33 essential smart home commands for Christmas

Google Home

It's Christmas, which means you might well be spending more time than usual at home – and that means you'll be getting to know your smart speaker of choice a little better too. But with thousands of commands to pick from, have you worked out the most useful?

We're here to guide you towards some of our favorite smart home commands that can come in handy over the Christmas holidays: entertain guests, make travel plans run smoothly, and even get gift ideas, plus much more...

11 commands for your Amazon Echo this Christmas

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

These commands will work with an Amazon Echo smart speaker, or any other device that has the Alexa smart assistant on board. Use "Alexa" or whatever wake word you've set up.

1. "Hey Alexa, play Christmas music."

Get yourself and the whole family in the festive mood with a few randomly selected Christmas tunes – Alexa will use Amazon Music, Spotify, or whatever service you've set up.

2. "Hey Alexa, turn on/off the lights."

If you've got some Christmassy smart lights that work with Alexa – and the likes of Lifx and Philips Hue bulbs do – then you can switch them on (and off) with a voice command.

3. "Hey Alexa, what's the weather forecast?"

Before you set off for the in-laws, find out what the weather's going to do, so you know how much time to leave. You can ask for several days in advance if needed, as well.

4. "Hey Alexa, Wikipedia..."

Ask Alexa to read out any Wikipedia article to help settle family feuds, entertain your guests with some random trivia, or just learn something new while you're relaxing.

5. "Hey Alexa, play a trivia game."

Speaking of trivia, gather your friends and family around your Amazon Echo and launch a trivia game: Alexa will give you a choice of games and topics to pick from right at the start.

6. "Hey Alexa, where's Santa?"

Thanks to the Alexa skill added by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command), you can track Santa's position across the globe.

7. "Hey Alexa, name all Santa's reindeer."

Your Amazon Echo and Alexa can answer just about any Christmas-related question you want to offer up, including naming all of the eight reindeer who help out Santa Claus.

8. "Hey Alexa, tell me a joke."

Alexa can be quite witty when it wants to be, and if the conversation flags around the dinner table then get your Amazon Echo to tell the room a (family friendly) joke.

9. "Hey Alexa, set a timer for..."

One of Alexa's most useful features is its timers, so take advantage – have your Echo count minutes and seconds in the kitchen and ensure Christmas dinner is cooked to perfection.

10. "Hey Alexa, what is the IMDB rating for..."

Use Alexa to tap into the Internet Movie Database online and get ratings for any films on the box on Christmas Day – make sure you're only watching the best of the bunch.

11. "Hey Alexa, open Christmas kindness."

One of the Christmas-related skills you can enable on your Alexa device is this one: it'll suggest a small act of kindness you can carry out for someone to spread the festive cheer.

12 commands for your Google Home this Christmas

Google Home Hub

Google Home Hub

Google Assistant is on board all the Google Home speakers – including the Google Home Hub – and you can get into the festive spirit by saying "hey Google" then these commands.

1. "Hey Google, play [show or movie] on Netflix on my TV"

If you've got a Chromecast connected to the same Wi-Fi as your Google Home, and Netflix is connected in the Home app, you can throw up any show or movie from the catalog.

2. "Hey Google, turn on the Christmas lights"

Turn on your Christmas lights with Google Home – provided they're connected to a compatible smart plug, and you've named the plug "Christmas lights" in the Home app.

3. "Hey Google, tell me about my day"

Christmas can be a hectic time of year, so make sure you know everything that you've got to do over the day by calling up the appointments and events scheduled in your calendar.

4. "Hey Google, give me a Christmas fact"

Google Assistant is a treasure trove of trivia and facts of course, but you can specifically ask for something Christmas related and keep yourself and your guests entertained.

5. "Hey Google, play some Christmas carols"

Like Alexa, Google Assistant can play Christmas music from the likes of Spotify once you've got an account connected. Try asking for carols to get a more traditional, religious mix.

6. "Hey Google, flip a coin"

Having trouble getting family and friends to make a decision on the Christmas movie or whether or not to go for a walk? Get your Google Home smart speaker to flip a coin on it.

7. "Hey Google, tell me something good"

As it's Christmas, you might want to avoid all of the bad news floating around and hear a positive news story for a change – and this Google Home command will have one read out.

8. "Hey Google, set an alarm for..."

Alarms are bound to come in handy for Christmas, whether you don't want to miss the Queen's speech, or you need to know when it's time to get the turkey out of the oven.

9. "Hey Google, broadcast..."

If you've got multiple Google Home speakers at home, use the broadcast command to send a message to all of them at once – very handy when the Christmas dinner is ready.

10. "Hey Google, how's the traffic to..."

Heading out over Christmas? Ask your Google Home how the traffic is to a destination, and you'll get a summary and a driving time estimate, as well as the directions on your phone.

11. "Hey Google, call Santa"

One of the Christmas surprises Google has put in Google Assistant is a little Santa mini game – you have to help him organize a Christmas concert using your smart speaker.

12. "Hey Google, talk to Santa's hotline"

Switch to this command and you unlock another Christmassy experience inside Google Assistant. This time you have to explain whether you've been naughty or nice this year.

10 commands for your Apple HomePod this Christmas

Apple HomePod

Apple HomePod

Last but not least we have the Apple HomePod with Siri – here are some of the useful commands you can launch at Christmas by saying "hey Siri" followed by a command.

1. "Hey Siri, play..."

Of course your HomePod interfaces neatly with your iTunes or Apple Music library: Set up a festive Christmas playlist, then get it playing on your HomePod using this voice command.

2. "Hey Siri, dim the lights"

Like Amazon Echos and Google Homes, Apple HomePods can control your smart home kit, as long as its HomeKit compatible: you can dim your lights for Christmas Eve, for example.

3. "Hey Siri, add ... to my notes"

Christmas is hectic at the best of times, so use the iOS and macOS Notes app to remember everything you need to remember – this voice command can note down whatever you say.

4. "Hey Siri, where's a great place to..."

If you're stuck for something to do with the people you're seeing over Christmas, Siri on your HomePod can help – ask for restaurants, bars, or any other kind of venue you want.

5. "Hey Siri, wake me up tomorrow at..."

Make sure you're not late for anything that's happening over Christmas – whether it's a church service or the present opening – by getting Siri and your HomePod to set an alarm.

6. "Hey Siri, when is Santa coming?"

Apple has built a variety of Christmas-related questions and answers into Siri and the HomePod, and this is just one of them – get your kids to find out when Santa arrives.

7. "Hey Siri, what should I get... for Christmas?"

Here's another Christmas-themed question to try: if you're struggling for a late present ideas, ask Siri to suggest a suitable holiday gift for your brother, sister, nephew, niece or anyone else.

8. "Hey Siri, give me the latest sports news"

Christmas is usually combined with a hectic sports schedule, especially when it comes to football. Use this command to get the latest sports news and scores over the holidays.

9. "Hey Siri, how many calories are in..."

Siri and your Apple HomePod can be a big help in cooking over Christmas, from getting recipes to this command, which will tell you how many calories you're putting away.

10. "Hey Siri, text..."

Christmas is a time for family and friends, so get in touch with someone you haven't spoken to for a while by getting your HomePod to send them a festive message.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.