Five Ways To Geek Up Your Holiday Decorating

Every year it seems like the lights come out earlier. Returning from Thanksgiving festivities here in the US, we noticed that half of our street was illuminated wheras just days before had been absolutely typical. Bows and lights and garlands are just the beginning though; some people take their decorations way seriously. It’s not just about the look, it’s about the effort that goes into it.

But there’s a separate camp, too. You know what I’m talking about. In the last decade, a nefarious army of inflatable decorations have taken over many American front lawns. Huge, hideous, and garish, these air-filled statues (for lack of a better term) are simply a pox on the holiday season. They fall in inclement weather, they stick out like sore thumbs, and they scream “All I did for Christmas was inflate Santa with a hose up his butt”.

We geeks know better, I should like to think. We’re not hacks. I mean, we hack, but we’re not about to go to Wal-Mart and call our decorations done. In fact, I’d say that across the board when it comes to holiday decorations geeks have the upper hand. Not only do we have technology on our side, but we also have a certain aesthetic that makes us stand out from the crowd. Plus, our making ways ensure that we’re not only geeky, we’re thrify, too.

So here’s five ways to geek up your holiday decorating this season.

  1. Try Your Hand at DIY Ornaments: Sure, you can buy ornaments right outside of a box. And that’s easy enough. But if you’re like me, you’d rather your tree represents what you value. You know, ornaments painted like the Death Star or a Cylon. If you go over to Michael’s or any other big name craft store, you’ll find a plethora of round, unpainted, ornaments. Use some acrylic paint (the stuff you use to paint your Warhammer 40K army should work fine, if you’ve got some of that about). This year, since we’ve got a major tree upgrade, I’m planning on making Death Stars, Cylons, Sauron Eyes, and Eyes of Kilrogg. If you want to go old school, there’s tons of 3-D paper snowflakes you can assemble at home, too, printing them straight from your computer. And if you’re into fiber arts like me, don’t forget the awesome that you can make with knitting and crochet. If I had the time, I’d totally Mario up my whole Christmas tree.
  2. Incorporate Some Good Old-Fashioned Lovecraftian Charm: Yes, mistletoe is classic, and carries with it its own, long history. But when I think cold and Christmas, I think about my New England upbringing. And who represents the deep, dark horrors of a New England holiday season better than H.P. Lovecraft? Hanging Cthulhu is not only marvelously festive (he is green with red eyes) but it’ll make you appreciate the little things in life all the more, as dread creeps down your spine. If your tree is already covered with eyeballs, as per my above suggestion, why, you’re quite on your way. Just add a surreptitious altar to Shub-Niggurath, and you’re all set. Those who stand under Cthulhu lose sanity rather than get kisses (and isn’t that what the holidays are really about, anyway?).
  3. LED the way with Throwies: While some people prefer to use store-bought lights to wow their neighborhoods, any geek will tell you that’s just skimming the surface. Instructables has a great piece about using LED Throwies to enhance your holiday lighting experience. Throwies are exceptionally cool for two reasons: first, they allow you to break out of that whole string of lights thing, since they are made in little groupings and can even be thrown around (hence the name) — and secondly, they’re something you can even make yourself. I can think of a hundred ways to decorate, inside and out, with LED Throwies. I particularly like the way Instructables discusses the decorations: “LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood.” Mmm… ferromagnetic.
  4. Look to History: The more I learn about holidays, and the history behind them, the weirder I think humanity is (see the German Christmas Pickle). And weirdness really goes hand in hand with geekiness, don’t you think? In my opinion, knowledge is totally worth sharing. If you’re having guests over, how about making a crazy holiday timeline table cloth? Start around 165 BC with the beginnings of Hannukah (or start with some of Christmas’s pagan roots), and end with Futurama’s Robot Santa Claus. Or, you can cut up little random facts about the season and use them to wrap up napkins or as drink coasters. Sure, it’s a little work to print and cut and research. But informing your guests is a present in and of itself. Just make sure you’re guests are friendly to your sense of humor. And please for the love of all things holy, use a decent font.
  5. Think Outside the Gingerbread Box: Once upon a time, gingerbread houses didn’t come in boxes. Each piece was lovingly made by hand, out of real, delicious, edible gingerbread. And while not everyone is keen on baking the whole thing, that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the directions on the side of the box. Buy your own candies and have at it. Make a Fractal Gingerbread House like this one. Or go for a steampunk look with a more Victorian design. You’d be surprised how many patterns there are out there. And of course, you can always make it up as you go along.

Tell us some of the ways you geek up your holiday decorating! We’d love to hear.

[Image by Powerpig, Lego Deathstar Ornament Via Gizmodo]