Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. Struggling with shopping and budgets, getting frazzled with the kids and in-laws – it seems to come sooner every year. But there’s a good side, of course. Catching up with friends and relly’s you haven’t seen for ages, enjoying some really good food and company, and of course the delight on the children’s faces when the big day finally rolls around. The Christmas season is one time of year that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their religious beliefs.
It’s basically a worldwide tradition to light up our homes with sparkling lights and a shiny tree, but there are other ways to decorate and enjoy your holiday season. As people’s homes get smaller, many are opting to decorate their garden instead, and this way the whole neighborhood benefits from the show. Indeed, Christmas light competitions (friendly and otherwise!) spring up almost everywhere, and people feel they are letting the side down if they don’t participate.
Love or hate it, the Christmas season is here to stay, and if you can’t beat em, join em. But how do you make your Christmas artistry stand out among the sometimes blinding competition? Just think outside the box, be different, be weird even. I promise it will pay off in compliments, and the satisfaction of doing your own thing.
Keep it safe
Firstly, of course, is safety. Dozens of light strings plugged into overloaded adapters is a recipe for disaster, and you shouldn’t need me telling you it’s a bad idea. Keep your power strips clean and well maintained, and if they are old, rattling or have worn cords or exposed wiring you need to replace them. It’s worth it for the overload protection they offer. That, combined with your household safety switch, will virtually eliminate any worries of electrical problems or fires.
Look after any light fittings you have, don’t treat them roughly, store them carefully after use and always replace failed bulbs promptly. This is the case with all your lights, not just the Christmas ones. Especially in outdoor fittings, it will prevent moisture getting into the exposed contacts and rusting them.
Ok, now for the fun part! In the Christmas season of 1880, Thomas Edison (cunning businessman that he was) decided to advertise his newly invented string lights by putting them up all around his laboratory compound. The commuters on the passing trains were treated to an advertising spectacle that must have truly blown their minds, being the first time they had ever seen such a thing. It took a long time for the lights to catch on however, mainly due to them costing almost $2000 in today’s money!
The good thing for us is that it will cost nowhere near that much to design a lighting show that you will be very proud of. The coolest, most energy efficient bulb is the LED. It is small, very simple in design, uses next to no power at all, and is very easily solar powered. They can glow, twinkle and sparkle, as most of them have built in controllers that can change their light patterns. I’ve even seen ones that play Christmas music while the lights whirl around in synchronization.
Using these lights, you can make absolutely anything into a stunning seasonal decoration, very different from your standard, plastic laughing Santa. They are so cheap you can afford a lot more of them than the standard strings of lights, and they are so very versatile, you can use them for many different projects all year round.
Like this one for instance. On Amazon, a LED light very much like this one will cost you upwards of $70. However, using simple household or garden items and a string of LED lights, you can make one for less than $20. Grab two hanging basket frames, and wire them together to construct a sphere. Attach a chain to the ball so you can hang it up. Then grab your string of LED’s and attach them, one by one, to the hanging ball. I find that duct tape works very well for this, even outside it will remain fastened for a long time. You can use whatever
colors you want, and even customize your own colored lights by applying a thin coat of appropriately colored nail polish on white LED bulbs. You can use any round object you like for this, I’ve done it on a plastic blow up beach ball, and the lights made the ball look like it was glowing – it was very pretty.
Use what you have
Do you have spectacular silhouettes in your garden? These may be very easily highlighted by cunning use of LED strings and, lit up at night, will provide a whole new dimension to your garden and your appreciation of it. Although these soft yellow bulbs look stunning, if you want a more Christmassy look, just use colored bulbs. Easy.
Here’s a more obviously Christmassy display, but one also easily recreated at home. I can think of three methods. First is to get hold of some fairly stiff wire, bend it into a spiral, and attach your LED string to it. You could either attach your spiral to a pole or stand, as shown, or hang it up. Second method is to construct a cone shape from some clear plastic sheeting, and use a hot glue gun to attach your lights to it. You could also stick other decorations on the cone if you wanted to. Or another spiral on the inside going the other way. The possibilities are enormous. Thirdly, you could make your cone out of cardboard and paint it black. Or green, red, whatever you like. The kids will get a real kick out of helping make their very own modern Christmas tree.
Any good looking architectural feature your home may possess can be used as a focal point also. Even the most mundane of dwellings, cunningly lit, can become a wonderland of texture and shadow that’s lovely to see.
Maybe some Christmas balls scattered around your yard is more your thing. Fairly simple to do, but stunningly effective. Depending on what you chose to make them from, you could actually play games with them if you wanted to – the kids would just love that (and you know you would too).
Sometimes the same thing repeated over again is all the statement you need to make. The gorgeous sea of light cast by these votive candles is just beautiful. Somehow restful, and strongly reminds me of all those massed candles you see in catholic churches. The same effect could very easily be had by using little tea-light LED’s instead of the candles. They make them flicker now, just like real candles, and you can’t even tell the difference.
And sometimes just one stunning item is all you need to say all you want. This gorgeous lonesome reindeer is so perfect, he doesn’t need any company.
And if you think you have no space for decorations and bling, think again. Any of these ideas can be scaled up or down to suit your space, so the flat dwellers out there have no excuse not to join in and be merry.