People Who Decorate for Christmas Earlier Are Happier, According to Studies

The season of unhealthy eating and drinking, visiting in-laws, shorter days, and colder weather, the holidays don't always feel like the most wonderful time of the year. The winter blues got you down? Experts recommend untangling those Christmas lights, digging out the boxes of Christmas ornaments, and inflating that giant lawn Santa as soon as possible. You may be decorating for Christmas earlier than anyone else in your neighborhood, but it's actually good for you.

Don't forget your Christmas tree and the Christmas music, either, because, as it turns out when you put any Christmas decor up early, you're treating yourself to a nice mental break you need through all the Christmas cheer. Maybe take the Halloween decorations down before you hang up the advent calendar and kick off the Christmas season, but there is evidence that putting out your favorite snowmen figurines and hanging sprigs of holly can raise your spirits.

Why Decorating For Christmas Earlier Makes You Happy 

According to a psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, hanging holiday decorations can reawaken the childlike wonder that work, rent, bills, taxes, laundry, putting together Ikea furniture, and other grownup stuff has grinched out of the inner child in all of us. And those childhood magical emotions are important to preserve because they bring us to a simpler time in our personal pasts for nostalgic reasons.

As he explained to UNILAD,

"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."

Even if you're mourning a family member, stringing up glittery lights and heirloom ornaments can make you feel closer to the people you've loved and lost. For people who've experienced loss, decorations can help them feel closer to the departed. These decorations relate to happy childhood memories and the bittersweet feeling of Christmas joy. In other words, just go with it.

"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," psychotherapist Amy Morin said to UNILAD. "Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual."

Decking out your halls and home can give others a warm and fuzzy feeling, too. According to a study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology, people often prefer neighbors who adorn their homes for the holidays. Researchers said onlookers subconsciously read exterior decorations as a sign that the family may be more "friendly and cohesive."

In the study, participants rated the residents of different homes, solely based on photos of their exteriors. Photos of the homes of "nonsociable" residents who had holiday decor up were seen as more social to study participants. Researchers even propose that "residents who decorate for Christmas but who have few friends on the block may be using the decorations and other cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors."

Basically, if you want to make friends with your neighbors this holiday season, showing off your classic Christmas decoration ideas outside is a good strategy. Other tactics for boosting good cheer include shoveling the snow off their driveway or standing under their window dressed like John Cusack holding up a stereo playing Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Christmas Decorating Ideas

Of course, decorating for Christmas early doesn't have to involve the whole shebang all at once. Deck the halls by adding small touches to your reading nook, tabletop, and fireplace mantel. DIY some pine cones from the yard to create a festive touch to your living room or place them in a bowl as a centerpiece on your dining room table. You could hang your Christmas stockings or put out Christmas gifts in bright wrapping paper.

Bringing in Christmas spirit isn't all about the Christmas tree and the Christmas wreaths. Simple is better, especially if you are decorating early. Add holiday cheer and holiday spirit by placing a poinsettia or two in your entryway or by the front door. The little pop of red and hint of greenery will add a winter wonderland touch without going overboard. Just remember, pretty candle holders and red ribbon go a long way.

This article was originally published on September 16, 2019.

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