Welcome to part one of our festive roundup series! Over the next two weeks, we’ll be showing you all the best apps to help you stay on top of the holiday season with nothing more than an iPhone or iPad.

Making plans

First things first, we need some apps that enable you to dump your brain somewhere and make sense of the mess. You need to figure out and track gifts and food to buy, and make notes of important things before they fly out of your ear and into the ether.

Here’s our pick of the four best apps to help you keep track of your plans this Christmas.

Paper [Free]

The revamped version of Paper moves beyond sketching. Now, you can also use it to create checklists and annotate photos. Piles of virtual sticky notes can be quickly rearranged and exported in various formats. It’s a great way to keep tabs on things you’ve bought or want to buy and, as our screenshot shows, fingerpaint really bad pictures of snowmen.


Get Paper

Evernote [Free]

For the serious organizer who needs a bit more flexibility than Paper provides, there’s Evernote. You can stash pretty much anything on that service, from web links to audio files. Everything can be tagged for later retrieval, and Evernote has an app on pretty much every platform, so you can never escape your to-do list. Well, unless you hide in the shed, where the most high-tech thing is a lawnmower. (There’s no Evernote for lawnmowers. Yet.)


Get Evernote

The Christmas List [$3/£3]

Specifically designed for tracking gifts, The Christmas List enables you to select people from your Contacts list, assign a budget, and then track gifts you’ve bought for them. The app’s interface is a bit weird at first, but once it clicks, you’ll find it easy to filter lists by person or store, and to quickly check which gifts you’ve bought, received and wrapped. There’s even Touch ID support to keep the app away from prying eyes.


Get The Christmas List

Giftster [Free]

This one’s yet another list app, but it does something a bit different. The idea is to get everyone to sign up to it, whereupon your little private group can grab items from any store and add them to their lists. Others can then ‘reserve’ items, so the list-maker doesn’t end up with a dozen identical pairs of Space Invaders socks.

Get Giftster