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10 Fun and Festive Amazon Alexa Features to Try This Christmas

Your Amazon Echo device can spread holiday cheer.

Amazon echo laying on holiday bows and packaging
Did you know you can employ Alexa to spread some holiday cheer?
Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Dec. 25 will be here before you know it. That means you might already be decking the halls or listening to Mariah Carey on an endless loop, but if you're still looking for ways to get into the holiday spirit, Amazon's trusty voice assistant can help.

From suggesting acts of kindness to finding the perfect gift for loved ones, Alexa can help you feel festive and fun. Here are 10 Alexa skills and activities you can use on your Amazon Echo device to make your holiday a little more merry and bright. For more tips, check out how Alexa can help with your shopping, and every holiday-related Alexa feature and command for your Echo device. 

1. Play Christmas music on your Amazon Echo

OK, this is fairly obvious. Assuming you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, Alexa can play all kinds of Christmas tunes -- everything from That's Christmas to Me by Pentatonix to The 50 Greatest Songs of Christmas by various artists. 

And if you have an Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify subscription, there's a substantially larger pool of holiday tunes to play.

No subscription? No problem: Enable the Christmas Radio skill and then ask Alexa to play it. Or you could just ask her to sing you a Christmas carol, or to sing Jingle Bells. The result may surprise you.

2. Play Christmas music curated by Santa

Another option for holiday tunes: Tell Santa what you want to hear. You can do that thanks to a new iHeartRadio skill called iHeart Santa.

Once enabled, you ask Alexa to "talk to Santa Claus," then answer a handful of yes-or-no questions to help "Santa" determine what kind of Christmas music to play for you.

Learn more about the iHeart Santa skill in this tutorial.

3. Listen to The Night Before Christmas and other stories

Alexa can recite the entire poem, though one could argue that -- unlike her singing -- her reading lacks a certain warmth. For a livelier version, ask her to play the poem as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Simply ask, "Alexa, read The Night Before Christmas" or even "Alexa, tell me a Christmas story" for some story time fun. 

light rhapsody string lights

These may look like standard holiday LEDs, but the Light Rhapsody strand pairs with your Amazon Echo so you can control it with voice commands.

Light Rhapsody

4. Control your Christmas lights with Alexa

There are numerous ways to put Alexa to work as the traffic cop for your holiday lights. The most basic: Plug any strand of lights into an Alexa-compatible smart plug. That way you can say things like, "Alexa, turn the Christmas lights on" and light up your house like the Griswolds'. 

You can also invest in a strand of lights that are, themselves, smart. The Light Rhapsody, for example, can change colors, perform various effects and more -- and they're Alexa-compatible, so you don't need a special outlet.

5. Send Christmas cards with Alexa

If you never quite got around to printing and mailing Christmas cards, Alexa can help you send digital ones instead. Check out our how-to guide on sending holiday cards with Alexa.

6. Suggest daily acts of kindness

'Tis the season of giving, right? The Christmas Kindness skill -- the highest-rated holiday skill for Alexa, interestingly -- will suggest a random act of kindness you can perform every day. For example: Let that stressed-out mom jump ahead of you in line at the grocery store. (Say... that one could work all year round!)

7. Find gifts on your Amazon Echo

Thanks to Alexa's ability to search Amazon's massive catalog of products, you can use it to find gifts and even purchase them with your voice. Follow our complete guide on how to holiday shop with Alexa

amazon echo device in front of Christmas tree

From suggesting acts of kindness to finding the perfect gift, Alexa can help you get into the Christmas spirit. 

Angela Lang/CNET

8. Play Christmas sounds on your Amazon Echo

Want a festive holiday soundtrack that's not music? Enable the Christmas Sounds skill, then ask Alexa to play it. You'll be treated to a running stream of hooting owls, clopping hooves, Christmas carolers and more. It's like there's a whole party going on inside your Echo! But take note: When you ask Alexa to turn off the sounds, it doesn't happen immediately. That's all I'll say.

9. Track Santa on your Amazon Echo

By enabling the NORAD Tracks Santa skill (a parent must approve this within the Alexa app), you can ask "Where's Santa?" to get an updated location -- and, if you want, some interesting facts from NORAD's "Santa Files."

Amazon echo laying on festive wrapping paper

Your Amazon Echo is super handy during the holidays.

Angela Lang/CNET

10. Explore Christmas trivia on your Amazon Echo 

Alexa knows a fair bit about the world's biggest holiday.

Among the questions Alexa can answer:

  • Is Santa Claus real?
  • Where does Santa Claus live?
  • How old is Santa Claus?
  • What can you tell me about Santa's reindeer?
  • What do you know about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
  • Who's your favorite reindeer?
  • What is the true meaning of Christmas? (Whoa, Alexa can get deep.)