Every vacation feature and Alexa command for your Amazon Echo device

Every vacation feature and Alexa command for your Amazon Echo device

This story is part Tips for the houseCNET’s collection of handy tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Sit back and relax this holiday season by leaving your Amazon Echo smart speaker Where display attend seasonal festivities. Alexa can make your days happy and bright by playing your favorite holiday songs, buying last-minute gifts, and sending holiday cards. Alexa can even make you feel like Griswold you’re turning on all the Christmas lights with just one command (without the citywide blackout, of course).

These features also require little to no configuration and are very easy to use. Keep reading to find fun and festive Amazon Echo features. Plus, you can explore our roundup of all holiday-related Alexa commands below.

Set up Alexa’s Christmas lights routine

Too cold to go out and unplug all those lights you have hung around your porch or fence? Tired of tripping over power strips and digging under the tree to find the outlet? No problem – Alexa can help systematize how you control your Christmas lights.

To start, you can automate lights to instantly turn on and off at specific times using the Alexa app. For example, you might want the lights to turn on only when it gets dark, so program them to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise. Or you can set specific times, like turn on at 6 p.m. and turn off at 7 a.m. Plus, if you have a Christmas tree installed in your home, you can also automate the lights. Note that you will need smart plugs to create a routine of lights.

outdoor smart lights surrounded by fairy lights

Turn on your festive lights with Alexa and a smart plug.

Chris Monroe/CNET

To set up a lighting routine, start by setting up your smart plugs and connecting the string lights. Next, open the Alexa app and select After. Faucet Routines from the menu. Press the More (+) to add a new routine. Select when it happens. Then select Program.

Here you can choose Sunrise Where Sunset or set a specific time and select the days you want this routine to happen. Faucet Next so what Add action. Select smart home and press All Devices.

From there, select the smart plug(s) connected to your lights. Then flip the power switch to On Where Stopped, depending on the schedule you are configuring. Faucet Next so what to safeguard.

You can also activate this preset holiday lights routine to have Alexa automatically turn on your lights at sunset and play holiday music.

Fairy lights plugged into a smart plug in front of an evergreen tree

You can even light up your Christmas tree with just one command.

Angela Lang/CNET

Shop and track your gift purchases with Alexa

It’s an Amazon product. Of course, you can use it for shopping. Your Echo device has several nifty ways to help ease the stress of holiday shopping, from researching gift ideas and creating a shopping list to finding discounts and actually allowing you to buy 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 giving gifts simple and effective. Explore our comprehensive Alexa buying guide to configure and use these features.

My favorite feature is probably the ability to track your packages. If you’re curious when an Amazon gift will arrive at your doorstep, you can ask Alexa to track your package. Just say “Alexa, where are my packages?” and it will let you know when they should arrive. Your Echo’s Light Ring also lights up yellow when there is a package notification who has arrived or on the way.

Listen to holiday music on your Echo speaker

It’s probably obvious, but your Echo device is adept at setting a festive mood by playing holiday music.

Nothing makes gift wrapping (and unwrapping!) more exciting than having your favorite Christmas songs 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 listen to your favorite hits and Christmas classics. If you’re not a member, you can always connect your favorite music streaming service through the Alexa app – or just download the Christmas Radio skill.

And it’s not just Christmas music. Those celebrating Hanukkah can say “Alexa, play Hanukkah playlist” to celebrate the Jewish holiday.

If you have Echo devices in different rooms, you can say “Alexa, play everywhere” to have the festive playlist roam the house on each device.

Host a Holiday Movie Night on Fire TV

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 vacation movies” or Alexa, go to Fire TV Holiday Hub” to browse all the seasonal movies the whole family will love.

If you already have a movie in mind, you can request it by asking, “Alexa, search for A Charlie Brown Christmas on Fire TV.”

screenshot of a scene from the movie Elf

Watch Elf and other holiday classics on your Fire TV.

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Display vacation photos on your Echo Show

Do you have an Echo show? Turn it into a digital photo frame. Whether you have an Echo Show 5 or an Echo Show 15, you can showcase all your holiday photos from Christmases past using Amazon Photos (Amazon Photos gives Prime members free, unlimited 5GB photo and video storage).

Here’s how to display your Amazon photos on an Echo Show:

Start by swiping down from the top of the screen and select Settings. Faucet Clock and photo display > Amazon Pics. For an Echo Show 5 or Echo Spot, you will need to select Home & Clock > Clock and photo display > Amazon Pictures.

Next, choose which photos to display by selecting one of the following options:

  • Manual photo upload
  • Photo album (view photos from your selected Amazon Photos collections)
  • This day (you will see photos of this day from previous years)
  • Daily memories (you will see an automatic selection of your photos daily)

Once activated on the device, you can control the digital frame with voice commands. Just say “Alexa, show my photos” or “Alexa, show photos from last winter”.

Send greeting cards with Alexa

OK, so Alexa can’t send physical greeting cards, but the voice assistant can send digital greetings to other Alexa devices. You will need to go to the Alexa Skill Blueprints page and select hallmark holiday greeting. Then you can choose a greeting that suits you best and personalize it with a personal message or recording. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete your holiday greeting.

When you’re ready to send holiday greetings to loved ones, click Share with others. Recipients will need to enable the skill on their Alexa device, and once they’ve set it up, all they have to do is say, “Alexa, open Holiday Greeting.” They will now be able to hear your message. Here is our guide on setting up this feature.


Alexa knows when your gifts will arrive home.

Angela Lang/CNET

Festive and Seasonal Alexa Skills

Discover the magic of the holidays with games, stories, sounds and even calls with Santa. All of this and more is available with Alexa Skills. For a full list of skills to enable, say, “Alexa, what are your vacation skills?” but we’ll also detail some of our favorite skills below:

  • “Alexa, call Santa”: Check out old St. Nick and his loyal friends to find out how the North Pole vacation preparations are going. Your children will love singing Christmas carols with Santa Claus, laughing with the elves and building a snowman with Blitzen the reindeer.
  • “Alexa, activate ‘Hey Santa'”: Change Alexa’s voice to that of Santa Claus and have fun singing songs, listening to stories, dancing and much more with the help of Santa Claus.
  • “Alexa, open NORAD on the trail of Santa Claus”: Find out exactly where Santa Claus is in the world and follow him in his flight.

  • “Alexa, Spin the Dreidel”: Play this classic game with your friends and family. You can spin once or play a multi-spin 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.

Check out the full list of Amazon Alexa skills here.

Fun Holiday Commands to Ask Alexa

Also try these Alexa vacation commands:

  • “Alexa, how many days until Christmas?”
  • “Alexa, play Christmas sounds.”
  • “Alexa, Christmas tree.”
  • “Alexa, find me a holiday cookie recipe.”
  • “Alexa, show me the best holiday movies.”
  • “Alexa, play The Night Before Christmas.”
  • “Alexa, add apple pie to my shopping list.”
  • “Alexa, follow Santa.”
  • “Alexa, name Santa’s reindeer.”
  • “Alexa, set a turkey timer for 5 hours.”
  • “Alexa, ask Santa 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, buy Christmas stockings for kids.”
  • “Alexa, remind me to take a white elephant gift today.”
  • “Alexa, will it snow on Christmas Day?”
  • “Alexa, wake me up at 7am with Jingle Bells.”
  • “Alexa, open Christmas Goodness.”
  • “Alexa, how many calories are in 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 the Amazon Echo could do and four places in your home you should never put your Amazon Echo. You can also find the list of every Alexa command here and a complete overview of Alexa Easter Eggs Here.

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