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12 amazing and easy smart light hacks for Christmas holiday decor

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Erin L

Erin L

how to use smart lighting for holidays, decor, christmas, smart lights, ideasThere are two types of people when it comes to lighting up the house for the holidays; the gung-ho Clark Griswold types, and those for whom the thought of climbing a ladder in the cold inspires dread.

If you’re in the latter camp, know there are easier ways to make your home festive thanks to technology.

Holiday Hack #1: Smart Plugs for Automation

Want to control your Christmas lights from another room, or even another city? Smart plugs like the WeMo Switch or Amazon Smart Plug allow you to plug in virtually anything, from Christmas lights, to mobiles or animated figurines and turn it off an on with your smartphone or tablet. This works really well for tree lights in particular, since crawling under or behind the tree to pull out the plug is often a pain.

Smart plugs can also be used on automatic timers, coming on at dusk and turning off when you want.

The WeMo Switch is available on Amazon and at the Belkin store. You can find the Amazon Smart Plug on Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart.

Holiday Hack #2: App-connected string lights

Govee smart outdoor lights review

Govee, makers of a vast array of smart lights has many light solutions which are ideal for the holidays. These smart LED light strings give you smart functionality via a Bluetooth connection; you can turn them on or off with your smartphone, adjust colour to dozens of different subtler hues, you can set timers, or use a handful of special effects, all automatically. Best of all, these are for indoors or out.

With a kit like this you don’t even need a smart plug. Read my full review of Govee smart lights here.

You can find the Govee Outdoor String Lights on Amazon and the GOVEE store.

Holiday Hack #3: Stick-up LED Lights go anywhere

The amazing thing about smart lighting is how versatile and flexible it is. Case in point; a couple new LED string lights that are thin, pliable and flexible so you can stick them up anywhere.

Philips Hue Light Strips, LIFX Z and Govee Neon Rope Lights are just three great examples of lights you can stick anywhere for holiday decor.  If you use removable 3M Command adhesive tabs, it makes moving them and removing the tape even easier.

You can find the Phillips Hue Light Strips on Amazon and Walmart.

You can find the LIFX Z lights on Amazon and  Best Buy.

Govee Neon Rope Lights are available on Amazon and Best Buy.

 

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Use these light strips on the inside of a window frame to show your neighbourhood your red, green or icy blue colours. Coil them into frosted glass vases for temporary colourful lamps, wrap them around large mirrors, or stick them under furniture for holiday ambiance.

Want to go to another level? Nanoleaf lighting is a unique set of flat plastic panels that can be stuck pretty much anywhere; you can use them to create a holiday-themed wall decoration, and adjust the lights to flicker red and green or frosty blue and white.

Find the Nanoleaf Shapes kit on Amazon and Best Buy

Holiday Hack #4: Make a light-up Christmas Tree

Feeling creative? Why not use the Nanoleaf or Govee Hexa lights to create a flat panel Christmas tree in a small space where a real tree is just not realistic? Simply arrange the triangular shaped panels in a tree shape, configure the panels to turn green (go for a gold on on top, reminiscent of a star!) and you’re holiday ready!

Holiday lighting hacks.

Holiday Hack #5: Use a wireless lamp in your table setting

Table setting is an art, if you ask me. Matching dishes to napkins and selecting florals requires some level of flair which I struggle to achieve. That’s where I pull in smart lamps; I can turn the Mipow Sphere glass globe green to match my good china, or I can set the Philips Hue Go lamp or Philips Hue Bloom to a cool snowy hue for a winter feast. The Go lamp also works well under the Christmas tree to give it some extra colour pop or by the fireplace.

Find the Philips Hue Go on Amazon and Walmart, or the Philips Hue Bloom on Amazon and Walmart. The Balmost Sphere can also be found on Amazon.

Holiday Hack #6: Use coloured bulbs for decor

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As I’ve written before, smart lights are an easy way to decorate your home for any occasion. Painting your room with light can warm up a room, cool it off, or give it a holiday theme with the touch of an app. Lights like Philips Hue smart bulbs can be set to holiday red or green easily, you can use LIFX’s ‘scenes’ to create a holiday glow, or employ a Govee smart light bulb or Amazon Basics smart bulb to provide both a light show AND music from its built-in speaker!

Holiday Hack #7: Use the Internet of Things to automate … ANYTHING

If you haven’t experimented with IFTTT (If This Then That), you’re missing out.  IFTTT uses apps and smart devices to create actions that happen automatically. I wrote about how you can use it to turn coloured smart lights blue when snow is in the forecast.   But you can also use it for holiday fun. Need a quick lesson on how it all works? Click here.

If you own a smart doorbell and some smart lights you can use an IFTTT ‘recipe’ to play Christmas music on a Sonos speaker when the doorbell is pressed, and to set lights flashing green and red. Read more about how to do that, or to achieve the same effect with a motion sensor, via the Yonomi app here. You can also surf the IFTTT website for holiday light and sound recipes that have already been created and borrow one that suits you.

