Science Says Putting Your Holiday Decorations Up Earlier Will Make You Happy

Deck the halls, friend! And soon!

For those of us who love Christmas, the holiday season begins the minute that Halloween ends. We simply can't wait to dust off our annual ornaments, hang a wreath on our door, and wrap the tree in Christmas lights that we leave on all night long. Some Grinches, however, think it's ridiculous to play holiday music or put up decorations before Thanksgiving. If you're one of those Grinches, I'd like to direct your eyes to this study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology, which says there's a real benefit to putting out the inflatable Santa before you've even thought about carving that turkey.

The study found that homes that had been decorated earlier were perceived as friendlier, and that the "results support the idea that residents can use their home's exterior to communicate attachment and possibly to integrate themselves into a neighborhood's social activities." Simply put, a decorated home conveys the sense that there's a happy family inside waiting to welcome neighbors with milk and cookies.

In addition, experts say that putting decorations up early can boost your happiness levels by triggering positive childhood associations.

"Although 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," Steve McKeown, a psychoanalyst and founder of the McKeown Clinic, told 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. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!"

But those twinkling lights have a neurological effect on us, as well. Psychologist Deborah Serani told TODAY Home that bright lights and colors tend to "spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone," and help us combat the melancholy effects of a dreary, winter sky. They also help those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. So deck the halls, friend! And if you're still not sure putting up decorations early can be a real mood-lifter, read this touching story about a town that celebrated Christmas in October for a terminally-ill little boy.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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