Psychologists Say That Putting Christmas Decorations Up Early Makes You Happier
How early is too early to buy a Christmas tree and hang your stockings by the chimney with care, actually?
An unwritten rule tells us we’re “not supposed” to decorate for Christmas at least until after Thanksgiving has passed. In fact, a 2015 poll by Confused.com found that more than 86 percent of people said that the entire month of November was too early to put up decorations.
Personally? I’m jamming out to I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by July, so normally I’d say I’m the odd one out. However, science actually agrees with me here! In fact, there’s research that says not to put a time limit on when you can or can’t decorate for Christmas.
There are lots of reasons you should put your Christmas decorations up early
For one, doing so can actually make you a happier person. Christmas decorations stir up feelings of pure joy and can literally modify some happy hormones in your body. “It create[s] that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” said psychologist Deborah Serani. “Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”
But why is this? We tend to associate feelings of Christmas with happy parts of our past—after all, Christmas is one of the happiest times for lots of kiddos—presents, Santa Claus, cookies; every kid’s dream—so it can remind us adults of all these happy childhood memories.
“The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity,” says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. “For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”
However, not all people grew up with magical memories of Christmas. But there’s good news for people who might not connect the holiday with happiness—decorating early still has benefits.
“For people who have lost a loved one, the holidays may serve as a reminder of happy times they had with that person in the past. Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual,” Morin says.
And there’s even more good news: Not only will the early birds feel a sense of happiness, but research shows, so will your neighbors. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that your neighbors may interpret you putting up Christmas decorations as a sign that you’re sociable and approachable.
So how early is too early?
We can’t tell you exactly when or when not to hang your string lights on the roof, but for any Debbie Downers waving you off telling you that it’s “too early,” tell them that science says putting up decorations early can make you happier, and maybe they should try it too because they’re clearly a joy sucker (just maybe leave out the last part).
Psychologist Steve McKeown sums it up perfectly: “In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,” says psychologist Steve McKeown.
What do you think about the Christmas decoration debate? When do you usually start decorating for the holidays? When would you say is too early to do so?