Fall is the perfect time to visit one of the Northeast’s most coveted Halloween destinations, Dorinda Medley’s Blue Stone Manor in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Decorated in a style she describes as “Marilyn Monroe meets Frankenstein,” the century-old Tudor mansion would not be out of place in the English countryside. Every year, the entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former cast member of The Real Housewives of New York City, throws a coveted party complete with famous guests and spooky décor. “New England. Fall. Halloween. A 100-year-old house. I mean, what else do you need?” Medley said.
But don’t be fooled by the home’s stone hearths and wainscoted walls. This mansion is comfortably straddling centuries. In more ways than one, it turns out.
A few years ago Medley invited Alexa, Amazon’s voice AI, to move in. Alexa has become a fellow host of her Halloween bash. That’s because Medley is using Alexa-enabled devices from Amazon and Ring, the smart home security system, to give her party an extra pinch of magic. “I always compare throwing a party or doing a dinner to a symphony,” she said. “It's got to be really thought out well, and no one should know what's going on in the back.”
True to form, on a recent visit, the house was replete with Halloween décor. There were weathered books holding spells and potion recipes, dry ice smoke, and a party of ghosts and skeletons atop her hardwood dining table, all mingling under the programmed flicker of smart plug-connected lights. Outside, knowing that the gauntlet of jack-o-lanterns illuminating the path to the house can only give off so much light, Medley installed a Ring Floodlight Cam Pro, which lit the way to make sure her guests felt safe. “I have been using the Ring cameras, which are incredible,” she said. Motion Alerts from her Ring devices send a notification to her phone, the Echo Show 15 in her kitchen, and her Fire TV smart TV—all linked to Alexa—so she knows who is coming.
Here are some more tips from the hosting maestro to help turn your Halloween get-together into a true monster mash.
1.Fix up a Halloween-inspired menu, with help from Alexa
To make her kitchen appear bewitched, Medley said that 95% of the work should be done before guests arrive. “So much of hosting and having dinner parties is running around and saying, ‘Where can I find that?’ 'Where is my cookbook?' 'Where’s the recipe in it?' 'And who’s coming again?’” Medley said. This Halloween, Medley is using her Echo Show 15 to find recipes, organize shopping lists, play eerie music, and check her Ring Live View.
Medley said her Alexa-enabled Echo Show 15 lets her make magic in the kitchen. “I can be cooking, spreading out an icing board or layering my famous Blue Stone Manor lasagna, and get five other things done at the same time,” she said.
2.Trick out your decorations
Meal prep isn’t the only thing Alexa can help make as seamless as the surface of a crystal ball. The connections between her devices are too, helping her add a smart touch to her decor.
When Medley wants to see what’s happening outside, she uses her Ring Video Doorbell. Like everything else at Blue Stone Manor, her doorbell got a Halloween makeover too, with a Halloween-themed faceplate, and seasonal Chime Tones. But seeing through walls isn’t the only superpower Ring Video Doorbell gave Medley. Using smart plugs and the Alexa app, Medley connected her Ring Video Doorbell to other devices in her home, summoning the sound of Dracula’s laugh and flashing light in the dining room when a visitor calls on her. It’s a great way to give her guests a good spook, and to let Medley know when more have arrived. “It’s everything, it’s everything,” she said about the custom Alexa Routine, admitting that Dracula is her favorite monster. “No offense to Frankenstein. He’s a close second.”
3.Stay present and connected at the same time
While Medley’s Dracula Routine is sure to be a hit, when the party is in full swing or she’s in the middle of a scary movie, it’s hard to greet every costumed trick-or-treater or guest. But with ambient intelligence—the idea that Alexa and smart devices can disappear into the background and work on your behalf—Medley is covered.
The ambiance at Blue Stone Manor helps keep Medley at ease, despite the spooky decorations, eerie music playing from her Echo Show 15, and the cold autumn breeze rattling the windowpanes. When she’s busy with guests or watching a scary movie and knows she’s not going to be able to make it to the door, Medley activates a Halloween-themed Quick Reply on her Ring Video Doorbell. It lets her answer her door automatically with a pre-recorded greeting in Dracula’s voice. If she’s using her Fire TV Stick 4K Max for movie night when someone rings the Video Doorbell, the Live View Picture-in-Picture will pop up on her TV, letting her see who’s there without interrupting her Halloween movie marathon. And if that scary movie has her a little spooked, all she needs to do is say, “Alexa, show me my driveway” to check her Flood Light Live View. “I love how I can be watching TV and literally just ask Alexa to show me the front yard, and it will pull up the camera feed on my TV,” Medley said.
4.Make it nice
While Medley’s Amazon and Ring devices help make hosting as easy and fun as saying “trick or treat,” at the end of the day, celebrations of any kind are all about the people, Medley said. “I try to always invite people from all different walks of life and I cannot tell you how many new friendships have come out of nights in this living and dining room. I'm there for it all. You just want people to feel like they're 100% welcomed in your home.”
With a floodlight to calm people’s nerves on an evening haunt, Alexa Routines to give everyone a playful scare, an Echo Show 15 to find and prepare delicious recipes, and more, Medley is making her guests feel right at home this Halloween, and you can too.
Have you used some of Medley’s tips to throw an epic Halloween get together of your own? Get inspired to make an icing board of your own by asking, “Alexa, how do I make my Halloween party nice?” and tag us on the Alexa TikTok with your creation. Alexa also has a Halloween theme, which sprinkles some Halloween fun to the Alexa experiences you use daily. To get started say, “Alexa, enable the Halloween theme."