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Rock your holiday party

Preparation is crucial for getting your home ready for a fabulous holiday party. 

We've got the list of smart home gadgets, decorating tricks and kitchen know-how that will get you ready for guests.

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Get your tree

First up on your party to-do list is getting a fabulous tree. 

If you don't have time to go to the tree lot, or you just don't have a way to get a tree home, Amazon delivers. Here's everything you need to know about ordering a tree on Amazon.

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Set up your tree

Once you have the tree, you need to set it up. Make a note to follow these step-by-step tips for getting your tree put up just right.

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Keeping your tree healthy

Next, make sure your tree is in it for the long haul -- so it'll make it to your party without looking like Charlie Brown's tree. 

The No. 1 trick to tree health is keeping it watered. Add these tips to your list to make sure your tree is getting enough water so it stays looking fabulous.

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Hook up the lights

Now it's time to plan the lights. I recommend plugging them into a smart plug so you can turn them on with an app on your phone or a voice command. It beats the alternative of trying to reach the outlet to plug and unplug them every day, hands-down.

Here are our picks of the best smart home plugs and switches for 2018.

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Employ some smart lighting

In addition to the lights on the tree, add some smart lights to your list, such as LifxNanoleafSylvania or Philips Hue

These lights can screw into your existing lamps and light fixtures and change color using an app on your phone, giving you just the right festive lighting for your party. Here are some useful smart light tips.

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Get your outdoor lights up

Now, let's move from indoor to outdoor lights. 

Add a just little bit of time to your schedule for lighting, because I have a plan for setting the holiday mood in just 10 minutes

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Plug 'em in right

Like your indoor lights, add a smart plug for your outdoor lights to your holiday to-do list. Here are the best outdoor smart plugs to schedule your Christmas lights.

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Make you home hub part of the decor

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

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Set the mood

Next, add music to the list. Alexa's your go-to gal for turning up the holiday jams. Link Pandora, Spotify or Amazon Music to your Alexa device. Then, just say, "Alexa, play Christmas music."

Need more volume or better sound quality? Here's how to pair Amazon Echo with a Bluetooth speaker.

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No speaker or Echo? No problem

You can use your phone to play tunes at your party, instead. 

To amp up the volume on a budget, place the speaker end of the phone into a ceramic coffee mug.

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Plot your games

My holiday gatherings aren't complete without games. They get everyone interacting and laughing. 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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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

My favorite idea is hosting a hot-pot dinner party. It will be totally unique and encourages interaction between the guests. 

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Make food fast

If you don't have a lot of time to cook, I recommend using an Instant Pot. Here are some Instant Pot recipes we love, that we know your guests will too.

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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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Make everything sparkle

Don't forget to add last-minute cleaning tasks to your to-do list. To make it easier, I've come up with some ways to get it all done in a snap:

How to clean your bathroom in 10 minutes or less.

How to clean your living room in 10 minutes or less.

How to get your kitchen clean in under 15 minutes.

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The last thing on your holiday party to-do list is planning the afterparty. My personal favorite post-party activity is cueing up some holiday movies. 

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

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