Scientific Proof That You Hate Christmas Creep

We’ve never doubted the fact that Christmas Creep is a nefarious plot to destroy Thanksgiving, Halloween, Columbus Day and even Labor Day (it’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know). But we never had proof that our disgust with early Christmas promotions is shared by other consumers. That’s why we commissioned the Consumer Reports National Research Center to find out the truth.

Using state-of-the-art equipment like the Creepatron 2000 pictured here — okay, actually, this was a national poll — the CRNRC researchers learned that most Americans agree with us, and think the right time for retailers to begin decking the halls is this Friday. Fifty-four percent of poll respondents said merchants should wait until after Thanksgiving to start their holiday promotions.

Some consumers, however, seem to have been sucked into the early Christmas vortex and have no chance of escaping. Thirty-six percent said it was okay to begin hawking plastic mistletoe after Halloween, and 5 percent said they were cool with tinsel and garland right after Labor Day. One percent even said it was just fine to start before Labor Day. We can only assume that these folks live in a frozen tundra where the calendar is meaningless and they can see Russia from their snow-covered front porch. Either that, or they’ve decided that confining egg nog to just one season is cruel and unusual. And, you know, we may just be okay with that. But we’ll still fight the creep, until all retailers follow Nordstrom’s example and honor Thanksgiving in their hearts and keep it all the year.

When do you think it is appropriate for stores to start decorating for
and promoting the winter holidays?

Before Labor Day 1%
Between Labor Day and Halloween 5%
Between Halloween and Thanksgiving 36%
After Thanksgiving 54%
Never 1%
Don’t Celebrate Holidays 1%
Don’t Know 1%
Refused to Answer 1%
Source: Consumer Reports National Research Center


Edit Your Comment

  1. Japheaux says:

    It’s too bad we bring angst upon ourselves where we cannot even enjoy Thanksgiving for the impending need to get up the Christmas lights….ugh.

  2. MostlyHarmless says:

    What the retailers will look at is: “Almost half the people LOVE christmas creep!! Lets be creepy!”.

    • diasdiem says:

      Retailers bullshit other people, not themselves. No, retailers will see that most people don’t like Christmas Creep, but will still perpetrate it anyway, because they still make money on it.

  3. diasdiem says:

    When I am King, no store or business shall be allowed to put up Christmas decorations, air Christmas-themed commercials, or play Christmas music, until the day after Thanksgiving. The same goes for radio stations.

    • Gtmac says:

      Here, here! Where’s a moistened, scimitar-lobbing bink when you need one?

    • robocop is bleeding says:

      Where can I vote for you to be king?

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      That’s fine, as long as during Chanukah you decree that the appropriate music and decorations are played, and alternated whenever Chanukah overlaps Christmas.

      Actually, I’m an atheist and celebrate Christmas out of tradition. Since we can’t actually have freedom from religion shoved down our throats at every turn, I’m okay with displaying all of them (except on goverment property, including websites).

  4. quaru says:

    I’m just waiting for retails to just… stop taking down their decorations..

  5. Jonbo298 says:

    I was always raised under the impression to decorate for Christmas after Thanksgiving. Now I’m seeing people do it before Thanksgiving also, and weirds me out. Let’s finish one holiday before moving on to the next.

    • Tardis78 says:

      Agreed. I’d like to be able to enjoy my Thanksgiving without having holiday decorations all around me.

  6. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    It’s the standard in my neighborhood not to turn on your lights until the day after Thanksgiving, even if you put up your Christmas lights early to take advantage of the weather or a day off or whatever. One of my neighbors put up his lights this week — he moved in this summer, so we’d not seen his holiday display before — and OH MY GOD. It’s like a freaking cartoon house over there, like where Calvin is spelling “Aliens Land Here” on his roof.

    I can see it out my front window and I think it’s on a light sensor because it’s dark and cloudy and MY EYES, MY EYES!

    • pop top says:

      One year, a neighbor down the street put lights up on the bottom of each section of their siding. It went really well with their Dale Earnhardt flags.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      At my mom’s house we had the oposite kind of neighbor.. The one across the street directly from us felt like they should do something, but I guess they weren’t sure what to do or just didn’t care all that much. But for Halloween they had a stick in the middle of their yard sticking up out of the ground and on it they tied a severed hand. That is it. We were confused.. but then Christmas time came around.

