It's never too early to start planning for next year. Think about what you want to accomplish, and start draft up some plans/sketches. Watch what other people are doing, and get some ideas.

I think part of your problem was that you simply started too late (2 months prior to Christmas) and never had a clear plan for what you wanted to accomplish (you originally wanted some simply chasing arches, then ended up with 120AC on/off relays).

Start early, and play around a bit (try smart LEDs vs simple on/off AC strands). Look at what products other people are using (there are plenty of AC relays kits available that are used). It can be difficult (for everyone involved) to try to make a random Amazon/Ebay/Alibaba product work. Is AC really the path you want to take in your design (i.e., is that really what you want to invest time in learning and purchasing?).