How to ‘Haunt’ Your House Using Smart Speakers

How to ‘Haunt’ Your House Using Smart Speakers
Photo: Vantage_DS, Shutterstock

Whether you have a Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple’s HomePod, your smart speaker shouldn’t go ignored this Halloween. Just as you can ask Alexa to set a timer while you cook, or inquire about the weather with Google, you can also ask your smart speakers to embrace spooky season — if only you know what to ask.

Some of these Halloween features are built right into your smart speakers; the developers seem to have fun adding these options into their products without advertising them much. Other ideas require additional products, such as a second speaker or other smart equipment. But all are worth the effort if you want to up your Halloween party game.

Speak through your speaker

If you’re going to have a smart speaker, you might as well use it to scare your guests from afar. Smart speakers all have some sort of feature for doing this; Amazon has Drop In, Google Home has a broadcast option, and HomePod has Intercom. The effect should be the same for all; set up a spooky message, and that message gets sent to your cleverly-placed smart speaker.

Maybe you set the scene by leaving your party guests in a dim room with just one flickering lamp…only to scream through your smart speaker that is strategically hidden behind a skull or other prop just as they’re wondering what exactly is going o. Or maybe you hide your speaker on your front stoop, watching and waiting for unsuspecting (older) trick-or-treaters to approach.

Set up some spooky playlists

Nothing says “Halloween” quite like some classic, creepy jams. Monster Mash is obviously welcome here, but so is the main theme from Halloween. A good Halloween playlist will ensure you and your guests really get into the spooky spirit.

You can hand-pick these playlists yourself (or use our suggestions), then play them through your smart speaker. Or, to make things easier on you, opt for one of the Halloween playlists your smart speaker can play automatically. There are smart-speaker-specific options, as well as playlists they can pull from streaming services like Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

Ask your smart assistant to change the lights

If you really want to deck out your house for Halloween, you might want to consider some smart lights, as well. Buy the right lights, like Philips Hue, which can change colours on command. You could use an array of orange, purple, and red to really set a spooky atmosphere for your guests.

While that’s all doable with a smartphone, it’s fun to use the smart speaker instead. Saying “Hey Google, turn the living room lights orange” is always a great party trick. And, if you set up a command in the smart home app the lights are paired to, you won’t have to ask for the lights to change colour-by-colour. “Alexa, Halloween lights” could trigger all of your smart lights to change to colours you preset ahead of time.

Ask the speaker to tell you a scary story

One fun Halloween easter egg is to ask for a scary story from your smart speaker. Some might run you anywhere from three to 10 minutes; however, I’ve found that if you simply ask Google Home to tell you “something scary,” you end up getting a half-joke, half-scary story. “Did you hear the urban legend about the power cable that was … too short?”

Your smart speaker practices stand up

Speaking of jokes, your smart speaker is trying out its latest five-minute set, if you wouldn’t mind checking it out (there’s a two-drink minimum). While smart speakers are ready to dish out the jokes all year round, ask Google or Alexa to tell you a Halloween joke for something a bit more relevant to the holiday. (Sadly, while Siri can tell you jokes, it doesn’t have any Halloween-specific ones in its repertoire, replying only, “I’m not sure I understand.”)

Spooky sounds, spooky screams

Halloween music can really set the mood for your party, but so can an atmospheric playlist of sounds. Turn your living room into a creaking, creepy soundscape, complete with screams — just ask your Google Home or Amazon Echo to get spooky, and the smart speaker will follow suit. In fact, you can ask your Amazon Echo to scream at some point in the future. (Will it be as scary as Meryl Streep’s in Big Little Lies?)

Scare (older) trick-or-treaters with your speaker

Many smart speakers are small — use that to your advantage. Hide one of your speakers outside your front door, perhaps behind a jack-o’-lantern or a plant. Then, employ any of the tactics we’ve discussed above; give a group of (older) trick-or-treaters a scream as they approach your stoop — or politely remind them to only take one candy each, please. They’ll probably be a bit shocked regardless of what you say, so have fun with it.

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