Tag Archives: Amazon Prime Video

Give the Gift of Streaming

By Tracey Dowdy

Though there has been much progress on getting a vaccine approved to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the CDC warns we’ll still be wearing masks and social distancing for the next few months. Once approved, the goal is to have all those who choose to be vaccinated receive the vaccine by the end of 2021.

That means that for the foreseeable future, we’ll continue to spend time at home, and with the colder months upon us, we’ll be indoors. That means finding ways to entertain ourselves and stave off cabin fever. And, with the holidays just around the corner, this year’s most popular gift may be the gift of a streaming service. 

Not only can it help keep your quarantine team entertained, but you can also share with extended family and friends, near or far, through features and extensions like Teleparty (formerly called Netflix Party), Disney Plus GroupWatch, and Amazon Prime Video Watch Party.

Here are a few options:

Disney Plus allows you to gift a one-year subscription for $70 (it usually costs $7 a month, saving you $14 over a year). When the subscription is up, the recipient will have the option to add their payment details and continue subscribing. Go to Disney Plus to purchase a subscription, enter the recipient’s email address (must be a U.S. resident, new subscriber, or willing to create a new account), choose a delivery date, and write a personal message. On the date you’ve chosen, they’ll get an email with instructions on how to redeem their gift subscription. All Disney Plus subscriptions include Disney Plus GroupWatch, which syncs your streams so you can watch any title on Disney+ with your personal friends and family virtually through the app. 

Though You do not need to have an Amazon Prime membership to use Prime Video, it can’t be gifted as a stand-alone service. It is bundled with an Amazon Prime membership ($119 a year or $13 a month), bringing plenty of perks besides streaming. To gift someone a Prime subscription, go to Amazon.com/giftprime. Login to your account and choose either the one-year or three-month option. At checkout, you’ll enter the recipient’s email, the date you want it delivered, and be able to write a personal note.

To gift a Netflix subscription, you’ll need to purchase a gift card online through AmazonWalmartBest BuyTargetNewEgg, or Kroger. You can buy in-store at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Dollar General, and Safeway. Gift card values range from $25 to $200, and Netflix subscriptions range from $9 to $18 a month, depending on the number of screens you choose to stream at the same time and if you want HD. The recipient can use the gift card for new or current subscriptions with the card’s value applied as a gift balance. Netflix notifies account holders when the balance is running out. The subscription includes Teleparty, which synchronizes video playback and adds a group chat feature to Netflix, Disney, Hulu, and HBO (subscriptions to each required for all participants).

Hulu also offers gift cards ranging from $25 to $100 that you can purchase online or in-person (TargetWalmartBest BuyKroger, and Paypal. A subscription to Hulu costs $6 a month with ads, $12 a month to go ad-free, or $55 a month for Hulu Plus Live TV. The recipient can redeem their gift card through their Account page on the app or website. If they are a new subscriber, they’ll need to update their payment details after the gift card balance is up, or Hulu will cancel the account.

 Video streaming isn’t the only game in town. Spotify is a great option for the music or podcast fan in your life with a Spotify Premium individual plan costing $10 a month. You can buy eGift cards online at TargetNewEggKroger, and PayPal or purchase physical cards online at Amazon or Best Buy, or in-store at Walmart, Target, Staples, CVS, 7 Eleven, Kroger, and Simon Malls. Choose from $10, $30, $60 or $99. Note, gift cards can be used only for Premium Individual plans — you can’t use them for Premium Student, Premium Family, Premium Duo, or trial offers. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Halloween Movies to Watch With Your Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

Like almost everything else about 2020, Halloween is going to look a little different. The CDC has released its guidelines for HalloweenDía de los Muertos, and Thanksgiving to help protect individuals, families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. Based on these recommendations, many families and communities are looking for Trick or Treating alternatives this year. 

One timeless tradition is to get your scare on through a Halloween-themed TV show or spooky movie. Here are a few age-based suggestions to help you make Halloween 2020 memorable for all the right reasons.

Ages 4+

Super Monsters Save Halloween (2018) – Netflix

The Super Monsters are preschoolers whose parents just happen to be the world’s most famous monsters. In this 30 minute Netflix special, they show preschoolers how the holiday’s scares are mostly make-believe by explaining the tricks behind haunted houses and spooky decorations.  Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween is another fun option. 

