Keeping up with holiday errands, parties and travel plans doesn't need to be as difficult as it used to be, thanks to some handy free Web 2.0 apps that you can access from your browser on the family computer or your mobile phone.
For these holiday-helper Web 2.0 tools, we had a few pieces of sensible criteria in mind. We wanted simple, if not elegant interfaces that make it easy enough even for the non-techie in the house to log into and use. Good mobile access was not a requirement, but certainly a bonus.
Try out these tools to manage your holidays, and you might use them for the rest of year to keep track of your events and plans.
What it does: Ta-da List, made by the folks at 37 Signals who build Web-based collaboration software such as Campfire and Basecamp, make this simple free to-do list. After signing up for an account at Tadalist.com, a process that takes less than a minute (they say 10 seconds), you'll be brought to a very simple page.
How to use it: Click on "add item." Add an item.
Merry Web 2.0: The ability to send the list to your e-mail can be especially helpful when you're out of pocket (say, at the store). It has RSS, letting you know if there was an update to the list (maybe the Mrs. added "carrots" while you were on your way to the grocery store). You can share it with people by emailing them a link to the list. Think something should move higher up the list in terms of priorities? Click on the "reorder" link.
Wish list for next year: Like other things from 37 Signals, Ta-da List is sometimes too simple for its own good, to the point it becomes annoying for people who don't hack HTML. Making subheads under list requires some basic HTML like < br > for a break or < b > for bolding text. Not hard for many of us, but it doesn't pass the low-barriers to entry test entirely as a result. Browser-based access was decent but we had some problems on the BlackBerry. We recommend e-mailing yourself the list before you leave for the store.
What it does: TripIt creates an online itinerary for you. It tracks and organizes all the things you'd expect, including flights, car rentals and hotel reservations.
How to use it: This part is the coolest: start by grabbing that flight reservation e-mail that your airline sent you or your hotel reservation. Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Wait a few minutes and click on the link TripIt sends you. You'll quickly set up an account and be brought to your itinerary.