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Wondering when to get out the ornaments and start preparing your home for the holidays? Christmas is hands down one of the top holidays of the year. Cookies, lights, Christmas music. It all brings feelings of joy and magic that you can’t pull from any other holiday. There’s just one principal thing you really to know: when to decorate for Christmas?
Technically, you can start decorating for Christmas whenever you get good and ready. However, traditionally the time to start decorating for any holiday is after the previous holiday is over. In the United States, then, you would wait until after Thanksgiving.
While stores are putting out their Christmas decorations earlier and earlier each year, most decorators encourage homeowners to wait on the Santas and holly. Doing this gives you a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas on their own rather than stressing about prepping for both at the same time.
We’ve compiled a list of the top tips for Christmas decorating that’s both enjoyable and less stressful. Keep reading to find out how to keep your Christmas merry and bright without committing decorating faux pas.
O Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree is a pretty iconic decoration for the happiest time of year. Twinkling lights, beautiful ornaments, glistening garland. This all makes for a staple in homes around the world during December. When you do start decorating, though, what’s the ‘rules’ of the Christmas tree?
What’s the Earliest You Can Put Up the Christmas Tree?
The earliest you should put up your tree is the day after Thanksgiving. This allows you plenty of time to decorate and enjoy basking in the lights before the big day but without the hassle of trying to maneuver around it with a giant roasted turkey.
On the flip side, the latest you should put one up is Christmas Eve. Several families, especially families that adhere to Advent traditions, will wait until late in the game so they can focus on preparing to celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas.
When Should You Put Up a Real Christmas Tree?
The weekend after Thanksgiving is the absolute earliest it’s recommended to put up a real tree. However, the longer you wait, the fresher your tree will be on Christmas day. It can be challenging to find a live tree later on in December, though, so find out when your local stores will have the real trees and plan accordingly.
If you’re a family that prefers putting your tree up on Christmas Eve, but the stores sell out long before then, a little planning goes a long way. Store the tree in a sheltered, unheated spot like a garage. Go ahead and cut the bottom 1/2 inch off the trunk and place the tree in either the stand or in a bucket of water. Keep the bucket filled to keep the tree fresh until you’re ready to use it.
The main reason it’s better to wait on a real tree is because of the genuine possibility of your tree drying out. While a dried-out tree isn’t going to be very pretty in your home, the main concern is that it’s also a huge fire hazard. Lights put out heat, and heat on top of dried pine needles will ignite quickly. For your safety and your family’s safety, be sure to keep your tree watered and fresh.
For more tips on how to keep your tree fresher for longer, check out this post from Gardening Know How.
A real Christmas tree will likely not be proportional and will have its endearing quirks. It may have gaps in the branches you can see through and bare spots, but most adore the fresh scent and vintage feel of a real tree.
An artificial tree will look fuller and more proportional with no holes in the branches once you’ve fluffed it. These also come in a multitude of colors, from traditional green to flocked like above, and even neon shades as well as black.
Is it Okay to Decorate for Christmas Before Thanksgiving?
Absolutely! The day after Thanksgiving is more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule on holiday decorations. If you feel the need to pull out the tree on November 1st, no one is going to turn you into the decor police. There are even studies out that say it could be a good mood booster for those of us struggling with anxiety and depression issues to decorate sooner rather than later.
Another good reason to decorate earlier is if you do a big display every year. The earlier you start means, the less you have to do in one big lump. So, by all means, get a head start and enjoy what you do have up from the get-go.
When Should I Put Up My Christmas Lights?
Again, the day after Thanksgiving is typically the best time to put up Christmas lights. This covers indoor and outdoor lights, though you can certainly put them up earlier and leave them off until after Thanksgiving if you want to avoid working all day on them.
Lavish holiday displays are good to go once Thanksgiving is over. Everyone loves a good light display! Something like this that lights up the street are sure to be the star of the neighborhood.
A simpler window decoration like this may be able to squeak by earlier than turkey day without your neighbors giving you too much grief.
