Christmas is the perfect opportunity to impress your loved ones with all of your cool new smart home gear. We're not just talking about making Alexa sing Jingle Bells, we're talking about automations, scenes and other top tech tips to take your Christmas Holidays to the next level.
Here's how to put a tech infused shot into your Christmas mixâŠ
Smart plugs galore
This one is a no-brainer â if you're still switching your Christmas lights on and off by hand, or relying on old-fashioned timers, then you really should be on Santa's naughty list. In a couple of weeks it's going to be 2020. Get with the times, grandpa.
The good news is you don't need to spend a lot of money to get yourself a decent collection of smart plugs. Amazon sells a bunch of Chinese branded plugs for around the $15 mark â or even cheaper if you buy in bulk.
It doesnâtâ really matter how good/bad the companion app is to use; as long as you can get the plug synced up with Alexa or Google Assistant, then you're away.
The obvious thing is to put them on all of your Christmas lights and create some groups â maybe differentiate between indoor and outdoor, and have an overall group too.
That way, a simple, "OK Google, turn the Christmas tree lights on" or an "Alexa, turn the outdoor festive lights on" will create instant 'magic' and save you walking around the house turning on a load of switches.
However, don't be resigned to just smart-plugging up your lights. Think big. A toy train in a lapland scene? A giant inflatable snowman for the front lawn? The possibilities are endless.
Level-up your Christmas lights
Okay, so you've now made all of your dumb Christmas lights smart â but don't forget your existing smart lights.
The likes of Philips Hue, Lifx and the rest of the smart bulb gang will not only let you choose red/green/gold (they are the Christmas colors, right?), but there are also a bunch of Christmas scenes for you to explore within the companion apps which will really add a bit of festive fizz to your home's ambience.
Another obvious one â and maybe not as 'smart' as some of the other suggestions but if you're still relying on that Michael BublĂ© Does Christmas CD for your holiday tunes then you really should be having a long, hard look at yourself.
And sure, playlists are hardly pushing the envelope of the smart home revolution but add in some voice control and grandma is bound to be impressed. Especially if you get creative with the names of the playlists.
"Alexa, play some Christmas songs from the old days â none of this modern nonsense" and just watch her face light up when Nat King Cole and Frankie start belting out the Christmas hits.
"Merry Christmas" routines
The next step is to combine these things, and a few extras, to really make the magic happen. That's where routines play their part. It's worth setting up a few, ranging from simple to OTT, to make sure you've got your bases covered when it comes to audience expectations.
Here are some ideas for some top Alexa / Google Assistant / Siri Christmas smart home routines. Feel free to throw in some artistic licence for your own specific setup.
Easy to impress friends/family:
"Alexa, merry Christmas"âŠ Turns on all the Christmas lights, turns a couple of smart bulbs green, plays Silent Night on a smart speaker and has the digital assistant say, "Merry Christmas [family name]."
"Hey Siri, happy holidays"âŠ Does all of the basics above but also fires up a Chromecast-enabled TV to play a YouTube video of a burning log fire.
Smart lights also cycle through scenes and that toy train we talked about? Yeah, it's chugging along the living room track. A connected speaker nearby also has Noddy Holder shout, "It's Christmaaaaaaas!"
"Hey Google, bah humbug". All lights off, nothing but darkness while a smart speaker pumps out You're a Mean One Mr Grinch. Another speaker also yells, "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals", Home Alone-style.
And then says, "I'm gonna give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property." The surround sound system then does the gunfire in glorious 7.1.
Proof that Santa came
Little ones growing up fast? Do you long for the days when they didn't question Santa's existence throughout the whole month of December? Maybe you've already got a non-believer on your hands.
A carefully placed smart security camera, combined with a cheap costume, should be enough to 'prove' to your kids that the big man did, in fact, pay a visit while they were sleeping.
Asking digital assistant 'funny things'
You didn't think Google / Amazon / Apple would miss out on the festive frolics did you? Heck no, their smart speakers are absolutely jam-packed with Christmas Easter eggs (that sounds wrong but it's right, deal with it). Check out the funnies belowâŠ