Christmas traditions vary from culture to culture, but one thing unites us all: the Christmas tree. Year in, and year out, millions globally compete for the best faux pine and later customize it with sparkling lights to usher in the eagerly awaited annual holiday.
But while a standard Christmas tree does the job, you don’t have to settle for one. Christmas trees have evolved with all sorts of decorations, and with components like Arduino, you can make yours stand out. To give you some ideas, here are seven awesome DIY Christmas trees to add some spark to the festivities.
1. Smart Christmas Tree With ESP
Christmas lights add sparkle even to the dullest of faux pine trees. To make your lights a whole lot more adjustable, however, you can upgrade them to app-control status. This way, you can make them sparkle and blink exactly when you want, switch off some LED colors and leave others on, or even turn them off when it’s time to hit the sheets.
And you don’t have to be some tech nerd to pull this off. Everything you need to convert traditional Christmas lights into smart ones you can control is listed in this Instructables guide.
2. Christmas Tree That Beats With Your Heart
Smartphone-controlled Christmas lights are cool, but you know what’s even cooler? Christmas tree lights that glow in sync with your heartbeat. It would be an excellent gift for that loved one you hold close.
By following the steps in this Hackster guide, you can create one. It has a sensor to optically measure the blood pumping through your veins and convert this into a heartbeat that’s then relayed to the Christmas tree. There are more technicalities to it, but everything you need, from the code, to the step-by-step DIY process, is well elaborated in the linked tutorial mentioned earlier. While you’re thinking of ideas for your loved ones, here are some more thoughtful DIY gifts.
3. Alexa-Powered Christmas Tree
Another fantastic way to control your Christmas tree lighting is by hooking it up to Alexa. Yes, you read it right! We’re talking about an Alexa-controlled Christmas tree! You can command the Christmas tree lights off and on, or even control their blinking patterns using just your voice.
And typical of Alexa-powered tech, it’s smart too. When you command it to give a show without specifying further, it automatically reviews the last set of colors you used and gives you the light show you so desire. You can track its status based on lighting as well—if it blinks red one time, then you are having connection setup issues, and if it blinks red twice, it indicates a failed IoT connection. Check out more details in the Hackster tutorial.
4. The Singing Christmas Tree
Every year, people from different neighborhoods compete over who has the best Christmas tree. If this is the tradition on your residential block, build this singing Christmas tree and you’ll beat everyone to the punch and leave them in awe.
The singing tree has a mouth that opens and closes and a pair of googly eyes that move when it sings. And while it sounds sophisticated, it’s pretty easy to build. In fact, you’ll be using easy-to-find materials like cardboard and pipe cleaners for the project. Find more details in the Instructables guide.
Looking for some more easy-to-build projects? Check out these Raspberry Pi Christmas projects you can make in a day.
5. Christmas Carol With OLED and Buzzer
Don’t have Alexa access but want a voice-controlled Christmas tree? This Hackster guide has just the ideal one. It uses an Arduino-controlled OLED that displays “Merry Christmas” and a beautiful snowflake effect. This DIY tree also plays a melody, and you can use voice commands to control lighting patterns, as illustrated in the video above. Here are some more Arduino projects for beginners you can try out.
6. Christmas Tree With Lights Controlled With Voice Commands
We found yet another awesome take on a voice-controlled Christmas tree. However, it doesn’t rely on Alexa. It instead uses Arduino, paired with a voice recognition shield that lets you tap into your smartphone’s sensor and transfer voice data between it and the LED strip over Bluetooth. The result? The LED strip can recognize and respond to voice commands.
The LED strip used here has eight light modes, allowing nearly endless color combinations when customizing your light shows. Check out the Hackster tutorial to build this project.
7. Smart Christmas Tree With CircuitPython
Christmas lighting does not have to be loud and glaring. By using a Circuit Playground Bluefruit board, CircuitPython program, Bluetooth connectivity, and an Adafruit-based app, you can control the overall brightness of your Christmas tree lights.
With it, you can also create just about any LED animation design you fancy, by altering the pattern, speed, and color. And you don’t have to be some type of creative genius to pull it off because once you gather all the supplies, instructions, and the code are well-detailed in the Instructables guide.
LED Lighting Safety Tips
All the projects above make for fantastic and unique Christmas lights. But most of them involve working with LEDs. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while attempting LED-based projects:
- Ensure you have the right LEDs: Before attempting any LED-based project, confirm that the LEDs are of the right length and wattage. And for your project to turn out how you want, look out for one with the colors you love on your Christmas tree. You can also learn how to make RGB LED lights display DIY colors.
- Check for damage: Even if you bought them, check to ensure there’s no damage. Look out for cracks or exposed wires as these aren’t only dangerous to work with, but also they may result in a non-uniformly lit Christmas tree.
- Plan placement: Low-hanging LEDs pose a tripping hazard and may be tampered with by toddlers or pets. So, ensure you carefully plan where your tree will go.
DIY a Stunning Christmas Tree
Christmas trees are a quintessential tradition. But that doesn’t mean you need to go the old-school way. You can opt for a smaller tree instead of the bulky, fireplace-centered one and DIY it into any of the awesome Christmas trees covered here.