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'Early Christmas Decorating Makes You Happier' - Really?

woman decorating for xmas
Seth J. Gillihan, PhD - Blogs
By Seth J. Gillihan, PhDClinical psychologistOctober 31, 2019

Early Christmas decorating seems to divide the country as starkly as politics or cilantro. (Full disclosure: I prefer to see—and hang—Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving.) If you’re a fan of hanging lights and wreaths in October, you may have been feeling affirmed by media reports saying that early Christmas decorating makes people happier.

What science was this claim based on? No science at all, apparently. It seems to come from interviews with psychotherapists who offered their opinions about the possible effects of early decorating. There’s no research study that I’m aware of to support these claims, much less an experiment that randomly assigned people to early versus late Christmas decorating and then measured their happiness (this is the kind of study you’d need in order to conclude that one thing causes another).

Though there's no research to prove that early decorating increases happiness, common sense suggests that, for some people, it’s probably true. People generally do things that bring them enjoyment, so those who like to decorate early probably get a boost from seeing their decorations for as long as possible. On the other hand, people who are annoyed by early decorating probably wouldn’t become happier by forcing themselves to decorate early. In fact, they might actually feel worse.

The bottom line: Decking the halls early won’t make you happy unless it really does make you happy.

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About the Author
Seth J. Gillihan, PhD

Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Haverford, PA. He is author of The CBT DeckRetrain Your Brain, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple, and co-author with Dr. Aria Campbell-Danesh of A Mindful Year: 365 Ways to Find Connection and the Sacred in Everyday Life. Dr. Gillihan hosts the weekly Think Act Be podcast, which features a wide range of conversation on living more fully.

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