No Regrets: 5 High-Tech Ways to Survive the Holiday Season

Web tools and smartphone apps help you avoid revelry-fueled regrets.

December 9, 2010, 5:19 PM

Dec. 10, 2010— -- Who doesn't enjoy a good holiday party? Fun-loving friends, festive food, candy-cane decked cocktails.

But all that revelry sometimes can lead to regrets.

Surrounded by new and old faces, it's easy to miss a name. All those peppermint-flecked treats pack on the pounds. And, of course, hours of slinging back boozy beverages can lead to e-mails, texts and phone calls you know you shouldn't make.

Technology can't undo seasonal slip-ups, but it can help you prevent them. Check out a few "survival" tools for the holidays below.

Social Media Sobriety Test

Convinced that "nothing good happens after 1 am," a computer security software company introduced a free program last month that prevents tipsy tweets and other kinds of polluted social media posts.

The Social Media Sobriety Test plugs into a Web browser to block you from your favorite social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and Tumblr) unless you can pass an Internet version of a field sobriety test.

You just choose the sites you want to protect and indicate the hours during which you expect to be intoxicated. When you try to socialize online during those hours, you'll have to follow a moving circle with your cursor to prove that you're sober enough to sign in.

The program works in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome but, unfortunately, does not work on mobile devices.

Google Goggles

If you use Gmail, let Google protect you from drunk e-mails too.

Its Mail Goggles program (which riffs on Beer Goggles) asks you to complete a few simple math problems within 60 seconds before you're allowed to send off your late-night missives.

If you can make it through the math, your message goes on its merry way and you can continue to e-mail without further checks.

But if you have difficulty solving "five times two" or "94 minus 33," Gmail keeps its guard up. You can try again, but it won't let you send until you prove you can add and subtract.

By default, Mail Goggles only "breathalyzes" you on the weekends between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. But, once the program is enabled, users can adjust when it's active and the level of difficulty.

Smartphone Apps Help You Celebrate Without Suffering Post-Party Setbacks

Don't Dial

Post-holiday party drunk dialing is among the top regrets for many a holiday merrymaker. But the 99-cent Don't Dial app lets you block people you know you shouldn't call pre-party so that once you're a few drinks in you can't be tempted.

You select the names you want to block and then either choose a time frame during which the name and number will be totally inaccessible, or let a trusted friend select a password they can use to unlock the name at their discretion.

The one downside of the app is that while it can prevent you from texting a person you have never texted before, it can't stop you from replying to a text they might have sent you (Apple doesn't let developers mess with text histories).

Until Apple enables a workaround, Don't Dial advises you to delete the texts you might be tempted to reply to.


Unless you're one of those people who never forgets a name, holiday parties are ripe with the potential for name blunders.

But a new 99-cent application can help you keep track of all the people you encounter. Whenever you meet a new person, you just pull up the app, enter the new name and assign it a category ("gym," "work," "soccer game," etc.) to help you remember the context. You can also type in a few other helpful details.

If you want a visual cue, you can take a picture of the person and upload it to the application. You can even create your very own "A List" of names you need to remember frequently.

Lose It!

The holiday season is nothing if not delicious. But while you may want to let loose and enjoy all those home-baked goods, you may not want to totally let yourself go.

The Lose It! app is just one of several smartphone apps that can help you enjoy the holidays without derailing a diet.

But losing weight can be made a little easier with a free iPhone app from the developers at FitNow, Inc.

The free app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a calorie counter that helps you create a personalized calorie budget and track your progress.

If you want to lose a few pounds to fit into a special New Year's Eve outfit, the app can help you get there. If you just want to keep your weight constant through the holiday feeding frenzy, it can do that too. Once you've set your weight loss goals, you enter your daily food intake and exercise to make sure you're not exceeding your daily limit.

The app also includes a comprehensive database with the caloric values for thousands of food items, including meals on fast food and chain restaurant menus.