A piece of new technology has completely transformed one of the most annoying parts of Christmas into a nightly pleasure.

We love decorating our house for the holidays. Each year, I like to add a little more lights to the front of the house. What started out with lights on the railing and door has now spread to the bushes on both sides of the house, the trees out front, and now the whole garage. It's great to see the glow of the lights outside our house each night, but getting them all to turn on and off has proven to be a hassle.

When we first moved into the house, we connected some of the lights to an adaptor in our porch light so we could turn them on and off with the flip of a switch. As we added more lights, we needed to move some to an outdoor outlet which was a pain to have to keep plugging in and unplugging. So instead of that, we would just leave them in and then cut the power with the breaker in the basement each night.

While it was great to not have to go outside to control the lights, it was a pain each evening to remember to go all the way downstairs to cut the lights. I'd be lying in bed and suddenly realize the lights were still on, so I'd trudge down to the cold, dark basement thinking "there must be a better way."

Timers were out of the question because we tend to turn on and off the lights at different times each day. If it's snowing out at noon on a Sunday, we need the Christmas lights on. A timer doesn't give you any flexibility to crank the lights when you need a little holiday spirit.

Earlier this year, I posted a story about how I've been experimenting with turning my house into a "smart home." I've installed outlets and light switches throughout our house that can be controlled from my iPhone. There's also automation that turns on different lighting scenes throughout the day depending on who is home at the time. It was shockingly easy and inexpensive to set up and has changed our lives.

Unfortunately, the outlets that connect to our WiFi aren't rated for outdoor use, so I assumed we were doomed to make that nightly trip down to the basement each night to switch off the lights. But then I discovered a pretty inexpensive device that does exactly what I need it to.


Amazon sells an outdoor extension cord that can be controlled by your Homekit over Wifi. Like all of the other devices in our house, the outlet appears on our phone and can be turned on and off with a quick swipe. Even better, each outlet on the cord is controlled individually, so you can turn on or off specific lights on a whim. The lights can be set to turn on at dusk, changing each day as the sun sets earlier, or I can just flip them on (or ask Siri to do it) when the snow starts to fall. It's the perfect solution.

Last night, while warm and cozy under the electric blanket, I suddenly realized that the lights were still on. This time, instead of heading down into the cold basement I simply grabbed my phone and shut the lights off. Isn't technology great?

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