Skip to main content

How to control your holiday lights with Alexa

You can make your holiday lights a little easier to manage by tying them to an Alexa voice command, which allows you to turn the lights on whenever you want with a quick phrase. It’s a great little trick for the modern home, and it’s easy to set up too. Here’s everything you need to do.

Note: We’re assuming you have a speaker with Alexa built in, such as any of the Amazon Echo speakers, the Ecobee SmartThermostat, and other related devices. Otherwise, this won’t work.

Step 1: Find an Alexa-compatible smart plug

Image used with permission by copyright holder

You can make just about any strand of holiday lights smart by plugging it into a smart plug, which is far more efficient and easier to use than an old-fashioned timer. The key is finding a smart plug that is also compatible with Alexa voice commands. Fortunately, Alexa has excellent compatibility with smart home devices, and your chances of finding an Alexa-friendly plug are very high. We suggest starting with our list of the best smart plugs for ideas.

If your lights are going to be outdoors, you just need to make sure you get an Alexa plug that can handle outdoor weather, like the iClever Smart Plug or other outdoor plugs. Whichever plug you choose, plug it in, connect it to your Wi-Fi network, and make sure it’s set up with Alexa before you begin.

Step 2: Set up a new Routine on Alexa

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As you set up your lights and tree and start decorating, you also need to start setting up a new routine just for the tree on the Alexa app. Open up the app and select the “hamburger” line icon at the bottom left of the home screen to open up Alexa’s Settings menu.

In the menu section, select Routines. Routines are smart-device actions you can tie together under one unique voice command. Once in Routines, you will want to select the plus sign in the upper right corner, which is how you create new routines.

Step 3: Name your Routine command

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The new Routine menu gives you a variety of options to set up the Routine. Start with Enter routine name, which you can name something easy like “holiday lights.” When finished, select When this happens. This will open a new menu with lots of Routine actions.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Begin by choosing the top Voice icon. This will give you the option to enter a specific phrase to initiate the Routine. You want this to be something unique, but that shouldn’t be too hard in this case. We suggest typing something like “Alexa, turn on the tree,” Alexa turn on the outside holiday lights,” or whatever specific phrase that you want. Now, Alexa will know what to listen for.

Step 4: Add actions for turning on Christmas lights

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Head back to the New Routine menu and select Add action. Scroll down the rather long list until you reach Smart Home, and select it.

This will bring up all the Alexa-ready smart devices in your home. (You may need to select “all devices” to get a complete list.) Your smart plug should be under your list of devices. If it isn’t, double-check to make sure it’s connected to your Wi-Fi and that Alexa has discovered it. You can even try saying, Alexa, connect to the living room smart plug” or something similar.

When you see your smart plug on the list, select it. Alexa will make sure your new Routine will turn the smart plug on, which is exactly what you want to do, so make sure the toggle is turned on. Select Next in the upper right, and then select Save in the upper right to wrap up adding actions to the smart plug.

Step 5: Test out your new Routine


Once the Routine is saved, you are ready to test it out. Make sure your holiday lights are plugged in and the smart plug is turned off. Then give your command, “Alexa, turn on the holiday lights.” Alexa will turn on the lights and then briefly acknowledge your command.

Note that if you want to create a strict schedule for your lights, you should be able to find scheduling options in the app you use to control your smart plug. The Alexa command, however, is more useful for versatile, impromptu occasions where you want to turn the tree lights on. It’s also useful for creating a bedtime routine where you turn all of your lights off, including your holiday lights.

Step 6: Add more actions to the Routine as desired

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you want to make controlling your holiday lights an even more special occasion when you come home, we suggest adding some more actions to the Routine. You can revisit the Routine whenever you want. Choose Add action to again see your options. A favorite choice is to select Music, and then pick a specific song and band to play from a specific source (Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and more are all supported) whenever you give the command. That way, your tree can turn on while an Echo speaker plays a favorite holiday tune. It’s a great command to use when you’re coming home after a busy day.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
Why can’t Alexa reach Amazon Music?
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen, 2020 release)on a table with a yoga matt and water bottle.

Among the voice assistant’s talents, Alexa is a master at whipping up a playlist to accompany anything from your afternoon workout to a serious cooking session in your kitchen. Connections to services like Amazon Music allow you to stream your favorite artist, album, or genre with a quick voice command. Since Alexa is available in app form, you can have that same capability on your phone or computer.

But what happens when Alexa drops the ball and can’t connect to Amazon Music? Here’s what may be going on, and tips on how to fix it fast so you can go back to listening to your favorite tunes.
How do I get Alexa to play my Amazon Music?

Read more
The best Alexa commands
An Amazon Echo in living room.

You’ve just unboxed a brand new Amazon Echo product, and Alexa is now at your beck and call -- but what do you ask? You’ve likely already asked for the weather a few times, maybe even for a news update or your favorite musician, but now what? We’re prepared to answer that question for you and show you just how much your new assistant can do with our list of the best Alexa commands. Once you’ve learned the essentials here, pop over to our best Alexa Easter eggs list to see what other secrets lay within.
News and weather

Alexa is a great way to obtain information about the world around you, whether you want to know the conditions outside or what’s happening on the other side of the globe. Check out these commands for interacting with Alexa’s news and weather features. If you need to set information for your current location or commute, you can do so in the Alexa app.

Read more
Alexa launches Grow a Tree Skill for Earth Day
A worker replanting a tree outside.

April is Earth Month, and in honor of the celebration, Amazon is teaming up with the environmental charity One Tree Planted. Through this partnership, Amazon will donate money to the charity to help with its reforestation campaign. The partnership will culminate in $1 million dollars donated, 1 million trees planted, and additional money from Alexa users for the rest of 2022.

If you’re not familiar with the One Tree Planted organization, it is a charity that has planted over 40 million trees since 2014. Since trees are essential in creating clean air and water, as well as a healthy environment, One Tree Planted wants to make it easy for anyone to help plant more. The organization has also been an AmazonSmile partner organization that allows Amazon customers to quickly donate to the charity when shopping on

Read more