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November’s too early to put up Christmas decorations. Isn’t it?

Does the sight of Christmas decorations in November send shivers down your spine or fill you with Christmas cheer? Whatever side of the festive fence you’re on, a survey suggests we’ll see decorations up early this year.

Have you seen many Christmas trees twinkling in front windows in your neighbourhood yet? If a recent survey is to be believed, then it’s likely you have.

The research suggests that 57% of people don’t follow the 12 days of Christmas tradition – not only that, but almost one in ten admitted that their decorations were already up.

‘While following traditions is part of the magic of Christmas, the ritual of putting up the tree just 12 days before the big day is one that is slowly fading out,’ says Stephen Evans, managing director at Christmas Tree World, which conducted the research.

‘We’re seeing Christmas appear earlier in shops every year, so it’s only natural that many are embracing Christmas in their homes sooner, with some putting up their Christmas decorations as early as September.’


Don’t dilute the festive fun

I love Christmas – the lights, the trees and the decorations. They brighten up life just as darkness tries to dampen our spirits, and they build excitement for the holiday season.

But surely putting up the Christmas tree is all about building anticipation. For me, dragging the decorations box down from the loft in November doesn’t have the same ‘nearly there’ factor as doing it just before Christmas.

By the time 25 December comes around, they will have been up for way over a month – probably looking a little ragged (and if you’ve got a real tree, it may even appear half-dead) – and that initial buzz you got when you put them up will have long gone. The phrase ‘peaking too early’ springs to mind.

As I often tell my children, special occasions wouldn’t be special if they happened every day. The fact that we have to wait for them to come around at a certain time of year is precisely what makes them so magical when they finally arrive.

Surely extending the Christmas period into November (and even September, it appears) just dilutes the fun? Do people really get the same enjoyment when they start Christmas that early – and does it last all the way into the New Year? I know it wouldn’t be the same for me.

What do you think? Is November too early to put up the Christmas decorations? Or perhaps you don’t think it’s early enough? When do you put up yours?

When do you usually put your Christmas decorations up?

Early December (42%, 703 Votes)

I follow the 12 days of Christmas tradition (31%, 515 Votes)

A day or two before Christmas (18%, 302 Votes)

I don’t put any Christmas decorations up (6%, 104 Votes)

November (2%, 27 Votes)

I never take them down (0%, 6 Votes)

October (0%, 1 Votes)

September (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,658

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I must confess to being a bit puzzled by the ’12 days of Christmas’ now meaning ’12 days up to Christmas Day’. My understanding was that it meant the 12 days starting on Christmas Day and ending on the 5th January, with Epiphany being on the 6th. And that’s as a fellow-traveller to the religious holiday, rather than an observer.

That said, as one of the many young(ish) renters in shared accommodation in London, I tend to add some twinkly lights and cheer to our house from early December, as many housemates will be heading home for the assigned holidays and it’s nice to share some pre-Christmas cheer with those who share my daily life, even if it is premature. Dickens would doubtless approve, with his admonition to keep the spirit all year.

Because many of us live much more fragmented existences, often in much larger and more complex communities than were envisaged in the original celebration, I’d rather we took that Dickensian spirit and celebrated the season as much and as often as possible (within the bounds of reason – I’m not going to defend September celebrations) with whomever we get the opportunity to do so. The alternative would seem to be Scrooge’s ‘humbug’, and rather misses the point.

All that said, I hope we can agree that at least one bank holiday in the January-March period would be appreciated. Perhaps, instead of extending Christmas back into September, we could move it onwards a bit, and concoct some festive relief for the bleak early months of the year.

A personal confession to add:

Having grown up with The Muppet Christmas Carol, and its many excellent songs, I have a personal habit of delaying gratification and holding myself from watching it until the last possible moment before Christmas, as it seems to (in my case) hold the key to unlocking a lot of those ‘Christmas feelings’ that are much reported and yet very much singular and personal when discussed (I tend to watch the Patrick Stewart film version too, if only to enjoy both).

I’d love to know what triggers the ‘Christmas feeling’ for others here – and whether they resist it until a certain date. A performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’, or the Bach Christmas oratorio? Baking a mince pie? Soaking the Christmas cake for the last time? Putting up the tree? Attending a midnight mass/eucharist? Simply having family together? Even something far more particular and personal like my own film preference. I’d genuinely love to hear what moments make it officially Christmas for you.