5 Extra Smart Light Hacks for Holiday Décor

Decorating your house with smart lighting to celebrate the holidays is a good long-term step towards bringing some extra cheer all year long because of how versatile these lights have become. The only obstacle, however, is getting all the gear set up and figuring out what to buy. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy very much or perhaps nothing at all depending on what you have right now. A little bit of smart light hacking could be just what you need to create a truly dazzling environment without spending so much.

Holiday Hack #8: Create Animated Light Scenes

Govee Curtain lightsIn order to perform this holiday hack, you will need at least one set of Govee Curtain Lights. Don’t be fooled by the product’s simple name because the best feature of this smart curtain lights set is the ability to create animated scenes. Since you arrange the curtain lights in a rectangle formation, the individual lights essentially serve as pixels on your curtain canvas.

Once you added the curtain lights to the Govee app, go straight to the DIY section because that’s where you’ll perform your animated wizardry! Give your DIY effect a name, assign it an icon, and change the “Effect” option to “GIF”. From there, you can upload any animated GIF stored in your device and watch it play right on your curtain lights! Just stick with those basic cartoon animations and you’ll be fine. The Govee app also lets you explore other animations uploaded by the community if you don’t feel like uploading your own.

The Govee Curtain lights are available on Amazon and Walmart.

Holiday Hack #9: Add a Glow to Your Christmas Tree

If the Govee Curtain Lights are too much of an investment, you could create a nice subtle lighting effect with a Govee Floor Lamp or just about any RGBIC floor lamp. Floor lamps are all about positioning as you can create some neat glow effects if you conceal them behind objects. Try hiding one behind your Christmas tree, try a few glow presets, and just enjoy the mood uplift!

The Govee Floor Lamp is available on Amazon and the GOVEE store.

 

Holiday Hack #10: Use Smart String Lights as Outlines

Never underestimate the usefulness of simple smart string lights like the Govee Outdoor String Lights as they can add nice accents to any room. Using them as lights for your Christmas tree is a common approach but how about using the string lights to draw a Christmas tree right on the wall? In fact, smart string lights can serve as excellent outline accents if you are targeting a minimalistic setup. Once you are finished with your creation, you can play with whatever presets the smart lights app has to offer or try setting a music mode if the lights support it so your lights can sync with whatever holiday music you are playing. Don’t be afraid to conduct online image or video searches of fancy smart string light setups as you can find plenty of inspiration there.

Holiday Hack #11: Invite Some Flashy Speakers

JBL Pulse 4 and 5 speakers on a tableDon’t want to go through all the effort in smart light decorating? Consider a smart speaker instead! Some speakers like the JBL Pulse 4 and 5 come with their own built-in lighting features. These lights won’t sync with your other smart light setups, but they will still add a splash of color to any dimly lit room. If you require a bit of customizing, consider trying a Divoom Bluetooth speaker or a Tidbyt.

Don’t have a light speaker lying around? Perhaps you might have a smart home assistant like an Echo Show. Browse the Alexa Skills section and search for Christmas themes or screensavers such as fireplace screensavers. If you have a different smart assistant with a screen, gather some holiday wallpapers and upload them to any cloud service your smart home assistant relies on. Then activate the assistant’s photo album feature and have it display those wallpapers and you’ll end up with a neat digital holiday decoration.

You can find the JBL Pulse 4 at Walmart, and the JBL Pulse 5 on Amazon and Walmart. The Divoom Bluetooth speaker is available on Amazon and Walmart. The Echo Show can also be found on Amazon and Walmart.

Holiday Hack #12: Make Your Doorbell Play Festive Sounds

How to change Ring Doorbell soundsThis one isn’t light related, but it is super fun for the holidays! Today’s doorbells can’t sing just yet, but some doorbell products like the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus have a customizable chime feature if you partner it with a Ring Chime Pro, and you can use it to play holiday sounds, carols and even jingling bells any time someone rings the bell. Check out our recent article on how to change doorbell sounds to find out more! If you don’t have the Ring Chime Pro, you may still assign holiday chimes to your Ring doorbell, but you will only hear them on your mobile device after someone rings the doorbell.

You can find the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus on Amazon and Best Buy, and the Ring Chime Pro can also be found on Amazon and Best Buy.

Do you have a Holiday hack or IFTTT recipe we should try? Post your ideas in comments below!

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Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

2 Comments

  1. […] Read: 6 smart light hacks for holiday decor […]

  2. Kristin Bridger on December 6, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Hi Erin! Just finished watching your lighting segment! I would love to win the giveaway from PHILIPS! Merry Christmas, Erin!

  3. Eric Blank on December 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Christmas decorating just went high tech! In all honesty though, I think this is the way it’s going to be in a few years for everyone. Those crazy timers are so glitchy. Being able to control your lights or other holiday decor from your phone is a great step forward. Are there any other apps that you would recommend?

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