9 Alexa tips for easier Thanksgiving prep


Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving can be the most hectic, with families traveling from all parts of the country, crowding around a small table and stuffing themselves to the brim with delicious food. All the food, drinks and festivities? It can be a lot to prepare for.

This year, try putting Alexa to work for you. Here are nine ways the Amazon Echo’s ($129.99 at Home Depot) connected assistant can make Thanksgiving a little easier for you.

Keep a grocery list for the big day

Alexa is capable of keeping a running shopping list. Use this to keep track of all the groceries or equipment you may need. Just say, “Alexa, add butter to the shopping list,” or, “Alexa, add knife sharpener.”

You can view this list in the Alexa app on Android or iOS and at alexa.amazon.com. Alternatively, you can connect a third-party list service, like AnyList or Cozi Lists, to two-way sync your lists.

Keep a Thanksgiving day to-do list

Staying on top of everything that needs to be done can be a chore in itself. Like with lists, you can two-way sync to-do lists with Any.do, Todoist and Picniic. Or you can keep your Alexa to-do list totally separate. To add a new to-do, just say, “Alexa, add thaw the turkey to my to-do list.”

Either way, keeping all the things that need to get done on Thanksgiving day in one place can help you cut through or delegate the seemingly never-ending list in no time. After all your tasks are added, you can say, “Alexa, what’s on my to-do list?”

Get tons of recipe ideas

One area of Alexa’s skill catalog that is particularly rich is recipe and cooking skills. Five of the most notable are AllrecipesBest Recipes (from Hellmann’s), Betty CrockerFood Network and GoodNes (from Nestlé).

Not only will these skills offer up some recipes to try, they will tell you the ingredients needed and walk you through the process. GoodNes offers a visual guide. Food Network lets you look up recipes by chef or TV show. Allrecipes will send directions to your phone. Betty Crocker will tell you how long it will take to cook a ham. And Best Recipes will give you recipes for the ingredients you already have.

With the Turkey Planner skill, Alexa can also tell you how much turkey you need for the number of guests you’ll be having. It also tells you how long you will need to cook it. Just say, “Alexa, ask Turkey Planner how long it will take to cook a 12-pound turkey,” or, “Alexa, ask Turkey Planner what size of turkey is needed for 10 people.”

Multiple timers

On Thanksgiving day, multiple timers will be your favorite feature of Alexa. You can not only create several concurrent timers, but you can name them so you can easily keep everything straight. Say, “Alexa, start a 3-hour turkey timer,” or, “Alexa, create a stuffing timer for 30 minutes.”

Then, to check on your timers, you say, “Alexa, how much time is left on the turkey timer?”

Cocktail ideas

When you’re having several guests over for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s a nice touch to have a selection of cocktails on hand. Alexa can help with that, too, thanks to The Bartender. This skill suggests over 12,000 different cocktails. It can tell you what’s in a drink, how to make it or suggest random cocktail recipes. You can also request cocktails with specific ingredients in them, such as, “Alexa, ask The Bartender for a drink with pineapple juice and vodka.”

Get better wine pairings

For drinking with your Thanksgiving dinner, use MySomm to get wine pairings. For a traditional turkey dinner, it will suggest you “open a good zinfandel or a soft red like pinot noir.” But if you’re into nontraditional Thanksgiving meals, this skill will definitely come in handy.

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Set the mood

Unlike Christmas or Halloween, Thanksgiving doesn’t exactly have a specific type of music to go along with it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t play music. There are plenty of great Thanksgiving playlists to choose from on Spotify, Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited. Just say, “Alexa, play Thanksgiving music.”

This will help set the holiday mood or vibe without playing Christmas music too soon.

Order last-minute essentials

If you’re too busy to run to the store (again) before Thanksgiving, use Alexa to quickly order last-minute essentials. You can order everything from cling wrap to a new turkey baster. All you have to do is ask.

If you’d rather just add all the items to your cart, instead of telling Alexa to buy an item, say something like, “Alexa, add a meat thermometer to my cart.” Then when you’re ready to purchase everything, just open the Amazon app or go to the website and complete the order. (This way you can choose expedited shipping, if needed.)

Black Friday Calendar

Finally, if your family has a tradition of going shopping after scoffing down Thanksgiving dinner, you can use the Black Friday Calendar skill to check store hours for Black Friday. (Let’s be honest, we’re now checking for Thanksgiving day hours, really.)

Just say, “Alexa, ask Black Friday Calendar for Best Buy hours.” It works for stores including Walmart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, GameStop, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and many more.

Black Friday deals: See every Black Friday 2017 deal we’ve found so far.

Holiday Gift GuideCNET’s full gift guide, including dozens of products priced under $25, $50 and $100.

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