Christmas Designs

Glowing Presence

Vaughn VanSkiver from Victory Highway Wesleyan Church in Painted Post, NY brings us this fun, glowing Christmas design.

From Vaughn: Christmas Presence was the theme for our seven Christmas Eve services in 2016 and this design was a collaborative effort between our Stage Design and Lighting Teams.

We wanted to cover the stage with Christmas presents and searched CSDI and Pinterest for ideas.  Our Lighting Team Director, Matt Gilbert, finally came up with an idea.  He took a cardboard box, cutting out four or five of the sides, leaving a one inch edge to support the structure of the box.  (See accompanying photos)  LED strip lights were then taped inside the box on the side that had not been cut out.  He cut a small hole out of the back side of the box and left a “pigtail” from the lights hanging out so it could be later connected to another extension wire that led to the DMX decoder placed in the rear of the stage.

We randomly connected three presents per channel on the DMX decoder so we could run them in groups and create different color schemes.

We wanted to have a consistent look to the stage presents when the lights were off so everything was wrapped with white wrapping paper, with gold ribbon and gold bows, which were made using gold, wire ribbon of different textures.  Some boxes were wrapped with wedding paper that had a silver design on it.  When using that paper we wrapped it with the white side on the outside and the design on the inside, so that when they were unlit they looked white, but when lit up the design showed through.

We had two main areas to work with:  the stage floor and the back wall, where presents were flown.

Stage floor:  Presents were grouped around the band risers.  Matt had a great idea and wrapped a small scooter with LED strip lights and then wrapped it in white paper.  It was the only “gift” on the stage that was something other than a box and very recognizable.

Back wall:  We flew boxes using carbon black, 50 lb. fishing line, which was invisible against our black back drop of black polyester fabric.  All of the presents were wrapped with white paper with the exception of the six boxes that formed the cross.  Those presents were wrapped with the wedding paper, so when lit up the cross contrasted from the other presents.  (We did not light up and reveal the cross until later in the service, during the candle lighting portion of the service.)  Those six packages comprising the cross were connected into two channels in the DMX decoder so we could control them independent from the other packages.  (We tried to get the six boxes for the cross very close to the same size.)

We used Invisible UV paint ( to paint the words “Christmas Presence” on some of the packages.  Reasa Hayes created stencils for the letters and painted them onto the packages.  Towards the end of the service we used four black lights to reveal the letters.

We also used a star backdrop from the previous Christmas.  We used 40 strands of Christmas lights and pinned them to the black fabric and patched them into our light board so we had dimming capabilities.  Another layer of black fabric was hung over the lights so wires were not seen.  Creating the star backdrop was a very tedious project but added great depth to our stage and we have continued to use it after Christmas.

We purchased a number of pre-lit birch trees (4, 6 & 8 ft.) ( to add to the stage.  The trees were pre-lit with LED lights, which initially looked great, but were a bit bright and washed everything out.  By “mistake” we had turned the LED lights off and lit them with ADJ megabars and got some great color combinations.  So there were times we used the lights on the trees and other times when we didn’t.

We decorated the subwoofers as giant presents and also a large window on casters which was used as a prop by our dancers.

About 15-20 people contributed to this design, too many to name, and did a great job.

Blocked Out Speechy