The Case For Decorating For The Holidays As Early As You Want

Olivia Muenter
·6 min read
Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill - Getty Images
Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill - Getty Images

From Woman's Day

For most of my life, I’ve taken holidays seriously. When I was 8, I typed up a detailed Christmas list on the family computer, submitting different items at various price points for Santa to review at his discretion. When I was 13 and my parents decided to make the switch from a real Christmas tree to a fake one, I nearly cried. And when I was 27 and a first-time owner of my very own porch, decorating that porch for Halloween was the highlight of my year. Holidays and, more specifically, decorating for holidays, has always brought me an inordinate amount of joy. It’s fun, creative, and a little silly. Often, it signals a new season or a new year — an opportunity to take a step back and move forward feeling a little bit renewed.

Still, not everyone views holidays as the beginning of something new and fresh, but instead the end of something else. For them, it signals saying goodbye to summer; to being able to go outside sans coat. It’s usually these people who are the first to say it’s "too soon" to decorate the front porch for Halloween in August, or it’s "absurd" to hang decorative twinkle lights in October and leave them up until March. And even though I’ve tried to play by these so-called holiday rules in the past, I feel different this year. In a year with as much darkness as 2020, I believe we’re all entitled to the joy of decorating from the holiday, appropriate timing be damned.

As an adult, my year is no longer defined by the first day of school or summer break or the start of a new semester. It’s easy for those 365 days to feel like slightly-altered but painfully similar versions of themselves, but the changing of the seasons (and the holidays that coincide with them) help. But as much as I love a porch filled with cascading pumpkins and gourds or a staircase lined with garland and tinsel, I’ve always tried to show some restraint when it comes to when I break out the decorations. This is mostly because for every holiday-obsessed person like me, there are the people who refuse to believe it’s already Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s or Easter. And I’ve heard it all before.

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These are the people who post on Facebook from the aisles of Michael’s or Walgreens in August, “Can you believe there’s Halloween candy out already?” Why, yes, Aunt Kathy, I can. Have you ever even had a Reese’s pumpkin? Frankly, I’d like to live in a world where they’re available year-round, but I digress.

I can never quite understand these holiday decor Grinches, but I also don’t want to deal with their “Isn’t it a little early for that?” questions either. So in the past, I’ve tried to be reasonable about when I break out the pumpkins or Christmas ornaments — I’d wait until the first crisp day to purchase mums or until the calendar reaches December 1 to buy a tree.

And then came 2020. And COVID-19. And masks and sheltering in place and social distancing and a new way of working and living and, yes, celebrating holidays.

Suddenly, festivities like Halloween and Christmas took on a different feeling in my house. As sad as I was to miss trick-or-treaters (I had committed long ago to being the “full size candy bars” house on the block), I felt more excited for the Halloween and the fall season than ever before. After seven months of social distancing, mask-wearing, isolation, and an often overwhelming amount of anxiety and fear, I desperately craved a giant marker that signaled that time was passing. That we were moving through this year and surviving. That there were still some things that couldn’t be touched by COVID — things like pumpkins and mums and putting a Christmas tree up in October if you want.

So when we turned the corner from summer into fall and I saw people whining about it being “too early” to celebrate fall or to browse aisles of December holiday decorations, I was a little surprised. I couldn’t process how in the year 2020, someone had the nerve (and, frankly, the energy) to police someone else’s harmless joy and happiness. And that’s when I decided to lean into my love of the holidays more than ever — no more holding back or waiting just one more week.

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I swooned over foliage. I ordered the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I brought out the coziest sweaters and blankets I could find. I bought the pumpkins. And then I bought some more pumpkins. I decided I would, for the first time ever, put a Christmas tree up in November because I could. I bought new ornaments. And you know what, it’s helped. It doesn’t take away the anxiety and pain and loss that this year has brought me and so many others, but it does momentarily bring me a comforting pang of nostalgia. A reminder of when things were easier and simpler and safer.

So this year, and every year from now on, I say decorate for the holidays as early as you want. Put up a Christmas tree the day after Halloween. Hey, put up a Halloween-themed Christmas tree, too. Hire that company to string twinkle lights around your house like you’ve always wanted. Blast “Jingle Bells” on a Sunday afternoon in October just because you can. Watch Hocus Pocus all through November and December, too. Cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner just for you, because why not? Make a note of all the traditions that bring you the most joy, and then do those as often as you can in the most spectacular way you can.

The list of cherished traditions or plans that we’ve all had to postpone or cancel this year has been endless, so when it comes to the things that we can do safely now — the things that bring us joy and comfort and remind us that somehow, someway, we’re all getting through this year that keeps trying to break us — there’s all the more reason to do them right now.

And when someone looks at your Christmas lights or your tower of pumpkins and asks you, “Doesn’t it feel just a little early for all that?” You can confidently say, “Actually, I think it feels just right.”

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