Feeling Festive or Getting Grinchy: Timing the Decorations

Reader Intelligence Report

I think it's a universal truth — nobody likes to see holiday decorations up before Halloween. But, once that day has come and gone, it's purely a matter of what makes you happy. Some early birds have their homes fully decked out for the season by now, the first day of December, while others follow a more leisurely pace or follow long standing family traditions when it comes to timing the decorations, both going up and coming down. Our always-willing-to-share commenters weigh in on what works well for them in our latest Reader Intelligence Report..

Growing up in Rhode Island in the late '50s, early 60's, I remember the tree going up a few days before Christmas. We were pretty poor and my Mom waited until tree prices were slashed - one year we got a hugely tall tree for 50 cents! My b'day is Feb 6th, and a few years I prevailed on my Mom to keep the tree up that long. Geesh, I sure didn't appreciate her enough! I don't do a tree now, not really "into" the holidays, although I like sparkly and twinkly anytime. - abcornwell

I'd say the day after Thanksgiving is a good time to start. Before that it's overkill. I say let's enjoy one holiday at a time! - Nej

Up first of December and down first of January :) Nice and simple - Poise

We keep everything up through the first week of Jan because Mrs. Claus comes on New Years Eve to leave little presents - this may have started because my parents forgot their hiding place for a few things and had to keep up the charade. - ebarrett3

Mid-December to the first weekend in January...any longer is too much of a good thing!!! - jimc

I start decorating after Thanksgiving, but don't get the live tree until the last weekend before Christmas. It stays up until Epiphany (I'm Catholic and lived in several predominantly Catholic countries as a child.) Holiday music before Thanksgiving is too early, but afterward, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! - LibrarianJenne

I do it the weekend before Christmas - it makes it more special. Having the tree up too soon seems to take away the meaning of the holiday for me. I would put up outdoor decorations sooner though to take advantage of nicer weather, but wouldn't turn on any lights until after Thanksgiving. - joy911

Growing up my family put the tree and other decorations up after December 6th. December 6th is St. Nicks day, my father's name. In the Greek tradition they celebrated these Name Days as we called them. My family would throw a big party on this night and my mom didn't want the tree in the way, as we lived in a small house. We would take everything down after Three Kings Day. I have kept up this tradition, although the decorations go up around the first of December. -nycagnes

I like to start on the first day of December, both for decorations & holiday music. :) - Rashers

Christmas nowadays is mainly about slowing down, eating great food and enjoying time with the family, but I do like some selected decorations here and there, including candles to light up the seemingly never-ending darkness. I've never had a tree myself, but the parents bring theirs in about a week or so before Christmas eve and take it down depending on when the needles start falling off, at the very latest on "tjugondag Knut" (Knut's name day, tjugo/twenty days after Christmas on 13 January). It's usually gone around the 5th or 6th though. - ninakk

I don't like decorations going up until December. It just makes the season more special somehow. So, the tree goes up the first weekend of Dec. Outside lights the same weekend. Sometimes we don't finish until the next weekend but it just makes the season last longer. - Cali Girl

We always decorated the tree on the Winter Solstice, but a few other decorations might go up from earlier in December. Being Canadian, Thanksgiving doesn't really have anything to do with the timing of xmas decorating. The tree and decorations tended to come down on New Year's Day. - angorian

Lapsed Catholic with Northern European heritage here. We put up stockings for St Nick on December 6. I try to hold off on the tree for as long as possible (we have a live one in a pot that we've been using for about 6-7 years now). Perhaps I should use the feast of St Lucia (Dec 13) as the right day to put up the tree. My daughter's name is Lucy, so she just might accept that as a good reason to wait for the tree. Leave decorations up until Jan 6 of course. Then the (undecorated) tree gets to live inside until Spring since it doesn't like cold nights outdoors. - jeannemarie

Has to be a real tree, goes up @ 12/10(2 weeks before Christmas Eve) and gets taken down @ 1/1 - mbd

For us growing up in a minister's family, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the only day we were all going to be off together until well after Christmas, and it often fell just before Advent. I try to have mine up for the four Sundays of Advent. - gypsymomma

