You're likely to lean on Amazon at this time of year to buy Christmas gifts. But did you know that you can use Alexa, the digital assistant from Amazon, even during the holidays?
In the weeks leading up to the 25th of December, you can set a festive mood with Alexa at home and entertain party guests.
Let's take a look at the Christmas tricks that Alexa can perform:
Play Christmas music
OK, that's pretty obvious. If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, Alexa can play all sorts of Christmas songs – from "That's Christmas to Me" by Pentatonix to "The 50 Greatest Songs of Christmas" by various artists.
And if you have an Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify subscription, there's a much larger pool of holiday pieces to play.
No subscription? No problem: activate the Christmas Radio feature and ask Alexa to play it. Or you could just ask them to sing you a Christmas carol. The result may surprise you.
Play Christmas music curated by Santa.
Another option for Christmas music: Tell Santa what you want to hear. You can do this thanks to a new iHeartRadio skill called iHeart Santa.
With this option turned on, ask Alexa to "talk to Santa" and then answer a handful of yes-or-no questions to help "Santa" decide
Learn more about the skill "iHeart Santa" in this tutorial .
Listen to "The Night Before Christmas" and other stories
Alexa can recite the whole poem, though it could be argued that her reading has some warmth in contrast to her singing. For a more vivid version, ask her to play the poem sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.
Control your Christmas lights
There are numerous ways to use Alexa as a traffic cop for your Christmas lights. The simplest: Plug any light string into an Alexa-compatible Smart Plug . That way, you can say things like, "Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree lights."
You can also invest in a series of lights that are smart ones themselves. For example, the Light Rhapsody (currently $ 55) can change color, get different effects, and more-and they're Alexa-compliant, so you do not need a special outlet.
Send Christmas Cards
If you want to print and send Christmas cards, you can send digital cards instead. Read our guide to Sending Christmas Cards with Alexa .
Suggest daily acts of kindness
"Is the season of giving right? Interestingly enough, the Christmas Kindness skill – the most highly rated holiday art for Alexa – will suggest a casual act of kindness that you can perform every day. For example, let this stressed mother jump in line at the supermarket. (Say … that you could work year-round!)
Thanks to Alexa's ability to browse the extensive Amazon product catalog, you can search for gifts and even buy with your voice. Here are some tips you need to buy gifts with Alexa .
Play Christmas sounds
. Do you want a festive holiday sound that is not music? Activate the Christmas Sounds skill and ask Alexa to play it. You will be pampered with a flowing stream of scurrying owls, hooves, Christmas carols and more. It's like having a whole party in your echo! Please note: If you ask Alexa to turn off the sounds, this will not happen immediately. That's all I'll say.
If you enable the "Norad Tracks Santa" skill (a parent must approve this in the Alexa app), you can search for "Where is Santa Claus?" to get an updated location – and if you want, some interesting facts from Norad's "Santa Files."
Discover the Christmas trivia
Alexa knows something about the biggest holiday in the world. Among the questions she can answer:
Is Santa Claus really?
Where does Santa Claus live?
How old is Santa Claus?
What can you tell me about Santa's reindeer?
What to do? You know about Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer?
Who is your favorite reindeer?
What is the true meaning of Christmas? (Whoa, Alexa can become deep .)
Have you found other funny holiday themes that you have to do with Alexa? Please include them in the comments!
Editor's Note: This entry was originally published on December 5, 2017 and has since been updated with additional information.
CNET's Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.