Back in the day, you would have to crawl under the Christmas tree to plug it in and watch the tree light up on Christmas morning. Now, with home automation and everything being connected, that's no longer a thing. Of course, that's not all, you also don't need to get up early to start the turkey, so that it'll be ready for dinner on Christmas, you can use a smart plug to schedule when the turkey will turn on and start cooking (provided you aren't cooking it in an oven but in a slow cooker or a crock pot). That's really just the tip of the iceberg for Christmas these days, and how you can automate the holiday. While some like to do all the cooking, and wrapping presents, others like to sit back, relax and enjoy the day. And now you can do just that. Let's explore how it's possible.
Use a Smart Plug to Set Timers
Smart Plugs are some of the most versatile products in a connected home, and that's because it works with everything, literally. You could use a smart plug to run your Christmas tree in the living room, or wherever you have it located. And with many smart plugs having voice control these days, you can say "OK Google, turn on Christmas tree" (though, keep in mind that you would need to name your smart plug "Christmas tree" for that to work). You could also use one to control your lights outside, but you would need to have them plugged in, inside, as most smart plugs do not work outside since they are not weatherproof. So you'll want to keep that in mind as well.
Cooking in a Connected Crock Pot
If you have a big turkey to cook for Christmas dinner, you'll want to start it early, so it'll be ready for dinner. That usually means getting up early to start the turkey. Well not anymore. If you have a connected Crock Pot, which Wemo has a great one available, you can set a timer to have it start at say 6am, and it'll be ready in time for dinner, while you continue to sleep. Until of course, your kids (or any kids in the house) wake you up by unwrapping their Christmas presents.
Watch the Kids Open Their Presents with a Security Camera
Smart Security Cameras have become very popular over the past couple of years, and they have many different use-cases. Many are used to keep an eye on your home while you are away, whether inside or outside. But there are other use-cases for a security camera, like watching your newborn in their crib, so you know when they wake up in the middle of the night, replacing the normal baby monitor. Or you can set one up near the Christmas tree and you can see when the kids get up and open their presents. Now this works two ways, you can see how they reacted to their presents they got. Or you can catch them opening these presents before they are supposed too. Of course, kids like to try and sneak and open presents before the big day, and now you'll have proof that they did just that. There is the Amazon Cloud Cam, shown above, which is a great one to check out. Another great option is the Logitech Circle 2, which works both inside and outside.
Everything we've talked about here works with both Google Assistant and Alexa, and their corresponding speakers also bring in some holiday cheer in a variety of ways. The Google Home has the Google Assistant built-in, and not only can it control the smart plugs and the Wemo-connected Crock Pot, but it can also play Christmas or Holiday music for you during your holiday parties and get-togethers. Just ask Google to "Play Christmas music" and then mention the music service you want to use, and you're good to go. Alexa can do the same thing, and if you have the Sonos One, you will get some incredible sound that will fill your home with holiday joy. Another option is the Echo Show, which will allow you to not only stream music, but also check the stream from the Amazon Cloud Cam we also talked about earlier on. Both platforms are great, and basically work the same. So it all really comes down to personal preference here.
These speakers are capable of a lot, not just playing music, or controlling your smart home. They can also be useful when you are cooking. Say you are using a new recipe for sweet potato pie that you've never used before. Well you can ask Google Assistant or Alexa for help. If the recipe is on AllRecipes, you can have the Google Assistant or Alexa to walk you through the recipe and find out what's next, without needing to clean your hands to touch your phone and see what else is needed. This also works on the Echo Show, and actually works better since it does have a display for you to work off of.
Obviously these are just a few examples of how you can experience a "connected" holiday this year. You could definitely get creative and pick up some smart light bulbs that change to green and red and really make your home feel like the holidays, or you could use Alexa to order an Uber for you to take from your house to the family gathering (whether that is your parents house, maybe an aunt or even a friend's house). Or if worse came to worse and you screwed up dinner for the holidays, you can use Alexa to order some pizza, if you are able to find a place open during the holidays. And there are plenty of other ways to really use these Home Automation products to allow yourself to really enjoy the holidays this year, instead of working hard on dinner, or making sure kids have the best holidays ever. Of course, these are all products that would work well for gifting to others as well, or treating yourself to something special – let's face it, you worked hard this year too.