Alexa Holiday Features and Tips

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John Ruiz

Alexa Christmas Holiday how toIMG_1500You’ve probably got your share of Christmas cards on display already, and you’ve no doubt issued your own ‘season’s greetings’ to others. While your holiday decorating is likely all done by now, there’s one more bit of holiday mood-setting you can do, and that’s to invite your smart speakers and screens to get in on the fun.  Did you know your Amazon Echo speakers and Echo Show screens can bring their own holiday warmth to your home? Alexa doesn’t quite understand how to automatically get into the holiday spirit but with a little bit of tinkering, you can turn your Amazon Echo smart speakers and screens into real holiday centerpieces!

How to add Alexa Holiday skills

Amazon has an ever-growing library of Alexa Skills which are basically add-ons, extending the functionality of your Echo device. The neat thing about these skills is how you can conveniently find them as if you are shopping on Amazon’s website. Go ahead and browse the Alexa Skills page and search through the many holiday-related skills created by Amazon and other third-party developers. Here’s a few we can recommend.

Alexa Winter Holiday Theme

Just a few days ago, Amazon released a fresh new theme to help your device take on a holiday persona. After you enable the Holiday Theme skill, ask Alexa to “start Winter Holiday theme” and from that point forward, Alexa will sprinkle some festive sounds to common responses along with visual holiday accents to Echo Show devices. Don’t see Winter Holiday Theme yet? Sometimes it takes a few extra days to roll out globally to all locations, to check back in a few days.

Once active you will know this theme well after setting timers and alarms as well as checking the weather or requesting jokes. Here are some commands you can try out with the Winter Holiday Theme enabled:

  • Alexa, what is the weather today?
  • Alexa, set a five-minute timer
  • Alexa, tell me a Christmas joke
  • Alexa, play some holiday tunes
  • Alexa, give me some holiday recipes
  • Alexa, tell me a fun fact about Christmas
  • Alexa, sing me a holiday song
  • Alexa, sing Jingle Bells
  • Alexa, open my gift
  • Alexa, let it snow
  • Alexa, tell me a Christmas limerick
  • Alexa, tell me a Christmas story
  • Alexa, Merry Christmas!

You may turn off this feature any time you wish by asking Alexa to “turn off Winter Holiday theme.”

How to enable Alexa’s Naughty or Nice Quiz

how to use hey santa on amazon echo alexa devices

Here’s a neat little skill that the kids can get involved in! The Naughty or Nice Quiz gives your Echo device the ability to ask some fun questions where kids need to give enough correct responses to make it to Santa’s “nice” list. As soon as you tell Alexa to “Open Naughty or Nice Quiz,” the skill will treat you with a set of questions taken from a larger pool so each quiz will be different!

How to ask Alexa to be your mixologist

Adults don’t have to feel left out with the Alexa festivities either as the Alexa Skills marketplace offers several older skills you can use for the holiday season like Mixologist. This skill has access to a database filled with thousands of cocktails allowing you to ask Alexa for the cocktail by name and the skill will respond with the ingredients. How does that relate to Christmas? Well, ask Alexa to “ask Mixologist how to make a Candy Cane Cocktail” and the ingredients will surprise you!

How to play music on multiple Alexa devices

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Using Amazon Echo Studio for voice control

Holidays are all about bringing families together so you might as well remind each of your Echo devices that they too belong in one family and hopefully under the same network router! Because all of your Echo devices should be in the same network so they can all participate in a true multi-room music experience! Just follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Alexa app on your mobile device and go to the “Devices” tab.
  2. Scroll down to the “Speaker Groups” section and tap “Combine speakers.”
  3. Select the speaker combining option you prefer depending on how you arranged your Echo devices.
  4. Choose the speakers you want involved in the group.
  5. Pick a group name from the suggested list or create your own name. Make sure it is a name you can easily memorize because you will use it when issuing an Alexa playback command.
  6. Tap “Save” to save the group.

Now that you have the group set up, all you need to do is tell Alexa to “play music on <name of group you just made>” and instantly enjoy the music on Alexa’s default player on the speakers you picked.

How to use Alexa to manage travel plans

Did you know Alexa can assist with your holiday travel plans without the need of any extra skills? Try out some of these tricks using just your voice!

Use Echo to Create a Travel List for Packing

Try asking Alexa to “create a travel list” and Alexa will add a list called “Travel” in the “My Lists” section of the Alexa app. Once created, Alexa will ask you for items you wish to put on the list. You may put some right away or add them later by asking Alexa to “add <name of item here> to travel list.” Asking Alexa what is currently on the travel list will prompt Alexa to say out loud all the items in the list and also show it on the screen if you are requesting from an Echo Show. Perfect for packing and you can always check the list within the Alexa app of any mobile device as long as you are logged into the same account as your smart device.

Alexa Christmas Holiday how toIMG_1500When you are out traveling, having a shopping list can help you not forget the stuff you want to take back home. However, Alexa can never tell if your shopping list is really complete. That’s where the “Announcement” feature can come in handy. Just ask Alexa to make an announcement and say “I’m going shopping” and all Alexa smart devices and mobile devices connected to your household account will receive the announcement right away. From there, folks who heard the announcement can add any remaining things you might have forgotten in your shopping list.

How to use Alexa routines for security while you’re away

The wonderful thing about having a stationary Echo device constantly connected to the Internet is its ability to work as an autonomous device through the use of Routines. Routines are basically conditional statements where you can have the connected Alexa device to perform an action if a certain condition is met. For instance, if you have any smart lights set up in your Alexa network, you can make a routine to automatically switch on the lights 5 minutes after sunset to make it look as if somebody is home during the night. You can also remotely control the light’s power state in case you want to introduce a level of unpredictability providing your mobile device has Internet access.

How do you use your features of Alexa device for the holiday season? Do share in the comments!

 

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