      On one solitary bush near their front door, it looks like they pulled a string of lights out of a box, found out that they were too hard to untangle. So they just threw the blob of lights in the bush and plugged them in.

      They’ve since moved away.. but wow was it odd. lol.

    • inadequatewife says:

      I don’t have a problem with people putting out their Christmas lights early, as long as they don’t turn them on until after Thanksgiving. But it’s NOT necessary to put out the blow up Santa, reindeer, snowman, or Grinch dolls until later.

      There are at least a dozen houses near me that have had this type of stuff out in the yard since Halloween. We live in a cold climate, but daytime temps are still in the low 40’s. It’s not like anyone’s going to freeze to death putting up Christmas decorations for an hour or two.

  7. Xerloq says:

    Decorate after Thanksgiving…. that’s how we do it.

    I don’t mind playing Christmas early though.

  8. PsiCop says:

    I suspect that retailers will pay attention to the fact that c. 40% of the public supports decorating before Thanksgiving, and continue trying to appeal to them in the future.

  9. NotYou007 says:

    Lets see if this works

  10. subtlefrog says:

    @diasdiem Agreed – though when I rule the world, people will not be allowed to listen to Christmas music in my presence. All they want when I’m not around – but when I walk into the room, Off that crap goes.

    • floraposte says:

      Hey, that’s why I’ve got the headphones. (You’ll get my Christmas music when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Nobody takes my Robert Shaw Chorale, dammit.)

    • diasdiem says:

      You will not rule the world! There can be only one!

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      I work with a woman who is Jewish. Normally, it’s not important to note her religion. However, she put up her Christmas tree last week. She has been blasting Christmas songs since Halloween.

      Oy vey…

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I wonder how many pre-Thanksgiving votes were either people who shop at craft stores or retail store employees who have to spend a lot of time moving the stuff out onto the floor.

    I think it was someone here who pointed out the latter. I don’t like the idea of forcing retail employees to work all Thanksgiving day to move a metric f—k ton of Christmas stuff onto the shelves all at once.

    On the other hand, there’s no reason to start playing Christmas music in the stores before Thanksgiving.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      But on the…left foot, I guess…the poll did say “decorate”. Does that make the regular stock in the store exempt?

    • gamerchick02 says:

      +1 to the Christmas music. I don’t really want to hear it til December.


    • freshyill says:

      I don’t know how other stores do it, but when I worked at Best Buy in 2002, we did it all Wednesday night. We got two huge trucks and the store was packed to the gills. I think I was there until 1:30 or so, and I worked at one of the small stores, which I think are relatively uncommon.

      As shitty as retail work can be, working that Wednesday night and again early Black Friday morning was actually a pretty neat experience. I’m not sure I’d ever want to do it again, but it was worth doing once.

  12. Jfielder says:

    Last week my brother in law asked my sister “when are we gonna put the tree up?!”. Sis and I promptly scolded him for falling into the christmas creep trap…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      My tree has been up for about two weeks, actually. It was practical to put it up earlier because we’re busy this week, and we love Christmas more than Thanksgiving, so it made sense to just embrace the creep in our own apartment and put up all our Christmas stuff in the middle of November. It’s fantastic.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I wonder what the overlap among the “must have a live Xmas tree” and “love to put up the tree very early” crowd is. I’m sure our local fire departments will be able to tell us.

  13. gamerchick02 says:

    I don’t mind the Christmas “stuff” after Thanksgiving (which is the sentiment of the article) but crafty things for Christmas usually have to be put out sometime in the summer (like bits ‘n bobs for quilts). I don’t mind this, but retailers should keep the decor things put away til after Thanksgiving.

    Seems like I can’t enjoy the holidays anymore, and that’s sad.


  14. freshyill says:

    I think between Halloween and Thanksgiving is the right time to start selling certain merchandise, like lights, decorations, artificial trees, wrapping paper etc. There’s really not a whole lot of seasonal merchandise to sell for Thanksgiving, so I can’t blame them for going right from Halloween to Christmas.

    I think there are two parts to Christmas Creep: Christmas merchandise and in-store Christmas decorations. I think it’s important to make the distinction between the two.

