8 Ways Alexa Can Help You This Christmas | MakeUseOf

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We all have those moments of excitement when we consider the joyous occasions of bringing families together for Christmas Day. However, many of us would be lying if we didn’t have the slight of what could go wrong. Step in Alexa, to make sure your back is always covered:

We all have those moments of excitement when we think about how wonderful it is to be together with family and friends at Christmas. However, many of us would be lying if we claimed not to have the slightest fear of something going wrong.

But not to worry, as Alexa, Amazon’s talented personal assistant, is here to help. And in this article we list the ways in which Alexa can help you in your moment of need this holiday season.

1. Find Stores Open on Christmas Day

A classic for many of us, but do not panic. If you have forgotten some of the more integral ingredients to the Christmas dinner, such as the gravy granules or the cranberries, just ask Alexa, “Alexa, which shops are open on Christmas day?”

In response, Alexa will list the shops in your local area that are open on December 25.

And if you have forgotten to buy Uncle Joel a gift because, let’s be honest, you never know if he is coming or not, you’ll be pleased to know that Alexa doesn’t just name food shops. You can ask for more specific places of purchase too.

2. Keep the Music Going

It seems an obvious one, but with Amazon Music constantly growing and Alexa’s technology now having the capabilities to connect to your Sonos, the days of sitting down and making sure the perfect playlist is ready are over. Instead, Alexa will do it for you.

Simply ask, “Alexa, play music station Christmas Music”. As the extended family pull into the driveway, they will be greeted by all the Christmas classics. If you hear a song you like, tell Alexa, then she will bank it for next time too!

3. Send Last-Minute Cards

You are just putting up the last of the Christmas cards and you realise you have received one from Aunt Sally. However, to your absolute horror, you realize you haven’t sent her one in return. As the panic of regret deepens into your bones, stop and let Alexa deal with the worry.

Firstly you must go to Amazon’s Skill Blueprints page and select the Hallmark Holiday Greeting icon.

Once you have clicked through, you will be asked to choose a “Theme” for your card.

Having decided on your festive picture of choice, its time to add your individual touch to your E-Card. Whether you want to record a personalised message, or type one out for Alexa to read out loud to your receiver is your call.

You can also add a number of Slides to your card, if you want to include multiple messages and different visual art.

Next you have to name your skill, so when you send the command to Alexa, she knows what she is responding to. For example; “Alexa, send Christmas Day Card to Maggie and Christopher Newbold.”

Once you have created your command all that is left is to save your skill. This may take a couple of minutes, so don’t worry if you see the below page for longer than your usual waiting time:

Once you have completed your skill…

You are all set to send it to as many people as you may like. You can perform the skill through Alexa, or by simply clicking the Share With Others option. This will give you the option to send it via email or a facebook link too.

4. Handle Kitchen Timers

Cooking for the masses and cooking a large amount of ingredients is tough. It can be particularly tricky to get your timings right, whilst remembering what timer is for what dish. Let Alexa do it for you with clearly labelled timers:

  • “Alexa, set a turkey timer for four hours”
  • “Alexa set a roast potato timer for 45 minutes”
  • “Alexa set a brussels sprouts timer for 15 minutes”

When the timer is up, Alexa will beep, but also tell you which timer it is making a noise for. Making sure you never overcook the parsnips again.

5. Let Everyone Know When Dinner Is Ready

When you are busy in the kitchen, finalizing the food and its presentation, it can feel like extra hassle to then go and tell people to take their places around the dining room table. So don’t.

Instead, ask Alexa, “Alexa, call all other devices telling them food is ready”. Alexa will make the announcement in the rooms where devices can be found. This allows you to carry on with your plate arrangements, making sure the dinner looks just right. If you don’t want to disturb certain rooms, you can also make it room-specific.

This nifty little trick allows you to literally be in two places at once, meaning you don’t have to leave the food unsupervised.

6. Get Conversations Started

Christmas brings together people from the same gene pool. People with the same characteristics, the same strengths, and the same weaknesses. These similarities can sometimes cause friction in opinions. Let Alexa play the mediator.

As soon as you recognise that brother Bill and Cousin Sandy seem to be taking the conversation to the next level of opinion, simply ask Alexa, “Alexa, change the subject”.

Without even taking a second to think, Alexa will ask the entire room a question, such as, “What has been the highlight of your year?” or “What do you most look forward to achieving next year?”

Not only will this divert from a conversation that probably 80 percent of the room are not interested in, but it will also soften the level of tension, putting the focus back on the excellent food you have made.

7. Answer Some Christmas Trivia

Alexa can have a Christmas quiz ready for you in a matter of minutes. Simply say to Alexa, “Alexa, give me some Christmas trivia” and before you know it, some superb facts regarding countries, traditions, and Christmas spirit will be announced.

You can also ask Alexa more specific questions such as, “Alexa, what is the highest grossing Christmas movie of all time?”

Home alone, in case you are wondering.

Alternatively if you have a number of devices in your household, you can host a games night using Amazon Echo Buttons.

8. Run a Lights Show

It has been a long day and it is only 3pm. But it will soon be dark and you have got to show the rest of the street that your house didn’t just rock Christmas internally, but externally too.

Alexa is now compatible with almost any type of smart plug, meaning it is easier than ever to control your lights.

Related: The Best Smart Plugs You Can Buy Today

There are some superb brands that very clearly state if they are Alexa-compatible. It also means that you can turn them all on or off, via one device, saving you walking around the house clicking lots of switches.

Utilizing Amazon’s Alexa for a Merry Christmas

As you can see, Alexa is pretty much the perfect Christmas wingman (or woman). Whether it be family relations, managing the timings of the food, or making sure the decor is on point.

So, if things start to go wrong this holiday season, don’t panic, just ask Alexa to help you out.

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