Christmas is more than a month away but you can already feel the festive cheer creeping in, can’t you? You’re already thinking of what to gift your loved ones and making a shopping list you need to get cracking on soon. And then the yearly ritual of picking out the Christmas tree and gathering around with your family to decorate it. While some may roll their eyes at people who put up the tree before even throwing away their Halloween decorations, there is a good reason why they are doing it. Decorating for Christmas early can actually make you happier, experts say. So, bring out the decorative wreaths, whimsical stockings, garlands, and glittering ornaments this month to deck your halls with them.
“For most people, decorating for Christmas reminds us of the best times in our lives,” Amy Morin, a Florida-based psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, told ABC Action News. “Thinking of those happy memories stirs up happy feelings,” she said.
One of the most important reasons that putting up Christmas decorations gives us joy is because of nostalgia, which boosts our mood, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Memory. It stirs our emotions as well, said Morin.
“Nostalgia increases feelings of social connectedness to others,” Clay Routledge, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University told HuffPostlife. “Nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely.”
Another expert, psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, weighed in on the role of nostalgia and told Unilad, “Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, it’s most commonly for nostalgic reasons, either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect. 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. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!”
From remembering happier times with friends and family to feeling bittersweet if they are no longer there with you, putting up the decorations can mean different things to people. People also begin to feel more altruistic during this time as they start to “give more and donate more.” “It makes them happy,” Morin said. “It makes people feel good so they want to start celebrating as early as possible,” she added.
Not just that, the Christmas decorations also influence others’ perspectives about you. One study, Inferences about homeowners’ sociability: Impact of Christmas decorations and other cues, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, said that when you decorate the outside of your home it makes you look more sociable and open.
“When Christmas decorations were present, raters actually attributed greater sociability to the nonsociable residents, citing a more open appearance as the basis for their judgments,” the study said. The Christmas decorations outside the homes made residents seem more “friendly and cohesive.”
Putting up Christmas decorations is usually associated with memories of a childhood and a simpler time when there were no responsibilities. But as an adult, even when you are having fun, the shadow of your responsibilities always lurks at the back of your mind. So, it makes sense that people would want to hasten that time and feeling of joy and put up decorations as early as possible.
So put this on your to-do list for the weekend!