Holiday Decorating that's Right on Schedule

Holiday Decorating that's Right on Schedule

By Erik J. Martin
CTW Features

Chances are your parents or grandparents can remember a time when holiday decorating came right down to the wire, with the simple carving of a jack-o’-lantern on October 31 and the trimming of a Christmas tree on December 24. Today, however, Halloween and Christmas are top of mind for consumers as early as August, when seasonal décor starts hitting store shelves and retailers try to outshine each other with bigger and more colorful merchandise designed to deck the halls and home exterior.

Consequently, with the calendar-accelerated commercialization of these two popular holidays, homeowners increasingly are forced to ask: When is it appropriate to start decorating for Halloween and Christmas, and by what dates are these adornments expected to come down?

The answer depends on your personal timetable – and the tolerance of nearby residents – say the experts.

“If you put up and take down holiday decorations in a timely manner, it adds to the fun of the whole holiday season,” says Liz Toombs, owner/president of Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors, an interior decorating firm in Lexington, Kentucky. “But if exterior decorations are up for too long, you are likely to grow tired of them and it could bother your neighbors.”

Farrha Hyman, principal/lead designer with Colleyville, Texas-based MOD Interiors, says it’s important to maximize the time you have to enjoy your décor for as long as possible, because festooning your abode with seasonal ornamentation is hard work.

“However, you don’t want to put them up too early because you want people to be inspired, not irritated, by your decorations or have them shake their heads and question your timing,” Hyman says. “And you don’t want your decorations to stay up too long, as that will turn off people and make your home appear a bit neglected.”

For these and other reasons, most pros recommend displaying Halloween décor no earlier than late September (preferably after the first day of autumn, September 22), with removal by the first week of November; the ideal window for Christmas embellishments is the day after Thanksgiving through as late as the first weekend after New Year’s Day.

“We decorate our home for Halloween usually as early as October 7 and take decorations down within three days after October 31, and our Christmas decorations are up about two weeks before December 25 and taken down by about January 8,” says Diana Gibb, a homeowner, White Oak, Pennsylvania. “I don’t see anything wrong with up to a month window for each holiday, so long as you have consideration for neighbors regarding the time your outside holiday lights are on.”

To be safe, it’s wise to ask adjacent homeowners if they approve of your timing –especially if you plan an elaborate exterior display that will attract many visitors – and to consult carefully with your homeowners association if you live in a community development that has rules and bylaws.

“My solution is to decorate for the season, not the holiday. So consider using fall decorations that can carry you through as late as Thanksgiving, followed by a winter theme that takes you through New Years,” says Karen Gray Plaisted, home staging/interior design expert with Design Solutions KGP in Warwick, New York. “This not only eases the pressure of timing but reduces the amount of paraphernalia you have to buy, store, put up and take down.”

Toombs agrees with this approach.

“If you have children, pick a certain area of your home for them to decorate for Halloween – such as their bedroom or a playroom – so there’s not stuff everywhere,” Toombs says. “Also, don’t feel as if you have to put out every Christmas collection you have. Group them together for maximum impact instead of spreading them over several rooms.”

Lastly, when purchasing outdoor décor, “try to go with classic and elegant – stay away from wacky or over-the-top decorations that you and your neighbors will grow tired of,” Hyman says.

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