It seems like just yesterday we were all savoring the end of 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. Now 2021 is coming to an end and many of us are getting ready to enjoy the Christmas season. Adding HomeKit support to my Christmas decorations was my first introduction to HomeKit, so it’s only fitting that we kick off the season with my official guide to automating your Christmas decorations.
HomeWeekly Kit is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything related to Apple’s smart home framework.
Before you start buying HomeKit accessories to automate your Christmas decorations, I advise you to buy a device that will act as a HomeKit “Visitor Center”. Assistive devices are Apple tv, HomePod, HomePod mini, or one iPad that stays connected.
As long as those devices are signed in to iCloud, you’ll be able to manage devices and run automations when you’re away from home. It’s not obligatory for HomeKit but definitely comes highly recommended.
If you keep your Christmas decorations simple enough, an easy way to use HomeKit to automate them is to turn your Christmas lights on and off with a power outlet adapter. Here are a few of the ones I recommend:
Eve’s release is the most expensive, but it adds Thread support to your network. Put simply, Thread is a mesh networking protocol specifically designed for HomeKit and other types of smart home devices that create direct peer-to-peer communication. It maintains, self-repairs, and routes automatically, making it easy for all of your devices to communicate directly with each other.
When you have installed the devices, you will then be able to activate and deactivate your tree from Siri or the Home app. You can also create a HomeKit automation to automatically do it at Sunset or at a particular time (I explain how to configure these automations at the end of the article).
Now I’m not allowed to touch the Christmas lights on my house tree, but if you are, check Twinkly. With Twinkly, you’ll reattach your tree with smart home lights. Twinkly just added native HomeKit support to their product (Gen II and Plus models), so I’ll be doing a full review in the coming weeks. If the model you are using does not work natively with HomeKit, you can use HOODS to link it to HomeKit. Twinkly also sells illuminated Christmas trees and exterior lights.
I mentioned Twinkly in this article before, but what if you already have some outdoor lights that you want to use with HomeKit? Here are some products that I recommend.
You want to stick to outdoor light outlets when using outdoor lights, as those designed for indoor use are not designed to withstand extreme cold, humidity, or rain.
The concept with these caps is the same. You plug the lights into the adapter, then the adapter goes into the wall.
Once all of your devices are in the Home app, there are a number of ways you can interact with them. Of course, the easiest way is to use the Home app to turn them off and on again whenever you want.
If you have a HomePod, you can use Siri to turn them off based on the device name: “Hey Siri, turn on my Christmas tree lights. “
If you want a more hands-on approach, it’s ideal to let HomeKit handle the timing for you. Go to the Automations tab in the Home app, press the + button, choose Add Automation, Choose a time of day, and then choose your timing. For example, an easy way to work with Christmas is to activate them at sunset. You’ll then want to create a second automation to turn them off either at sunrise or sunset.
There are lots of fun ways to automate your Christmas decorations using HomeKit with low cost devices. It’s easy to start small with just one HomeKit socket for your main tree and interact with it in the Home app.