Smart Home

7 ways your Google Home celebrates the holidays

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Have a happy holiday with the help of Google Home, Google Home Max or Nest Mini this year.


Chris Monroe/CNET

This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

As 2019 comes to a close, holiday celebrations are going high-tech, especially if you’ve got one or more of the Google Home
or Nest Home collection of smart devices in your home. Google HomeGoogle Home Max and Nest Mini smart speakers can do all kinds of fun stuff. And if you picked up one of the Google Home smart displays like the Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max this year, once you’ve got it set up properly you get an an added visual element.

Not only can you play Christmas music and control your smart home-enabled holiday decorations with Google Home, you can also ask for a report on Santa’s GPS coordinates, play virtual dreidel for Hanukkah and learn about all the various winter holidays just by asking. You can even read along with select children’s titles, like Frozen II or record a holiday story in your own voice for family and friends to listen later.

But the holiday fun goes way beyond stories, with a whole set of both new and family favorite holiday features. Here are some of the fun, silly and sometimes outrageous ways Google Home can help make the winter holidays extra merry for you and your loved ones this year.

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He may have many helpers, but only the location of the one true Santa can be tracked with Google Home.


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Where’s my Santa?

Even though the NORAD still tracking Santa despite government shutdown, Google Home can give you a heads up on Santa’s whereabouts just by asking, “Hey, Google, where is Santa?” 

In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, Santa may be found at the gym or taking a nap (letting those gains set in, of courses), but on Christmas Eve Google Home will provide up-to-the-minute tracking on the jolly old elf.

Tune into the North Pole-cast

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Tune into the North Pole Newscast by asking, “Hey, Google, what’s going on at the North Pole?”


Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

This year, Google Home has its own elf-run radio station you can access by asking, “Hey, Google, what’s happening at the North Pole.”

The North Pole Newscast, hosted by an elf named Dimplesticks, provides short “news tips” that let you in all the ever-growing list of Christmas-themed Easter eggs (Christmas eggs?) like how to say “Merry Christmas” in different languages or how to locate Santa Claus. 

Unlike a lot of one-hit-wonder Google Assistant Actions, you can summon the North Pole Newscast multiple times and to hear a different “broadcast.”

Santa, on speed-dial

This year, both the young and young-at-heart can use Google Home to phone the North Pole and talk to Santa himself. Just say, “OK, Google, call Santa.” You’ll hear a dial tone and the number being dialed, then an elf will answer and put you on a brief hold. 

Santa will get on the line and ask a series of questions — then he and his backup band of elves will perform a song based on your answers. Like the newscast, you can summon this Action multiple times for different questions and different performances each time.

So much fun-ukkah to celebrate Hanukkah

Whether you think Adam Sandler’s holiday classic The Chanukah Song is outrageous or just outrageously funny, it’s only ever a voice command away — all you have to do is ask Google Home to play it by name. (Yes, we know there are multiple ways to spell the name for this Festival of Lights.)

You can also call up other classic Hanukkah songs and albums, like Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah by Erran Baron Cohen (yes, Sacha Baron Cohen’s brother), Hanukkah Rocks by The LeeVees or The Kilboomers’ Hanukkah Songs for Preschool & Kindergarten. 

Or, if you’d like a mixed playlist of Hanukkah-themed music, just say, “Hey, Google, play some Hanukkah music.”

Spin the virtual dreidel

The Hanukkah fun doesn’t have to end at music. Say, “Hey, Google, let’s play dreidel” to fire up a digital version of the traditional game. Unfortunately, Google Home doesn’t keep track of points (it only spins a virtual dreidel), so you’ll have to supply your own chocolate gelt, pennies or raisins to keep score.





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Tap into Google Search to learn about holiday traditions

One of the greatest superpowers of the Google Home and Nest Home line of smart devices is they are the only ecosystem with direct access to Google Search. Google Home can help your family celebrate diversity this year by teaching you — and especially any young ones around — about all the different winter holidays celebrated by cultures around the world.

You can tap into information pulled from Wikipedia and other sources just by asking Google Home. Here are some of the holidays you can ask about:

  • “Hey, Google, what is Christmas?”
  • “OK, Google, tell me facts about Hanukkah.”
  • “Hey, Google, I want to know about Kwanzaa.”





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Keep an eye on the holiday calendar

For countdown buffs, you can check with Google Home to see how long until a holiday begins (or how long since people started celebrating it). Just ask questions like:

  • “Hey, Google, how long until New Years?”
  • “OK, Google, when was the first Hanukkah?”
  • “Hey, Google, when did Festivus get started?”

If you happen to be one of the many households with multiple digital assistants, there are a bunch of ways to use Amazon’s Alexa to liven up your winter holiday celebration, too. Be sure to change your smart home devices to the right settings if you’ll be traveling for the holidays by checking out our smart home holiday travel guide here. Or have you had it up to the teeth in tech and ready to take a break? You’re not the only one fed up — CNET’s own Ian Sherr laments tech’s most epic fails of 2019 here.

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Google Home can help you help celebrate the winter holidays whatever your tradition.


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