We've been having some Christmas fun at work with Sergei the dancing and singing meerkat http://www.designspark.com/content/merry-christmas-sergei-arduino-singing-meerkat
I hooked up an Arduino / XBee base station to a python script which poles the gmail atom feed and fetches the number of unread emails - if the count increases it sends a signal to the remote transceiver triggering a relay starting Sergei's dancing and singing routine.
Sergei moves around our office here singing and dancing Jingle Bells every time he receives a new email. So far he has received emails from as far away as France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa and he dances and sings his heart out each time he receives one. firstname.lastname@example.org