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5 Simple Ways to Christmas-ify Your Smart Home – New Video

Smart homes are great, but sometimes it’s not always clear how to use smart devices to make your home more Christmasy. This video covers five simply ways that you can use common smart devices to smarten up your Christmas.

The individual sections of the video are at the timestamps below:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 0:19 – Smart Plugs
  • 1:53 – Smart Light Bulbs
  • 3:25 – Smart Lightstrips
  • 3:58 – Smart Cameras And Doorbells
  • 5:20 – Smart Speakers
  • 6:46 – Wrapping Up

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! Yeah that’s… pretty much all of my Christmas spirit used up there. But I still have a little Christmas cheer left over, and so today I wanted to cover five quick ways that you can Christmasfiy your smart home. (Totally a word).

Firstly, everyone loves Christmas lights – whether they are outdoor lights on your ultra-Christmasy street, or simple Christmas tree lights. But having to physically turn them ON every night, only to turn them OFF a few hours later is… exhausting. Surely there’s a better way? Well yes, due to the power of smart plugs, there is! (I don’t know why I’ve gone for a “cheesy infomercial” vibe by the way).

You can plug all your smart lights into a smart plug (or multiple smart plugs), and then set them to go on and off via a schedule. This means that you could have them come on at 5pm and go off at 3am. Alternatively you can use voice control via an Echo or Google Home device to turn them on or off without leaving your seat. Score! Just be sure to check the maximum wattage of your smart plug before chaining together a million miles of LED Christmas lights and plugging it into a single $5 smart plug. In other words, if your power setup looks like THIS, and you then plug it into some random smart plug, your house (or neighborhood) might end up looking like THIS. Just kidding – sort of. But no, don’t overload them.

Also if you use routines via your smart speaker, you can add the smart plug into this. In our case, in the evenings we say “lights on”, and various lights around our house come on – and now, our Christmas tree comes on too. This is because we have added a “smart plug ON” command to our existing “lights on” routine. It takes seconds to do, and it works really well.

Secondly, smart bulbs can be great for ambient Christmas lighting effects (assuming that you buy color RGB bulbs, not just “white” smart bulbs, of course). You can set them to a range of Christmasy colors – be it red or green. Whatever you want. But often you might want to go a little further. That’s where dynamic lighting comes in. Apps like LIFX, for example, have various lighting effects that allow you to cycle between a range of colors. This can help create more of a Christmasy feel that having a single, static color all the time. After all, red is a Christmasy color – but setting your whole house to a constant red will seem more like a horror movie than a Christmas scene! But cycling between red, blue, orange (etc) will seem more Christmasy – so that’s why I really like having dynamic lighting effects available to me.

The Philips Hue app also offers this feature via the Hue app, under the Hue Labs section that I covered in another video. There are a range of lab formulas, but the “Holiday Living Scenes” one is probably the best since it’s specifically designed to loop around a range of Christmasy colors. However a word of caution – only the full Hue app (which requires the Hue Bridge) supports this feature, the Hue Bluetooth app does not – which is a bit rubbish.

If this feature is important to you but don’t want to shell out on LIFX or Hue – which are quite expensive bulbs –  you might want to check if the app (attached to your smart bulbs) have any dynamic lighting effects before buying them.

Thirdly, smart lightstrips can be a really awesome way of achieving a subtle but powerful Christmas effect. It might be that you don’t like your Christmas tree decs – and throwing a lightstrip on it will totally improve it. Well, not like that – but a lightstrip can actually look good on a tree, especially if you use the dynamic effects I just spoke about. Alternatively, you can put the lightstrip around (or below) your window – and this can be a really awesome way of adding fairly unique Christmas lighting to your street.

Fourthly, if you have a smart doorbell or camera, you can combine this with a Ring Chime or smart speaker to play Christmasy noises when someone is at your door – or motion is detected. In my case, my Ring Chime shouts “Ho Ho Ho” when someone presses my Ring Doorbell. If you’re anything like me, you’ll totally forget that you’ve set this up – and then get a bit scared when you randomly hear “Ho ho ho” shouted at you from your living room! But you’ll soon get used to it… maybe.

You can also play a different sound when motion is detected – in my case, we have a train whistle sound when our cars pull into our driveway – but you can of course have a Christmas sound here instead. If you don’t have a Ring Doorbell or Chime, fear not. You can do all this in the Alexa app too. You can have a routine trigger when another brand of smart doorbell is pressed, or when your smart camera detects motion. You can then use this to play a Christmas song, turn on some lights set to a certain color, and more. Alternatively, you can set your Echo devices to play a range of Christmas sounds when someone presses your doorbell – doing away with the need for a separate Ring Chime unit.

Finally, pretty much all of us have some sort of smart speaker – be it an Amazon Echo, Google Home or an Apple HomePod device. They all have some Christmas features which can be especially good for children – or childish people like me. Taking the Amazon Echo, for example, you can activate the “Hey Santa” skill or say “call Santa”, allowing your children to interact with Santa.

(Alexa talking)

Alexa stop. Whoops, I said the “Alexa” word didn’t I?

There should also be a “Bring in Christmas” routine available under the Featured tab, which shows how you can easily start chaining multiple smart devices together to make a Christmasy effect.

In this case, you can control a smart light – such as turning it on and set it to red – then play Christmas music for 30 minutes, and then make a Christmas sound. Of course, you can tweak this to do exactly what you want instead. As I mentioned earlier, we have a “lights on” routine which now turns on our Christmas lights – and we also play a Christmas sound when someone is at our front door. There’s genuinely loads of  possibilities here, depending on exactly what smart devices you have – and where they are in your home.

That just about wraps up today’s video. This is a fairly brief introduction into how smart homes can make your home more Christmasy, but it’s definitely worth diving into your smart home app – or apps if you have 10 like me – to see what other options might be open to you.

Before I finish, I wanted to say thanks for watching this video – and for all the support I’ve had since I started Smart Home Point two years ago. In the past year, this channel’s videos have had over four hundred thousand views – amounting to 1.2 million watch minutes. Of THIS face. That’s awesome. I really appreciate the support. I haven’t been publishing as much this year since my personal life has been manic – and exhausting – but I’m looking forward to publishing a whole lot more next year.

But until then, thank you again. If you enjoyed this video, please click the like (or ‘thumbs up’) button. Please also subscribe if you haven’t already, and have a great Christmas (waaay!) and New Year. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

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