The best Christmas apps for your family

A few dads this Christmas will probably find an iPad 2 or Android tablet sat in their stocking. Lucky you, we say. Your Christmas Day is about to be enriched with a family app experience like no other. Using a tablet to play board games will transform the usual drudgery into excitement at the idea of getting a play with Daddy's new piece of technology and, what with it being the Good Christmas over at Pocket-lint this year, we're all about anything that's going to help get the family spending time together.

So, what could be better than a high tech family Christmas board game? We can’t think of a much more wholesome family experience than that, at least until someone throws a wobbly when they start losing. What's more, of course, is that you get a good excuse to play with your new toy. So, here are the best Christmas apps for your family and your tablet.

UNO

UNO is the stepping off point for any decent family tablet gaming session. It's where you want things to start out. Based on what is, essentially, a quick fire game of snap, UNO asks you to match cards by colour or number and then chuck them into an ever growing pile. The first to get rid of all their cards wins.

The real fly in the ointment are cards that give you the ability to switch up colour, ask opponents to pick up from the pile or force play to switch direction. As long as you keep things going fast, the game is great fun and doesn’t take particularly long either. So, if you have little ones with short attention spans, this is definitely one for you.

Get it on iOS here and Android here.

Scrabble

We obviously had to put this one in. Not not only is Scrabble a brain stimulating classic but it also works particularly well on tablets. The iPad version in particular has a few tricks up its sleeve that we think might go down well at Christmas, namely the ability to play your iTunes music while getting your Scrabble on. This means filling your tablet up with Christmas classics and then listening along while playing.

A Pocket-lint top tip for keeping the whole family interested in a game of Scrabble, and something we discovered from a young age, is to award extra points for those young ones who manage to get any rude words into the mix. Poo in particular should be heavily rewarded not only because it's so difficult to pull off, but because it makes us giggle as well.

Get it on iOS here and Android here.

Fisher Price laugh and learn apps

Those with particularly tiddly toddlers might struggle with a game of Scrabble, that is unless your kid is Brains from Thunderbirds in infant form. If he isn’t, which is more likely lets be honest, sorry, then Fisher Price’s selection of iPad apps is for you. Laugh and Learn Animal Sounds for baby, for example, will allow you to enjoy the delights of your new iPad’s screen while keeping your newborn happy with various animal noises.

The best bit, however, is that these Fisher Price apps will help your kid develop and, once you have downloaded it, you aren’t limited to using it on just Christmas Day. Take journeys in the car for example, as long as you trust your young one with your tablet, then it will keep them occupied for hours.

Get it on iOS here.

Trivial Pursuit Master Edition

Moving back towards the more traditional world of board games, it's hard to ignore Trivial Pursuit on the iPad. Sure, it might be fiendishly difficult, but this is a great one to bring the whole family together. Collaboration is the name of the game with Trivial Pursuit. Ultimately, collective knowledge between pairs is the only way anyone wins, or at least that's what we think. That said, by all means let any clever clogs in the group go it alone.

Running along rather smoothly on the iPad and with an absurd number of questions, it's also useful for those who want a more lengthy family gaming session using their tablet. Just make sure you get that bad boy charged up before hand. You don’t want a flat battery ruining your game when you're on your final piece of cheese.

Get it on iOS here.

Monopoly

No family Christmas is complete without at least some sort of Monopoly. You get the fully fledged game, complete with animated pieces and backdrops that you can change. You can even save your progress mid game and then come back to things later and, best of all, because this is a virtual board, there's no tidying up to do after.

It's also impossible to cheat, which means no Christmas temper tantrums, a useful defence to have. This is one of the best to get playing with the family. Everyone can play loads and you can even help each other. The board also happens to look great in app-land.

Get it on iOS here and Android here.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Another one for those with younger kids here but with that extra slice of retro cool that adults will love as well. A Charlie Brown Christmas is an app filled with Charlie Brown mini games complete with music from the original cartoon and narration from Peter Robbins. You do things like decorate Christmas trees and play along with songs in the original film. It's nice.

The app itself behaves like a book and is also geared towards helping your little ones read. Touch interaction means the app will read words out, should you tap them. This is a particularly good one for those struggling to get kids to bed on Christmas Eve but will go down just as well with a young one sat on your knee playing it through with you.

Get it on iOS here and Android here.

Santa GPS

This is a rather special app that comes to life on Christmas Eve. It is quite unlike anything we have seen before and we would be amazed if this one doesn’t go down particularly well with younger family members. The idea is that the application lets you track Santa Claus in real time on Christmas Eve as he is delivering gifts around the globe.

You can do things like send your Christmas list off to Santa, get your GPS position in relation to his workshop and even follow North Pole news on toy production. It's all a lot of fun and a great app to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit.

Get it on iOS here.

Doodle Jump Christmas Special

Everyone loves Doodle Jump. It is one of the staples of the App Store. It's also an app that, should you get given an iPad for Christmas, needs a download as soon as possible. At 69p, it's one of the best value apps you can pick up but, money saving aside, Doodle Jump has landed in a special Christmas form, reskinning itself entirely with a wintery theme.

The app now features angry christmas trees and evil snowballs to negotiate. The character you play as also sticks on a Santa hat with the aim of the game is to reach the North Pole. It's simple yet addictive and something that begs to be passed round the family living room this year.

Get it on iOS here.

Risk

It would be wrong not to include Risk somewhere in this list. The ever-lasting board game that has kept families at war since its inception also exists on the iPad. Now, Risk is a difficult one to setup. It requires hundreds of pieces, complex dice throws and all sorts of nastiness that can detract from the fun family atmosphere.

The joys of technology changes all this. The iPad takes care of all the faffing so that you can get on with the fun. It's very easy to play and, like Monopoly, you can pick up games exactly where you left off. Up to six players can game at once by passing the tablet round and the touch interface is easy enough for just about anyone to understand, regardless of age.

Get it on iOS here.

Crayola Colour Studio HD

We thought it best to end this one with an app designed specifically for little ones. A Christmas with a kid is magical enough, but a tablet as well? Well, that really is special. So how do you combine the two? Well that is easy. Download yourself the Crayola app and get your little one drawing.

The iMarker made by Griffin that comes along with the app interacts with your iPad screen, turning it into a virtual colouring book. Any mistakes made can be easily wiped out and it is accurate enough for it to feel just like colouring in in a normal book. A family orientated tip for this one - take advantage of the rubbing out by showing your kid how to do it. Then have them follow you. You could even use free draw to get some Christmas tree scribbling action going on.

Get it on iOS here.

Any other Christmas apps you can think of? Let us know in the comments below ...

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