According to the royal family’s website, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip traditionally gave Christmas trees each year to Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s and St. Giles’ cathedrals and numerous schools in the area of their Sandringham estate. The royal family themselves also put the finishing touches on a family tree.
Norma Robb Thomason, grandmother to Texas interior designer and blogger Susie Robb and eight other grandkids and 10 grandkids, is another “over the top” Christmas tree aficionado. She is an even more exaggerated example of a grandmother with a fondness for Christmas trees.
Thomason and her surviving siblings decorate nine different trees, a process that takes almost three weeks and yields 96 empty ornament boxes.
One of the favorites is a tree styled for the grandkids, with 269 handmade ornaments and “full of sweets, popcorn, rocking chairs and gingerbread ornaments,” Robb wrote on her blog. “A sign that tops the tree reads, ‘Who needs Santa? I’ve got Grandma!’”
You probably won’t be decorating trees on that scale, but you may still need to carefully consider when to put up your tree — or trees.
The earliest you should put up a tree is the day after Thanksgiving, according to Zoe Gowen, former senior Homes and Garden editor for Southern Living.
“Waiting until Black Friday to set up your Christmas tree allows your big turkey dinner not to have its thunder stolen from your beautiful tree,” she wrote.
As for the latest you could put up this key decoration, the only guideline is not to wait until after Christmas, according to Gowen.
“If holiday decorating creates more stress than joy for you, then wait to decorate your Christmas tree until Christmas Eve,” she wrote. “Make it a family tradition and prepare your home for Santa Clause the night before the big day.”
Looking for a little more guidance? Any number of global and personal Christmas tree timelines could work to help you establish a new tradition — or confirm that your typical approach is still working.
Put up live trees around Dec. 1
If you’re opting for a fresh tree, consider purchasing and putting it up to maximize the number of days it has before it will start dropping all its needles.
“If you are cutting a fresh tree at a choose-and-cut farm, anytime after Thanksgiving would be appropriate for cutting your tree,” Twyla Nash of Elgin Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin, Texas told Romper. Most well-cared-for live trees will last about four weeks through Dec. 25.
If you feel compelled to decorate shortly after Halloween, or even mid-October, that can work.
Decorating your home for Christmas early can “create that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” psychologist Deborah Serani told Today Home.
“Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”
Should you need a little extra push to get those trees set up earlier, remember the findings of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that indicated decorating early — and visibly — may make you come across as friendlier to your neighbors.
In less scientific terms, “if putting up your Christmas tree early will bring you a little extra joy, why not?” interior influencer Ness Hancock told Good Housekeeping.
Put up the tree right before Santa shows up
You could opt to go in the other direction, as people tended to do in earlier times in America and Britain.
Chris Craig, co-founder of Christmas at Home U.K., told Good Housekeeping about how it was in Britain.
“Originally the Christmas tree was put up on Christmas Eve and left up until Twelfth Night,” he said. ”But very few families follow this tradition now.”
If you’re getting pushback about trimming the tree late, let it be known that, according to Martin Jones, author of “Christmas and the British: A Modern History,” people in Britain originally did this because putting your decorations up sooner was thought to bring bad luck.
You could also start the tradition of putting up the tree in the first week of December, which is the Italian tradition, or at the start of Advent, “when Christians commemorate and contemplate the birth of Jesus Christ,” according to Architectural Digest.
“It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Eve, making the first day of Advent a popular time to raise your real or artificial Christmas tree.” This year, Advent starts the Sunday following Thanksgiving on Nov. 27.
Whatever strategy you settle on, don’t attach too much importance to this one aspect of celebrating, psychologist Justin James Kennedy wrote for Psychology Today.
“If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, find those festive activities that you really enjoy,” he said. “Share your time with the people you love, and remind yourself of rituals that make you feel happy connections. If neuroscience can give you anything this year, let it give you the gift of oxytocin, the ‘hug hormone’ that we all feel when we feel a loving connection.”
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