Stretch your holidays and decorate early – or later and make them last into January.

While we are unabashed Christmas decorating fanatics, we have a countdown for when to set up the Christmas tree. We realize that Christmas decorators tend to fall into two Christmas decorating timeframes: the pre-game Christmas decorators; and the after-party decorators. We pass no judgement, but here are the times for when to put up your Christmas decorations.

The earliest time to set up Christmas trees

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is the earliest that you should set up a Christmas tree or put up Christmas-specific decorations. (Yes, there are some neutral, “holiday” decorations like wreaths that can safely straddle both Thanksgiving and Christmas.) How to know if your holiday décor is really neutral? If it has a speck of red, a reindeer, or Santa Clause somewhere on it, then it’s not appropriate for Thanksgiving. Why wait until Black Friday to set up your Christmas tree? Because it is inconsiderate for your beautiful tree to steal the thunder from you big turkey dinner. If you fall in this timeframe, you will probably take your Christmas tree down on December 26th.

The latest time to set up your Christmas trees

The only right answer to this is December 26.  In bygone, less holiday-crazed days, people used to wait to decorate their Christmas trees until Christmas Eve (when the Christmas season truly beings) and then they would leave them up through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th which marks visit of the Wise Men to baby Jesus and the end of the Christmas season.

Make a live tree last

Of course putting up a fake tree is the easiest route to go when putting up your Christmas decorations. If your attic space is large enough, you could possibly store it decorated. However if you are looking for a live tree, the Grumpy Gardener (who once even sold trees on a lot!) recommends how to buy a tree. First, get the freshest you can find. The needles must be dark green, not yellowish, and should not drop when you brush your hand over them. As soon as you get the tree home, cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk to help it absorb water. Place the end of the trunk in a bucket of water, and store it in the shade until you take it inside. Once it’s indoors, place it away from a drying heating vent or fireplace, and keep the tree stand filled with water.