Depression Treatment Why Putting Up Holiday Decorations Early Could Make You Feel Happier There are several reasons why decorating might boost your mood By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Updated on December 14, 2022 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Aaron Johnson Fact checked by Aaron Johnson Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology. Learn about our editorial process Print 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. The Winter Issue Featuring Wayne Brady 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 lifeBolstering your sense of social connectionProviding 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. Sezer O, Norton MI, Gino F, Vohs KD. Family rituals improve the holidays. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. 2016;1(4). doi:10.1086/688495 Tilburg WAP, Sedikides C, Wildschut T, Vingerhoets AJJM. How nostalgia infuses life with meaning: From social connectedness to self‐continuity. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2018;49(3). doi:10.1002/ejsp.2519 Smeekes A, Jetten J, Verkuyten M, et al. Regaining in-group continuity in times of anxiety about the group’s future. Social Psychology. 2018;49(6). doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000350 Werner CM, Peterson-Lewis S, Brown BB. Inferences about homeowners' sociability: Impact of Christmas decorations and other cues. J Environ Psychol. 1989:9(4);279-296. doi:10.1016/S0272-4944(89)80010-6 Leaf C. Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health. Bakerbooks, A Division Of Baker Publishing Group; 2015. Coles NA, Larsen JT, Lench HC. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable. Psychol Bull. 2019;145(6),610–651. doi:10.1037/bul0000194 Layous K, Nelson SK, Kurtz JL, Lyubomirsky S. What triggers prosocial effort? A positive feedback loop between positive activities, kindness, and well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2016;12(4). doi:10.1080/17439760.2016.1198924 By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, 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. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.