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Tech the Halls

Amplify the holiday spirit around your home with these smart tech devices.

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Sure, the old-fashioned string of lights is great for holiday decorations, but why not use some smart home technology to make life easier and impress the neighborhood? Here are a few of my favorite ways to use smart home tech to add holiday cheer.

Smart Outlet for Holiday Lights

Using an outlet timer to turn your holiday lights on and off isn’t anything new but a smart outlet can do so much more. Smart outlets connect to your home Wi-Fi network or smart home hub and give you control of that outlet through your phone, tablet, or voice assistant. Simply say, “Alexa, turn on Christmas lights” to light up the neighborhood or turn on your tree. Even better, set your lights to go on and off based on the sunrise and sunset. This way, even though you put up your lights in early November, they’ll still be perfectly timed at the end of December when daylight hours have shifted. I like the Belkin WeMo line because it works with Google Home/Amazon Alexa, doesn’t require a smart home hub, and costs just $30.

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Add Color To Your Porch

That boring bulb in your front porch light could use an upgrade. Smart bulbs, like smart outlets, either connect to your Wi-Fi network or to a smart home hub. Some turn on and off, dim, and can even change colors. This is where the fun comes in. You can alternate the bulb color between green and red as you count down the days to Christmas. Or, set the bulb color to change based on the forecast for snow using your smart home hub and IFTTT.com automation. The kids would love this. Search “Smart Color Wi-Fi Bulb” on any online shopping site and you can find these bulbs for under $20.

Voice Control, Music, and Holiday Ambiance

This is where we start connecting the dots of those smart home devices. Set up fun holiday voice shortcuts on your Google Home or Amazon Alexa to kick the holiday into high gear. For example, set up a shortcut so that when you say “Play Relaxing Christmas” it plays slow holiday songs, dims the lights to 50 percent, and even turns up the heat a few degrees on your smart thermostat to add to the coziness. Wouldn’t your kids go nuts if you said, “Play Christmas Kids Songs” and the lights turned red and green, the Christmas tree lights turned on, and some fun kids holiday music started blasting? You could easily do this with a smart outlet and a few of the Wi-Fi bulbs mentioned above.

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