Christmas for me starts on Christmas Eve with the service of Nine Lessons and Carols. When our children were small, we put up and decorated the tree after they had gone to bed so that they came down on Christmas morning to a lit and decorated tree. Wonderful.
Now my grandchildren do at least wait until December!

I really hate the fact that the decorations in shops and streets all come down the day after Boxing Day, or, sometime, never and are left dangling forlornly over the streets until Summer.

I agree with that last sentiment. Once the decorations are gone, we’re still in the dark days / cold weather segment but with nothing to brighten the place up.

Yes, November is too early.

Surely the time to put them up is when they days get shorter the nights longer and there is no other day to celebrate the next being Christmas (sorry I forgot bonfire night) Can I start a new trend put them up after Easter giving you less to do when Christmas is getting near

Right after Bonfire night’s the time to start. However, I suspect there might be a gender split on that point…

I will put a Christmas tree in the bay window a week to ten days before Christmas, hang something on the front door and display Christmas cards wherever there is a flat surface. I don’t want the place to look like a shopping arcade.

The tree should go up on Christmas Eve and be down by 6th January when we celebrate the Epiphany. It’s understandable that people put the tree up from early December, especially those with young (or overgrown) children. But it totally annihilates the meaning of Christmas when I see Christmas cakes and mince pies in September, not to mention Hot Cross Buns in my local supermarket, which are an Easter tradition! It’s a shame that in a Christian country we so proactively participate in erasing the true meaning of a season that should be enjoyed by all. Now it’s about weeks of drinking, eating, shopping and stressing and ends with everyone seeing what they received and what they are going to get in the Boxing Day sales. I enjoy the pre-Christmas events as much as anyone, but not before 1st December.

I agree, Rosie. For me Halloween and Bonfire Night are ‘important’ occasions as well, so I don’t see the need to celebrate the run up to Christmas until at least the 6th November. Wreath and a few other decorations go up in Early to Mid-December but the tree is a definite no until Christmas Eve.

I remain baffled why the Christmas tree has to wait until Christmas Eve until it is put up and decorated. Many of our friends leave it until the last minute too but don’t know why except “it has always been done that way”. That’s alright, and is a mark of tradition, but there are sometimes overtones of disapproval towards those of us who put the tree up once we have brought it home from the garden centre. I suppose we like to show passers by that we have embraced the festive spirit a week or so before the big day. They are welcome to call in and have some Christmas cheer.

I don’t understand either. As Christmas gets nearer, time tends to become more valuable.

Perhaps it is a reference back to the times when people did not do their Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve, possibly because they didn’t get paid until then. Butchers often stayed open until very late so that people could buy their capon just in time. Before the days of domestic refrigeration this might have been a sensible arrangement.

I remember when I was young an ex-army lorry used to come down the street laden with Christmas trees selling different sizes to the residents. That was when the tree went up; as children we couldn’t wait to get started. The only other local source for a Christmas tree was the greengrocers and the shop boy would bring it round on the bike.

Whole hearted agreement with Rosie. I grew up decorating the tree to the sound of the Nine Lessons and Carols. I have to admit that family life,crib&carol services etc. began to take over and I would be too shattered to make time on Christmas Eve so I’ve compromised on the winter solstice, bearing in mind that Christmas gives another meaning to pagan customs. [I still miss the magic of Christmas Eve though]

Hi Hannah – Nice of you to drop in from time to time.

I must admit to being perplexed by the references in the Intro and the ‘survey’ to following the twelve days of Christmas tradition. All my life I have believed that the twelve days of Christmas started on Christmas Day and ended on 6 January. Is there some confusion here with Advent, which this year begins on Sunday 3 December and ends on Christmas Eve?

Shops have been displaying their Christmas stock in the ‘seasonal aisle’ earlier and earlier each year and now usually as soon as Bonfire Night is over. I haven’t yet seen any decorations or lights in private homes although a number still have last year’s dangly bits hanging off their gutters.

We tend to send cards out early, around the first weekend of December, but some friends and relations are out of the traps as soon as November fades away. The actual decorations and trees will probably be put up around the middle of December and stay up until Twelfth Night.

