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Make your Amazon Echo work for you this Thanksgiving day

If you have an Amazon Echo, use these Alexa tools to help keep your Thanksgiving Day from tripping over avoidable hurdles.


Use Alexa to make this your best Thanksgiving ever.

Chris Monroe/CNET
This story is part of 2019 Holiday Survival Guide, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

It's Thanksgiving Day and you have a lot to do. If you're smart (and of course you are), put your Amazon Echo to work. The Alexa voice assistant can be of service to you if you need last-minute pointers on how to cook a turkey, if forgot to order something essential or if you just need a nice cocktail after a long day. 

Instead of losing your mind over what to do next, let Alexa assist you so you can spend time with your family rather than freaking out because you forgot to set the timer. Here are 10 ways Alexa can help you out on Thanksgiving Day. And here's our guide to surviving the rest of Thanksgiving, from reducing road rage when you drive to avoid getting duped when you shop for Back Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Read more: Amazon Echo, Google Nest and all the best smart home gifts of 2019      

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Create a grocery list for Thanksgiving

By now we hope you have everything you need, but if you don't, you can quickly create a list while hurrying to strap on your shoes. Or, send someone else out for last-minute errands and have the list ready when they get to the store. 

Alexa can keep a running shopping list for you. Just say "Alexa, create a shopping list" and then you can start adding items as you remember them, even adding on if you've forgotten something.

If you want to know everything you've added to the list, you can either ask Alexa what's on your grocery list or you can view it in the Alexa app on your phone.

Now playing: Watch this: Amazon's new smart oven is Alexa-enabled

Make a Thanksgiving Day to-do list

As with a grocery list, Alexa can also keep a to-do list for you. Just say "Alexa, create a to-do list" and name it "Thanksgiving" so you can easily find it. Then you can add your your tasks for the day, like making the sides and setting the table. When you're ready to hear what's on your plate for the day, just say "Alexa, what's on my to-do list?"

Keeping all the things that need to get done on Thanksgiving Day in one place can help you cut through or delegate the seemingly never-ending list in no time. 


"Alexa, add thaw turkey to my to-do list."

Chris Monroe/CNET

Get tons of last-minute recipe ideas

One area of Alexa's skill catalog that is particularly rich is recipe and cooking skills. Five of the most notable are Allrecipes, Best Recipes (from Hellmann's), Betty Crocker and Food Network.

Not only will these skills offer up some recipes to try, they will tell you the ingredients needed and walk you through the process. Food Network lets you look up recipes by chef or TV show. Allrecipes will send directions to your phone. Betty Crocker will tell you how long it will take to cook a ham. And Best Recipes will give you recipes for the ingredients you already have.

If you forgot the turkey (or how long you have to cook it)...

If something happened to your bird and you need to rush out and get it, choosing the right size is difficult -- will there be enough, or far too many leftovers? The Turkey Planner skill can tell you how much turkey you need based on the number of guests coming over. It will also let you know how long you need to cook it. 

Just say, "Alexa, ask Turkey Planner how long it will take to cook a 12-pound turkey," or, "Alexa, ask Turkey Planner what size of turkey is needed for 10 people."


Don't buy the wrong turkey.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Set multiple timers

Setting timers on your stove, microwave and phone can be a nightmare -- especially when you're trying to figure out which timer goes to the ham and which one goes to the pie. So when you go to set the timer, think twice about using one of those and use your Echo device.

Not only can you create several concurrent timers, but you can name them so you can easily keep everything straight. Say "Alexa, start a three-hour turkey timer" or "Alexa, create a stuffing timer for 30 minutes." To check on your timers, just say "Alexa, how much time is left on the turkey timer?"

Have drinks on hand for everyone

Whether you're hosting or coming as a guest, you'll still have a few hours to second-guess yourself and get more drinks -- a selection of wine, spirits, beer, this drink they apparently really like in Wisconsin, you name it. With skills like The Bartender, What Beer? and MySomm, you can easily find drinks that go best with the food you'll be serving -- or make spur-of-the-moment cocktails to welcome the festive mood.


Make sure there are drink options for everyone.

Bryan VanGelder/CNET

Get the kiddos to nap while you cook

Preparing a huge meal for a group of people is already arduous -- but add an energetic kid who wants to help you cook can make you crazy when you're strapped for time. Let Alexa assist you by telling your kid(s) a short bedtime story to get them sleepy enough to snooze

Set the mood with on-theme tunes

Unlike Christmas or Halloween, Thanksgiving doesn't exactly have a specific type of music to go along with it. But that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't play music. There are plenty of great Thanksgiving playlists to choose from on Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Prime Music. Just say, "Alexa, play Thanksgiving music."

Order last-minute essentials

If you're too busy to run to the store (again) before Thanksgiving, use Alexa to quickly order last-minute essentials. You can order everything from cling wrap to a new turkey baster. All you have to do is ask.

If you have Prime Now in your area, you can have whatever you need shipped to your door same-day (this requires an Amazon Prime account). Just say "Alexa, I'd like to purchase [item]" and then say "Buy it now" to confirm your order.

You'll need to enable voice ordering and 1-Click ordering to make purchases through your Echo device. Open the Alexa app > Menu > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing and toggle the Purchase by voice setting on. You can also create a voice code so that only you can make Amazon purchases using your Echo.


Let Alexa order your last-minute essentials when you don't have time.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Black Friday Calendar

Finally, if your family has a tradition of going shopping after scarfing down Thanksgiving dinner, you can use the Black Friday Calendar skill to check store hours for Black Friday. (Let's be honest, we're also checking for Thanksgiving Day hours now).

Just say "Alexa, ask Black Friday Calendar for Target hours." It works for stores including Walmart, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, GameStop, Home Depot, Lowe's and many more. Here are the best Black Friday deals on now.

Need more Alexa tips to get you through the holidays? Check out how to use Amazon Echo to get the best sleep of your life and these essential Amazon Echo tips you'll use daily.

Updated original post with new information.