It’s Christmas and everywhere we turn people are decorating. Homes, stores, street lights, even cars are decorated in the seasonal splendor. Every house in our neighborhood is decorated differently based upon the taste of the homeowner. And just last night, I noticed they were decorating the huge Christmas tree in the town square getting ready for the Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony tomorrow evening.
Wouldn’t you like to decorate your website for Christmas as well? Or maybe decorate your client’s websites?
Here’s a collection of WordPress plugins that can accomplish this task quite easily.
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This plugin can be used to display a Christmas Countdown clock anywhere that you can put a widget. As you will notice in the image to the right, the widget can be tailored to display the clock with a background color and text color of your choosing. You can also turn the title on or off by ticking a check-box. There are several different clock configurations and several different backgrounds that you can select to tailor the resulting countdown clock to your liking. I found several that I liked personally.
This is an enhanced version of the above plugin – Christmas Countdown Clock – which allows you to customize not just the look of the plugin, but the message that is displayed. So, this can be used for lots of events – not just Christmas. Birthdays, New Years, Weddings, Summer, or any event of your choosing. For clients that host special events, this could be used as a countdown to that special event.
Personally I like this countdown plugin – partly because it’s not so specific with the countdown, but mainly because I like the Santa figure that it uses. There are NO configuration options so it’s very simple to install and use this plugin. Simply drag the widget where you want to display the countdown and drop it. Save the changes and it will display.
I have actually used this plugin a couple of years on several of my client’s websites. It’s nice because the snowmen are cute, they dance out to music, the one on the right wraps the neck scarf around the one on the left and the two stand there while the phrase dances above their head. There are numerous settings that you can choose to configure this how you want it to show on your website. One of those is that you can choose to use a cookie so that it only shows once to each visitor – or you can have it show every time.
Additionally, you can choose to just show it on your home page – or not, show it with all posts, certain posts, based upon tags, based upon categories, and show it on all pages or just certain pages. Finally, after the animation is complete and disappears, the page begins to have a light snowfall that is not intrusive to the reader. My only complaint is that the animation disappears a little too quickly after it’s completed.
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This is a very unobtrusive and simple animation of a Christmas ball swinging on a limb located in the upper right corner of the website. There are no settings – just upload and activate the plugin for a quick and simple Christmas Decoration.
This very simple plugin puts a string of animated Christmas lights across the top of your WordPress website. There are no settings. Simply, upload the plugin, activate, and enjoy the Christmas decoration on your website.
After you upload and activate this plugin, you will still have to enable it for anything to show on your website. Additionally, it shows as only being supported up to WordPress v3.0.5 and I was unable to make it work on my WordPress v3.4 website. Apparently, the developer, NetChillies, is not actively keeping this plugin updated. Therefore, use it at your own risk and be prepared that it may not show anything.
Until I started researching for this article, I had never seen this plugin. But, I can honestly say that I think I’m in love. I see several applications that I will be using it with my clients this Christmas. There are several options on what you can show, where to show it, and how to show it. The image below is just ONE of the many options – this one uses the “Bottom Full Width” option. It also has a “snowfall” effect that you can add for extra interest.
The WordPress plugin, Christmas Snow, adds a gentle snowfall effect to your WordPress website. This is another one of those VERY SIMPLE WordPress plugins. You simply, install the plugin, activate it, and enjoy the snowfall effect. The effect is very subtle, therefore it does not interfere with the users experience with your website.
Similar to the previously mentioned Christmas Lights WordPress Plugin, this very simple plugin puts a string of Christmas lights at the top of your WordPress websites. To decorate your website using this plugin, simply install the plugin, activate it, and enjoy the string of subtle blinking Christmas lights at the top of your WordPress website page.
This plugin, while similar to the XMas Snow Plugin previously mentioned actually provides a much nicer snowfall effect. The amount of snowflakes is increased – but not to blizzard proportions. The wrapper of your WordPress website is changed to be black or dark grey so the snowflakes stand out better – if your theme overrides this effect, you can add a custom CSS (noted on the WordPress Repository Description) to change the background to any color you’d like. Overall, it’s a much nicer effect and it’s the snowfall plugin that I’ve used for several clients. Also, I don’t just use this at Christmas, but if a client is experiencing a snowstorm in their locale, I will activate the plugin on those days. It’s a really fun effect to put on a website.
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This WordPress plugin is not just limited to Christmas decorations – it can be used for Octoberfest and Halloween as well. I personally don’t care for the image that is uses for Christmas (a falling decorated Christmas tree) and that leads to my only dissatisfaction point with the plugin – I cannot upload an image that I’d like to use.
But, if you wish to do a little FTP work, you can upload ANY image you’d like. Create a square PNG file with a transparent background, upload it to the images folder for the Fancy Events plugin folder, and rename it christmas.png (I renamed the original image as christmas-orig.png so I could revert back to it). Refresh your screen and you now have the image you desire.
