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Holiday Projects for a Festive Home

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve put together a selection of fantastic community projects to give you some inspiration
for decorating your house inside and out. Let’s get festive.

Outdoor decorations

Light up your street with pure seasonal cheer (and some LEDs)

Xmas lights for beginners

 Your house could look like this, with careful use of a ladder

Sometimes you need to do something a little grand, especially for the holidays,
and lighting up the outside of your house is certainly one excellent way to do it. If you’re
not sure where to begin with this, then this guide by Makin’Things will not only get you set
up with lights, but also how to get them to sync up with music. It uses the excellent lightshowpi Python library ( to make the music
syncing fairly easy. It also uses relays and a lot of power, so be extra careful if you plan to
follow it!

2018 Christmas Light Show

You might want to warn your power provider before switching these on

Are you really doing your outside lights correctly if you’re not worrying your
neighbours? If you really want to see how much you can do with lightshowpi and the kind
of setup Makin’Things does, this light show which includes lawn ornaments, a tree, and
4000 lights should give you some inspiration. It’s all still controlled by music as well. Once again, you’ll need to be extremely careful with
heights and electricity use if you plan to recreate this.

LED display matrix

The matrix is fully programmable to show images and scrolling text

If you don’t fancy doing the whole house, then maybe a window will do! Andrew
Oakley shows you through how to create a set of animated LEDs for not too much money.
It also takes PNG images, so you don’t need to program each individual LED and it can
even scroll text as well! While relatively simple and cheap, you may have to do some woodwork, so get it started
ahead of time and make sure to be careful when using any carpentry tools.

Power up your tree

Even with just a fake Christmas tree, you can really bring it to life with a
Raspberry Pi

Smart Christmas tree lights

You can use a bigger tree if you have enough NeoPixels

Not only are these Christmas lights made with fully programmable NeoPixels,
giving you unlimited flexibility in colours and patterns, but they also add voice control so
you don’t even need to touch them! Sure, you could implement some remote SSH system,
but this way is a bit more fun. We made this in The MagPi last year and we think it still holds up! You may want to invest
in a little 5V power supply adapter as changing out batteries all the time does get a little

Tree Star

 If you can find a translucent printing material, that will work best

Another The MagPi original, this one uses a 3D-printed star to act as a tree
topper, with some LEDs installed inside to light it up! It’s been a few years since we
selected this specific 3D star file from Thingiverse, so you might be able to find something
better or whip one up yourself.

Make sure to scale the star for your tree, though – behind the scenes, this star wouldn’t
stay on the original tree we had and we needed a bigger one! If you’re doing the smart tree
lights as well, you can easily combine the two.

YouTube Christmas Ornament

With the right 3D-printed parts, this can look very natural

We all know someone who needs to see the Coca-Cola Christmas advert
before Christmas starts for them. You may even be that person! Relive all your favourite
Christmas adverts through this ingenious build that puts a tiny display on your tree to play
them all. You have to supply the videos yourself, though, so if you really want to embarrass
someone, you’ll need to digitise some old VHS tapes of Christmas past and upload them.
Or just put your favourite Christmas films on there.

Deck the halls

Give the rest of your home a bit of seasonal magic

Christmas house and snowman

The light display is really very nice, with alternating colours on a slow cycle

This little diorama was created by Stewart Watkiss (aka PenguinTutor) to be
part of an outdoor railway. However, it also functions as an indoor decoration. A string of
LEDs on the front of the building act as some nice Christmas lights, and a snowman has
NeoPixels inside so it can glow with awesome Christmas power. The house and snowman were 3D-printed, although you could probably find some model
kits that will allow you to do similar. We like the snow effect on the tray, and the little tree
and people to give it the correct sense of scale.


The façade is pretty fun, although you could probably add fake logs if you really wanted

We must admit, we don’t /quite/ get the appeal of the fake fire on the TV during
Christmas. This we can get behind, though – creating a fake fireplace and adding
NeoPixels to create a warming fire effect that is sure to cozy up any room. It’s even got a web interface you can control from your phone, allowing you to change the
colours and turn it on and off. Very handy, and maybe a little spooky if you time it right to
catch folks in the act of present-feeling.

Smart gingerbread house

The door opens and closes, which is pretty excellent

Gingerbread houses are a classic Christmas ornament for some families – one
that probably wouldn’t last to Christmas Day intact in our house. Estefannie decided to
take it about two steps further, as she’s wont to do, and fully automated a smart
gingerbread house. It’s also covered in enough sweets to attract Hansel and Gretel.
The whole thing also has a remote control function so you can switch the lights on and off,
open and close the door, and a lot, lot more.

Sense HAT advent calendar

The version you’ll make will let you know what day it is when you ‘open’ the door

Too impatient to wait until Christmas Day for your presents? Then how about a
slow drip-feed of daily gifts like you’d get in an advent calendar? This digital version
doesn’t give you chocolates, unfortunately, but it is a neat and simple little project to help
you get into the festive mood. It’s from the Raspberry Pi Projects website, so it’s nice and easy to set up and requires
very few components as well, relying more on code than anything else.

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