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These Sites Are Santa's Helpers--And Yours


Take a deep breath. December starts in two days. With it comes decorating with holiday cheer, throwing holiday parties, being with loved ones, trolling the malls for parking spaces--not to mention gifts for every obscure relative and neighbor--and fighting with that grandmother on a mission to snag the last Xbox in the store.

Ah, the spirit of the season.

If you need to get your act together for the fast-approaching winter holidays, check out The site offers two plans: Holiday Grand Plan and CEO's Christmas Countdown. Each has suggestions for how to shop, bake and decorate in good time.

Of course, the fact that the plans started in August and October, respectively, could lead to further stress.

At the very least, you can print forms to help you tackle holiday planning tasks and get tips on remaining frugal while looking generous. Speaking of stress and gift-giving, not everyone revels in the traditional trek to the mall. Imagine that.

At, you can find some ideas to keep you from circling the parking lot like a vulture.

Even online shopping can be a bit stressful--all that clicking and decision-making.

One way to take a time-out is to drop by to take a two-minute quiz and come up with a Stress Management Miniprofile. Taking a little time to ponder how you handle stress could give you a break from having to handle it.

You might want to stay away from the news section in the Stress Topic Centre. We found enough depressing news about the detrimental effects of stress to make all of our face muscles tighten all over again.

Maybe you should return to that happy place of introspection. More quizzes are at

Something that could take out the guesswork--and stress--from gift buying is online wish lists. If you can get friends and loved ones to register their requests, that could save on the brain work and limit the many unhappy returns that take place days after Christmas and Hanukkah.

Yahoo ( lets you sort of advertise what's on your wish list. You can designate the list private, which requires an invitation to be viewed, or public, which can be publicly searchable based on your first and last name.

Of course, you can add items only from retailers featured in Yahoo Shopping.

WishWorld ( lets you create a free list and send the information to friends and family via e-mail, snail mail or phone.

If your stress goes beyond the holidays, you can take a page from The British portal offers a number of ideas on how to cope, from getaways to various therapies to coping techniques.

One of the site's coolest features is its Relaxation Zone, where you can click on some soothing music, download a screen saver or a calming interactive movie, create stardust or watch a cyber shark in flowing water.

What's a better stress reliever than bubble wrap? Throw on some headphones and click on virtual bubble wrap at

It's not the same as feeling the little buggers popping under the pressure of your finger.

But the sight and sound offer something mindless to take your mind off the holiday insanity.


Michelle Maltais is a multimedia producer at The Times. She can be reached at

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