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Smart home devices and technology can help family and friends feel safe and connected during the holidays. Courtesy photo
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‘Smart’ ways socially distanced families can stay safe, connected during the holidays

The holidays are a time when families travel far and wide, or across town, to gather for special dinners, celebrate long-standing traditions and create new memories.

This year, social distancing may change how we spend the holidays with family and friends, but smart home devices and technology are helping us stay connected.

Here are some ways that smart home devices and technology can help family and friends feel safe and connected during the holidays as they social distance.

No more naughty porch pirates

The holidays are always a popular time for would-be burglars and naughty porch pirates (who have even snatched packages from the porch while someone was home).

As more people forgo traveling home for the holidays due to social distancing guidelines, they’ll rely more on shipping their gifts to family and friends, which means even more opportunity for porch pirates.

Smart locks and smart cameras connected to the internet let you manage the delivery of groceries, gifts and other important packages (like Grandma’s special holiday cookies).

Don’t leave packages outside longer than you have to. Mount an internet-connected camera near the front door so you can watch for deliveries and receive them without making personal contact with anyone. Cox Communications’ Homelife security cameras can continuously record based on motion detection, streaming the video feed live to a smartphone or tablet app so that you can easily see when someone has arrived.

 Smart locks offer a similar convenience, especially for those self-isolating or with health conditions that make it harder to answer the door immediately. Cox smart door locks work with a smartphone app so you can unlock the front door remotely for easy and safe deliveries, and minimize interaction with “high-touch” surfaces like doorknobs and locks.

 ‘Smart’ gift giving

 There are many options on the market for smart home devices that will make your loved ones’ lives easier and save them time, from wifi crockpots and vacuums to plant holders that use wifi to control the water and temperature.

And if any family members don’t have a device to video chat on, now is the perfect time to gift them with a new smartphone, tablet or laptop so they can join in on all the virtual festivities.

Convenience remains a significant motivator for smart home investments, so don’t forget about gifting family with a smart speaker to check the news and weather or find a favorite Christmas song.

Just make sure you have a strong, fast internet connection. The average household has a dozen wifi-enabled devices, and that number is growing. A good internet connection will let you maximize your smart home experience.

Watch a holiday movie together virtually

If watching a favorite holiday movie together has been a family tradition, it doesn’t have to stop just because you’re social distancing.

Pick a night for everyone to watch the same movie at the same time. Grab your hot cocoa and blanket and have a FaceTime or Zoom video chat before and after the movie.

Cox offers a vast library of movies on demand, including a special holiday category with classics like “Miracle on 34th St” and “A Christmas Story” to “Home Alone.” Just use the Cox Contour voice remote to find the movie you want.

Automation to set the ambiance

With Cox, your TV remote doesn’t just change channels. You can use it to control the home automation and security functions of your Cox Homelife service.

If you’re using Cox Homelife smart plugs, light bulbs, door locks and thermostats, you can speak commands into your voice remote like “Turn up the heat” and “Dim the lights” as you settle in front of the fireplace for that movie. You can even give commands like “Turn on the tea kettle” and “Lock the front door.”

This year, the holidays may look different, but finding creative ways to stay connected, and using technology to make it happen, will help keep the spirit of the season going for you and your loved ones.