The issue of when to take Christmas decorations down can be hotly contested. It marks the end of the holiday, and leaves the house looking a little bare until you readjust to interiors without a tree, garlands, mantel decor and more.
But Christmas decorating ideas have their season and taking them down is a task that can’t be shirked. The only question remaining being when exactly that should be – especially if you’re one of the people who asks: is it bad luck to leave Christmas decorations up?
To help settle the debate, we asked interior design and Christmas tree experts their opinions, and this is what they told us.
When to take Christmas decorations down
When a Christmas tree should be put up is not a subject on which there’s universal agreement, and the same goes for when to take Christmas decorations down. But there is general consensus.
'Largely, we've found the majority of people like to take their trees down the first week of January, with most taking theirs down on the 12th day of Christmas (January 5) or the Feast of Epiphany (January 6),' explains Mac Harman, the CEO of luxury Christmas tree company Balsam Hill (opens in new tab).
Katie Davis, of Katie Davis Design (opens in new tab), is a follower of this practice. ‘We wait until the twelfth night – January 5,’ she says.
These dates follow Christian tradition – with the Feast of Epiphany marking the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem and the baptism of Jesus. Some western churches, including Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans, observe the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. Meanwhile, some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19 because Christmas Eve falls on January 6, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica (opens in new tab).
Alternative times to take Christmas decorations down
While taking Christmas decorations down on January 5 or January 6 are traditions followed by many, it is, of course, an individual choice – and you may want to keep yours up for longer.
‘We think you can keep decorations up well into January if they aren’t over the top or too themed,’ says Jennifer Walter, owner and principal designer for Folding Chair Design Co (opens in new tab). ‘We like wintery decorations from November through January that nod to the season without being overtly Christmas.’
And April Gandy, principal designer of Alluring Designs Chicago (opens in new tab) sometimes leaves her Christmas tree up in the first month of the new year. ‘I am guilty of leaving my tree up well into January from time to time. However, I think New Year’s Day is a great time to put the tree away,’ she advises.
Squared Away 13-Inch Collapsible Storage Bin w/ Label Holder
This simple box is a great way to store Christmas decorations in style. Affordable and collapsible, it comes in 16 different styles, so it suits a wide range of aesthetics. We particularly like the useful label holder so you can keep all your decorations organised.
How to store Christmas tree decorations for next year
But check everything is off the tree first. 'It may seem a bit obvious but another last sweep to check you've got all the decorations off the tree is vital to avoid any unwanted damage to tree and ornaments,' says Balsam Hill’s Mac Harman. 'If your tree is pre-lit, you'll also want to ensure your lights are unplugged from the wall. Many larger trees will come in several sections, so be sure to detach the lights of each section of your tree.'
Mac also recommends picking up a storage bag that will protect your tree and ornaments until next year. 'Your bag needs to be large enough to comfortably hold your tree and made from durable material so that it can't be torn by protruding branches – rip-stop nylon is a great option for this,' he says.
Is it bad luck to leave Christmas decorations up?
Some people believe it is bad luck to leave their decorations up beyond the Feast of Epiphany, but it's a modern idea to take Christmas decorations down on January 5 or 6. In fact, in Medieval times in the United Kingdom, people kept their Christmas decorations up until Candlemas – or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ – which falls on February 2.
This was an important date in the Christian calendar, and traditionally there would be a banquet and candlelit procession on that day, plus candles for the year to come would be blessed in church – hence the name of the celebration.
Both January 5 and 6 are popular, but Balsam Hill’s Mac Harman suggests you should take your decorations down whenever you please – although you’ll want to get in there early if your tree is dropping lots of needles on the floor.
What is the rule for Christmas decorations?
There isn’t a rule for Christmas decorations whether we’re talking when to take Christmas decorations down, or when they should go up.
There are, however, customs when it comes to the dates for both the putting up and the taking down of Christmas decorations. You might choose from putting the tree up after Thanksgiving, the first week in December, or the third Sunday of Advent, for example.
As for taking Christmas decorations down, January 5 or 6 are often chosen, but it’s up to you.
‘Sometimes, taking the decorations down feels important to starting the new year,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘And I'd always advise it if yours is a real Christmas tree and starting to look past its best. A live tree in a pot will also appreciate moving out of the heat of the house, but if you live in a northern climate, don’t plant it out until spring. It should be kept watered in a shed or garage without heat until then.’
Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.
- Sarah WarwickContributing Editor
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