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Let tech help you throw the ultimate holiday party this year

Here's everything you need to know to make your holiday party the best of the season, from music to food to entertainment.

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alina-bradford.jpg

Alina Bradford

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Rock your holiday party

Preparation is crucial for getting your home ready for a fabulous holiday party, especially when tech is involved.

If you really want to show off to friends and family this year, we've put together a list of the best tips, tricks and smart home skills to turn your seasonal get-together into the greatest holiday show on Earth.

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2 of 14 Angela Lang/CNET

Get your tree

First up on your party to-do list is getting a great tree. If you don't have time to go to the tree farm, or you just don't have a way to get a tree home, you can order a real or artificial tree online through a tree-delivery service.

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3 of 14 Angela Lang/CNET

Set up your tree

If you've ordered a real tree, the next thing is to set it up. Follow these simple step-by-step tips for getting your tree put up just right.

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4 of 14 Angela Lang/CNET

Keeping your tree healthy

Next, you don't want anyone at your holiday party comparing your tree to Charlie Brown's, so it's time to spruce it up (pun intended). 

The key to keeping your tree healthy is proper watering. Add these tips to your list to make sure your tree is getting enough water so it stays looking fresh.

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5 of 14 Angela Lang/CNET

Hook up the lights

Now it's time to light things up. For the ultimate control (and to avoid having to crawl under your tree every night to unplug it), connect the lights to a smart plug. Your digital assistant can turn the lights on and off either with voice commands or on a schedule -- you can even set most assistants to turn the lights on at sunset and off again at dawn. 

Here are our picks of the best smart home plugs and switches for 2019.

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6 of 14 Alina Bradford/CNET

Get your outdoor lights up

Now, let's move from indoor to outdoor lights. If you don't have the time or the energy to go full-on Clark Griswold with it, here's a plan for lighting up your home's exterior in just 10 minutes

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7 of 14 Chris Monroe/CNET

Plug 'em in right

Just like for indoor lights, a smart plug can make managing your outdoor light display much easier. Here are the best outdoor smart plugs to schedule your Christmas lights.

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8 of 14 Alina Bradford/CNET

Make you home hub part of the decor

Have a Google Home Hub, Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show or Facebook Portal? Use it to make a festive slideshow for the party. Here's how.

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9 of 14 Chris Monroe/CNET

Set the mood

What's a wintertime party without holiday music? Some might say "more tolerable," but they're just being Scrooges. If you've got a smart speaker -- like an Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home or Nest Home -- you can link Pandora, Spotify or (only on the HomePod and Echo) Amazon Music. Then, just say, "Hey, Google/Siri/Alexa, play holiday music" to get the party started. 

You can even be more specific and ask for "jazz Christmas music" or "Hanukkah music" or, if your subscription supports it, specific songs or albums. Say, "[Assistant], play The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler" or "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or the "Kenny G Christmas Album."

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10 of 14 Chris Monroe/CNET

Plot your games

A great holiday gathering isn't complete without games. Games get everyone interacting and laughing, so be sure to add some fun party games to your list. 

Can't think of any? Peruse these 25 games you can play using Alexa. Or, check out this list of 43 games you can play with Google Home.

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11 of 14 Lexy Savvides/CNET

Plan your menu

Next on the list is planning the party food. CNET's sister site Chowhound has some great holiday recipes that are perfect for parties

One idea is to host a hot-pot dinner party. It'll be totally unique and encourages interaction between the guests. 

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12 of 14 Josh Miller/CNET

Make food fast

If you don't have a lot of time to cook, an Instant Pot can help you prepare a feast for your guests with minimal effort. Here are some Instant Pot recipes we love that your guests will simply devour.

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13 of 14 Chowhound

Slow it down

Don't have an Instant Pot? Using a slow cooker is a great idea, too. Here are some fantastic slow-cooking recipes for parties you can add to your list.

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14 of 14 Screenshot by Alina Bradford/CNET

Afterparty

The last thing on your holiday party to-do list is planning the afterparty. One quick and easy way to transition to a more laid-back atmosphere is to cue up some holiday movies. 

Not sure what to watch? Here's a list of Christmas movies on Netflix -- and here's our review of Netflix's own holiday rom-com The Princess Switch.

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