Among the other settings for this plugin is a very handy ability to change the “Z” index of the falling images. If you are familiar with the “Z” index, you can read over the information at W3 Schools but here’s the quick and dirty explanation. If you remember back to high school math, the “X” axis is the horizontal (left to right) direction and the “Y” axis is the vertical (up and down) direction. The “Z” axis is rarely discussed, but it is the direction that is basically coming out of the screen at you. Basically, the items on your screen exist in layers and by giving a screen element a higher number you place it on top of items that have lower numbers. If you want to place something below another item on the screen, then give it a lower number – even extending into negative numbers.
Finally, you can change the number of images that appear on the screen, the speed at which they fall, and the opacity of the images. Each of these settings allow you to decorate your WordPress website without becoming annoying to your visitors.
This WordPress plugin has numerous images that you can choose from to create the “snowfall” effect with. But, the really nice part about this plugin is that you can choose more than ONE image that will fall. This provides the ultimate level of flexibility when decorating your WordPress website. Many of the images are not Christmas images, so this plugin can be used at other times of the year as well. If you want to decorate your website, then I would suggest that you take a look at this plugin.
This snow storm plugin has a number of options that you can select from. The one that I personally love is the “Snow Stick” effect. Install and activate this plugin, then load your website and leave it open in a browser window for a while (I’d give it an hour or two). The snow will “accumulate” at the bottom of your screen getting deeper as time goes on. Since most people do not remain on a website for an extended period of time, this should not interfere with the user experience, but it is still a neat effect.
Below is a screenshot of the settings page showing the various settings that you can change.
This is another simple plugin with a lot of variety and power. If you look over the image below, you will see the various images that can be chosen from to appear either in a “snowfall” effect or a “balloon” effect.
Additionally, you can upload images of your choosing so you can customize this plugin to any decoration that you would like. Oh, and did I mention, it works.
If you desire to decorate only certain posts or certain categories of posts, then this is the plugin for you. When activated, this plugin causes the body_class template tag to output five additional classes.
If you are experienced in writing CSS Selectors you can use this plugin to style any post, page, category, archive, or taxonomy in any way you’d like. This could allow you to style a Christmas post with a green headline, red body text, background images and even sidebars with borders. This is a very powerful plugin to use but it will require a little more skill than the others mentioned here because you will find yourself writing some CSS.
This plugin works on a MultiSite application as well, so it is useful in more applications.
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This plugin allows you to schedule the use of an additional CSS style which would allow you to schedule the use of a Christmas style for your WordPress Website. Once you have designed your custom CSS and saved the file, you can choose a start date, an end date, and even the ability to repeat the chosen style yearly. If you are skilled in CSS, this plugin can provide you with an outstanding ability to style website changes and change them on a scheduled basis.
Just like the above WP Scheduled Styles plugin, using this plugin allows you to not just schedule a CSS change, but an entire theme change. When you choose to schedule a theme, you can choose from your installed themes (be sure you know which theme is active because it will display in the list as well), choose a start date, an end date, and whether to repeat the theme change yearly or not.
The Ninja Announcements plugin enables you to add special announcements to your WordPress website and schedule them to always show, to begin and end at specified times, to only show on certain days of the week, or a combination of those options. You can also set it to show on your Homepage or your Frontpage and even allow your users to close and reopen the announcements. This plugin has many more uses than just for Christmas so you will probably find many times to use it.
If you want to show certain information at a certain time and them hide it outside of that time frame, then this is the plugin to consider. By using the shortcode [timed] around any post or page contents that you wish to appear or expire on a specific date and or time, you can make the information visible or invisible based upon those parameters.
The following parameters are available to determine when the visibility is allowed:
By using various combinations of these parameters you can determine when a post is visible and when it is hidden. This could be useful for showing a Merry Christmas greeting on your website home page that begins sometime Christmas Eve (when you are probably away from your computer enjoying time with your family) and run through Christmas Day and then disappear at midnight while you’re sleeping. A completely unattended Christmas greeting on your website, all because you planned ahead.
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Most people love Christmas – the decorations, the parties, the music – so why shouldn’t our website visitors. This article should give you lots of tools to make your websites more interesting for the holidays. Many of these tools can be used at other times of the year as well, so this should be a list you can revisit for ideas from time to time for inspiration.
If you know of any other tools – free or paid – that you use to decorate your WordPress websites, please post about them in the comments below. I’m always looking for new tools and I’d love to hear what you use.
NOTE: I tried each tool in this article. I noted the ones that did not work as expected as well as posted images of the results when they did. Each of these were tested on a fresh WordPress installation of v3.4.2 and either Twenty-Ten or Twenty-Eleven theme.