How to stop Alexa from ruining holiday surprises

How to stop Alexa from ruining holiday surprises

Echo smart speakers and smart displays have a handy feature that can show and tell you when there’s a package sitting on your doorstep and even what’s in it. While this can be helpful most of the time, around the holidays it could seriously ruin some surprises.

Avoid making any Grinch-like moves this holiday and manage your Amazon shopping notifications in the Alexa app to help keep the magic alive. Alongside options for tailoring package announcements, the notifications section of the app also has a number of settings you can toggle on or off to help make the voice assistant a little more helpful when it comes to purchases you make on Amazon. Below are a few of the most useful that you might want to tweak this holiday season.

How to turn off package notifications on Alexa

  • Open the Alexa app.
  • Tap on More in the bottom right hand corner.
  • Select Settings > Notifications > Amazon Shopping.
  • Under “Say or Show Item Titles” toggle off “including items in your shopping cart marked as gifts, or those that might be gifts during major holidays.”

One you are in the Amazon Shopping Notifications page of the Alexa app (far right) you can toggle on and off the different notifications you want to receive on your Echo speakers.
Screenshots by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Once this is done, you will still get announcements on Echo speakers and on-screen notifications on Echo smart displays for your packages, but those you tagged as gifts in your shopping cart (or that Alexa suspects may be) won’t include a description of what they are.

This is handy if you actually do want the household to know there’s toilet paper on your doorstep, but not that the Nintendo Switch arrived. To ensure this works correctly, check “send as a gift” when the item is in your Amazon cart.

To be on the safe side, you can toggle off all the items under “Say or Show Item Titles.” Then you will just get word when a package is out for delivery or delivered but never what it is.

If you don’t want any package notifications from Alexa — anywhere, any way — and want to be surprised when you open the door toggle off all items on this screen. (Note — these settings only affect announcements on Echo speakers, you will still get any push, email or other notifications you’ve signed up for.)

How to stop Alexa asking you to rate purchases

Further down that same Amazon Shopping page are more options for asking the voice assistant to stay quiet.
Screenshot by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

While you’re here, if you’ve been getting annoyed by Alexa’s pestering you to rate that cheese grater you bought two months ago (this happened to me at 9:30PM when I asked Alexa to read my Audible book), there is a quick fix.

Scroll a bit further down on the same Shopping Notifications page and toggle off “Request to rate products you’ve purchased.”

You can also stop Alexa from announcing the latest deal on the laundry detergent you usually purchase by toggling off “Recommendations and Deals.”

There are other options in here you might want to check out if you often find your Alexa speaker flashing yellow — like it’s trying to get your attention (which it is).

If you use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program Alexa can audibly notify you if an item in your upcoming delivery is out of stock, among other things. You can toggle this option on or off under Order Updates, this will affect announcements about any order updates.

You can use this screen to stop Alexa from randomly offering up “personalized recommendations and deals” on your speakers, as well as turn off voice-assistant updates about your Audible account (such as if you have a new credit).

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