Science Says Putting Christmas Decorations Up Earlier Makes People Happier

early christmas decorations
Michael Pereckas/Flickr

If you’re wondering about getting your Christmas tree before trick-or-treaters come around this year, it might not be such a bad idea. According to one mental health specialist, getting Christmas decorations up early can lead to happiness for people.

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The advice comes from Steve McKeown, a psychoanalyst from The McKeown Clinic, who spoke about Christmas decorating and its impact on people’s moods in an article for Unilad.

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At first, he pointed out, “There could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.”

But then, he also noted, “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 childhood. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement.”

He then added, “So putting up those Christmas decorations early [are a way to] extend the excitement!”

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Incidentally, McKeown considers early November to be the optimal time to decorate — so while you could have Christmas lights intermingled with your spooky set-up, it’s best to slightly separate those holidays.

Another mental health specialist, Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, agreed with McKeown on the link between Christmas and taking care of one’s self.

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“The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia,” she began. “Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She does note that there might be some tinges of melancholy attached to those happy feelings. Maybe, she said, “the holidays serve as a reminder of when a loved one was still alive.” Or, perhaps, people go back to the more innocent times of their lives when they believed in Santa.

But she also recognized that even with the intermingling of feelings, there’s a lot of happiness bound up in the festive season. “For people who have lost a loved one,” she observed, “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.”

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Plus, decorations can help people connect with others. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that decorations are used by people as “cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors.”

Participants in the study were shown houses that were both covered in decorations and undecorated, and those participants determined that those with decorations were deemed more “friendly and cohesive.”

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So, if you decorate earlier, you might make yourself happier AND others happier.