InDesign allows you to create custom stroke styles. If you’re tasteful, you can create interesting dashed effects or multiple-stripe borders. If you’re willing to be tacky, you can use some of InDesign’s hidden Easter eggs to take it even farther.
To get started, choose Stroke Styles from the Stroke panel menu (or the Control Panel menu). Choose the Dash option (this won’t work with the Dotted or Stripe options). The settings don’t matter — what’s important is the name. Name your new custom style “Lights,” and click OK. Now you’ll see a little strand of Christmas lights at the bottom of your list of strokes. Whee!
Click OK again to exit the custom stroke style dialog. Now you can apply your festive new string of lights to a frame. While you can only apply a simple solid stroke to text, if you convert text to outlines, that restriction is lifted. Mwah-ha-ha.
Create some text (preferably bold enough to give your lights some elbow room), then select the text frame and choose Type > Create Outlines. Choose the Lights stroke style from the Stroke pull-down in the Control panel, and set the weight of the stroke sufficiently high to make the lights visible (probably somewhere in the 5-10 point range). You can apply a fill color, but your choice of stroke color will be ignored. If you choose a Gap color, it will appear behind the lights, filling the width of the stroke weight you chose.
I’m not saying it’s right. This may fall into the JBYCDMYS category (Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should), but that just adds to the fun. All we need now is Debbie Gibson Boone singing “You Light Up My Type.” 🙂
You can’t select bulbs and change their color in InDesign, but you can select the art and copy/paste into Illustrator and modify it there. Then just paste back into InDesign.
By the way, there are others: try creating stroke styles named Feet, Woof, and Happy.