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As winter’s chill emerges, so does a timeless question—when should the Christmas tree grace our homes?
We conducted a study to find out when residents of the United States and the United Kingdom prefer to set up and take down their Christmas trees and lights. We also investigated when they place gifts under the tree and start playing holiday tunes.
Surveying 1,003 participants—including 504 Americans and 499 Brits—we uncovered interesting insights into holiday traditions and behaviors. Explore our findings below.
- More than one in two Americans (54%) kickstart the holiday season by setting up their Christmas tree in November, while only 6% of Brits do.
- 43% percent of Americans start playing holiday tunes in November, compared to only 7% of Brits.
- Americans are twice as likely as Brits to start playing holiday tunes the day after Halloween.
- Americans are 50% more likely than Brits to start playing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey the day after Halloween.
Setting Up the Tree
The data below reveals when people in the U.S. and U.K. usually put up their Christmas trees and pile presents beneath them.
- One in five respondents overall sets up their Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving—39% of Americans and 1% of Brits.
- Brits were more inclined to set up their trees during the first week of December (46%).
- Artificial Christmas trees are equally popular among Americans and Brits, with both favoring them at an identical rate of 66%.
- 52% percent of American respondents put gifts under the Christmas tree as they buy them throughout December.
- 41% percent of respondents in the U.K. place gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
- More than one in 16 respondents overall take their Christmas tree down the day after Christmas.
- Most Brits (92%) and Americans (86%) usually take down their Christmas trees in January.
Illuminating the Season
Now that we know when indoor decorating begins (and ends), let’s see when U.S. and U.K. residents choose to set up their Christmas lights.
- 34% percent of American respondents put up their Christmas lights in November.
- 64% percent of U.K. respondents prefer to put up Christmas lights in early December.
- More than one in 10 Americans put their Christmas lights up before Thanksgiving.
- A notable proportion of respondents do not put up Christmas lights at all, with 29% of Americans and 23% of Brits choosing not to observe this tradition.
Now that we’ve explored timing for indoor and outdoor decorating, let’s delve into when residents of the U.S. and U.K. tune in to their favorite holiday music.
- A substantial 43% of Americans start playing holiday music in November.
- Most U.K. respondents (54%) start playing holiday music in early December.
- Very few respondents in the U.S. (8%) and the U.K. (14%) wait until late December to start playing holiday music.
- Nearly one in three Americans (33%) and Brits (30%) never play “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey because they are tired of it.
Our study revealed that Americans and Brits have different timing preferences when embracing holiday traditions, with Americans generally getting into the festive spirit earlier in the year. While both nations follow similar customs, such as decorating with artificial Christmas trees, Americans tend to set up decorations and play holiday music as early as November, contrasting the British preference for early December. From stringing twinkle lights to playing festive tunes, our study highlights variations in when each culture starts the holiday season.
For this campaign, we carried out a survey from November 6–7, 2023. We conducted this survey using the Prolific platform and disseminated it to a total of 1,003 participants—including 504 Americans and 499 Brits—to explore each culture’s holiday decoration and music habits.
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