It wasn’t even Halloween yet when a fully lit Christmas tree appeared in the living room window of a house in my neighborhood. It looked out of place flanked by houses draped in faux spider webs and pumpkins. I wondered what would posses the homeowners to get in the Christmas spirit so early, but according to one expert, the answer is pretty simple.

Christmas stuff makes people feel good (so go ahead and get the tree out before Thanksgiving if you want).

“In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,” psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told Unilad. “Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement.”

As Unilad points out, McKeown’s theory is backed up by a study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology that examined how homeowners use exterior holiday decor to signal feelings of friendliness and connection to neighbors. When your neighbor puts up Christmas lights early, they’re basically saying, “I’m social and in the holiday spirit!”

If you’ve been itching to get your Christmas decor out of storage, there’s no time like the present. A string of lights and a “Happy Holidays” might even help you make friends with your neighbors.

Decorating early can make us happier, but overdoing Christmas music too early can have the opposite effect (so maybe don’t convert your whole playlist to holiday tunes just yet, especially if you’ve spent a holiday season or two working in retail).

“Music goes right to our emotions immediately and it bypasses rationality,” Clinical psychologist Linda Blair told Sky News. At this point in the season, we can apply the same rule to music and egg nog: small doses are best if we want to stay happy.

I’m sure the Christmas-enthused homeowners in my neighborhood are already cranking the festive tunes. My own tree isn’t up yet, but I’ve got to admit, the sight of theirs makes me happy every time I walk by.

Ready to decorate? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Balsam Hill Christmas Tree

Balsam Hill


Artificial Christmas Tree

While we love the tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree, it’s not really an option when you’re decorating before the leaves fall. (Talk about a fire hazard by Christmas!) For early decorators, artificial is the way to go. And when it comes to artificial trees, Balsam Hill does it best. They’re impressively realistic and available in dozens of lit and unlit styles. From giant and full blue spruces to charmingly sparse alpine balsam firs, there’s something for every family style. And while they’re pricey up front, they’re also made to last for years.  And with the price of real trees ever increasing, they definitely save you money in the long run! Put it this way–Motherly’s VP of Finance says hers was “totally worth the high price tag.” We rest our case. (Pro-tip: If you don’t know which style to choose, opt for their branch sample kit.)

Prices start at $249

Wondershop Fabric Poinsettia Artifical Christmas Garland



Fabric Poinsettia Artificial Christmas Garland

In a table scape, over a doorway, or across the mantle, this fabric poinsettia garland adds a simple pop of cheer. And it only costs $5!

Balsam Hill Lit Winter Flurry Snowflake

Balsam Hill


Lit Winter Flurry Snowflake Set of 2

You go to so much trouble putting them up, you may as well decorate with pieces that don’t feel like they need to come down the day after Christmas. We love the look of these simple lit snowflakes that can hang around all the way until Valentine’s Day. (Because then winter can shuffle right along, thankyouverymuch.)

Hearth & Hand Good Tidings Outdoor Mat

Hearth & Hand


Good Tidings Outdoor Mat

Wipe your feet, but do it in the holiday spirit, ok?

Wondershop Metal House Village Kit



Metal House Village Kit

Sure, collecting can be half the fun but sometimes you just want to knock it out in one fell swoop. This industrial metal village comes to life with tea lights tucked inside and is filled out with a family of minimalist snow people and bottle brush trees. Consider your holiday tabletop display done.

Wondershop Bottle Brush Tree Collection



Bottle Brush Tree Collection

Speaking of which, bottle brush trees are one of my favorite enduring holiday decorations. This set of 14 colorful tress of various sizes look adorable as part of your village or in clusters across the mantle!

A version of this post was published Nov. 20, 2017. It has been updated.