Smart Home

This one trick will make your Christmas lights easier to use

"Alexa, transform my holidays."

Ways to make your Christmas lights smart Credit: Mr. Christmas

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‘Tis the season to… make your life as easy as humanly possible.

No, but seriously. The holidays are upon us, and with them this time of year brings joy, excitement, sugar, and chaos. Not to mention, lots and lots of lights. And between running from one event to another, managing your holiday shopping list, and ensuring your house is decorated to seasonal perfection, you’re juggling more than your fair share of festive balls in the air.

Which is why the idea of smart Christmas lights might be appealing.

Look, you’ve probably already embraced the wonder of a smart home. Whether you have a Google-, Alexa-, or Siri-enabled device, you’ve probably discovered the wonder of being able to control things like thermostats, light bulbs, and even washing machines with a single voice command.

So why wouldn’t you want to do the same with your Christmas lights?

What are smart Christmas lights?

Hanging Christmas lights
Credit: Getty / andresr

Smart string lights can integrate with your smart home without the need for a special plug.

It starts with a simple command: “Hey, Alexa, turn on the tree lights,” or, “OK, Google, set a timer for the outside lights.” And just like that, your holiday décor is brightening your living space.

No more crawling under the tree to plug and unplug the lights. No more panicking in the middle of your workday about whether or not you left them on. And no more hassling with the logistics when you could be enjoying the shimmer.

Smart Christmas lights are like any other smart device in your home: They’re lights you can control through your favorite voice assistant, with minimal effort and a lot of joy.

The latest in the smart Christmas market

Smart holiday lights have been around for a while, with a variety of brands producing ready to go strands that you can customize and even sync up with your favorite holiday playlist, all from your phone.

Amazon recently released an Alexa-enabled Christmas tree for $300. And yeah, we’re drooling. At 7 ft. tall, this tree is already equipped to make your holidays easier, granting you the ability to choose your preferred colors, to set a lighting timer, and to turn your Christmas tree lights on and off all with the included remote or your own voice commands.

There are lots of ways to smarten up your holiday display. But guess what? You don’t need to splurge on a new tree or an expensive set of lights to make your décor cooperate with your smart home system.

You just need a few extra smart plugs to go along with the lights and decorations you’ve used for years.

Setting yourself up for a smart holiday display

iDevices outdoor switch
Credit: iDevices

The iDevices outdoor switch can be used inside or outside to make your decorations smart.

There are countless smart plugs to choose from, but you want to make sure you’re purchasing plugs already compatible with your smart home system of choice. Amazon has their own smart plug that works directly with Alexa, for instance. And some, like the Samsung WiFi Smart Plug, are compatible with multiple devices at once.

In our testing, we found that the iDevices Switch is the best smart plug for indoor use, while the Meross smart plug is best for making outdoor electronics smart.

Once you’ve purchased the right indoor or outdoor smart plugs for your smart home, you’ll need to pay attention to the brand-specific instructions for using and connecting it to your voice assistant. This is often as simple as plugging it in and telling your voice assistant to scan for new devices. Once you’re connected, you just have to plug your lights into the smart plug.

From there, you should be able to utilize any number of features your preferred smart plug offers, from voice control to timer setting. Some even come with motion sensors that would allow your Christmas lights to turn on every time you or your children enter the room.

How magical is that?

More than smart lights

But you don’t have to limit your smart home holiday joy to lights alone. You can use these plugs for any of your holiday décor that runs on electricity. So everything from your electronic train set to your merry, musical Christmas village can be smart home enabled with nothing more than a simple smart plug.

And you don’t even have to be home to turn your lights on. If you want to give the neighborhood a show while you’re out at a holiday party, connect to your smart home devices from your phone and turn those lights on bright.

Then get yourself another eggnog and try not to look too smug when you see the party host running around turning all their lights on by hand.

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