How to turn your home into a Christmas light show

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Are you looking for a way to spread some festive cheer this Christmas? Hollywood tells us that spreading joy is the true meaning of Christmas but if carolling isn’t for you then you need to find another way to get into Santa’s good books.

Fortunately electronics professionals have a particular set of skills that can they can use to spread joy and love right from their own homes.

Deck the halls with boughs of electrical wire and fix some bulbs to the outside of your home and you can put a smile on the face of any passer-by.

We’ve collected some inspiration for you and put together a list of top tips for hanging Christmas lights.

There are, of course different ways of decorating.

Over the top

I am not familiar with where the Christmas light tradition came from but if I had to hazard a guess I would say it came from our American cousins.

Some Brits are starting to copy America’s overly flamboyant light displays by splashing thousands of bulbs in different colours all over their houses and front gardens.

If nothing else you have to admire the dedication shown by some of these homeowners.

A classier approach

You can still achieve a memorable display without going quite so over the top with Christmas lights. One of my personal favourite displays is this showing in Nottingham. Here they have used minimal colours and simple shapes to very good effect and I think the people of Nottingham should all be proud of this.

Put on a real show

If you really want to test your electronics design skills this Christmas (or perhaps more realistically next Christmas) then you could have a go at putting on a fully moving synchronised light show.

Here are a few of my personal favourites from the last few years.

Obviously creating something like this will be a bit of a larger undertaking, but even doing it over a small area like up a tree in your garden or across your front porch will look pretty cool.

What you’ll need

A plan – Don’t take something like this on lightly. Make sure you know how big your project is going to be, how much it will cost and how long it will take (hint: it will be more expensive and more time consuming than you first think).

Lots of lights – And I mean lots. Figure out what colours and lengths you’ll need and split different sections into channels. 32 or 64 channels will be enough light units for even the biggest display.

 A control system – You can buy one of these ready-to-use or build your own for a significantly lower price. Just don’t forget to get your PCB from Hi5 Electronics.

Some help from your friends – Again, this is a pretty big job and you will need some kind friends to help put it together (friends who are involved in electronics will be especially useful).

Software – Again you could purchase a ready-made software package but you might prefer to write your own programme as a cheaper alternative.

Our top-tips for Christmas light displays

  • Buy the day after Christmas – To pull off the spectacular you’ll obviously need a lot of bulbs and this can be expensive. To economise you should consider buying immediately after Christmas to set up a display the next year.
  • Use LED bulbs – These will be a lot cheaper to run for the whole festive season.
  • Be respectful of neighbours – Your neighbours could get tired of your musical light show pretty quickly. If you want a musical show then consider only putting on one or two shows per night timed at 7PM and 8PM for instance. Oh and make sure it’s a good song too.
  • Publicise your show and yourself – Put up a poster on your lawn, set up a Facebook group and call the local papers. Pretty soon your show could get a decent nightly audience and you should see your electronics business pick up too.
  • Remember to take your lights down – Christmas lights are only welcome for so long. You should be thinking about taking down your lights just after your new year’s eve hangover wears off.

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