My birthday is December 6th, but my mother had a strict policy of not decorating for Christmas until after then. I have always appreciated that my birthday was treated like a special event, and didn't get lost in the fray. We put up advent calendars and candles on the 1st, but the tree and major decorations wait until the cake is all eaten. :) - smuckleness

I start listening to Christmas music some time between the day after Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. I love it and have a variety of it. I don't mind seeing decorations after Thanksgiving, but we don't put our tree up until a couple of weekends before the 25th; going to the lot is an Event, usually for Friday night or Saturday afternoon, then putting it in the stand, letting it relax and decorating Sat night or Sunday. Other decorations are packed with the ornaments, so they go up over the next few days. We leave it up for ~3-4 weeks. - darlingcaro

We put the tree and the nativity scene up in the afternoon of Dec 23rd and leave the tree up till candlemas which is on February 2nd. before that we have an advent wreath and maybe some wintery decorations. - zimtzucker

For many years, we took down the decorations Christmas Day--the first year we lived in Austin we made the mistake of buying a live tree and by Christmas Day, it was a fire hazard and we took things down. But, in so doing, we found we really liked having the house cleaned up and back to normal before the New Year made it much easier to get back to work on all the stuff we had to get done before the new term started. We still get the tree down early for that reason--but we do wait until after Christmas proper. - kariwk

My tree and decorations go up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There's normally a parade in my small town that kicks the holiday season off and it falls on the same day. So it kinda works out and it puts me in the mood. :) -Desiree728

I put up my decorations the day after Thanksgiving and we get our tree the next day.. but I also like to take everything down the day after Christmas.. Once Christmas is over I don't even want to look at it anymore and I'm ready for the new year to get started.-digialteacup

Ugh, I *hate* that Christmas starts so early. It makes me feel very stressed to roll from Thanksgiving planning right into christmas. I like a little down time. We put the tree up mid-December and usually take it down about a week into January. - dkk

Generally, the day after Thanksgiving is a-okay with me. NEVER before Thanksgiving! - FrauKeiser

I think people in our days tend to confuse Christmas deco with winter deco. I grew up in the 80s and I remember everybody waited til mid-December to get in the mood. However, the houses did get dressed up winter-style, as early as in October, with richer colours and warmer fabrics etc. Then as Christmas got closer there were more additions like lights, the tree, Christmas treats etc. - moondust

Now that I'm a grown up, I slowly start decorating any time after December 1st & I'm sometimes not quite finished by the time Yule rolls about on the Solstice. I usually try to take them all down sometime in the week after NYE, but I've been known to dawdle until mid-January... -misskitty_79

I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so my tree and Christmas decorations go up on December 23rd and stay up until January 7th, the feast of the Epiphany. Until then I just have LED candles in the windows, an Advent wreath in the living room, and a display of the Christmas cards I've received. I love the season of Advent and like to observe it on it's own, and by the time Christmas Eve rolls around I'm really ready for the twelve days of Christmas. - georgiesmom

My mother being from Mexico City and a hardcore Catholic, we would always have to wait till after the day of "Our Lady Of Guadalupe" which is Dec 12th which when we were kids we wished it was sooner. Probably within the past 5 years my mother has gotten very lax on the idea and done it as early as the first of December but never the weekend after thanksgiving. - ninabean

I don't follow other peoples rules so i put mine up when the spirit hits which is usually early November. I love the decorations so the longer i get to bask in their beauty the better...and i have been listening to xmas music for weeks already..love it - Curvatude

I'd just say that if the only thing holiday-like is that the decorations are up, then it's too soon. And they shouldn't go up merely to help you get into a holiday mood. The day you think to yourself, "Hey, it feels like Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Christmas/Whatever, I wish the decorations were up," is the day you put them up. No sooner, or they start to lose meaning and become a chore (personal experience). - Treefingers

When I was a kid, we put the tree up in mid-December, and it always stayed up until the weekend after New Years...after all, if there hadn't been a Xmas tree on display during New Years Eve aboard the SS Poseidon, those poor folks may never have made it out of the Dining Room!;-) - bepsf

Share your perfect decorating schedule in the comments below...and happy (almost) holidays (hope it's not too early to say that)!

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