WebsiteCompass 17 Once you’ve chosen the menu, you may be able to shop online for groceries and have your order delivered to your front door. If cooking isn’t your thing or you’re short on time, explore the websites of local delis and grocery stores to check out their sandwich trays, desserts, and other party-ready treats. Set the Stage for Drama Technology can help you create a special occasion ambiance in your home. One of the most impactful things to adjust is the lighting, which goes a long way to create the desired mood for your party. For example, you can place smart LED panel lights on walls to add brightness and your choice of colors, and manage them with a remote or smartphone app. Every party needs a playlist, and once again, technology makes it easy to hit the right note. Turn to online resources such as Spotify and Pandora to find a collection of music that fits your music preferences, enhances the atmosphere, and adds energy to the gathering. Play the music on a smart speaker so you can easily adjust the volume with your voice, depending on the number of guests or other factors. Another way to take your party space to the next level is to display a video or slideshow of photos for guests to watch. Let’s say you’re celebrating your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. You could digitize old family photos, add background music, and display them on a large computer monitor or TV screen. Don’t want to tackle putting a photo presentation together on your own? There are companies out there that specialize in these types of projects. It can be well worth the investment to share treasured memories and preserve them for years to come. One last thing: If you have an Amazon Echo smart speaker, Alexa can be the life of the party. Alexa can call the numbers for Bingo or lead a group of up to 20 in the “True or False?” trivia game. You can also say “Alexa, tell me a joke” to get the last of your guests laughing as they head for the door. Tech the Halls for Holiday Parties Smart home devices can reduce the stress of the holiday season by simplifying decorating and entertaining. Festive Lighting Your smart speaker—whether enabled by Alexa, Google, or Siri—can manage your Christmas lights. For example, you can say things like, “Alexa, set a timer for the outside lights” or “OK, Google, turn on the Christmas tree lights and set the colors to red and green.” You can also swap out your regular light bulbs in lamps and ceiling fixtures with smart bulbs. They offer color-changing capabilities to create a more festive mood. Smart Christmas Trees Christmas trees have branched out and joined the Internet of Things. Depending on the brand, you can use your voice (in conjunction with a smart speaker or app) to select the color, turn the tree lights on and off, and more. Connect with Santa This idea will be a hit during holiday parties that include children. With Alexa-powered Amazon speakers and displays, you can say, “Alexa, open Call Santa Claus,” and Alexa will connect you to Santa and some of his friends at the North Pole. You can also ask, “Alexa, where is Santa?” to hear his current location. QUICK TIP: Check your cable TV listings for a fireplace channel—it may even be a temporary one for this time of year—to add “warmth” to the room.