Smart holidays: how AI can make the season brighter 

Two people wearing holiday-themed sweaters on smart phones

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile editor 

As the festive season approaches, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technology into holiday planning can transform the way individuals navigate what are often hectic preparations. For those unfamiliar with AI, or those hesitant to embrace it, understanding its practical applications can help give back the gift of time. 

Utilizing AI, such as ChatGPT, can serve as an invaluable tool in simplifying holiday tasks. Though some may have reservations about using AI due to concerns about privacy, or uncertainty about its capabilities, ChatGPT offers settings to help keep data secure such as turning off the “chat history and training” setting.

To protect your privacy while using ChatGPT, you can also take the following steps: 

Avoid sharing any personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email address or financial information, says Vidur Kalive, artificial intelligence architect lead for York University. Kalive also suggests using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address. 

What is ChatGPT? It’s an AI-powered conversational assistant designed to understand and generate human-like text based on the input it receives. It is capable of generating text based on context and past conversations. It can answer questions and assist you with tasks such as composing emails, essays and code.

Set up with a user-friendly interface, ChatGPT was designed to be accessible even to those less familiar with technology. For holiday planning tasks, it can guide users through suggestions and solutions tailored to their individual needs. 

“A well-structured prompt will ensure that ChatGPT gives you useful, relevant information,” says Kalive. “Prompts are the inputs that you provide to ChatGPT to generate a response.” 

To write effective prompts, consider the following tips: 

  1. Write one or two lines describing the task at hand, its purpose, your intended audience and the output you need ChatGPT to generate. 
  1. Assign ChatGPT a role – as an identity or profession – to help guide its responses. It will then generate output based on the area of expertise related to the role you assigned to it.  
  1. Keep prompts concise and to the point. Long prompts can lead to irrelevant or incorrect responses.  

Example prompt: You are a chef who specializes in holiday cuisine. Create a Christmas dinner menu that includes a main course, side dishes and dessert. You will be serving eight guests. Two of them are vegetarians.  

Below are some examples of how AI, and tools like ChatGPT, can trim planning time for the holidays. 

Food planning: One significant advantage is ChatGPT’s ability to plan and organize shopping lists and create them from recipes. It will also offer recipes for anything from appetizers to desserts to festive drinks. It can curate recipes and meal plans tailored to dietary needs. Planning a cooking schedule is another helpful tool AI offers. 

Gift items: Using AI to generate gift lists based on preferences, budget and recipient details can inspire new ideas and save time shopping in crowds. 

Greetings and messages: With the right prompts for tone, AI can expertly craft personalized greetings and messages. Using AI-generated images, personalized holiday cards can also be easily designed. Crafting poems and creating stories and songs with a personal touch are also options for holiday-related AI content. 

Consider this short poem, generated by ChatGPT: 

At York University, the campuses are aglow,  
Faculty, staff and students in festive flow. 
Amidst winter’s charm and joyous sights, 
Shared moments shine in holiday delights. 

Decorating: Understand the latest decorating trends, or where to find specific decorative items, to make your space more festive. 

Holiday-themed activities: For those who enjoy outings, experiences and more, ask ChatGPT to summarize activities in the area or provide a few holiday-inspired games to play with family and friends. 

Travel: Those planning travel during the festive season can rely on AI assistants to generate itineraries, provide real-time updates on weather or traffic conditions, offer directions and even suggest offbeat local experiences. 

By harnessing the power of AI in holiday planning, individuals can streamline preparations, reduce stress and create more time to spend with friends and family.