How to techify your Christmas decorations

4 project ideas to put some tech in your festive trimmings

Christmas is a time for giving, sharing and, of course, tinkering.

Once you’ve adjusted all the baubles and finished faffing with the tinsel, though, there’s little left to keep you from twiddling your thumbs until the big day.

You could try that Tata Sky bodge you’ve been planning - but, if you lose all those precious festive films stacked on its hard drive, you risk the wrath of kids and siblings alike.

Thankfully, you can occupy your restless hands with one of these Christmas projects, instead.

Bring some Yuletide tech to the proceedings courtesy of a raft of connected kit and smart stuff that’ll turn your tired trimmings into dazzling decor.

Christmas tree disco

Twinkly fairy lights might look pretty enough but, frankly, we want more from our tree. Enter these smart lights from LEDworks.

Wrap them around your tree, pair with the partner app (available on Android or iOS) and you'll have a mappable array of bulbs at your complete disposal. It's a technicolour dream come true.

Unlike other projects that require a lot of coding, this is a proper plug-and-play upgrade that'll have you fixated on achieving the perfect light array. Each bulb appears as an outline on your smartphone screen and can be individually programmed.

It works over Wi-Fi, too, allowing you to use the built-in colour combinations and patterns or - and here's the fun bit - create your own. It'll smartly detect where the bulbs are placed on the tree, too, so all you need to worry about is the pattern.

Buy the LEDworks Christmas lights

Sound-controlled light show

The Christmas lights turf war is a story familiar to millions of town-dwellers the world over. Jeff bought a set of 1000 SuperBright Shiners, so Glen responded by buying a 30ft inflatable snowman. So it goes on.

Enter the fray in style by hooking a Raspberry Pi up to your light array and setting the show to your favourite Christmas tune. Or dubstep. It's your choice.

You might have seen one of the many YouTube videos of village homes being frazzled and dazzled by a cacophany of light and sound - and all it takes to get started is a Raspberry Pi and a bit of software called LightShow Pi.

Hook your mini-computer up to your glowers and LightShow will use it as the central controller, automating the light show based on the frequency of the music you feed into it. 

Better still, once you've nailed the basics there are a host of add-ons and tinkering options - like SMS contol. Neat.

Get Lightshow Pi

Log fire on your walls

Few things are cosier at Christmas time than a proper log fire. Unfortunately, that cosiness requires a fireplace. And logs. The Stuff office has neither.

If you've got a TV and a Netflix account, though, you're in luck: stick its famous Fireplace For Your Home film on your big screen and you'll have all the crackling comfort of a real fire - without the sparks and sooty smoke that made us get rid of the things in the first place.

Want more? If you've got a spare iPad kicking around, download Hue Camera for iOS and point it at the TV. It talks to your Hue lights, changing their colour to match the predominant shades on your screen - a bit like a house-wide Ambilight.

It'll need a bit of tweaking and works best when it's stable - think: tripod - but, once its running, you'll get pulsing orange warmth wherever you've got a Hue bulb. Sadly, it won't roast your chestnuts.

Get Fireplace For Your Home

Smart Santa catcher

Santa is real. We all know it. It's a fact. What do we all want, even more than the presents? To meet the big guy, of course.

Problem is, every time we try to stay awake to catch him coming down the chimney, the excitement sees us nod right off - not to mention the gin we've been sipping.

Hook up a Nest Cam with an IFTTT recipe and you'll have a motion-sensing machine that's sure to help you intercept the man in red.

It'll trigger when it detects movement, so the lights will come on when Father Christmas arrives - hopefully waking you up in the process. If you're too nervous to meet him, you can set the Cam up to record when something moves, instead, so you'll at least have some footage of him doing his work.

The good news for parents? It'll do double duty as an interceptor of kids up past their bedtime, too.

Get a Nest Cam