Christmas fun with a Raspberry Pi

I had some time off with the holidays, and also recently purchased Canna Kit’s Raspberry Pi Zero W starter kit. Putting the two together, I thought it’d be fun to do something Christmasy with my Raspberry Pi!

This post is going to cover how I was able to create a fireplace display with my Raspberry Pi. Note I’m using a Raspberry Pi Zero W.


I thought it’d be fun to do something similar, but with a Raspberry Pi. It’d be a chance to learn a little more about the Raspberry Pi, and have fun too.

After some googling I ran across several different variations this project. I first saw this one on the Adafruit Site, but after playing with the python scripts realized I wanted a more simple solution if possible. I also saw this post about using some autoconfiguration to play a youtube video on loop. Ultimately, I realized that I could just as easily run an MP4 file on loop with a simple shell command.

In order to do this, I only needed a Raspberry Pi and something that I could connect the display. I already had an old monitor, and just purchased the Canna Kit’s Raspberry Pi Zero W starter kit.

Final Product

  1. First I installed the Raspian OS on my Raspberry PI Zero W’s SD card.
  2. Next I setup SSH so I could login to the Pi from my MacBook.
  3. Once I was able to connect to my Pi over my network, I then went looking for an MP4 file. I found one that was free on Pixabay here.
  4. Then I used SCP to copy the file from my desktop over to the Pi via SSH (super cool). I put the file in my /home/pi folder since I wasn't doing anything fancy.
  5. After some googling I found out that the Raspbian OS comes with omxplayer which is a tool that can run videos on your Pi. I found the command line syntax, and a nice discussion in the raspberry pi forum thread here.
  6. I tested omxplayer first directly from the commandline in my SSH terminal. Once that was running, I wanted to set it up to come on automatically so I modified the /etc/rc.local file similar to how it was ran here.
  7. Then I just did a sudo reboot and woohoo! I have a fireplace display!

Here’s what the final product looked like:

As you can see, it was fun since I could put it right in a bookshelf in my office. Additionally, since I got the Pi to run it automatically I didn’t need to do any configuration if I needed to restart it.

This was a super simple little project that I learned from and had fun too. It’s really amazing what you can do with the Raspberry Pi line of devices. The best part was that I learned something, and brought enjoyment for my family as well. Hope you enjoyed this post, Merry Christmas!

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Engineer, husband, learner, and Star Wars fan. View all posts by Andrew Evans

Originally published at on December 2, 2019.

Husband, Engineer, OSS Contributor, and Manager at CapTech Consulting. Follow me on and