We hear it all the time, especially in the social media groups:
"Just in time for next year!"
"Lock in your layout!"
"Too late to make changes for this year"
So - when is too late in the season (whether Halloween or Christmas) to make changes to your show? Your layout? Your sequences?
For many of us - the answer may depend on how big of changes - but in actuality - it's never too late to make changes.
So you have your layout done, sequences all ready to go - and a new prop is released. How do you handle it?
Pretty simple - figure out where it works in your layout! Update any groups - and a tip - if there are submodels, try adding submodels to different groups. For instance, try adding submodels to roofline, arch, spinner, or snowflake groups you may have. Try a render all to your sequences and see how it looks. You may be surprised to find out that those effects already applied are already making your new prop look good, and it only took you ~15 minutes.
So you have all of your sequences read - and your spouse asks you for a specific song early December. How do you handle that?
Start by deciding "do I want to listen to that song on repeat for the next week?" - which if you haven't sequenced it yet the answer is probably a resounding 'no'. Get to searching your favorite sequence sellers. Good chances are, if the song is popular enough, it's already been done. Remember the tip about groups? If you have most of your props in a variety of groups - mapping may be a 10min to 1 hour job - and now your spouse is pleased.
What if you're brand new? We all started somewhere with big aspirations. Some started early in the year and found themselves immediately growing and others start late - having something small to start with and grow into the next year.
In short - it's never too late to make changes. You'll constantly hear how it's too late - and it isn't. This hobby does take a lot of work, time, and efforts - but making changes is always possible. Our personal show has had every one of these changes. From a prop ordered the week before 'go live' and hoping shipping will get it there in time - to even sitting in a car, sequencing/mapping a song, on Halloween - for that night.
Here are some tips that can help make changes easier:
In your layout - use groups effectively. Combine props like "rooflines" or "house outlines", "snowflakes all", "snowflakes yard", "snowflakes house" (etc). Add submodels of bigger props ("Full Snowflake" for example, to a "snowflakes all" group, and "Fountains" to "snowflakes yard") to different groups - so that different submodels are immediately utilized in related groups.
Last minute sequences can be added pretty quickly. Use some of the bigger sequencers (Magical Light Shows is by far the easiest/quickest to map, Showstopper Sequences and Visionary Light Shows are easy to map with big impact) to search for songs you want. If you have a favorite sequencer then always search them first, as you may already have mapping ready to go.
Minimize in unnecessary changes. Don't update Xlights/FPP mid season (unless there is an absolute need) - do that in January and through ~October.
Understand that some vendors may not be able to provide items as quick as you need. Reach out to your vendors to check stock/supply/wait time for things like lights, controllers, props & more.
Enjoy your show and consider surprising yourself in what you can accomplish!