NORAD tracks Santa, QR gift tags & more holiday fun

Santa is real. He brings all the good boys and girls their presents, eats some cookies, drinks a glass of milk and feeds a carrot to his reindeer. Oh, and he also records personalized video greeting cards, uses QR gift tags and shows up on your OnStar dashboard.

The holidays are a season for the wilful suspension of disbelief, and once again, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, is helping children big and small to keep tabs on Santa’s whereabouts. NORAD, which was established as a joint Canadian and U.S. airspace defense military organization, has been tracking Santa for more than 50 years. These days, it’s utilizing radar, fighter jets and a network of webcams to do so. Status updates are posted to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Earth and a whole bunch of other services.

But of course there is a whole lot of other geeky holiday fun to be had, from the aforementioned QR gift tags and holiday greeting cards to seasonal mix-tape apps. Still need a last minute virtual present? Or want to know when Santa will reach your house? Then check out the following things:

  • NORAD’s Santa Twitter,  Facebook and Google+ feeds offer up-to-the-minute updates on Santa’s progress around the globe.
  • NORAD also lets you track Santa via Google Earth, Google Maps and through dedicated apps for iOS and Android. Please beware: Santa’s schedule is busy these days, so you’ll only get to see him on Google Maps and Google Earth on Christmas Eve.
  • Videos from NORAD’s SantaCams are going to be uploaded to YouTube.
  • NORAD is also partnering with OnStar, so you’ll be able to get Santa updates while on the road. Just don’t try to chase him, the old man is known for his offroad adventures.
  • Call 1-877-HI-NORAD, and one of 1,200 volunteers will tell you exactly where Santa is and when he will reach your house.
  • Want to send someone a personal message from Santa? Then check out Google’s Santa video generator, which can be personalized with names, locations and even favorite gifts.
  • Still need to geek up your gifts? Then how about using QR codes as gift tags? You can record your own holiday message as a YouTube video and then make a QR code that links to the video. CNET’s Sharon Vaknin has a detailed step-by-step guide.
  • The free XMAS Stereo iOS app makes it possible to compile your very own holiday-themed video mix tapes for your loved ones.
  • And finally, what would the holidays be without Elf Yourself? The classic personalized JibJab greeting card has now been used close to 200 million times, and it’s still a lot of fun.