When to Decorate for Christmas to Maximize Your Holiday Spirit 

From outdoor lights to Christmas trees, find out how early people might start putting up holiday decorations, plus when they take them down.

Published November 17, 2022
Boy decorating Christmas tree with his mother

Some people are passionately against getting into the Christmas spirit prior to Thanksgiving. Others start prepping their voices to sing along with Mariah Carey on the radio as soon as November 1st hits. Maybe you identify with one group or another, or you find yourself somewhere in between. So if you're feeling confused about when you should start decorating for Christmas, you're not alone. The real answer is: whenever you want! But we'll offer some guidance in case you want to know when most people will start getting their decorations out.

Decorating for Christmas Pre-Thanksgiving

In general, most folks will wait until after Halloween to start their holiday decorating. If you don't want to go hog-wild with the Christmas decor right after Halloween, make a smoother transition by merging your fall and winter decor. Put away the skeletons, but leave the pumpkins. Don't bring out your Christmas village quite yet, but do get out your seasonal stuff: winter greenery, twinkle lights, and all the buffalo plaid items you own. Your house won't scream "Yuletide," but you'll definitely create a warm holiday vibe that complements Thanksgiving (without overshadowing it).

Is it too early to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving? Not if it makes you happy. Although some traditionalists cling to certain ideas about when decorating for the winter holidays is ok, many modern etiquette guides (like veteran etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer in this New York Times article) agree that rules on when to decorate for Christmas are arbitrary at best - so you can make your own choice.

Putting Up Christmas Decorations After Thanksgiving

Once Thanksgiving has passed, it's time to deck the halls with all of your Christmas flair (if you haven't already). Traditionally, after Thanksgiving is when many people start decorating for the winter holidays. Turn on your favorite Christmas movie and bring out the snowman mugs, the Nutcracker figurine collection, and the gift wrap, because the most wonderful time of the year has officially arrived! Whether your style is country Christmas, winter wonderland, or glitz-and-glam, that late-November-to-early-December time period is just right to put it all out on display.

When to Put Up Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Feel free to put up your outdoor Christmas lights in early November. It's a great time to do it because it won't be too cold or snowy outside, so you hopefully won't be slip-sliding around while trying to hang lights if you live in a colder area. Plus, it'll start getting dark earlier, so you and the world can enjoy the beauty of your hard work for several months. Totally worth it! You can add more decorations once December hits or put it all out at once in November.

Christmas in the mountains house

When to Put Up Your Christmas Tree

Traditionally, people decorated the tree on Christmas Eve and left it up for 12 days (yes, the "12 Days of Christmas"). But that was a long time ago, and now many of us would agree that the weeks leading up to Christmas are essential to that magical holiday feeling. Today, it's common to put your tree up about a month in advance so you can enjoy its beauty for longer, especially if you use an artificial tree. If you're home visiting your parents for Thanksgiving, or your kids are home visiting you, decorating your Christmas tree might just be the perfect way to spend quality time together.

When Should You Take Your Christmas Decorations Down?

Now you have a better idea of when to put up your decor, but how long should you leave it up? Some choose to take their tree down between December 26th and New Year's Day. If you still have some time off of work (or your little helpers are around to assist you), that's a good time to do it. Christian Christmas tradition says to take your tree down on January 5th or 6th, a.k.a. the Twelfth Night of Christmas. Or, if you're like some folks, you may end up leaving up your tree until the end of February. As we said, it's a personal choice.

Deciding on Your Christmas Decorating Timeline

There's really no right or wrong answer for when to put your Christmas decorations up, nor when to take them down. One thing is for certain: it takes a lot of time and effort to put up Christmas decorations, so you should get to enjoy them! If Christmas is your most joyful time of year, we say to keep them up for as long as your holiday-loving heart desires.

When to Decorate for Christmas to Maximize Your Holiday Spirit