When should I put my Christmas tree up? The official dates experts stick to

There are good reasons for the thinking behind these traditional dates

farmhouse style kitchen the large window farmhouse table island and Christmas tree
(Image credit: Malcom Menzies Styling Pippa Blenkinsop Assistant Styling Karen Darlow)

When should I put my Christmas tree up is a question asked in many homes each year. It’s a beautiful festive focal point, but even the best cared for real Christmas tree has a limit on how long it will remain looking its best in the warmth of a room. 

What’s more, even the biggest fans of the holiday know that Christmas decor ideas can lose their magic if they’re a feature of interiors for too long, so it’s an important question even if your tree isn’t a real one. 

Everyone will have an individual viewpoint on when to put up a Christmas tree along with the rest of the decorations, but there are some issues to bear in mind when deciding. Here, we reveal what designers and foliage specialists advise. 

When should I put my Christmas tree up?

While the likes of your Christmas mantel decor ideas are important, as the centerpiece of your holiday decor, what’s crucial is when you should put up your Christmas tree. 

Many people opt for either the first week of December, or they use Thanksgiving to time it, putting up the tree either the day or the weekend after Thanksgiving. In Christian tradition, Christmas trees were put up on Christmas Eve, but typically the third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday, is recommended nowadays.

‘Waiting until Christmas Eve would leave you with few trees to pick from and little time to decorate,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘In my home, we go for the first week in December as there are still plenty of great looking trees to choose from then.’

We asked interior designers and experts on Christmas decor and foliage to share their expertise.

When should I put up a real Christmas tree?

Christmas tree and doorway garland

(Image credit: Christ Everard)

If you prefer a real Christmas tree, be mindful of how to keep a Christmas tree alive in the warm atmosphere of your home as well as how long a real tree tends to stay looking good.

‘The day you buy your Christmas tree is one of the most important decisions if you want to make sure it’s still intact throughout the festive season,’ says Liam Lapping of Flowercard

‘Typically, real Christmas trees last five to six weeks if they are looked after properly, so it’s important you buy your Christmas tree at the right time to avoid a sad-looking, needleless tree for Santa to leave the presents under.

'If you take your Christmas tree down straight after New Year’s Eve then you should buy your tree on November 28. However, if you take your Christmas tree down on the Feast of Epiphany, then you should buy your tree on the December 2,’ he says, sharing his practical Christmas tree ideas. ‘Obviously if you’re planning on having an artificial tree you can put that up whenever you like.’

When should I put my Christmas decorations up? 

Whether you are making a Christmas garland yourself, looking for other Christmas garland ideas, or thinking Christmas living room decor ideas, you’ll be considering when to put these Christmas decorations up.

‘Arguably there is no right or wrong time to decorate for the holidays, but it appears that the anticipation of Christmas is getting earlier and earlier each year!’ says Ash Read, founder of Living Cozy

Lovers of traditional or farmhouse Christmas decor ideas might want to hark back to holidays past with an old school approach – if that’s not leaving it too late. ‘Traditionally, festive decorations were put up on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, however, in recent years many have embraced the excitement of Christmas, decorating as soon as Halloween ends on October 31, or after Thanksgiving which falls on the fourth Thursday of November.’

‘Personally I like to put our decorations up two weeks before Christmas,’ says Juliette Thomas, founder of Juliette’s Interiors.

Window seat and Christmas window decor

(Image credit: Future)

How early is too early to put up Christmas decorations? 

Even if you have your Christmas fireplace decor decided and Christmas wall decor ideas prepped and ready to go, Is November too early to start decorating the house? The experts we asked were divided. 

‘Decorating the home for Christmas is a personal choice,’ says Juliette Thomas. ‘There have been lots of early posts on Instagram of influencers and celebrities putting their Christmas decorations up in November.’

‘Having said this, I like to wait until the middle of December to put my decorations up. I always opt for a real tree and don’t like to let this get too dry and have needles scattered around the home, but of course, the choice is up to you.’

Christmas mantel with garland, foliage and candle

(Image credit: Future)

‘It’s never too early to decorate your home for Christmas,’ says Paul Deckland, buying director at The Cotswold Company. Starting subtly with Christmas window decor ideas or in other specific areas is a great way to gradually introduce festivities. 

‘We recommend starting with a few festive touches for a warm and seasonal feel,’ he says. ‘Sprigs of foliage over mantels or in our glass vases on hallway console tables works beautifully.’

‘We should not hold back people’s excitement on decorating their homes: what you choose to do with your Christmas decorations is up to you,’ says Ash Read. ‘Whether you want to follow time honoured traditions, or transform your home into a seasonal wonderland on November 1, as long as you are happy and enjoying the holiday period that is all that matters.'

Can I put my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving? 

Living room with illuminated Christmas tree

(Image credit: Katie Davis Design Photograph: Kerry Kirk)

Whether your tree is real or artificial, you might be wondering if you can put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving? 

‘We say to wait to put up your tree after Thanksgiving, but if it brings you joy, set it up before,’ says Amy Youngblood, owner and principal designer of Amy Youngblood Interiors. ‘Christmas is a time for joy, so why not make it last longer?’

Katie Davis of Katie Davis Design, meanwhile, says, ‘We throw ours up on Thanksgiving weekend! Not before.’

But you may want to avoid crossover. ‘Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, not a time to celebrate Christmas, which is a completely different occasion, so I advise people to wait until December to decorate the home for Christmas,’ says Juliette Thomas. 

‘If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, then the tree can technically go up whenever you like.’

Christmas tree in tiled entryway

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

When should I put my outdoor wreath up? 

Front door with Christmas wreath

(Image credit: Folding Chair Design Co)

‘Traditionally Christmas wreaths are hung at the start of Advent, which falls on the fourth Sunday before Christmas,’ says Liam Lapping of Flowercard. ‘However, as with all things Christmas, it’s about personal preference and the traditions in your own family.

‘If you’re using an all-natural wreath, you will want to ensure that it sees you all the way through the festive season, so many opt to hang their fresh wreaths closer to December 25,’ he adds. ‘To keep your natural wreath looking as good as the day you made it for the festive season, get an old spray bottle and fill it with water. Every few days, give your wreath a spray and it will stay fresh.’

White front door with Christmas wreath

(Image credit: James Balston)

When should you put your Christmas tree up early?

If you like the idea of putting your Christmas tree up early, the day after Thanksgiving is a good guideline. It could mean everyone’s gathered in one place to help with the decorating, too. 

Alternatively, the first week of December gives a generous period of time to enjoy the magic of Christmas tree decor.

Bear in mind whether you are opting for a real or artificial tree, though. The warm atmosphere of a home isn’t ideal for a real tree, so ask yourself how long you want to keep up with the watering it needs to stay looking full. You may want to hold off on putting up the Christmas tree for a little while as this will be regular chore. 

Does putting up your Christmas tree make you happier?

Yes, putting up your Christmas tree does make you happier, at least according to a (we admit unscientific) survey of the Homes & Gardens team. ‘The moment people chose to put up their Christmas tree did vary,’ says global editor in chief Lucy Searle. ‘But the whole team was as one on the issue of whether it made them happier. 

‘It’s hard to beat the feeling of anticipation in unwrapping treasured decorations stored from year to year, or shopping for new ones and decorating a Christmas tree from top to toe is a ritual we all love,’ she says. 

Ailis Brennan
Contributing Editor

Ailis started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. She then spent three years at the London Evening Standard, covering restaurants and bars. After a period of freelancing, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures, she started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing her to fully indulge her love of good interior design. She is now a fully fledged food PR but still writes for Homes & Gardens as a contributing editor.

With contributions from