Make your own Eye Catching Christmas Displays

November 21st, 2009 - 

Having your own Christmas Decorations is wonderful, knowing that no-one else can copy your display, one way of ensuring a unique Christmas Display is to make your own decorations. I’ve recently found this guide that offers over 10 patterns for you to create and customize to fit perfectly with your theme and colours.

Everyone is now using ropelights, blow-up features, plastic models and icicle lights, with a little effort and money, you can have totally unique decorations, imagine that feeling of hearing people comment on them, knowing that you made them, quite a priceless feeling.

For the price of a commercially available product, you may be able to make a number of your own features, you may already have the equipment, paint and materials in your shed or garage right now.

The designs include Santas, Snowman, Reindeer, Santa and Sleigh, Angel and Candles, Christmas Tree and more.

Included with this guide is also other guides to:

  • Animate your Displays
  • Creating Lighting Effects
  • Pattern Enlargement

This guide must be seen if you are serious about creating a stunning Christmas Display, either for Home, School, Charity, Santa’s Grotto or a Larger Display.

Please follow this LINK for the guide, which opens in a new window.

Illuminated Glass Block Guide

November 19th, 2009 - 

I’ve just come across this guide on making your own illuminated glass block decorations. I’ve seen these products in several shops this season. The prices I’ve seen vary from around £10 each to £30 for a set of three differing sizes – now you can make them at a fraction of that, to your own design and colours.

The beauty of using this guide is that you can decide what colours, size and external decoration you prefer, allowing you to create a unique decoration the fits your needs perfectly.

The guide also covers making money from these illuminations, if you have the time and the wish to do so, you can make these and sell them, maybe even create to order.

The guide covers all the aspect of making this Stunning Christmas Decoration, including the lights to use and tips and tricks to get the bow and ribbon decoration just right.

Here are some pictures of what you can make with this guide:


The guide is available by visiting this
which opens in a new window

Santa’s Grotto : Static and Animated Christmas Decoration and Features

November 18th, 2009 - 

Depending upon the scale of your Santa’s Grotto, you may have the need to install Christmas Decorations and Features. These Christmas Features can be static or animated and my use lighting effects and/or sound too.

More and more static and animated Christmas Features can be found in garden centres, high street shops and online, including auction sites. The prices typically start high when a new feature is released to the market, the price typically falling on subsequent sales seasons. Don’t forget to buy decorations, features and lighting for next years Santa’s Grotto. As Christmas gets nearer and afterwards, the prices often topple as the retailers try to clear the stock.

  • Bargain Animated Features [opens in new window]
  • Bargain Christmas Lighting [opens in new window]
  • When looking to decorate Santa’s Lounge, you may need a fireplace, mirror, Arm Chair, Christmas tree and other room décor – don’t forget to check out what may be available in the charity and clearance shops.

    When decorating floor areas and roofs to give a snow covered effect, consider using rolls of wadding, this is a cotton-wool like product, supplied on wide rolls.

    Depending upon the location of your Santa’s Grotto, in relation to height restrictions, indoor location etc, you may even consider having a smoke machine located to give a smoking chimney.

  • Smoke Machines [opens in new window]
  • Rotating Christmas Trees – this is much easier if the tree is unlit, perhaps consider decorating the tree with shiny, reflective and mirror finish decorations, then illuminate the tree with one or more spotlights, maybe coloured, plain or both.
    You could have a number of trees of differing sizes, maybe spinning in different directions and speeds.
    A simple turntable can be made from wooden sheets, a few casters and a bolt in the center. Various methods can be used to rotate the turntable, barbecue spit motors are great if you can find them, probably cheap too out of season. Other ideas include rechargeable screwdrivers and drills, although not typically rated for constant use.

  • Motors [opens in new window]
  • Casters and Hardware [opens in new window]
  • SpotLight Supplies [opens in new window]
  • Animating non-animated features – with a little work and imagination, many non-animated features can be given life. I’ve already mentioned a few sources of animation, others include salvaging motors and gearboxes from old toys. Another great source is oscillating fans – simply remove the protective cage and fan, put a protective cap over the exposed spindle and use the side to side motion to drive props and features. Some simple leverage will animate heads, limbs etc, strings and pulleys can be used to create rise and fall animation.
    Oscillating fans

    Santa Grotto Lighting and Effects

    November 15th, 2009 - 

    Every Santa’s Grotto should look festive and enchanting, especially to the younger visitors.  One of the easiest methods of adding a wow factor is lighting and it doesn’t have to break the bank either.

    In this article, I’ll discuss lighting methods and ideas, sources of economic supply and also safety considerations.

    When adding Christmas Illuminations to your Santa’s Grotto or Christmas attraction, think carefully about the colours selected and the actual amount of light present.

    Always try to select colours that match the Christmas Feature or Scene within the Grotto, either matching colour for colour to bring a feature to life or by adding contrast to make a feature stand out or become highly visible to the passing visitor.  Avoid just putting any colours in a scene, think if they match and the overall vision is attractive to the eye.  I find it’s always better to grab a few people and ask their opinion, remember that everyone may have a different opinion, so you may have to mentally average out the feedback.

    Also consider the amount of light generated, if it’s too little, the visitors may be less than impressed.  If you’re in an area of bright lighting or daylight, you may have to add significant lighting to be noticed above the existing ambient lighting.   If you’re in a darker area, then less will be needed.

    Try not to over-do the lighting amount, too much light can be almost painful to the eye, plus it may detract from your actual Santa’s Grotto or Christmas Decorations.

    Consider hidden lighting methods, this can be done with spot lights or other lighting, by simply having the light source out of direct visitor view.  By using this method, you can add great lighting effect without dazzling your visitors.

