The ultimate goal of anyone who loves to decorate their yard for Christmas is to put together a complete light show that includes music. These shows can be difficult to set up, but they are spectacular to see and well worth the effort.
Here are some steps to get you started creating your own show:
Do your research.
Before going any further, be aware that setting up a Christmas show as part of your outdoor Christmas decorations takes a lot of time and patience. This can be a good hobby, but it's not as easy as plugging in lights by flipping a switch. So, if you are ready, keep reading.
You are going to need some elements to do this work:
1. A computer to do the programming.
2. A light controller with multiple channels. That's what controls the lights.
3. Software to program the lighting controller. This sets when the lights turn on and off in relation to the music.
4. An FM transmitter to stream your music. Another option is a pair of speakers on your lanai, but it's illegally that neighbors enjoy the same song that plays again and again.
5. The lights! For a complete effect, this should include not only regular lights, but ice lights, net lights and yard displays.
Organizing and planning.
You will now have fun. For the show to work, you will have to sit down with a pencil and paper and design your system. Decide which music you want to play (preferably something that has to do with Christmas), and where the decorations will be. Your plan should include a drawing of your front yard, with sketches and notes on how the show will work.
Buying Your Equipment and Decorations
Now that you have your plan, you are ready to buy your decorations. It can be expensive, so do some research to make sure you do not pay too much. I suggest going through the Internet for the software and the control box for the lights. A search in Google or Yahoo should yield several results and allow you to compare several options.
Test, Test, and Test!
It's important enough to say it again: Test, Test, and Test! The first thing you should do is configure your controller for a single set of lights and make sure you can turn it on and off. Then get it to turn on and off music. Then add a second set of lights and make sure you can turn it on and off. See why it takes so long? It can be tedious, but the results are worth it.
Fix It All
Once everything is programmed, simply set it up. Hang the lights, install the screens, and plug it in.
Now you only have to sip hot cocoa and watch your neighbors scramble to get decorations half as good as yours!