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How to use Alexa to buy holiday gifts

Let your smart speaker help you shop.

Down to the wire on your holiday shopping? Before you panic, ask Alexa for help.

Amazon's voice assistant has plenty of ways to ease your gift-giving anxiety. Alexa can manage shopping lists, hunt down items for sale and place orders. It can even track your packages as they ship.

Read more: 22 tips for your new Amazon Echo

Research gift ideas

There's no doubt that Amazon's database of products and vendors is vast. Let Alexa sift through the online retailer's massive inventory for you. It could save you time you'd otherwise waste scrolling through countless retailer webpages. Plus, Alexa's search returns may spark new ideas for gift as well.

Start by asking Alexa something simple like, "Alexa, shop for women's scarves" for mom. Perhaps Dad would appreciate a pair of waterproof boots. What about stocking stuffers for the kids?

Regardless of what you're shopping for, Alexa will compile a list of items to match your request. This process is particularly handy if you use one of Amazon's smart displays.

On the Echo Show ($125 at eBay) or Echo Dot ($20 at Amazon), Alexa pulls up a product list in seconds. The voice assistant then describes the first few products. You can buy items immediately or view them later within the Alexa mobile app.


Access your Alexa-created gift list in the Alexa app.

Screenshot by Brian Bennett/CNET

Build a shopping list

When browsing Amazon products with your Echo, you can keep track of promising gift items with a shopping list. Say, "Alexa, add this to my shopping list," which will put the product you're viewing into the list associated with your Amazon account.

If you haven't yet started searching for gifts, but want to keep track of ideas you have, create a custom list with Alexa. To get started, say, "Alexa, create a gift list," and then something like, "Add golf clubs for dad to my gift list."

Track your packages

Since this is Amazon we're talking about, Alexa can keep track of the purchases you've made with the massive online retailer.

Say, "Alexa, where's my package?" "Alexa, track my package" or simply, "Alexa, where's my stuff?" It'll supply your order's current shipping status. Additionally, you can choose to receive shipping notifications for all your orders. In the Alexa app, go to settings > Notifications > Shipping notifications.

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