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  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.
Steve Lelinski

Welcome New Members! Practical Guide to PC.

Recommended Posts

First off, welcome to PC! As a former new member myself, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a post with the answers to many questions the "newbies" typically have when they join PC.

Rules

Every place has rules. The Three Rules of Planet Christmas are (all together now): Positive, Family Friendly, and Christmas Centric. I'll also share with you some of the other "unspoken rules" that help us all get along:

  • The biggest no-no at PC is criticizing someone else's display. Just like you, we all work really hard on our displays and take pride in them. We all have different tastes, so we all have different kinds of display. When you see someone posting pictures or video of their display, if you like it, tell them. If you don't, move on and say nothing. Of course, when someone asks for feedback, you can be a bit more critical in explaining what you like and don't like. Please do your best to be tactful; try to be constructive and supportive.


  • While it's not a rule, it just makes everyone's life better if you at least try to use good grammar and make your posts clear. There's good reason for this. If you're posting a question, you're asking someone else to take the time to read it and respond. You'll find you get much better answers if you're clear with your post. If someone can't read or understand your posts, they probably won't bother to respond. Taking that extra minute to reread what you've written, can make a world of difference in the responses you get.


  • You have the ability to add your location and age to your profile. Please take the time do do so. Our advice to someone in Florida where it's 60 degrees on Christmas may be different than our advice to someone in the Yukon.


  • At PC you'll find we have it all. Many Christmas vendors hang out around here. As such, we also try to be respectful of their products and services. It's more than ok to ask a question, or communicate a problem. Most times, the vendor themselves will take the time to answer you and help fix it. However it's not ok to "flame" a vendor. If the point of your post is to convince other people not to use a particular vendor, this isn't the place for it and it'll probably be deleted.


  • The follow up to that rule, is that we have to be careful when comparing vendors. It's ok to list the positives of each product, and compare them such as, "I find sequencing with Brand X to be easier than with Brand Y." It's not ok to slam one vendor over another: "I'm going with Company A because Company B stinks and doesn't return their e-mails." For this reason, you'll find comparison threads between two companies often get closed down.


  • Finally, Private Messages (PM). First, not everyone is here every day, and not everyone checks their PMs frequently. Sometimes members get busy and aren't on PC for a while. If you send someone a PM and they don't get right back to you, don't take it personally. They're probably just too busy. Second, you should know that when you send someone a PM, they can easily forward it to anyone else. It's called Private, but it's still a good idea to not say anything you wouldn't want getting around.

Questions that keep coming up

Alot of the same questions come up again and again at PC. I'll try to answer a few of them, which may save you from starting your own thread. Also, don't miss the search button in the blue bar near the top. There are years and years worth of posts and discussions here, and some of the best advice has already been given.

LEDs vs. Incandescents

Should I switch to LEDs or keep using regular mini lights? This is a question we're all still struggling to answer. The facts are LEDs use less electricity, but cost more. There are alot of claims about LEDs saving enough electricity to pay for themselves, but these claims aren't always accurate. What is accurate is that you need less electricity to run them. For you, that may mean fewer new circuits or smaller and cheaper extension cords. That being said, why throw out the perfectly good mini's you already have? There's alot to consider.

My LEDs seem to flicker as they fade... what's up?

The low current that LEDs draw can sometimes be a problem. You probably need a snubber. This thread has some of the best information on how to make a snubber, what they do, and why you might need one.

Full Wave LEDs? Half Wave? Huh?

You'll see alot of talk about Full Wave Rectified and Half Wave Rectified LEDs. It's all about how the strings convert the AC from your house, to the DC LEDs need to run. Full Wave are usually brighter, but also more expensive. Check out this thread for a pretty good discussion on the difference.

Should I go with LOR, or D-light? ...or Animated Lighting? ...maybe Galaxia?

For those of you who decide to go animated, choosing which controller to buy can be one of the biggest questions of your decorating life. Instead of starting a thread asking which is better, you'll probably have better luck sending a PM to a few members asking for their opinions. An easy way to tell who uses what is to check a member's signature. Many PC members have their controller listed there. Send a couple PMs, most of us will be happy to offer opinions. Also, most vendors let you download a free trial of the software. That'll let you check out how easy it is to use, and see what you can do.

Should I buy the LOR Showtime controller, or the PlanetChristmas kit?

This question comes up alot because they're so similar, yet a bit different. The Showtime controllers are the "commercial grade" controllers with UL certification. They're fully pre-built and are the most expensive. They can run in stand alone mode. The PC line of controllers are available fully assembled, or as a kit you put together yourself. They must be hooked up to a computer or to a Showtime controller to run. Whether to get a kit or not is a personal preference. If you like to solder, get the kit and save a few bucks. If you'd rater spend your free time sequencing, get the fully assembled option. Or split the difference and get the soldered, but unassembled controllers.

What's a PLUS? A mini?

PLUS - PlanetChristmas Lights Up Symposium - is the annual/bi-annual gathering of Christmas nuts. It's a multi-day event put on by the PlanetChristmas team. It's a good way to meet people and get new ideas. A mini or mini-PLUS is a smaller, regional gathering. If there's one in your area it's a great way to meet up with fellow decorators, often times without the cost of a flight or a hotel room.

