This story is part of Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Sit back and unwind this holiday season by letting your Amazon Echo smart speaker or display assist with the seasonal festivities. Alexa can make your days merry and bright by playing your favorite holiday songs, shopping for last-minute gifts and sending holiday cards. Alexa can even make you feel like the Griswold you are by turning on all the Christmas lights with just a command (without the citywide blackout, of course).
These features also require little to no setup, and they’re super easy to use. Keep reading to find fun and festive Amazon Echo features. Plus, you can explore our roundup of every holiday-related Alexa commands below.
Set up Alexa holiday lights routine
Table of Contents
Too cold to go outside and unplug all those lights you have strung around your porch or fence? Tired of tripping over power strips and digging around under the tree for the plug? No problem — Alexa can help systemize how you control your holiday lights.
For starters, 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 turning on at 6 p.m. and off at 7 a.m. Plus, 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 smart plugs to create a lights routine.
To set up a lights routine, start by setting up your smart plugs and connecting the string lights. Next, open the Alexa app and select More. Tap Routines from the menu. Tap the Plus (+) icon to add a new routine. Select When this happens. Next, select Schedule.
Here, you will be able to choose Sunrise or Sunset or set a specific time and select the days you want this routine to happen. Tap Next and then Add action. Select Smart Home and tap All Devices.
From here, select the smart plug(s) that’s connected to your lights. Then, toggle the power switch to On or Offdepending on which schedule you’re setting up. Tap Next and then Save.
You can also enable this pre-made holiday lights routine to have Alexa automatically turn on your lights at sunset and play holiday music.
Shop and track your gift purchases with Alexa
It’s an Amazon product. Of course you can use it to shop. Your Echo device has several neat ways to help ease the stress of holiday shopping from researching gift ideas and building a shopping list to finding discounts and actually allowing you to purchase gifts with a simple voice command. Start by simply saying, “Alexa, help me shop for the holidays” or “Alexa, what are my deals?” to make gift-giving easy and efficient. Explore our full Alexa shopping guide to set up and use these features.
Probably my favorite function is the ability to track your packages. 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.
Play holiday music on your Echo speaker
This is probably an obvious one, but your Echo device is skilled at setting a festive mood by playing holiday 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 music” or “Alexa, play Merry Mix” to hear your favorite hits and Christmas classics. If you’re not a member, you can always connect your preferred music streaming service through the Alexa app — or just download the Christmas Radio skill.
And it’s not just Christmas music. Those who celebrate Hanukkah can say, “Alexa, play Hanukkah playlist” to celebrate the Jewish festival.
If you have Echo devices in different rooms, you can say “Alexa, play everywhere” to have the festive playlist course through the house on every device.
Stage a Fire TV holiday movie night
Is there anything better than getting the whole family together to watch a classic holiday movie? Alexa can help by showing you a selection of holiday movies. Just say, “Alexa, show holiday movies” or “Alexa, go to Fire TV Holiday Hub” to browse all the seasonal flicks your whole family will love.
If you already have a film in mind you can request it by asking, “Alexa, search for A Charlie Brown Christmas on Fire TV.”
Display holiday photos on your Echo Show
Have an Echo show? Turn it into a digital picture frame. No matter if you have an Echo Show 5 or an Echo Show 15, you can showcase all of your holiday photos from Christmases past using Amazon Photos (Amazon Photos offers Prime members free, unlimited photo and 5GB video storage).
Here’s how to show your Amazon Photos on an Echo Show:
Start by swiping down from the top of screen and select Settings. Tap Clock & Photo Display > Amazon Photos. For an Echo Show 5 or Echo Spot you’ll need to select Home & Clock > Clock & Photo Display > Amazon Photos.
Next, choose which photos to display by selecting any of the following:
- Manual photo upload
- Photo album (see photos from your selected Amazon Photos collections)
- This Day (you’ll see photos from this day from previous years)
- Daily Memories (you’ll see an automatic selection of your pictures daily)
Once enabled on the device, you can control the digital frame with voice commands. Simply say, “Alexa, show my photos” or “Alexa, show photos from last winter.”
Send holiday greeting cards with Alexa
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. Here’s our guide on how to set up this feature.
Festive and seasonal Alexa skills
Experience holiday magic with games, stories, sounds and even calls with Santa. All of this and more is available with Alexa skills. To get a full list of skills to enable say, “Alexa, what are your holiday skills?” but we’ll also breakdown some of our favorite skills down below:
- “Alexa, call Santa”: Check on ole St. Nick and his trusty friends to hear how holiday prep is going at the North Pole. Your kiddos will love to sing carols with Santa, laugh with the elves and build a snowman with Blitzen the reindeer.
- “Alexa, enable ‘Hey Santa'”: Change Alexa’s voice to Santa’s and have a cheery time singing songs, hearing stories, dancing and so much more with Santa’s help.
“Alexa, open NORAD tracks Santa”: Find out exactly where Santa is in the world and follow him on his flight.
“Alexa, Spin the Dreidel”: Play this classic game with friends and family. You can spin once or play a multi-turn game. If you’ve forgotten how to play, Alexa can tell you the rules of the game and what a particular side of the dreidel means.
Explore the full list of Amazon Alexa skills here.
Fun holiday commands to ask Alexa
Try out these Alexa holiday commands, too:
- “Alexa, how many days until Christmas?”
- “Alexa, play Christmas sounds.”
- “Alexa, Christmas tree.”
- “Alexa, find me a holiday cookie recipe.”
- “Alexa, show me top holiday movies.”
- “Alexa, read The Night Before Christmas.”
- “Alexa, add apple pie to my shopping list.”
- “Alexa, track Santa.”
- “Alexa, name Santa’s reindeer.”
- “Alexa, set a turkey timer for 5 hours.”
- “Alexa, ask Santa Claus if I’m naughty or nice.”
- “Alexa, tell me a snowman joke.”
- “Alexa, what can you tell me about Santa’s reindeer?”
- “Alexa, create a gift list.”
- “Alexa, shop for kids’ stocking stuffers.”
- “Alexa, remind me to pick up a white elephant gift today.”
- “Alexa, will it snow on Christmas Day?”
- “Alexa, wake me up at 7 a.m. to Jingle Bells.”
- “Alexa, open Christmas Kindness.”
- “Alexa, how many calories are in a Christmas pudding?”
- “Alexa, tell me a Christmas story.”
- “Alexa, what’s the best Christmas movie?”
- “Alexa, what do you want for Christmas?”
- “Alexa, tell me when it starts snowing.”
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. You can also find the list of every Alexa command here and a complete roundup of Alexa Easter eggs here.