This was possibly the simplest thing we have done. We bought an FM transmitter on eBay for about $50. Then we found an empty frequency and used the up and down buttons on the transmitter to select it. All we really had to do was add power and plug it in to a computer audio jack or a CD player.
Another crowd pleaser is the bubble machine - this was an impulse buy from jaycar and has proven a real hit! Our dog especially enjoys trying to catch all the bubbles, as do the hundreds of children who visit us each Christmas!
About the controllers
There are lots of controllers around for running christmas lights off DMX: here are a few of the controllers we use.
24 Channel Controller
These controllers were ordered from China. They are compact, easy to connect, run on 24 volt and can be mounted on din rail.
These controllers are developed by Aussiephil over on auschristmaslighting.com
They have 48 low voltage outputs, which are ideal for controlling our led lights, and is controlled through the DMX bus which is delivered on Cat5.
Unlike many of our other controllers, the tiger48's come fully assembled, which is handy for saving time soldering!
The boards are long and skinny for two reasons: firstly, it makes it easier to connect lots of cables because there is lots of space around the edges, and secondly because it is designed to fit inside a piece of PVC pipe, which is a great cheap way to waterproof the controllers for leaving them outside to run the show.
Mounted outside, the Tiger 48 conveniently fits inside a PVC pipe which is decorated to look like a candy cane.