How do you get one of those cool signatures with the light and channel counts?

Click Here to create your signature, then Click Here to paste in the code.

Sales

If it's not the first question you have when you join, it'll definitely be the second. When are the Sales?!

Controllers

  • Light-O-Rama has two annual sales.

    • A "secret sale" in February which features half a dozen of their most popular controllers 10-20% off. Quantities are limited, but usually last for a day or two, so odds are you can get what you want.

    • The second sale is in the early Summer. Almost everything is on sale. Typically 10-15% off. Prices are just a few dollars higher than the "secret" sale, but there are no limits to quantities. You buy it, they'll build it.

    • Despite their names, these sales aren't secret and are generally announced weeks, if not months in advance. Just keep checking back, you can't miss it.

    [*]D-Light's sales aren't regular events like LOR's. You'll need to keep an eye on the forums and on their home page. They usually have a couple sales per year, usually for one or two specific items at a time. For a real bonus, I've been told they sometimes offer ridiculous deals through their twitter feed. (Thanks to ChrisL for this info!)

    [*]Animated Lighting and Galaxia also have occasional sales. I don't know much about them, but if someone would like to enlighten me, I'll edit this post.

    [*]Keep your eyes peeled. There's almost always someone selling used controllers for a bit of a discount over the new.

LEDs

  • There are at least two vendors on PC who run annual pre-sales on LEDs. So far this year Creative Displays (CDI) (Paul Sessel), LED Holiday Lighting (Travis Fremming), and Environmental LED(Brian Holzheuer). Do a search on any of those companies and you'll find info on their latest offerings. The pre-sales generally occur in January or February. You pay half now, and half when the lights come in, which is usually late Spring or early Summer.

Edited by Steve Lelinski
Added info about DL sales. Typos!

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Inside info on PC no one else will tell you

Well ok, maybe anyone you ask will tell you this, but here are some good things to know when you're just starting out here:

Take the time to introduce yourself Either here in the Newbies forum or in your state's forum for a more local feel. It's also a good idea to fill out your profile so others can get a good idea of what you're display is like when they try to answer any display-specific questions.

Dasher's Diner This is the forum where the "Christmas Centric" rule tends to be relaxed a little. The other two rules still apply, though. Remember, if it's NSFW it's NSFPC. Head over to the Diner anytime you've got an off-beat question.

Using your real name Many PC users use their real name as their screen name. Many more have their real name in their signature. On good days, it's a real family atmosphere around here, and it helps to know who's who. If you already joined and decided you'd like to use your real name, send a PM to Chuck Smith and he can change if for you.

Someone is always watching

Whether you use your real name or not, always remember that this is an open forum. Most of the postings here are visible to non-members, and many of them will show up in Google. Just remember not to say anything you wouldn't be comfortable saying in front of everyone you know, and you'll be fine. Never post your e-mail address or phone number unless you like Spam! If you want to share it, send a PM.

Blow Molders vs. Everybody Else It's a fact of PC that people who don't collect blow molds don't understand the people who do, and vice versa. Whichever camp you're in, you'll find more than the occasional teasing from the other side. Don't take it personally, remember we all respect one another and have fun with it. If you are a blow molder, you'll spend alot of time in that forum. Many regulars there are extremely helpful in finding molds you can't, teaching you how to fix old ones, maybe even offering to fix them for you! If you're not a "molder", you'll never understand all the "Look what I found" threads that pop up come Springtime, so don't even try.

January Melt Down If you picked January to join us here at PC, you picked a bad time. For some reason tempers flare, posts get out of hand, and one or two members get put in the Time Out Chair (TOC) It's all very ugly and we apologize that you have to see it. Promise, the rest of the year we're very nice.

The Penthouse What goes on in the Penthouse? Honestly, not all that much. But being a Penthouse Member is a great way to support PC and help defray the cost of keeping it running. Penthouse members do get a few perks, like custom member titles.

Electrical Questions Yes, there's an Electrical forum, and yes, real-live electricians do hang out there. It can be a great place for advice, or to check your logic. Just be mindful that you're asking for opinions in a discussion forum, and that's very different from having a licensed electrician come to your house. Never forget, the person answering your questions could be someone like me. Your laptop will never be the same.

Chuck Hutchings The rest of us would like to apologize in advance for Chuck. As our highest posting and highly sarcastic member, at times he may offend you. He's almost always kidding, and doesn't mean it personally.

Finally, Don't take yourself or others too seriously. Though we don't like to admit it, there's alot of ego around here. If someone offends you, ignore them. Remember that other people's opinions and answers are just as valid as your own. Never forget that this is all about Christmas Lights, and it's supposed to be fun.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope some of what I've said here is at least a little useful. I think it'd be a good idea to keep this thread "information only." Feel free to add anything you think new members might appreciate, and please let me know if I have something wrong, or something is missing and I'll fix or add it. Anything else you'd like to say, or if you feel the need to mock me, you know the place for that.

