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5 smart home essentials for your holiday gatherings

The holidays might be a little different this year, but some things will never change. Families will gather, eat delicious food and celebrate this special time of year — whether in person or virtually through new technology. To make sure you and your family and friends can get as close as possible this holiday season, we’ve collected some of the handiest tech from Best Buy to make sure you’re well-equipped to entertain over the holidays and can stay connected and close, even from far away. Browse the ultimate entertaining guide from Best Buy.

and — $150 and $130

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Facebook is creating whole new ways to stay connected to those we’re closest to. With these two devices, you and your family can engage in smart video calling, which pans, zooms, and widens to highlight and include all the action, and everyone in view. The Portal TV connects to the most convenient TV in your home and lets you play with some fun and versatile effects to engage your viewers, like adding filters, and creating interactive stories. Meanwhile, the Facebook Portal provides its own 10-inch screen, both use a Wi-Fi connection to give you access to Messenger or WhatsApp, even if the parties you’re connecting with don’t have Portal. They can use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp on their phone, computer or other devices to connect. It’s equipped with Smart Sound, which focuses in on a speaker’s voice while minimizing background noise, and users are able to grant access to photos on your phone so you can share memories. With built-in Alexa, you can control your entire smart home with these Portal devices, for even more convenience when you’re hosting a call, virtual event, or IRL gathering.

— $230

Ring Video Doorbell 3
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It’s a time of year when welcoming people into our homes is anything but a rare occurrence, and having some video help with a smart doorbell can create a virtual doorman. Manage and monitor your visitors, as well as your deliveries with the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus, the latest premium version of the Ring Doorbell that lets you see who’s on your doorstep with 1080p HD video, as well as communicate with them through two-way talk.

The Ring Video Doorbell connects to Alexa so that communication and control couldn’t be more convenient; hands-free, you can simply ask, “Alexa who’s at the front door?” and see the answer in the footage on display via your device, or a screen like a

5-inch Echo Show

, available in a package with this smart doorbell. And for extra peace of mind and security, Ring Protect Plan lets you customize motion detection, review pre-roll video — which allows you to look back and examine what was happening around your home before the motion was detected — and save and share those videos. There’s night vision, too, so protection can be a full 24 hours, and it’s powered by rechargeable batteries that come in a quick-release battery pack. If you prefer to leave it charged, you can hardwire it so you don’t have to remember to switch batteries.

Amazon Echo Show 8

— $65, was $130

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The Amazon Echo Show 8 makes you the host with the most for any small gathering. Combine it with an

Echo Dot

to give you the ultimate communication hub throughout your home, as the announcements feature lets you reach out and broadcast a message. With the ‘Drop In‘ feature you can use the devices like intercoms and keep up to date on all the goings-on in your home.

Connect with your favorite people with hand-free video calling, or play movies, podcasts, or audiobooks while you go about your day. The 8-inch screen can bring up your favorite cooking tutorials while you prep your food. And, it sounds kinds of basic with all these amazing features, but it also lets you set timers and alarms, which can help you manage your day by reminding you that it’s time to baste the turkey, or that Grandma will be arriving in 30 minutes (and maybe it’s time to put on that sweater she gifted you last year).

Netgear Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi System

— $330

Netgear Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi System
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You need your smarthome, not to mention your Smart TV and all your other connected devices working at their best when you’re hosting a holiday gathering, and an essential step is top-tier WiFi.  Fast, accessible WiFi can make sure that the game goes uninterrupted, that you can always see who’s at the door, and that you can run the household, and the party, hands-free. That’s where the Netgear Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi System comes in.

This holiday, it can help everything in your smart home run smoothly by delivering up to 3.0Gbps high-performance Wi-Fi. The design is subtle and attractive, and the high-gain internal antennas provide up to 5,000 square feet of coverage to make sure everyone can always have fast access. Also, the FastLane3 technology — which provides more amplified, reliable, extra stable WiFi — creates especially seamless 4K streaming and gaming everywhere in your home. There’s also Netgear Armor, a multi-layer cyber security approach that protects both your network and individual devices to keep your privacy safe).  And there’s an extra layer of security, for parents, with the Smart Parental Controls, which let you monitor what the kids can see — on any device — and are easy to use.

Philips Hue Lightstrip Base Kit with Extension

— $105

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No gathering is complete without entertainment, and the Philips Hue Lightstrip Base Kit with Extension can bring your home entertainment system to an entirely new level. You can place the Philips Hue Lightstrip around your home theater to give it the perfect ambiance, whether you want to create a professional theater setting, the ultimate gaming lounge, or something more intimate.

Combine it with the

Philips Hue Sync Box

to give your theater system impressive “surround lighting” capabilities, making it so that the lighting in your room can rival that on the screen. The flexible Hue strip is super versatile; it can be bent, shaped, or cut to your specifications so that it can upgrade your living room, or any room, to your specifications. And it has Bluetooth capability so that you can instantly control the lighting situation in a single room via the Hue Bluetooth app. You can also use voice commands when you connect to a compatible Alexa or Google Assistance device. If you want to reach more rooms, just connect to a Hue Bridge and open up a new world of smart light features. You can manage up to 50 lights, even if you’re away from home. Make your home look extra special this holiday season — it’s never been easier.

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Jacob Silver
An avid cook, boxer, reader, and binger of Netflix (and Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon and more) Jacob Silver writes deals posts about…
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