All you want for Christmas is a personal assistant who can get you through the holiday season with your sanity intact. The next best thing: the Amazon Echo (aka “Alexa”) that sits on your countertop, ready to answer your Christmas commands when your kids/spouse/mother-in-law won’t. Here, eight things Alexa can help you cross off your to-do list this season.
She Can Cue Up Your Favorite Christmas Music
Perfect for holiday entertaining. After you sync your device with Spotify (or any third-party music-streaming service), you can call up your favorite holiday tunes—or playlists—by request. (“Alexa, play ‘All I Want for Christmas’ by Mariah Carey,” for example.)
And Book You a Last-Minute Rental Car or Hotel
Travel booking sites like Kayak or Expedia both make it possible to make hands-free travel arrangements by voice. As long as you have an account (with your credit card details plugged in), you can call up available rates and confirm the reservation, too.
She Can Set Timers for Holiday Baking
Up to 100 at a time! It’s as simple as calling out: “Alexa, set a timer for 12 minutes.” (The ideal length of time to whip up a batch of Christmas sugar cookies, no?)
And Keep You Informed About Airport Delays
Snow in the forecast? Flight Tracker will let you know if your flight to see your in-laws is scheduled to depart on time. It works for a number of mainstream airlines—Delta, Southwest, United, JetBlue all included—and all you need is your airline name and flight number to request info and stay up to speed.
She Can Read Off the (Good) News
It’s not that you don’t love your daily update from NPR, but news flash: PureWow now offers a flash briefing that you can listen to via Alexa called Good News from PureWow. Simply activate it in your Amazon account (we’ve got a handy how-to here), and you’ll get all the entertaining, beauty and culinary hacks you need to master the Christmas season with pride.
And Order Your Holiday Gifts
OK, so this applies to Prime-eligible items only, but it’s as simple as saying, “Alexa, order [item name],” then confirming the purchase when she calls it out. FYI, this works thanks to the one-click ordering system in your Amazon account, which means you’ll need to be sure your default credit card and shipping address are up to date.
She Can Turn Off Your Christmas Lights
A smart plug is required, but once you get one (and give it a name when you set it up), you can ask Alexa to switch off the glittering lights on the Christmas tree in your living room with a one-sentence request.
And Put Your Kids on the Nice (or Naughty) List
We’re hacking the to-do list feature with this one a bit, but basically, if your kids act up in December, you just have to say: “Alexa, add Theo to the naughty list.” And with your kids’ ears perked up, she’s got your back with a reply: “OK, adding Theo to the naughty list right now.”