    Think about this: Do you really want to fight Christmas crowds when all you want to do is buy a string of lights? It makes sense to be able to get that sort of thing ahead of time. I think most people can agree that they like their holidays one at a time, but some people like to plan ahead, not just retailers.

    However, I think they really need to hold off until the day after Thanksgiving to deck the halls and play the Christmas music.

    This poll doesn’t make the distinction, and I think you’d see somewhat different results if you broke it down.

    • SunnyLea says:

      Besides, how could you be set to fire up the lights the day after Thanksgiving if you can’t buy ’em til then? ;)

  15. blogger X says:

    LOL at the 1% never! For real though, it seems like Thanksgiving is just another Sunday when family gets together and have a meal.

  16. Smashville says:

    Maybe it’s me…and I had this discussion with my family when they put up the tree on Sunday, but I’ve always heard it was bad luck to put up your Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Am I the only one?

  17. Kid Awesome says:

    I love Christmas, but like everyone else Christmas doesn’t start until AFTER Thanksgiving.

    I couldn’t believe it when I turned on my radio on November 1st and it was already all Christmas all day.

    60 days of Mr Grinch? No thank you.

  18. failurate says:

    Due to scheduling conflicts in December and fear of bad weather in January, we had our Christmas dinner with our friends about two weeks ago. We put the tree and lights up the day after Halloween.

  19. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    IMO, after Thanksgiving is too late for stores to start promoting Christmas with merchandise. We used to put up Christmas stuff right after Thanksgiving, and if it weren’t for the stores rolling out merchandise between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we would put up our decorations and then realize that it was only half done because there are new areas to decorate and we couldn’t buy anything yet.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      I have no problem with merchandise being on the shelves prior to Thanksgiving, but it should be a small, quiet affair, largely unnoticed by anyone other than those specifically looking for Christmas decorations.

      But I get pretty homicidal when stores have duelling skeletons and Santas in their storewide decor. Around here, Halloween decorations practically mean putting that fake cobweb stuff on the front-door Christmas wreaths. Boo hiss!

  20. KlausKinsky says:

    How about AFTER Christmas? There are lots of places in the world that continue Christmas until at least Jan 8.

    Why throw out that tree the day after? Except of course its because you’ve had it up since Thanksgiving!

    • freshyill says:

      I know people who do that, so I don’t think it’s that uncommon. We’re actually taking down our tree on the 20th this year because we’re going out of town from the morning of the 21st until at least the 28th, and we don’t want to be picking pine needles out of the carpet for three months like last time when we went out of town from the 26th-2nd.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Believe it or not, the 12 days of Christmas actually start on 12/25 and go to the Ephiphany. Since the symbolism of giving gifts is linked to the visit from the Magi (celebrated on the 12th day), it’s actually a more appropriate time to give people stuff.

        And if you add the Greek Orthodox and the Julian Calendar, you can stretch the Xmas season to January 19th.

  21. TheGreySpectre says:

    Can we get eggnog year round, but no xmas decorations until December, that would be great.

  22. V for Vishnu says:

    I worked at a supermarket where they started playing Christmas music everyday, a week before Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas. It was on a loop and it drove me insane!!

  23. hotdogsunrise says:

    I work with someone who is Jewish. Why is that important to note? Well, she put her Christmas tree up last week. She has been playing Christmas songs since Halloween.

    Oy vey.

  24. hypnotik_jello says:

    yeah, it’s pure vomitorium when everything is red and white and green in October. That and the holiday music makes me want to snort heroin.

  25. LoneHighlander says:

    I really don’t mind seeing Christmas goods come out after Halloween. There isn’t much merchandising surrounding Thanksgiving so retailers have space to fill. It makes sense. If retailers are swapping out winter clothes for spring clothes in February/March, why can’t Christmas retail go out early? On the other hand, I do have pity for the people who work in retail and have to listen to Christmas music for seven or eight weeks straight.

    • freshyill says:

      When I worked at Best Buy in ’02, the Xmas music was playing when I came in on the day after Halloween. Luckily, they backed off and stopped for a while, but I think it did start again maybe the week of or before Thanksgiving.

  26. TVarmy says:

    The people who say “Before Labor Day” are probably part of the Tinsel-Industrial Complex.