    When it comes to buying Christmas Lighting and Decorations, you may be shocked at how expensive it could be.  I find that taking a lateral view of the problem helps at times.

    Depending upon the event, in respect of how many days the Grotto or attraction will be open, the budget available and the location, you will have a different view on the problem and solution.

    You can buy much of the lighting equipment you may need from auction sites, like ebay, below is a list of links to possibly very useful products.  Depending upon many factors, you may grab an absolute bargain, I personally often have.  I’ve quite often purchased damaged goods, knowing that the remaining working parts fit my needs or that it can be easily repaired.

    Depending upon your own skill set or that of your colleagues if working as a team, you may wish to buy products to modify them.  This will ensure unique features within your Santa’s Grotto and may result in an overall lower cost.

    Great sources of ‘donor’ product include:

    • Fibre Optic products – can be purchased quite cheaply, include a light source and fibre optic threads which can be stripped and re-used within your own features.
    • Toys and Novelties – look at these items in charity and discount shops, they may have nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever, just look at the lighting or motion functions and how you may re-use this within your own feature or scene.

    When purchasing lighting products, always consider the end effect or product.  Many times, I buy a number of lighting sets with the idea that I will remove the bulbs and create single or custom colour sets to fit in with the scene or feature – this is generally not possible with LED lighting so beware.

    One effect that you may want, but will no doubt need to be totally safe is a Fireplace for your Santa’s Grotto.  There are a number of ways to do this, again dependant upon what you have laying around or your budget.

    1. The Quick and easy way to illuminate a fireplace is to use a set(s) of chasing Christmas lights, ideally just a mixture of red, orange and yellow colours and embed these amongst the fake fire.  Do this by putting them under wood, around the back, maybe even behind a diffuser panel behind the wood.
    2. Another method is to purchase a flame effect light source, have this projected on a background material.
    3. The other, more technical method, is to get hold of a video file of a file, then insert a computer screen in the fireplace, giving a fake fire.

    Always with anything involving lighting and electrical installations, safety must be the first thought.  You will have visitors of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes.  You will also have tampering fingers and possibly vandals.  Always consider the worst case scenario – that may be a shock hazard, fire, broken glass, darkness etc.  Consider how that scenario will be avoided and dealt with.

    Santa’s Grotto – Design Ideas and Safety Considerations

    November 8th, 2009 - 

    When designing a Santa’s Grotto, care must be taken to ensure that everyone will remain safe and well, Christmas should be full of festive cheer, not tears and upset.

    It really doesn’t matter to what scale you design and create a Grotto, it maybe a small space as part of a school or playgroup party, maybe a shopping center feature, a charity event or other location or purpose.  Below is some of the basic and most important points to consider.

    Care needs to be taken to protect visitors and operating staff, the possible risks are numerous, but simple, common sense thinking during planning and construction should take care of most potential risks.

    Remember that this is an attraction for all the family, so you may expect to have visitors of all ages and physical ability.  You may have elderly visitors, grand-parents, so be mindful of the distance to travel between rests points and how long visitors may be standing in one spot.  Toddlers will be lurking around, these little people wander wherever they can get and touch everything they can reach.  Smaller children, being pushed around, ensure that there is sufficient space to maneuver a pushchair and people.

    Also remember toilet access, depending upon the scale of your attraction, you may be able to have a rest, refreshment and nature break area part way through.  Otherwise, at least place a sign indication ‘no toilets’ and/or expected waiting and duration times.

    When constructing any part of a Santa’s Grotto or Christmas Attraction, remember that you are dealing with every make and model of human.. From the young to the senior, the short to the tall, the small to the not small, the considerate to down right disrespectful.. Keep this in mind and think what is the worst that someone could do to your Christmas Props and Christmas Decorations, what could they pull, push, bend, lean on, stand on, kick etc – Keep this in mind and your attraction should stand the test of the human being.

    It should not need to be mentioned, but never use materials that can catch fire easily, always ensure access to fire fighting equipment and power turn-off points.  Consider fitting smoke and fire alarm systems, and always consider how your staff and visitors will make their way to safety if an emergency situation occurred.

    You will more than likely have lighting, ideally, use low voltage where possible, particularly where there is the slightest chance of visitors touching, if possible use LED lighting, as this also reduces the chance of heat and broken glass.  Any mains driven lighting should be out of the reach of visitors, as should plugs, sockets and cables.

    I will be adding more information regarding Santa’s Grotto Lighting, Layout, Decorations, Animated Christmas Decorations, Music, Presents, Staff and Santa himself, please check back soon.

    You could follow FestiveFeatures on Twitter, where we will always tweet our latest updates.

    All Change – New site layout and Blog

    October 25th, 2009 - 

    Having recently been using Blogging tools for some of our sites, I’ve decided that FestiveFeatures would benefit from having a core based around a Blog.  I’m finding WordPress good to work with right now, so let’s try it this way.

    Forgive any minor blips over the next week or so, I will be experimenting quite a lot to get the layout and general mechanism sorted.

    So what will the new layout give, well, it’s to allow quick update of the site without actual page creation, but I’ll also have a load of extra content pages too.

    I think FestiveFeatures sister site GhoulishGadgets – A site dedicated to Halloween Decorations and Home Haunts may go the same direction.

    Apart from general Christmas related information, the main content is for people seeking information and ideas for Christmas Decorations and Decorating.  This will cover small scale decoration to larger indoor christmas features, also outdoor Christmas Decorations and Features.

    More sections are planned, including much larger Christmas attractions, on  the scale of town and village illumination, Christmas Light Swith-on Events and Santas Grotto ideas and resources.