Our artificial modernistic outdoor tree suffered a catastrophe last year and has been disposed of together with another one we had in the back garden that was looking the worse for wear. I don’t think I’ll be doing outdoor electrics this year but there will be plenty of sparkle indoors and in the front window. The cute set of illuminated village houses that used to run along the sitting room window cill have been taken to a charity shop so now we are forced to come up with something different for a change. The local garden centre has an impressive range of almost tasteful – but pricey – ornaments and since we have a voucher to spend there it might attract our custom.

I note that the survey results show no one putting any decorations up in September. or October, but 2% do it in November – towards the end of the month I should hope.

Incidentally, today is Stir Up Sunday – the last Sunday before Advent – when it is traditional for families to make the Christmas pudding with every one taking part and stirring up the mixture. Each person can also make a wish. The modern preference for manufactured puddings has side-lined this old custom.

Andrew says:
26 November 2017

What’s this 12 days of Christmas tradition? The 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas day when our saviour was born.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Christianity isn’t banned, Duncan, despite those of us who feel all superstitions should be. And putting up deccies has nothing to do with any Christian festivals, as far as I know. Christmas has simply come to mean a time of celebration of the ending of the dark nights. There’s no PC about this, either; I love christmas, but I simply don’t believe in superstition.

And you do need to read up around the teacher incident.

Would you prefer to call it something else if you can’t accept it’s to commemorate Christ’s Mass? And I wonder how many people ‘down under’ just regard it as a time to celebrate an Aussies Midsummer Nights Dream on the Barbie?

Well, Christianity certainly hasn’t been banned in our part of the world. The churches are well attended, a high proportion of the primary schools and some of the secondary schools are church schools. The universal – and humanist – messages of Christmas are delivered within the Christian framework and are respected. There are also many other faiths which are embraced in the celebrations. While many of the writings in the Holy Bible are too improbable for me to believe I can accept that they were developed as metaphors. I do not practice any religion but I marvel at the outpouring of art, architecture and literature that religions have given us through the devotion of their followers. As part of the development and advancement of civilisation that is something to celebrate.

That last is an excellent point. During the ‘dark ages’ it’s believed that the essential aspects of civilisation were largely preserved by the monasteries.

Maybe not banned but pushed into the background by some who believe in other religions.

[Sorry Bishbut, your comment has been edited to align with commenting rules. Could you please ensure that comments are on-topic and could not be considered rude or offensive to others. Off-topic discussions can be taken over to The Lobby. Thanks, mods]

Hello, I’m sorry but this thread has wandered quite off-topic and so I’d like to remind you all to get back to discussing how early is too early to put your Christmas decorations up. Can I also please remind you that comments which are could be considered rude or offensive to others will be moderated or removed. Thanks

Putting up the tree and decorations (paperchains made from gummed paper strips) was our job when the school Christmas holiday began – a couple of days before Christmas day. And in my opinion that’s how it should be. And take them down on Twelfth Night. That’s plenty of time to enjoy them. Christmas is a short celebration, not weeks of it. But others can, of course, do as they please. I just think for children the magic goes out of it if it goes on for so long. I mean, how long do you make your birthday last? One day is plenty for me.

I haven’t heard anything this year about Winter Wonderland .disasters. Have they learnt their lesson?

I must say I prefer the more basic forms of Christmas decoration that we had as youngsters – simple paper garlands and large bells and balls, all in red, yellow, green, blue and white. And ordinary balloons that will gradually deflate. Gold, silver and purple are not Christmas colours to me, nor are strings of beads and over-sized baubles. Simple tinsel is nice and multi-coloured lights, although all-white is acceptable I suppose – but not all-blue: too commercial nowadays. The Christmas decs now on sale in all supermarkets look over-designed, too polished, too faux tasteful. But I can’t deny their popularity. We like our house to look a little bit haphazard, not like the atrium in the shopping mall with everything just-so. Some of what I drag out from under the stairs is forty or fifty years old and all the better for it in my opinion.

Yes, whoever wrote the introduction is clearly mistaken as the 12 days of Christmas are surely not as described. I agree with Rosie that decorations at home should be put up on Christmas Eve (traditionally my family never even used to open any Christmas cards until the 24th). Civic and institutional decorations in shopping streets and centres can legitimately be put up earlier as their purpose is primarily to drive commerce, but, in my opinion, on no account until Remembrance Day is over. At least you refer to them as ‘Christmas’ decorations and not some aberration such as ‘Winter’ decorations or ‘Seasonal’ decorations, and we can be thankful for that.

