The winter holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to get some freeware to jazz up your technology with the holiday spirit! With screensavers, games, and apps, there’s never been a better year for the possibilities of freeware for the holidays.
This article will cover a few different ideas to get you started, but with all the choices and options out there, it’s really up to you how you want to deck the cyber-halls this season. Whether you celebrate Xmas, Christmas, Festivus, or any other winter holiday, there’s freeware out there to help you decorate and celebrate.
First, a great holiday screensaver is an absolute must for creating that proper mood. When I was a kid, we always had so much in the way of decorations that it would take forever just to unpack them all.
With the screensavers at ChristmasScreenSavers.net you’ll be watching Santa fly overhead on your screen in no time at all. They have tons of screensavers, all for free, that are based on a holiday or Christmas theme.Whether you need a snow covered tree with lights and baubles, or a 3D scene of a holiday bungalow, or even just a peaceful snowy forest, you’re sure to find almost anything you can think of at this site. My personal favorite was the 3D Christmas Scene, and I will definitely be using that one this year. It has a countdown timer, a fully rendered 3D holiday scene, and the OpenGL based animation is simply beautiful. Other options include music, resolution changes, and an FPS counter. It only requires a Pentium III or better, and 32MB of RAM, so nearly anyone should be able to run it. Coming in at a tiny 11MB makes it portable too, so you can share your cheer with others. There’s just something about the glow of a fireplace, even a digital one, that reminds me of holidays snuggled up with family and hot cocoa, waiting for Santa to show up. He still owes me a new R2-D2 action figure. But I digress. If that particular saver doesn’t get you in the holiday mood, there are about nine pages of other savers and the links to them on the site. You’re bound to find something that suits you.
Now that you’ve decked the screen with your holiday cheer, it’s time to get gaming! The holidays are always a big deal for the gaming industry and this year is no exception, even in the realm of freeware.
The folks over at Xmas Fun have gone to a lot of time and effort to put together a list of games, mini-games, an other fun holiday stuff for your PC. There’s snowball fights, exploring Santa’s workshop (great for the kids!), animated Mr. Claus running around your screen, and tons of other great stuff there. I particularly enjoyed the snowball fight mini-game, and the digital Christmas lights that go on your desktop. The snowball fight mini-game is cute. That’s the only way I can describe it! You have three little guys and a small snow-wall to hide behind. The controls are simple; click and hold on one of your little guys and it will charge his throwing arm. Let go of the mouse button and he throws. The sound effects are satisfying, especially when smacking your computer opponent in the face with a wet snowball! I highly recommend this one, especially for folks who live in snow-less areas now and miss the snow of their younger years. It’s also a great way to avoid work, but don’t tell your boss I said that! The lights are also simple but fun and festive.
There are tons and tons of options and I spent a good twenty minutes just fiddling with them and having a blast. The lights also come with a few screensavers built in, like falling snow, in case you didn’t find anything elsewhere that suits you. The lights are not, strictly speaking, a game, but I treated them as such and had lots of fun decorating my desktop.
For those who are not into games but wouldn’t mind a festive dekstop toy, check out DesktopSnowOK, which displays snowflakes floating down your desktop (yet another one for those in snow less, winter-challenged areas!). Note that DesktopSnowOK is not a screensaver and will simply add animated snowflakes falling down your desktop while you go about your normal computing activities. [Thanks go to reader Morely Dotes for the tip about this one].
Last but not least, there’s even some mobile apps out there to help you get in the holiday mood.
Xmas Gift List is an Android app that lets you keep track of the gifts you want to give this season. It lets you make your list, check it twice, and be sure you’ve gotten the right gifts for everyone, naughty or nice. Each entry in the list has a name, what gift you have gotten or intend to get them, and a spot to mark down the price of the gift, for those of us who keep track of each dollar spent. It’s a simple, easy to use app that is completely free and totally devoid of ads. If you think finding a free app that doesn’t have ads supporting it is easy, try it. This one has no ads, and doesn’t even ask for any special permissions, as opposed to so many other apps that want permission to access your network, for example. The simplicity, in my view, is a major plus for this kind of app.
Jewellust Xmas Lite is a free Android app that takes the ‘bejeweled’ style of game and puts a holiday twist on it. Each icon, instead of a jewel is a festive tree decoration or tasty holiday treat. The game play is familiar, and the holiday based graphics are a great way to keep the holidays in mind while wasting time on your mobile. Personally, I find this one super handy while standing in line to pay for all those gifts on my list.
Of course, no Android is properly dressed for the holidays without some blinking lights! Xmas Lights Live Wallpaper is a great, totally free app that does just what it sounds like. It puts blinking, antique style Christmas light bulbs on your wallpaper. It uses a bit more of your precious battery to have a live wallpaper but it’s worth it for me to keep that cheer going. The app doesn’t have all the great options of the PC desktop lights I mentioned earlier in this post, but it does just fine for my mobile, and is totally ad-free as well.
Until next time, my friends, happy holidays!