7 Ways Christmas Has Gone High-Tech
Christmas is a time for traditions, but it seems like every year the Christmas traditions become far less traditional and way more modern. A warm fire crackles on your HDTV. That fresh-cut Christmas tree is just an illusion created by LED lights. Decking the halls now means both setting your house ablaze with lights that could guide the space shuttle and creating an elaborate musical number for them to flash to.
So, to all of you who are still making wreaths from evergreen and holly, hanging actual knit socks by the chimney with care, and sending paper greeting cards through the mail, we say stop being a Scrooge and join the 21st century. Like it or not, your traditions have gone high-tech.
Now everyone can experience a "Christmas by the fireplace"—even without an actual fireplace. A traditional Christmas is nothing without the classic Yule log and warm, toasty fire. But maybe you don't have a fireplace. Maybe you live in a climate where it would be just plain silly to have a fire going in December, if ever. Don't worry, you can still get the full Christmas experience, starting with this Blu-ray of an inviting fire burning and Christmas songs playing in the background. Or you can watch the fire with just the crackling fire sounds. If you don’t want to buy the disc, you can always set up your laptop in the middle of the room and log (heh) on to YouTube.
Gone are the days of your stockings just hanging idly from the mantel. These days, if you don’t want to ruin Christmas, your stockings must also sing and dance. Of course, Sesame Street’s Elmo has always been one to show up singing just about anywhere. Frosty the Snowman is not to be outdone, so he’s got a singing stocking too. Mickey Mouse also got in on the somewhat disturbing singing-stocking action. And your singing-and-dancing-stocking collection wouldn’t be complete without an uber-annoying singing reindeer. You can't have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head if there isn't some irksome Christmas music playing in the background.
A plain Christmas tree with boring white lights and some tinsel is so last century. In 2012 your Christmas tree has to rock with a coordinated LED light and music show. If you want to keep it a bit simpler, you can get a fiber-optic or LED tree for your home, or a small USB-powered tree that plugs into your desktop computer. If you want to go hipster high-tech, find an old tree at a thrift store and then cover it in all your old tech gear, like those CDs you never use and that flip phone you haven’t thrown away. Or you can go totally nuts and create a giant tree of LED lights that plays coordinated music shows four times a night like they did at Universal CityWalk Hollywood.
Nothing says “modern Christmas” like the sheer quantity of apps you can get for your mobile device. There’s a Santa Tracker, for keeping track of where the world's favorite delivery man is on his big night. There's an interactive “Night Before Christmas” story app, in case you’ve gotten tired of hearing Uncle John read it out loud to the family every year. While the weather outside is frightful, you can turn yourself and your friends into dancing elves in a few easy steps. You can even download an assistant to help you with your gift wrapping.
Even your greeting cards need an update. Submit your favorite family photos online and send out cards from a website without licking a single envelope. If you don’t feel like snail-mailing your cards because that’s far too old-fashioned, you can go for the animated Flash card for family, friends or business associates, or just some basic, lo-fi talking e-cards. Of course, the modern card update counts for your child’s holiday wish list for Santa. Make sure you set them up with some recordable greeting cards so Santa remembers to bring them a gift. You can even get cards that count down to the big day, in case reading a calendar is too retro.
This is 2012, so no longer can you get away with hanging a wreath on your door or merely stringing up a single strand of white lights, even if they do blink randomly. If you want to keep up with the times, you have to have a holiday lighting display coordinated with music. Especially if you want to boost everyone’s Christmas spirit by causing a traffic jam on your street. If Trans-Siberian Orchestra isn’t blasting outside your house, well, there might as well not even be a Christmas. The good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own if you’re not technically inclined. There are companies that you can pay to do it for you while you sip eggnog by the fire, which is playing on your Blu-ray player.
The final and best way that Christmas has gone high-tech is in the gifts. Santa and the rest of us have had to become way more sophisticated in our gift giving. No more rocking horses and dolls with eyes that open and shut (boooooring). Now there are interactive games and gadgets to fill stockings and end up under the tree. You could get your kids a Monopoly game, or you could go high-tech and give them the zAPPed edition from Hasbro that includes more ways to play with your iPad, iPod or iPhone. Remote-control toys aren’t enough anymore; your kid (or geeky brother) needs a drone that is controlled by an iPad or iPhone. Stuffed animals aren’t a delightful Christmas surprise these days, but talking movie-character robots are. Don't ruin Christmas by getting a gift that doesn't require batteries or a Wi-Fi connection.