Room on the Broom (2013) – Netflix

Based on a book by Julia Donaldson, Room on the Broom features a friendly witch who’s quick with a smile and kind to the animals who ask her for a ride on her broom. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – Amazon Prime Video/HBO Max

Kiki is a good witch who uses her broom and her flying ability to start a delivery service. It’s from Studio Ghibli, so you know it’s beautifully animated.

Ages 7+

The Addams Family (2019) – Amazon Prime Video

The adorably kooky family moves to the suburbs where Wednesday’s friendship with the daughter of a local reality show host causes problems. There are plenty of jokes for both children and adults to keep everyone entertained throughout the film.

The Worst Witch (2017) – Netflix

Mildred Hubble lives an ordinary life until the day that Maud Spellbody crashes her broomstick into their balcony. Maud introduces Mildred to Cackle’s Academy – a school for young witches where under the watchful eye of friendly headmistress Miss Cackle and scary deputy Miss Hardbroom, Mildred begins her training. But no matter how hard she tries, her spells have a habit of going badly wrong, causing chaos. Will Mildred always be The Worst Witch?

Hotel Transylvania (2012) – Amazon Prime Video/Hulu/Netflix

Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective dad mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenaged daughter.

The movie is from the POV of the monsters, and they’re the good guys. Plus, if your kids love this one, two sequels follow.

Ages 10+

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? The world may never agree, so feel free to start watching Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, attempt to bring Christmas to his friends on repeat from now through December 5.

Corpse Bride (2005) – Amazon Prime Video

When a shy groom practices his wedding vows, he accidentally marries a ghost. Written and directed by Tim Burton, the movie is exactly the style you’d expect from a Tim Burton film. Sweet, macabre, and fun for kids and adults alike.

Halloweentown (2004) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney Now

After learning she is a witch, a girl helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures. It’s cute and all-around wholesome entertainment, and a Disney Channel Original Movies classic, as any 90’s kid will tell you. 

Hocus Pocus (1993) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

Max and Thora’s family moves them to Salem, where they struggle to fit in. Max accidentally awakens a trio of diabolical and slightly goofy witches who were executed in the 17th century. There’s a reason this Disney classic is at the top of so many must-watch lists. 

The Witches (1990) – Amazon Prime Video

Netflix is promoting a remake with Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, but she’s got big pointy shoes to fill as Angelica Houston is magnificent in the 1990 original. Luke and his grandmother Helga stumble onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.

Ghostbusters (1988) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

IMDb describes Ghostbusters as “Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service,” which may be the lamest description of a classic movie I’ve ever heard. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Sigourney Weaver helm one of Hollywood’s biggest hits. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Host Movie Night with Amazon Prime’s Watch Party

By Tracey Dowdy

I have to say few things make me happier than watching major corporations battle for my attention and my patronage. Netflix stepped up in the early days of quarantine with Netflix Party, an extension that allowed users to synchronize video playback and added a group chat to Netflix movies and TV shows. 

Never one to slack off, Amazon Prime has stepped up with its own Video Watch Party that allows members to watch heaps of movies and shows from Amazon’s catalog and simultaneously chat with up to one hundred friends with no plugin or download required. It’s available on most desktop browsers, with the notable, but the not surprising exception of Apple’s Safari. At this juncture, Smart TVs, game consoles, mobile phones, and tablets aren’t supported. 

With movie theatres in most states still closed, the virtual watch parties that have kept us connected to friends and family and entertain us during the quarantine seem to be the new norm for the foreseeable future. 

Setting up a watch party is simple, though it does require a Prime Video account. ($9 a month for a standalone subscription or access through your $119 annual Prime membership. You have to be in the US to use the service).

If someone without a membership wants to join you, you have two options. One, you can share your account with one other person for two simultaneous streams or take advantage of a 30 Day free trial. The trick is to remember to cancel the subscription before the trial ends to avoid being charged for the next month. 

To start the party, all participants need to log into their account on their desktop browser. 

Then, choose the video you want to watch. You can choose from Amazon Prime’s full catalog including their original series, blockbuster movies, and a fair number of not so blockbuster films notable for their cringe-worthiness like Circus Island and Hawkeye, aka Karate Cops.

Once you’ve made your selection, tap the Watch Party icon under the title. A box will pop up that says, “Let’s Start a Watch Party.” Enter the username you want to use while chatting.

When you choose “Create Watch Party,” a pop-up box will appear that says “Invite Friends” and a personalized link to share with your guests.

Only the host can play, pause, or seek for the group, unlike Netflix Party’s extension that allows anyone in the group to control the screen. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.