Smart Home

10 ways Alexa can help you prep for your next party

Forget hiring a party planner—ask Alexa to get the job done.

10 ways Amazon Echo can help you prep for a party Credit: Amazon / Getty / DGLimages

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With the holiday season fast approaching, you may be thinking about throwing an end-of-the-year get together for your family and friends. But, planning a party can be a time-consuming process that requires lots of prep, like choosing a date, time, and location; setting a theme; developing a guest list; creating a food and drink menu; picking out decorations—the list goes on and on.

Need some help organizing your next soiree? There’s no need to bust your budget by hiring an event planner. Instead, you can use Alexa to help you prep. Here are 10 ways that your Echo can help you become the ultimate party planner.

1. Discover new recipes

New Recipes
Credit: Amazon

Discover new recipes to cook at your next big event by asking your Echo for suggestions.

All great parties have a delicious spread of food. So, if you’re at a loss of what to make, enable the “AllRecipes” skill in the Amazon Alexa app. If you're ready to menu plan for your party but don’t know where to start, say, “Alexa, ask AllRecipes for party recipes,” or “Alexa, ask AllRecipes for side dish recipes.” Your Echo device will give you a list of several related recipes that can be viewed on the screen of your Echo Show or Echo Spot.

If you don’t have an Echo with a screen, the recipe can be accessed in one of three ways: Alexa can read you the ingredient list, send the recipe to your phone, or print the recipe for you. Find a dish that’s a real crowd-pleaser? Add the recipe to your favorites list so you can revisit it sometime.

2. Make a grocery list

Grocery List
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Say goodbye to handwritten grocery lists with the help of Alexa.

After you assemble the recipes you plan to make for your party, it’s time to add the ingredients to your grocery list. Scrap the paper and pen and try using the “OurGroceries” skill to manage your grocery list. The skill has a 4.5-star rating from 2,016 Amazon reviews and can easily help you keep track of what you need from the store. One thing to note: You’ll need to download the OurGroceries app to your iOS or Android device to fully utilize everything it offers.

As you’re reading through your recipes, it’s easy to create your grocery list by telling your Echo things such as, “Alexa, ask OurGroceries to add milk to shopping list." Items can be removed from your shopping list by saying a phrase like, “Alexa, tell OurGroceries to remove olive oil from Walmart."

3. Sub ingredients for last-minute meal prep

Sub out ingredients
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Don't have an ingredient on hand for a recipe you're making? Alexa can help you figure out what to use in its place.

happens), Alexa can help you figure out what to use in its place using the “Ingredient Sub” skill. To find out what else in your refrigerator or pantry can replace the forgotten item, say, "Alexa, ask Ingredient Sub what can I substitute for chicken broth." Although we can’t promise that the skill can fix all of your kitchen ingredient woes, it does offer more than 100 common ingredient substitutions.

4. Create a playlist so you can pump the jams at your party

Echo 2nd generation music
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Music streaming services like Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify can all be played on your Echo.

Whether you’re planning to invite your neighbors over for a weekend cookout or are hosting a holiday party, a stream of seasonal tunes can help set the mood for your event.

Currently, only Amazon Music subscribers can create playlists using Alexa. Although Apple Music and Spotify are supported on your Echo, you cannot use these services to build playlists using Alexa at the moment. (However, you can prebuild a playlist in either of the two music streaming platforms and ask Alexa to play it from there.)

Then, tell Alexa what you’d like to name the playlist and she will create it. Be sure to give the playlist a name that’s related to the theme of your party. This way, you’ll be able to quickly access it when adding new music. Now, you won’t be able to add specific songs to your playlist just by asking.

To build a playlist using Amazon Music, start by saying, "Alexa, create a playlist.”

However, if you hear a song you like, Alexa can add it to the playlist when you say, for example, “Alexa, add this song to my holiday party playlist.

If you’ve run out of time to build the perfect playlist for your event, ask Alexa to “play party music,” “play holiday songs,” or “play top 40 hits,” depending on what music best suits your gathering.

5. Find games to keep your guests entertained

Play games
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Entertain your guests with charades and other fun party games available on your Echo.

Your Alexa-enabled device is full of fun games like Tic Tac Toe, Bingo, Jeopardy!, and more. If you’re looking for a specific game, browse the games and trivia skills in the Alexa app. Try a group game like Charades that the whole party can play.

6. Set reminders to help you stay on task

Set reminders
Credit: Amazon

Your Echo device can remind you of upcoming tasks to complete before you host your next soiree.

Planning a party requires attention to detail and usually involves multiple steps. For larger parties, you may even bring in outside food or decor. Use Alexa to keep track of the different items you need to pick up or coordinate before your party by setting reminders.

Need to pick up a cake by 1 p.m. on Friday or remember to grab table linens on Saturday morning? Your Echo can remind you to tackle your to-do list.

To set reminders, say, “Alexa, remind me to pick up the cupcakes this Thursday at 11 a.m.”

Feel free to set as many virtual reminders as you’d like to help you stay on top of the party details.

Firing up the grill for an evening barbecue? This feature can also be used to monitor how long the food has been cooking.

7. Invite guests to the party

Amazon Echo
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No time for official invitations? Ask your Echo to send a message inviting guests to your upcoming event.

Sure, you could text your best pals or send out fancy paper invites to your family members, but who has time for that when you’re busy planning a party? Instead, your Echo can spread the word for you—as long as the invitees on your list also have an Echo.

This can be done by asking Alexa to “send a message to [person’s name].” Then, say your message and Alexa will deliver it to the recipient. Your guest can send you a message back with their RSVP.

If your guest doesn't have an Echo, that's OK because you can still use Alexa Calling to give them a ring and invite them to your upcoming event.

8. Dim the lights

Philips Smart Bulbs
Credit: Reviewed / Nick Schmiedicker

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit works with Alexa to help you control the lights from anywhere in your home.

If you have smart bulbs or smart switches in your home, then you probably already know that Alexa can turn them on and off.

Our favorite smart bulbs for Alexa are the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit. The lights illuminate in 16 million colors and shades of white, so you can find the right setting for any event. When using these bulbs during your party, you can say things like, "Alexa, turn my kitchen lights green," or "Alexa, dim the lights."

Whether you have our top pick for Alexa-compatible bulbs or an array of smart lights and switches, you can use your Echo to turn the lights on for guests outdoors when the sun sets and turn on the front porch light for those making a late-night exit without having to flip a switch.

9. Help your guests get home

Ride share
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Alexa can fetch an Uber for guests who need assistance getting home.

If your guests need a ride home after a big day of fun, your Echo can help with that, too. Make sure to enable the “Uber” skill and you’ll be able to fetch them a ride in no time. To use the skill, say, "Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride." Alexa can also change the default pickup location, ask for a ride status, or cancel a ride.

10. Give you the forecast

Weather
Credit: Getty / shapecharge

Find out how the weather might impact your next party by asking Alexa for the forecast.

Hosting a party outdoors can be a real gamble when it comes to the weather. However, you can plan accordingly by asking Alexa, “What’s the weather Saturday night?” to find out if you need to move your backyard event indoors.

There’s no doubt that Alexa can certainly be a helping hand during the stressful party planning process. Just think of her as your personal digital assistant, helping make all of your efforts come to fruition so you can enjoy the party as much as your guests.