Nothing like a crackling fire in the Caribbean at Christmas

First impressions

A number of years ago we had purchased a DVD of a burning fire to play on the television around Christmas. We realise it may sound ridiculous (even with the mercury plunging to 71 degrees outside) but there was something about having that fire going on our 42-inch LCD in the living room that really got us in the Christmas spirit. Of course, it helped that there were lights and fake holly along the top of our entertainment centre, not to mention a life-sized Grinch sitting above with his head squashed against the ceiling.

The DVD offered a number of different fire options, and sound effects or music or the two together. The music wasn’t exactly to our taste, so we usually just went with the effects.

This year we couldn’t find the DVD anywhere, so we went to see if there was an app for a fireplace. Sure enough, there were quite a number, but “A Very Cozy Fireplace” seemed to have very good reviews, so we chose it. We must note that we have an Apple TV, and so therefore were able to AirPlay the fire from our iPad to the television. All of a sudden we had a fire again, and some other options we really liked. We could almost smell the chestnuts roasting …

How it works

Well, it’s not exactly rocket science, getting this app downloaded and starting it up, but there are a couple of options available that will really tailor it to your personal preferences. Unlike the DVD mentioned previously, it only offers one type of fire instead of log versus bonfire etcetera, but then when was the last time you had a bonfire in your house? The crackling sounds are authentic, and as the app is basically a video taken of an actual fire, it doesn’t get any more real looking than this.

You can choose to use the timer, which will put the app to sleep after anything from five minutes to two hours, or stick the timer in “off” mode and let the fire go all night without worrying about burning your house down. It also has built-in music that includes guitar tracks and general light instrumentals to get you in the mood no matter what time of the year it is.

The really nice difference between this app and a DVD, however, is that you can add your own soundtrack using music you’ve downloaded to iTunes. Everyone has their favourite Christmas tunes, and this way you can hear them through your television with a crackling fire going at the same time. Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney, Band Aid … just select the songs from your library of tunes and sit back to listen. It’s as simple as that!

When we used it

We had been very busy doing up the front lawn of the house to convert it into a winter wonderland. After assembling myriad inflatable Santas, illuminated candy canes, and moving reindeer with an impressive lack of swearing, we decided it was time to tackle the indoors for our party that very evening.

The Christmas tree, three times too big for the living room, was bedecked in lights and white ornaments, the Grinch was staring down from his perch, and all the candles, elves, stockings and festive decorations we’d pulled from boxes in storage were sprinkled throughout our home.

About 30 minutes before the first guest was due to arrive, we turned on our iPad, went to the fireplace app and got it going through our Apple TV to the television. Greg Lake’s “I believe in Father Christmas” started up and we instantly felt all merry inside. He was swiftly followed by “Baby it’s cold outside” and “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” We were on “Last Christmas” by Wham when there was a knock on the door and we went to greet our friends.

We didn’t know whether to be happy or annoyed that despite all the brilliant lights and animation on the lawn and a Christmas tree that looked as though it belonged in the White House, their first exclamation was “Wow! A fire with Christmas music! That’s excellent!!” As more and more people arrived, the app proved to be worth its weight in gold. From guests who said it reminded them of Christmas in colder climes, to those who laughed at the novelty but really enjoyed it, we reckoned it was money well spent.

In fact, by the time the evening was done we were seriously considering installing a fireplace. Besides, Santa prefers a chimney anyway.

Final thoughts

Sure it’s hokey, and sure it’s maybe even a bit silly, but judging by everyone’s reaction at that party (and subsequent reports of downloading the app when they got home), “A Very Cozy Fireplace” will almost definitely be a hit in your house. Even people who mock or like to humbug the holidays will secretly be wanting it themselves.

Cheap and cheerful. Very effective. The personalised soundtrack from iTunes is a terrific option.

A very Cozy Fireplace HD
Cost: $0.99
Seller: Boyd Anderson
Devices: iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone
Rating: E for Everyone

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