When you think of the holidays and what is most important, it invariably comes back to the people. They are the ones you travel hundreds of miles — or just a few steps! — to see. They are the friends and family who help make memories and celebrate the season.
However, when it comes to planning for the holidays, you probably don't spend as much time thinking about these people as you'd like. The holiday season can be a whirlwind of chaos and adventure. From planning family feasts that cater to the most discriminating palates, to finding a perfect gift for a picky relative, it can be hard to find time to keep in touch with friends and family. And in the midst of all of that, the human connection can sometimes go missing. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be that way.
You may know Messenger as an app that helps you keep in touch with the people you care about most. What you may not know, however, is that Messenger can also help you check off your to-do list, giving you more time to focus on celebrating the holidays with the most important people in your life.
To get the most out of Messenger and your holidays this year, follow these six tips.
* Be there — anywhere — for the holidays. If logistics are making it too difficult to bring everyone physically together for the holidays, group video chat is the next best thing to sitting by your family at the dinner table. You can have up to 50 people at a time on the same call (with six people showing up on the screen.) There are also some fun features like masks, filters and effects that you can play around with to get in the holiday spirit — like a reindeer mask or falling snow. Start a new conversation in Messenger or open an existing one, then tap the video chat icon in the upper right-hand corner.
* Your holiday dinner done in no time. If you're hosting for the holidays and want to try out a new recipe, the Food Network bot for Messenger can help by easily providing new spins on your favorite holiday dishes in a snap. Tap the Discover icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the Messenger app and search for Food Network to start chatting. You can ask for recipes by cuisine type, chef or even by emoji to get the best dishes done in no time. Food Network also makes it easy to share a recipe with a friend or family member with the Food Network chat extension. Tap the blue + icon in a conversation, search for the Food Network chat extension and begin sharing!
* Stress-free travel. With the Kayak bot for Messenger, you can book, plan and keep up-to-date on travel plans with real-time notifications. Need a little space from the family? Look to SnapTravel's bot on Messenger to book a room and answer questions. Can't remember which size liquids you can carry on through airport security? AskTSA can answer questions, check hours and more.
* Holiday lists made easy. Whether you're splitting a restaurant bill or chipping in for a group gift, you can easily get paid back in Messenger. Simply tap on the blue + icon in the bottom left-hand corner of a conversation, and tap the payments icon ($). Then, choose who to send or request money from. You can choose everyone in the group or only a few members. Enter the amount you want to request per person or the total sum to divide evenly, either including yourself in the calculation or not. Messenger conversations will show you who has paid, creating a no-hassle system for accountability.
* Let the games begin. Family time is the best part of the holiday season, but everyone still needs a moment of me time every now and then. When your moment arises, take a break from the family gathering and challenge a friend to a game on Messenger. Tap the blue + icon in a conversation and select "Games" — there are tons of great options like Words with Friends or EverWing. Browse around and with over 50 games available, you may just find a new favorite.
* Find the perfect gift for anyone and everyone. No need to stress about finding the perfect gift with only a few weeks to spare. Many of your favorite brands like L'Oreal and LEGO have bots for Messenger that can help you easily find exactly what your picky family member always wanted by asking you questions about their age, interests, etc. From there they'll provide you a list of gift suggestions you can use to finish your shopping and find your loved one a gift they will adore.
The holiday season shouldn't be about logistics and headaches. It's about family and friends. So clear through that checklist while keeping in touch with those you care about most. You'll be glad you did, and your holidays will be oh so much more merry.