Edited by Steve Lelinski
Typo - Thanks Chuck...
  • Like 1

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Steve, very nice! Someone should sticky this.

If I may add one more suggestion, that being, please make the Title descriptive as possible. That not only makes people want to read them, it also helps with searches later on.

OK, one last one. We want people to ask questions. That is what this forum is all about. Please, PLEase, PLEASE, re-read your post once before you push Submit. It may make sense to you, but can someone else make heads or tails without a "20 Question" response. A lot of people will peruse topics quickly (myself included).

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Finally, Don't take yourself or others too seriously.

This is something I think scares some people away from here who dont understand the forum. After a while, even though many of us have never met face to face, we consider most here like extended family. Some members may remind you of that crazy uncle you wish you didn't have. We do poke/jab (what ever you want to call it ) at each other from time to time...in good humor, but occasionally it may look nastier than it really is. Dont look too seriously into stuff like that. There are SO many inside jokes around this place its hard to keep up sometime.

Enjoy the site.....it is by far the LARGEST wealth of Christmas decorating knowledge on the internet.

Edited by ChrisL1976

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Some members may remind you of that crazy uncle you wish you didn't have.

<inside joke>

You're talking about me, aren't you! You jerk!

</inside joke>

Nice work, Steve. I suggest this be stickied, and instead of flaming newbies for violating these things in the future, we politely link to this thread and ask them to read it.

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January Melt Down If you picked January to join us here at PC, you picked a bad time. For some reason tempers flare, posts get our of hand, and one or two members get put in the Time Out Chair (TOC) It's all very ugly and we apologize that you have to see it. Promise, the rest of the year we're very nice.

You spelled "out" wrong. :P

Chuck Hutchings The rest of us would like to be more like Chuck. As our highest posting and most awesome member, at times he may offend you. Get over it.

FTFY.

:cool:

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For a real bonus, I've been told they sometimes offer ridiculous deals through their twitter feed. (Thanks to ChrisL for this info!)

Steve....probably shouldn't have mentioned that...now I'll have more competition.....Dangit :giggle:

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Steve, very nice! Someone should sticky this.

Agreed - Very well done Steve (but you still have to pay to remain in the Penthouse :giggle:).

Edited by B_Regal78

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First off, welcome to PC! As a former new member myself, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a post with the answers to many questions the "newbies" typically have when they join PC.

:) :) :) Excellent job, Steve! :) :) :)

PlanetChristmas is a positive community. Have an overwhelming desire to go negative? Find somewhere else on the Internet... there are plenty of options.

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Agreed - Very well done Steve (but you still pay to pay to remain in the Penthouse :giggle:).

Here is a good example of reading your post before hitting Submit.

"But you still pay to pay to remain???" What does that mean? Sorry, it's still January!:121_reindeer:

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Here is a good example of reading your post before hitting Submit.

"But you still pay to pay to remain???" What does that mean? Sorry, it's still January!:121_reindeer:

Think he meant to say " you have to pay to stay in the penthouse"

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Here is a good example of reading your post before hitting Submit.

"But you still pay to pay to remain???" What does that mean? Sorry, it's still January!:121_reindeer:

Bwaahha-ha-ha - Now if this was in the "diner"... :D

Edited by B_Regal78

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Think he meant to say " you have to pay to stay in the penthouse"
I know Dave knows what I meant to say...

I probably didn't need two posts for this either. It's "fingerclickeritis fastus" - a very bad disease going around...

Edited by B_Regal78

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Oops, I just noticed this: PLUS stands for Planetchristmas Lights Up Symposium, not PLanetChristmas User Symposium ;)

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Oops, I just noticed this: PLUS stands for Planetchristmas Lights Up Symposium, not PLanetChristmas User Symposium ;)

Must be the old age setting in. :rolleyes:

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Speaking of this...:) You know one suggestion that was left out of the list......With all the wonderful SIDE discussions that arise in topics, HIJACKING threads is seen by some members as disrespectful. Try your best to keep on topic and not digress too far.

If the post is about LED's, dont start talking about issues with your next door neighbors. Just start another Thread.

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I've only been here a couple of months, lurking for a year, I've learned alot, this really is a great group of people.

And like they said don't take Chuck serious

He's the guy on the right

16navidad.gif

Mark

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:) :) :)Excellent job, Steve! :) :) :)

Steve, I wish to 2nd, 3rd or what ever the number may be now, I only wish this type of info had been around a year ago. Thank you again for takeing the time and effort to HELP others instead of being negative toward newbies and oldes who make mistakes.

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:) :) :)Excellent job, Steve! :) :) :)

Steve, I wish to 2nd, 3rd or what ever the number may be now, I only wish this type of info had been around a year ago. Thank you again for takeing the time and effort to HELP others instead of being negative toward newbies and oldes who make mistakes.

You've spelled something wrong...;)

It was a great job all around...seriously...

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You've spelled something wrong...;)

It was a great job all around...seriously...

Big deal, punch my draft card, lol seriously sorry about that at my age my fingers don't always do what my mind tells them.

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