Amazon’s Alexa can play Christmas music, control lights and more

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Your Amazon Echo is super handy during the holidays.


Angela Lang/CNET

Your Amazon Echo can make your holidays magical by playing your favorite Christmas songs, shopping for gifts and keeping your family entertained. And Alexa can do so much more to make your holidays festive. For example, Alexa can make you feel like the Clark Griswold you are by turning on all the Christmas lights with just a command — without the citywide blackout, of course. Amazon’s voice assistant can also let you know when the gifts you purchased will arrive.

You can use these Alexa skills when you want to impress your family — even if they’re not able to make it to the holidays this year. These features require little to no setup, and they’re super easy to use. Keep reading to find fun Amazon Echo hacks you can use for the holidays.

Read more: Best smart plugs for 2019  

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Turn your festive lights on with Alexa and a smart plug.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Control your smart lights with Alexa

Too cold to go outside and unplug all those lights you have strung around your house? No problem — you can automate the lights to instantly turn on and off at specific times using the Alexa app. For example, you may only want the lights on when it’s dark out, so program them to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise. Or you can set specific times, like turn on at 6 p.m. and off at 7 a.m. And if you’ve got a Christmas tree set up in your house, you can automate the lights for it, as well. Note that you’ll need a smart plug ($25 at Amazon) for this to work.

1. Open the Alexa app and select Routines from the menu. 

2. Tap the Plus icon to add a new routine.

3. Select When this happens.

4. Tap Schedule.

5. Choose Sunrise or Sunset and select the days you want this routine to happen. Tap Next.

6. Tap Add action.

7. Select Smart Home and tap All Devices.

8. From here, select the smart plug that’s connected to your lights. Then, toggle the power switch to On or Off, depending on which schedule you’re setting up. Tap Next and then Save.

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You can even light up your Christmas tree with one command.


Angela Lang/CNET

Track your gift purchases

If you’re curious about when a gift is going to arrive at your house from Amazon, you can ask Alexa to track your package. Just say, “Alexa, where are my packages?” and it’ll let you know when they are expected to arrive. Your Echo’s ring light will also light up yellow when there’s a notification of a package that has arrived or is on the way.

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Alexa knows when your gifts will make it to the house.


Angela Lang/CNET

Play Christmas Music

Nothing makes wrapping gifts (and unwrapping them!) more exciting than having your favorite Christmas tunes playing on your Echo device in the background. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can just say, “Alexa, play Christmas songs.” If you’re not, you can always connect your preferred music streaming service through the Alexa app — or just download the Christmas Radio skill.

Alexa can send holiday greeting cards 

OK, so Alexa can’t send physical holiday greeting cards, but the voice assistant can send digital greetings to other Alexa devices. You’ll need to go to the Alexa Skill Blueprints page and select Hallmark Holiday Greeting. Then you can pick a greeting that best suits you and customize it with a personal message or recording. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your holiday greeting.

When you’re ready to send the holiday greeting to your loved ones, click Share With Others. The recipients will need to enable the skill on their Alexa device, and once they have it set up, they just need to say, “Alexa, open Holiday Greeting.” Now they’ll be able to hear your message.

More holiday commands to give Alexa

Try out these Alexa holiday commands, too:

  • “Alexa, how many days until Christmas?”
  • “Alexa, play Christmas sounds.”
  • “Alexa, Christmas tree.”
  • “Alexa, read The Night Before Christmas.”
  • “Alexa, add apple pie to my shopping list.”

Ready for more Amazon Echo tips? Check out these five surprising things you didn’t know Amazon Echo could do and four places in your home you should never place your Amazon Echo.

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Originally published earlier this month.

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