Why Putting Up Holiday Decorations Early Could Make You Feel Happier

There are several reasons why decorating might boost your mood

Family decorates for the holidays

 Verywell / Catherine Song

Late fall and winter can be a little rough. The colder, darker days can take a toll on your mood. And if you’ve lost a loved one, the holiday season might feel extra painful.

But, decorating for the holidays—even when you don’t feel like it—might be really good for your psychological well-being. Stringing some lights and trimming a tree could make you happier. Decorating for the holidays might even improve your social life.

So if you’re thinking of skipping the decorating this year or you’re planning to throw up a few decorations at the last second, you may want to rethink that strategy. The sooner you decorate, the sooner you might start enjoying those benefits.

Decorating Stirs Up Nostalgic Feelings

There’s something about the holiday season that serves as a reminder of the past. And for most people, the holidays hold happy memories.

The holidays stir up nostalgic feelings like no other time of the year. When you look at an ornament from childhood, you might recall the magic you felt as a kid. Or, when you put up lights on your house, you might think about how the lights looked on your childhood home.

Those nostalgic feelings can be a bit bittersweet. While you may miss loved ones who are no longer here, you might also feel more connected them during the holidays.

Studies have found that nostalgia can have some profound benefits, such as:

  • Helping you find more meaning in life
  • Bolstering your sense of social connection
  • Providing an antidote to collective angst

Decorating Might Foster Social Connection

Decorating the outside of your home might even help your social life. People who decorate their homes for the holidays are seen as more approachable and friendly, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Even though it’s an older study, it’s likely that this still rings true. In fact, in the digital age, holiday decorations may signal sociability more than ever before. Plus, holiday bulbs bring actual light in a dark and dreary time of year; that's something that benefits your neighbors and you.

Acting Cheery Might Make You Feel Cheery

Another reason that decorating for the holidays might help you feel better is because “acting happy” might boost your mood. This notion is rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy—an evidenced based therapy practice where therapists encourage clients to “act as if” they felt differently.

Changing behavior first can lead to a shift in emotional state. For example, studies have found that smiling can cause you to feel happy. And engaging in fun activities when you are feeling down can actually boost your mood. So on a similar note, decorating might help you experience more holiday cheer.

A Word From Verywell

If you're really struggling to deal with the holidays this year, decorating might not be enough to lift your mood. You may benefit from talking to a mental health professional. Gaining emotional support, practicing new coping skills, and talking to someone might help you feel better during a rough time.

7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. Coles NA, Larsen JT, Lench HC. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variablePsychol Bull. 2019;145(6),610–651. doi:10.1037/bul0000194

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.