What About My Other Decorations, Like Stockings?
As soon as the tree and the lights are up, go for the rest of it. Hang up the stockings, dress up the mantle, lay down the red buffalo check welcome mat. If you feel like having it out and you’ve already braved the big items, why not do the rest?
A wreath is a pretty versatile decoration for any holiday, especially since Pinterest came along, and we learned all the fun and exciting ways to make our doors festive. Depending on the colors used in your wreath, you may even be able to sneak it in with fall decor for Thanksgiving. If it’s a Christmas wreath, though, with Santa and ornaments galore, you should probably wait until you’re ready for the tree.
Red and green circles aren’t the only Christmas wreaths on the scene anymore! Use something unexpected like this snowflake wreath to make a significant impact with little effort.
If you’re decorating a fireplace mantle, you need to consider your materials. Some people will use real boughs off of trees to create their mantle greenery. In that case, stick with the guidelines for real Christmas trees. Otherwise, feel free to add in artificial garland at any time. Candles, ceramic Christmas villages, and other decor items are welcome to join in from the beginning.
This isn’t your traditional Christmas mantle, but we love the use of lights and decor to create this perfectly magical look.
Don’t think you have to wait for the big guy to be making his rounds before you bring out the stockings! A Christmas stocking has great nostalgia value, adding a bit of the childlike wonder of Christmas we all used to have back in our younger years. And for most of us, the stockings are the same ones we’ve had for years since they aren’t as likely to get damaged by smaller hands. Bring them out and let them help dress up your living room for an extra dose of jolliness. And if anyone complains, well, Santa always keeps coal in his sleigh.
For a fun twist, consider hanging your stockings somewhere other than the mantle this year.
Dining Room Table
If your family celebrates Advent by counting down the weeks until Christmas with a wreath, you may want to consider leaving your tablescape free for that. Otherwise, Christmas decorations can make a beautiful impression on family members and guests alike during December. Use them to give a boost to meal times during this special time of year.
Use greenery and pinecones along with a red and white table runner for a traditional tablescape.
Other Rooms in the House
The dining and living rooms are typically the big focus for holiday decorating, but who says you should stop there? Decorating in bedrooms for Christmas is getting more and more popular these days, and we have to say we love it, too. You can also add in festive touches to unexpected places, like putting a snowflake shower curtain in the bathroom.
Flocked trees and wreaths combine with red, black, and white to make this bedroom fit for Mr. and Mrs. Clause themselves.
When Should I Take My Christmas Decorations Down?
Your decorations are free to hang around until after the New Year. Yay! Once you hit January 5th, however, you should start packing it up.
Traditionally people would take down their decorations at the end of the Christmas season. Religious practices in Catholicism played a big part in this, and it’s still widely practiced today.
January 5th is the twelfth day of Christmas and the end of the Christmas season. (And now you know where the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ comes from!) While it’s perfectly okay to toss the tree on December 26th, and honestly, we don’t blame you if you’ve been battling pine needles for three weeks, the traditional practice is to hold out until the full season is over.
Having a few tried and true methods to make your Christmas storage easier will make taking everything down a breeze.
When To Decorate For Christmas in the UK?
Citizens of the United Kingdom don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so they aren’t bound by any previous holiday other than Halloween. While many people still wait until December, or at least the start of Advent, to begin decorating, it’s not unusual to see decorations pop up at the beginning of November. However, cities and towns stick to the end of November/first of December to bring out their big displays.
Make It Your Own
Christmas can be one of those holidays that’s easy to get bogged down. The perfect tree, the perfect presents, the classic music with the ideal food with the perfect cup of cocoa. It can drive you crazy if you aren’t careful. While the rule of thumb is to start decorating the weekend following Thanksgiving at the earliest, it’s your home. You make the rules there. If you have time to decorate in the middle of November and you don’t care that your neighbors will grumble, then go for it. If you can’t fathom dragging everything out before December 24th, that’s fine, too. Whatever you decide works best for you and your family, enjoy the season.