We always started (well, I did, anyway) getting the lights up just after Remembrance day. The rationale was simple: it reminded me of a wonderfully magical time in childhood and it alleviated the gathering gloom of the increasingly short days.

From the start of November I was always working with amateur music groups towards Christmas shows, so it came naturally, I suppose, but I think it also made our children’s lives that much happier during a dark time of year. There is some evidence that those who do put lights and decorations up early enjoy more robust mental health, something Steve McKeown, Psychoanalyst, founder of MindFixers and owner of The McKeown Clinic, told Unilad (https://www.unilad.co.uk/featured/people-who-put-up-christmas-decorations-early-are-happier/) and that’s been confirmed by other leading Psychotherapists.

But generally, I simply enjoy the creativeness of making the entire house twinkle gently – no easy task, particularly as the older tungsten sets are becoming harder to repair and LEDs still haven’t managed the really slow fade, yet.

I think the anticipation of the big day is enhanced by the build up.

A note for Duncan: it entirely slipped my mind, yesterday, but Christmas is not considered a religious event by many Christian sects. The Witnesses don’t celebrate it at all, for example.

Christmas decorations definitely cheer me up! I agree with you Ian, when it’s so dark and dreary outside I think it’s nice to have lots of lights and colour 🙂

I put a few decorations out yesterday, but the tree will probably go up this weekend.

Never mind, Lauren. The clocks go forward on Sunday, 25 March 2018.

The earliest sunset will be on 12 December [at 15:51 in London] and the latest sunrise will be on 30 December [at 08:06]. The equinox [the Winter solstice] is on 21 December so once we enter the new year the days will start to become noticeably longer. But colder probably.

It helps when you consider our planet is much closer to the sun during our winter months, but because of its tilt the Southern Hemisphere, which mostly consists of water rather than land anyway, reaps the benefit. (One of the reasons why Aussie cricketers always appear with what looks remarkably like lard on their noses!)

When all the pretty lights and decorations are in place, who could fail to be moved by some of the most beautiful music coming from the choir of Kings college, Cambridge on Christmas Eve. For a sneak preview, log onto:
YouTube.com Carols from Kings – The Choir of Kings College, Cambridgeshire…………..wonderful 🙂

. . . or there’s Chas and Dave for the more cultured listener.

………great for Boxing Day maybe, if you are looking for a good knees up and a quick remedy to shed the extra Xmas day acquired pounds 🙂

My family’s tradition is to put them up on Christmas Eve and have them up for the 12 days of Christmas. I put small decorations up sporadically throughout December to make the house more festive.

I’m with you on this Alex. We may spoil the atmosphere of Christmas by extending it over too long a period. When I was little, and it used to snow, the prelude to Christmas was going round the neighbours with a carol sheet issued by the school, raising small amounts of money for charity (no one would otherwise pay to near me sing). But then on Christmas Eve the excitement grew, with the tree in place. No prolonged build up to weaken its effect.

I think it depends if you like the elongated build up. I do, so far from ‘weakening the effect’ it simply enhances it, immensely.

It used to snow here, until around four years ago, when it stopped. It might change, this year, since we’ve had quite a few sleet showers today, and there’s more forecast overnight.

I would love to be able to take a photo and send it to Which Convo of the beautiful geraniums still in full bloom outside in the window box underneath my kitchen windowsill. No need for Xmas decorations until Jack Frost is cold enough to cast his icy fingers over them and finally kill them off for good.

I love Christmas cards, which are effectively, one of the best decorations with reminders of long lost friends and relatives who are still very much alive (not sure about still kicking!) and also those from people who may have lost loved ones this year and will be experiencing their first Christmas without them.

Christmas can be a joyous occasion but often it is tinged with a hint of sadness for some. The real magic is for the kids, not forgetting of course the adult big kids who are constantly in need of and searching for a reason to regress back to former years of make believe and Hans Christian Andersen, and why not?

The thing about all this is that it’s simply personal preference. I’ve always charted events: in the Post-August era it’s birthday, Hallow’een, Bonfire night and then Christmas. The nights become long and dark after the clocks revert, and rather than be bathed in soulless CFC or LED lighting it’s just fun to set up twinkling lighting around the place, and build lit villages and mini-train sets, with tiny trains running through miniature villages and forests, and illuminated churches and tiny log fires burning in deeply layered snowscapes. It’s not necessary, of course, but it lifts the spirits as the nights become longer and the weather more depressing.

