Christmas is coming. Theoretically, that means lots of family nights around the fireplace singing carols and a near-endless supply of perfectly-cooked food. In practice, many people are gearing up for two weeks of utter chaos.
But it doesn’t have to be chaotic! Believe it or not, it is possible to enjoy the holiday season without queuing in the rain outside Macy’s at 5am on December 26.
These days, if you choose to forgo the sales and stay at home for the duration of the festivities, you can bask in an even more relaxing experience thanks to Amazon Alexa. You can access Amazon Alexa through any Amazon Echo device.
Here are six reasons why you should have an Alexa Christmas this year.
1. Alexa’s Christmas Skills
You can find Alexa skills for just about any occasion, and Christmas is no different.
One of our favorites here at MakeUseOf is Christmas Kindness. With the over-commercialization of the season, too many people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Kindness aims to rectify the issue. Say “Alexa, Ask Christmas Kindness for an idea” and the Christmas skill will bestow you with an idea for an act of festive goodwill.
You should also check out Christmas Radio. The skill offers everything you’d expect: non-stop Christmas jingles. Just say “Alexa, open Christmas radio” to hear the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey.
2. Use Alexa for Amazon Voice Shopping
We’ve all been there. You think you’ve stocked up on every conceivable Christmas snack and beverage you could possibly want, only to realize you’ve forgotten to purchase something obvious – like the turkey.
Alexa can help you grab any last-minute items and make sure you never run out of household essentials over the holidays. Best of all, you only need the sound of your voice. You can ask Alexa to buy an item, restock a depleted supply of an item, or just add something to your cart.
If you live in a Prime Now-eligible ZIP code, you can typically receive your product within two hours. Say “Alexa, order [item] from Prime Now.”
Lastly, Alexa voice shoppers have access to Alexa deals. Say “Alexa, what are your deals?” and you’ll be informed about Alexa-specific bargains.
3. Control Your Christmas Lights With Alexa
Are you one of those people who has hundreds of fairy lights and animatronics out on display every year?
If so, you’ll know how annoying it is to have to religiously turn everything on and off every time you leave the house or go to bed.
Alexa is here to help with your Christmas lighting. The service works with several leading smart plug manufacturers, including TP-Link and Samsung SmartThings. If you plug your Christmas decorations into a smart plug, you can use Alexa to turn them on and off with ease.
The exact phrase you’ll need to issue varies from brand-to-brand.
4. Use Alexa to Organize Your Holiday Agenda
There are so many commitments happening over Christmas that it often feels like you need a personal assistant to stay on top of it all. Nativity plays, church events, shopping schedules, present buying, office parties, the list goes on.
Google Calendar is a great way to keep yourself organized, but you can take your efficiency to the next level if you pair it with Alexa. Especially around Christmas.
To connect Google Calendar to Alexa, open the Alexa app on your smartphone and expand the menu by clicking on the three horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner.
Next, navigate to Settings > Calendar > Google > Link your Google calendar account. The app will prompt you to enter your Google Account credentials. To complete the integration, tap on Sign in > Allow.
Lastly, you’ll need to mark the checkboxes next to the calendars you want Alexa to access, as well as choose a default calendar for new events.
Given this is Christmas-specific article, why not make a new Christmas calendar on Google, share it with everyone else in your household, and make it the default calendar for Alexa?
There are three voice commands you can use with Google Calendar:
- “Alexa, what’s my next event?”: She will tell you about your next event, including time and location.
- “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?”: Alexa will update you with the next four events on your calendar.
- “Alexa, add an event to my calendar”: Alexa will ask you follow up questions such as date and time, then add the event to your agenda.
5. Have Amazon Alexa Help You in the Kitchen
The kitchen has been one of the smart device manufacturers’ favorite rooms for several years, and Alexa is now starting to integrate with some of the best smart cooking devices out there.
For example, the Anova sous vide device and the Joule precision cooker both have Alexa skills available. Even some large appliances like smart ovens and refrigerators are Alexa-compatible.
But even if you don’t have any fancy smart kitchen gadgets, Alexa can still give you a helping hand during the holiday season.
If you’re trying to juggle several dishes cooking at the same time, why not ask Alexa to keep track of cooking times for you? It can support several simultaneous timers. Alexa can also natively convert units between metric and imperial, and supply calorie counts.
To boost Alexa’s usefulness in the kitchen even further, try adding some food-specific skills. The Allrecipes and Food Network skills will help you get your turkey just right, while MySomm turns Alexa into your personal wine sommelier. It’ll recommend a drink for every meal on your Christmas menu.
6. Create Themed Lists With Amazon Alexa
Lists are a great way to keep yourself organized at any time of year, but at Christmas, they’re especially important. How else are you supposed to keep track of your Santa wish list and extensive grocery needs?
In early 2017, Amazon launched lists for Alexa. You can use Alexa to both create new lists and add items to an existing list. It even supports multiple lists.
It means you can issue commands such as “Alexa, add a Sonos Play:5 to Dan’s Christmas list” or “Alexa, create a Christmas food shopping list.”
And if you’re out and about and need access to your list, don’t worry. All the lists sync with the Alexa companion app, thus allowing you access your tasks no matter where in the world you are.
Will You Be Having an Alexa Christmas?
We’ve given you a few ideas about how you can integrate Alexa into your Christmas planning to make life a bit easier for yourself.
However, in truth, we’ve only just scratched the surface. Alexa has so many features that we’re sure you can think of lots of fresh ideas we didn’t discuss.
How can you incorporate Alexa’s reminders or travel planning into your holiday season? As always, you can leave all your input, opinions, and ideas in the comments section below.
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