The Google Geocoder API transforms addresses into geographical locations with coordinates. This official Java library has the potential to expand functionality due to the other APIs that include directions API, distance matrix API, elevation API, geocoding API, roads API, and time zone API. Working with this library could facilitate automatic rate limiting, retry on failure, easy authentication, and asynchronous & synchronous requests.
Over at Google Maps Mania, Keir Clarke has a good round-up of new Christmas-themed Google Maps mashups. Each year developers create new mashups with holiday themes, with most being map mashups. Two of these shown below have been added to our mashup directory. For more see our report from last year on tacky Christmas lights and finding out how far does Santa travel to you.