smart christmas tree lights
How-To

Smart Christmas Tree Lights for Under 20 Bucks – A Step by Step Guide

Smart Christmas tree lights are so affordable and easy to setup you’re the grinch if you decide not to do this.

In short, smart Christmas tree lights leverage your existing Christmas tree lights by simply connecting them into a smart plug. This allows you to turn your lights on and off at predetermined times and to control them remotely.

Personally I love the Holidays, and I love smart home tech, so it was just a matter of time before I implemented smart Christmas tree lights in my home.

Below I walk you through two versions of this – the first is SO easy and cheap that once you have your lights setup you’re going to want to take it a few steps further. I provide some additional detail on how to do this later on.

Don’t get me wrong, simply having your Christmas tree lights automatically come on and off at specified times is really convenient.

20 dollars to not have to get down and behind your tree to plug it in every night is a no brainer.

But for just 30 dollars more you’ll be able to say “Alexa, Merry Christmas” and have your Christmas tree lights turn on and have your Amazon Echo play Today’s Christmas on Pandora.

For another 20 bucks you’ll be able to do everything above AND have your deck lights turn on outside.

You get the idea.

The deeper down the smart home automation rabbit hole you go the more involved, and fun, it gets.

Smart plug for Christmas tree

To set this automation up, all you need is a smart plug. If you’re not familiar with smart plugs, check out this in depth guide.

  1. The first step is to buy the Kasa TP-Link Smart Plug (I own a handful of these, and they’re awesome! They don’t require a smart hub, but if you do have a smart hub, or buy one later, they integrate with all of them)
  2. Once the plug arrives download the Kasa app on your phone and set up your smart plugsmart christmas tree lights
  3. Now in the Kasa app go to “Scenes” (if you already have scenes added you’ll have to then click the + symbol at the top right) and choose “Custom” for your new scene
  4. Then select the smart plug you just added for your Christmas tree
  5. Make sure to click “on” beside your plug before selecting “Next”
  6. Choose an icon and then give the scene the name “Christmas tree lights” and then “Save”
  7. Now head over to “Smart Actions” in the app and click “Add an Action”
  8. Select “Schedule a Scene”
  9. Select “Christmas Tree Lights” in step 1 beside SELECT A SCENE
  10. Then by step 2 select a time that you want your lights to come on. You can choose to have them come on every day at the same time or change it up depending on the day.
  11. Save and you’re done!
  12. Now repeat steps 1-12 in order to schedule an off time but at step 6 make sure to click “off” next to your plug

Quick tip/hack for the above setup

This is for folks who have multiple plugs and want to turn them all on and off together with a single smart plug.

For instance, your Christmas tree lights have one plug and your star has a separate plug, and you want both to turn on and off together.

Instead of buying two smart plugs, get a cheap outlet converter. Plug the outlet converter into your single smart plug and now you can control 3 separate plugs at once with a single smart plug. 

Here is what my setup looks like:

what is a smart plug

(Plug outlet converter into smart plug to make more plugs smart!)

Alternatively, you may have an outlet that has a bunch of other plugs that you don’t want to be smart and are not part of your smart Christmas tree lights setup.

If that’s the case I recommend a setup like this:

(Plug your smart plug into an outlet converter in order to continue using the outlet with regular plugs!)

Summary

Congratulations, you officially have smart Christmas tree lights!

What’s that? Now you’re hooked and you want to do more? Read on my friend.

Smart Christmas tree lights for more than $20

If you have some extra dough lying around and you’re looking to have more fun with this Christmas tree setup you’ve come to right place.

Alexa, Merry Christmas

My wife and I had a lot of fun with this one. I’ll summarize exactly what’s happening with this automation and some of steps/products involved in setting it up.

But first, remember, you do NOT have to set everything up exactly as it is in this video.

You can do 2 or 3 less things and still get a very similar effect. For example, you don’t need outside lights to come on when you say “Alexa, Merry Christmas”.

Summary of the automation

  1. IF I say “Alexa, Merry Christmas”,
  2. THEN turn on my Christmas Tree Lights
  3. Turn on my Deck Lights
  4. Turn off my Dining Room Lights
  5. Turn off my Kitchen Lights
  6. Play “Today’s Christmas” on Pandora
  7. Set volume of Amazon Echo to 10

Products involved in setup

  1. Samsung SmartThings Hub x1 (Note: this hub is what connects everything below together. You’ll ultimately set up the “routine” in the Echo Dot but without the smart hub this won’t work) 
  2. Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation x1 (Note: this allows you to control the automation with voice and plays the Christmas music)
  3. Kasa TP-Link Smart Plug x2 (Note: in my setup I use one of these plugs to control the Christmas tree and the other to control my outdoor deck lights. These are not meant for the outdoors but I’ve left mine outdoors this past winter (covered of course) and it works great with no issues)
  4. Kasa Smart Light Switch by TP-Link x3 (Note: these control my Kitchen lights, my Dining Room lights and my bedroom lights. These switches require a neutral wire to setup. If you don’t feel like rewiring a switch just use a few smart bulbs! These bulbs are great and will work with this setup: Innr Smart Bulb White A19 x4)
     

Summary of steps involved

  1. Setup your Samsung SmartThings Hub and download the SmartThings app to your phone
  2. Add all the devices above to your SmartThings app (with the exception of the Echo dot as this is not necessary)
  3. Once SmartThings is ready, setup your Echo dot and download the Amazon Alexa app to your phone
  4. Within the Amazon Alexa app add the “SmartThings” Skill (this will sync your Echo dot with your SmartThings hub and allow you to use Alexa to control all your devices)
  5. Once the “SmartThings” skill has been added create a new Routine called “Alexa, Merry Christmas”
  6. Add the application actions
  7. You’re done!

Alexa, the Grinch Stole Christmas

Follow the exact same steps above but simply reverse the action outcome on each device.

Summary of the automation

  1. IF I say “Alexa, The Grinch Stole Christmas”,
  2. THEN turn off my Christmas Tree Lights
  3. Turn off my Deck Lights
  4. Turn on my Dining Room Lights
  5. Turn on my Kitchen Lights
  6. Turn off my Amazon Echo

Conclusion

I hope this intro into smart Christmas tree lights was helpful and demystified the process and the steps involved.

Remember, how involved you want your automation to be is up to you!

Now get to it!!!