The season? Busy. Your time? Limited. But don’t miss these 5 Cool Things guaranteed to make your season a bit brighter:

1. A Free Holiday App
If you’re like me, your kid uses your iPhone (or iPad) more than you do. Which is saying something. So you know, firsthand, those cute and educational .99 apps sure add up. This holiday season, check out Toca Boca‘s free app, Toca Hair Salon – Christmas Gift. Your kids can give Santa (or their favorite Christmas tree) a shave or a trim or any entirely new ‘do. My kids love all of the Toca Boca apps which encourage exploration, role playing, and creativity for one or more players (Yes, your kids can play Toca Boca apps together!).

2. From Santa to Your Child: A Special Video Message
Has your child been naughty or nice? Would a little encouragement from Santa himself help set them straight (at least until the gifts are unwrapped?)? Check out the free, customized video you can create at the Portable North Pole with a message from Santa to your little guy or gal. Not only will Santa greet your child by name, he can also refer to special events that occurred in your child’s life this year. It’s a delightful and fun way to remind little Johnny to be nice to his sister, OR ELSE.

3. Creative Gift Ideas
Unlike the good ol’ days when all my mom Santa had to do was stick a pack of Super Girl Underoos and a cassette tape recorder under the tree (Best. Christmas. Ever.), today’s parents are bombarded with a bazillion choices for holiday gifts. Enter Parents’ Choice 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. Full of interesting, alternative, and educational options, gift idea lists are arranged by age, price, and interest. I’m partial to the Gifts for Creative Kids list and the STEM holiday gift list. Another don’t miss gift idea is the Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook which, at just $49.99, might be a viable alternative to that other hard-to-get (and pricey) gift that’s popular this season.

4. Elf on the Shelf Hacks
If the personalized video from Santa isn’t enough to encourage stellar behavior from your sweet angels during the holiday season, perhaps a visit from the Elf on the Shelf might. But, remember, the elf has to appear in a different place Every Single Day until Christmas Eve. That’s a lot of pressure for already busy parents. What to do? Why, search Pinterest, of course! Endless ways to display your elf can be found all over the site. My favorite find so far (thanks to Pinterest) is this post by Blossom Bunkhouse: 101 Elf on the Shelf Ideas. Search Pinterest and share your fave Elf hacks with us.

5. A Bag With a Horse, of Course
San Antonio Mom Blogger Pamela Price, who writes at Red, White & Grew, is hosting two December giveaways for (dare I say it during this season which seems built for children?) adults. Her December Giveaway #1 starts this week. The prize is a unique bolsita that features a gorgeous, galloping horse. Created by Susana Canseco of Rancho Ojo de Agua (which sells natural, grass-fed beef), it’s made from recycled feed bags. Enter to win and you might be giving this stunning gift to a dear friend or, if you find yourself on Santa’s nice list, keeping it for yourself.