Amazon Alexa speakers are now a staple in many households, and for good reason. From making shopping lists to controlling your lighting, we all know how useful smart speakers can be, but did you know that there are some clever Christmas-related skills that you can ask your Alexa to help you get in the festive spirit?
Be it the Echo Dot or the Show, the best Alexa speakers are all about making daily tasks a little bit simpler, but they can also help to introduce some fun to the home. Never was that more true than during the run-up to Christmas. Besides Alexa's regular skills, there are a whole host of festive hacks that you can ask your speaker in preparation for the big day. To learn more, we asked some tech experts to reveal the best Christmas-related skills that you should be asking your Alexa right now.
Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to helping readers make the best choices in their homes through sharing practical tips and guides, and answering all their tech related questions. In this article, she explains how to use your Amazon Alexa to get into the festive spirit.
What are the best Christmas-related Alexa skills?
1. Control your Christmas lights
We're kicking off with one of the most clever festive skills you can ask your Alexa to help you with: controlling your Christmas lighting. Named the Holiday Home Decorations feature, it allows users to turn their lights on and off in sync with classic Christmas songs such as ‘Jingle Bells’ or ‘Silent Night’. 'The feature also includes fun animations that light up during certain words in each song and will even react when you clap or shout "Ho ho ho",' explains tech expert, Dylan Kaplan, blogger at Enjoy Machine Learning (opens in new tab).
In order to use this feature, you'll need to have smart light bulbs installed in your home, or a wi-fi plug that's compatible with Alexa. 'I just set up my own Alexa-enabled Christmas lights using a TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug with Alexa,' explains John Lemley, Owner and Founder of Ofzen and Computing (opens in new tab). 'To set up your own, simply plug in the smart plug and connect it to the same Wi-Fi network as your Alexa device. Once connected, enable the “Kasa Smart” skill on your Alexa app, and you’re ready to go.'
2. Get a Christmas countdown
We'd be lying if we still don't get excited about the countdown to Christmas. To keep the enthusiasm for Christmas alive throughout a long, cold December, one of the best Alexa skills for the festive season involves using your device as an advent calendar with a daily Christmas countdown.
'To get started, simply say: “Alexa, how many days until Christmas?” and you’ll get the answer right away,' says Michael Xavier, a smart home automation expert and founder of tech blog, Insider Techie (opens in new tab). The best part of Alexa's Christmas countdown? Every day, your device will play you a new message from Santa Claus!
3. Send Christmas greetings to loved ones
In most cases, nothing compares to a Christmas card - unless, perhaps, a personalized voice message played through your Alexa device.
'If you’re looking for an easy way to send holiday greetings, consider using the Alexa Drop-In feature,' says John. 'With this, you can quickly and easily send audio messages directly to your family members and friends via their Echo devices or even through the Alexa app. To set up Drop-In, simply open the Alexa app and select “Drop-In” from the left navigation menu.'
The Drop-In feature not only works with devices within the same household, but devices outside your home too, just as long as the contact on the other end has given you permission from their Alexa app.
Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Echo Dot is Amazon's most popular smart speaker with Alexa. The sleek, compact design won't clash with your home decor, and it comes in three different shades so it will blend in with your color palette. With all the features you'd want from an Alexa, plus balanced bass for full sound, this is probably your best choice if you don't yet have a smart speaker.
4. Play Christmas trivia
Christmas is all about coming together as a family. While this may traditionally mean gathering around the dining table to play a board game, you can use your Alexa to play some fun Christmas-themed games (perfect for when you can't find the dice!)
A game that all the family can enjoy is Holiday trivia, a game where Alexa asks you a list of challenging questions about the festive season. To set up the skill, visit your Alexa app and select “Trivia” from the left navigation menu. From there, you can create your own questions and answers and start playing.
'You can find a variety of other fun and interactive Christmas-themed games in the Alexa Skill store such as “Name that Carol” or “Christmas Spelling Bee",' says John. 'To access these skills, simply open the Alexa app and select “Games & Trivia” from the left navigation menu.'
5. Track your Amazon gift purchases
Keeping track of all the Christmas gifts you ordered online can be tricky, especially if you splurged in the Black Friday sales! Luckily, your Alexa speaker will have a built in function to let you know when your parcels from Amazon are arriving, with regular updates too. If you're wondering why your Alexa is flashing yellow, this might be why.
'This is a great way to keep track of all the gifts you’ve purchased for the holidays,' says John. 'With the Amazon Shopping List, you can easily add new items to your list with voice commands like “Alexa, add a gift for Uncle Bob to my shopping list”. You can also view and manage your list through your Alexa app or even on the web.'
Those familiar with an Alexa device will know that this feature is actually available all year round. There is a clever Christmas skill this time of year though. During the holiday season, your Alexa won't read out the contents of your packages so the presents you've ordered stay a surprise for inquisitive kids (and grown-ups!).
6. Ask Alexa to read your a festive story
Who doesn't love a good heart-warming tale at Christmas time? Well, Alexa can help you out with some light family entertainment.
'One of Alexa’s best festive features, and one of my personal favorites, is she has a plethora of seasonal stories that she can share with you and your family, as well as fun facts about Santa Claus and his helpers,' explains Dylan. Each story only lasts a few minutes, and many of them are told by Santa himself! Just use the command: "Alexa, tell me a Christmas story".
7. Get inspired with Christmas recipe suggestions
If you're turkeyed-out after Thanksgiving, you might want to try something a little different for Christmas day. Let Alexa be your sous-chef by asking her to inspire you with delicious festive dishes. Simply ask Alexa for some Christmas recipes. She'll even offer to put the groceries on your shopping list, too!
Echo Show 15, Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Echo Show is the future of smart speakers. That's because it's not just a speaker, it also has a screen. From streaming films or conducting video calls, the touchscreen display - also controlled by Alexa's voice assist function - makes the Show the perfect Alexa gadget for the modern family.
Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.
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