I loved the long anticipation of Christmas as a child – the endless nativity play, carol singing, Christmas concert rehearsals and the special parties as the big day grew ever closer. Far from it diluting the sense of participation, for me it increased it – and still does, in fact.

There’s a curious arrogance in the phrase “that initial buzz you got when you put them up will have long gone. The phrase ‘peaking too early’ springs to mind.” which (for me) evokes the attitude of a fraternity that knows what’s good for you far better than you do. For me, in fact, it resonates of Hospital matrons, elderly Aunts, Churchwardens and all those who think they know what’s good and works best for everyone else because it does for them.

Well, it doesn’t. Of course some like to put deccies up the day before Xmas, I’m sure, and others may not want them in the house at all. That’s their prerogative, but I love a sparkly, cheerful, twinkling mess of miniature trains, villages, snowscapes, lighting, stockings, numerous trees and an ever-building pile of carefully wrapped presents in a multitude of colours and bows, climbing the Noble Fir which we’ll cut down ourselves and erect on December 1st (from a purely practical perspective) and arranged to form bridges and tunnels, through which a large scale train and coaches will quietly chuff their almost silent way, while Mickey, Pluto and Donald slide around the ski slope on the tree itself.

The humanist message of the season is unselfishness and enjoyment. Artificial restrictions on times and dates to fit in with preconceived notions of what’s appropriate may be fine for some, but not for us. Happy holidaze.

I think there’s more than a touch of the Uncle Drosselmeyer about you, Ian.

🙂 Something innately satisfying about Nut Cracking…

My family have a lot of fun with Christmas decorations, one year we lost the angel that sat on the top of our tree so we replaced her with a knitted boiled egg warmer in the shape of a duck, and there it has stayed ever since. Not sure I could convince them to get an upside down Christmas tree though. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts: http://metro.co.uk/2017/11/26/upside-down-christmas-trees-are-the-thing-this-year-so-get-flipping-7109138/

Barry says:
2 December 2017

As everything commercial is so damned expensive now I am off and running from the end of November .
I like to get my money’s worth !

Judith C says:
2 December 2017

Having lived in America for a long time I now put my tree up the Weekend after Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November) I love the lights and the slowly growing pile of presents under the tree, One main present and a few smaller ones then it comes down on Three Kings which is the 5th of January. Even though my mother has Dementia and can’t remember very much she does enjoy the Christmas lights

When I was a primary school teacher, I waited until the end of term before putting up my home decorations. Now I usually put them up a few days before Christmas. When I was a child, we didn’t put up decorations until Christmas Eve and took them down on 6th January. If they’re up for months they lose their sparkle… both literally and figuratively!

Well, we cut the tree on Friday and today my artistic better half is decorating it. It was snowing lightly as we cut it, so it was nicely in seasonal tone, and as soon as we got it back home, it was erected in a tub, to which I added three gallons of water. By this morning, it had drunk one gallon and had the nicest pine smell I can remember.

This afternoon I laid the large scale train track around the base and used a few wrapped presents as strategically placed bridges, preventing the wires for the nine sets of lights from derailing the train. By Wednesday the tree will be finished and the process of cleaning will start, prior to our first visitors arriving next weekend.

That’s the other great thing about a long run up to Christmas: it keeps you seasonally busy through the darkest and wettest months.

We put our decs up on the first week of December like this weekend, I love Christmas, but as my beloved wife was born on the 25th she has a sort of hate complex for this time of year.
We have been together for 30 years now and every year I try and give her both birthday and Christmas presents but we are now at the age of 73 and feel that the birthday is more important than the Christmas presents.
As for taking down the decks, this will be done around the 28th of December. The wife bless her likes to get our little flat back to normal and our lives back to normal as well. Merry Christmas to you

I have a friend who was born on the 25th. When younger she would celebrate Christmas on the 25th and her birthday in June – although as an adult she no longer does this. I normally get her one large present to celebrate both.

Merry Christmas to you, too.

Avril Green says:
4 December 2017

We always put our decorations and cards up on the week end before Christmas We take them down on the 1st of January always starting the new year with a clear fresh start. We post our foreign cards at the end of November and the local ones on the 15th of December. Neighbours and work mates are given around the same time. It works for us.