin; Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin