How Early is Too Early to Decorate for Christmas?

There is always that one neighbor on the block that whips out the Christmas decorations before everyone else.  

Sometimes long before everyone else.  

Holiday spirit and strong feelings of family tradition are usually wrapped up in those decorations. That could explain why our neighbor down the street blow up the big inflatable Santa Claus and deck their house out in lights before we even slide our Thanksgiving turkeys into the oven.  

But decorating the inside and outside of your home for the holidays can have a deeper, psychological meaning to some people, whether they’re conscious of it or not. Below are some of the possible mental health boosts that decorating for Christmas can provide, as well as possible motives behind the tradition. 

Can decorating early for the holidays improve mental health?  

Decorating early for the holidays can summon specific feelings associated with positive mental health.  

Recent studies revolving around a functional MRI show that the feel-good hormone dopamine is released when people anticipate something positive. Dopamine plays a large role in the brain’s reward system, which can lead us to want to repeat positive events that make us happy. Surrounding ourselves with decorations and reminders of the holidays that lie ahead can increase anticipation and feelings of joy every time we look at them.  

Then there is holiday nostalgia, which can connect us to others, and help us overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or loneliness. For many, holiday decorating is a way to make comforting memories top of mind. So, by decorating early, we naturally evoke memories of past holidays. For many of us those are memories of family, gift giving and receiving and any other holiday traditions we have enjoyed over the years. 

So…how early is too early? 

Some Christmas lovers (and decoration lovers, for that matter) may rush to swap out their black and orange decorations for red and green ones right after Halloween. A more common train out thought is to decorate right after Thanksgiving. And then for some, our cue to decorate comes when the calendar changes to December.  

Which one of these decorators are you? 

There is no right or wrong answer, of course. Decorate at a time that makes you happy! Some neighbors may give your house the side eye but more of them are likely to catch the contagious holiday spirit when they see the decorations.   

Photo credit: Getty Images

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