480: Holiday Decor

A Thousand Things to Talk About
480: Holiday Decor

Do you decorate for any holiday?

Full episode script

Ok, the winter holiday extravaganzas may be over with, but there are plenty of other holidays – from Valentine’s Day to President’s Day to National Coffee Day — that some people may choose to deck out their houses, cubicles, cars, or other spaces in honor of. There’s one person in my neighborhood that, I swear, has an entire garage full of only inflatable yard decorations for every. Single. Holiday. On. The. Calendar.

But – is decorating really something that most people do? Or just that one very enthusiastic neighbor?

In the December 1989 Journal of Environmental Psychology, there was an article that examined if decorating for the holidays had an impact. The answer — yes. The researchers had participants look at photographs of homes and rate them as more or less sociable. They then showed those same homes decorated for Christmas or not. Quote:

“When Christmas decorations were present, raters actually attributed greater sociability to the nonsociable residents, citing a more open appearance as the basis for their judgments. The results support the idea that residents can use their home’s exterior to communicate attachment and possibly to integrate themselves into a neighborhood’s social activities.”

In other words, decorating your home for holidays tends to communicate a more friendly outward appearance, perhaps by indicating your association with the dominant social norms of the holiday.

This social norm is also supported by research into activities and time spent on those activities. As put together by my intellectual crushes at five thirty eight, the time spent on decorating during the November-December time period tends to increase from 3-4% to 14 and 13 percent between men and women, respectively. And they also found a Pew research study indicating that 56 percent of wommen and 36 percent of men report that they enjoy decorating for the holidays “a lot”.

Perhaps there is also an element of – as we have talked about before – marking time and marking our connections to the past in this. By taking the time to mark holidays, we are also marking or re-claiming the anniversaries of various types in our lives, creating a tangible connection to the rather intangible concept of the passage of time.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.

Weekend Recommendation

Looking for something to listen to this weekend? May I recommend the excellent Broadway Backstory podcast?

I found out about this podcast during last year’s PodCon, and finally got around to listening to them over the last few weeks… and I am seriously, completely, and utterly hooked. I absolutely love hearing about how theater productions get started and come to fruition. I started with the episodes about shows that I already knew and loved… and then moved on to episodes about shows I thought I’d never want to see… but now actually want to. If you love hearing artists and creators sharing the story of their passion, and the messy and wonderful world of Broadway, or loved the TV show Bombshell … I’d highly suggest checking it out. Give it a listen, and we’ll be back Monday!