  27. theblackdog says:

    Ya know, for those who want egg nog more often, the canned stuff from Borden is supposed to be good for up to two years :-P

  28. GearheadGeek says:

    Such a timely post… I had a weird interaction via facebook with an old friend over the weekend. (Facebook is good for facilitating weird interactions, but that’s not the point here.) He was all giddy that one of his local radio stations had started their endless loop of 20 arrangements each of the top 40 cheesy Christmas songs (that’s my description of the format, not his.) I kvetched about the fact that such a small selection of Christmas music gets so heavily overplayed that I tire quickly of Christmas music and he thinks I’ve changed my name to Ebenezer.

  29. Superunlikely says:

    If you wanted to measure “disgust”, you should have put it in the survey question. Now you’re using what people think is appropriate to create an outrage.

    I think “After Thanksgiving” is appropriate, but I’m not disgusted by earlier Christmas displays.

    I am however disgusted by poorly written or misinterpreted surveys. So put me down for that option.

  30. Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged says:

    I don’t mind when stores put out Christmas decorations for sale after Halloween. If you plan to decorate Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll need to purchase supplies beforehand.

    And I have no problem with craft stores putting out fabric and other crafty material well before the holidays. Crafts and handmade gifts take time and many people, including my mother, will start in the summer.

    But the stores themselves should not decorate until Thanksgiving and there should definitely be no Christmas music before Thanksgiving. The same goes for cities, homes and all other public spaces as far as I’m concerned.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      That’s all well and good for you, but homes are not public spaces. I can put up a tree anytime I want to inside my own home, and I can decorate the outside of my home if I want to.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Unless of course you have a strict HOA, which may not allow you to put up anything visible from outside your home until the day after Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas!

  31. Alex Chasick says:

    Compare with our earlier, unscientific poll of Consumerist readers. 74% said wait till after Thanksgiving or December 1. We are a curmudgeonly bunch.

  32. JulesNoctambule says:

    I want to find the one percent who think it should start before Labor Day and lock them in a room with an hour-long recording of the worst Christmas songs ever on a loop for twelve hours.

  33. htowninsomniac says:

    “Let’s finish one holiday before moving on to the next.”

    Not just that, but let’s have some days without holiday decoration in between, too. It’s what makes the holidays special.

    The right time for decorations to go up is 1 December.

  34. teletone says:

    Christmas music took over two of my local stations two weeks ago! Its still freakin November! The worst part of it all is that they won’t stop until mid January. I hate Christmas music! I mean how many times can you hear the same songs sung by different people?

  35. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    I’m a single thirty-something and my Christmas decorations consist of 2 poinsettias and a light-up ceramic tree on the dining room table. And those don’t appear on the table until the Friday after Thanksgiving.

  36. bluewyvern says:

    I vote to move Christmas back a month to January 25, and no Christmas merchandise or decorations until after Black Friday.

    Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, it’s too many holidays all at once, bam-bam-bam, then you hit January and it’s cold and gray and miserable and everyone’s fat and broke and there’s no days off and nothing festive and nothing to look forward to until, what, Valentine’s Day? which is a kind of silly holiday and probably depressing to more people than it is uplifting.

    So, Christmas in January! Who’s with me?!

    • webweazel says:

      Here! Here! Christmas in January!

      Definitely a big plus for those whose birthdays fall near Christmas. The birthday is always “combined” with Christmas, which ends up being a bummer.

  37. marillion says:

    For many years I decried the dreaded Christmas Creep.. But this year, after noticing how quickly the holidays seemed to come and go last season, I’ve decided to not necessarily embrace it, but just enjoy it.

    I LOVE the holidays and figure it’s better to curse the darkness, as it were.. I find this puts me in a much better mood.

    • That's Consumer007 to you says:

      As a non-holiday person myself, I would be a lot happier if they would just standardize on a holiday or “special crap” aisle and just change whatever on that aisle as they see fit. Then it isn’t in the way for the rest of us, and everyone’s happy.

      Everyone that is, except the Fox News nazis that will wail and gnash teeth with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and launch lawsuits about Halloween decorations or Harry Potter displays.

  38. SunnyLea says:

    I’m still waiting for Hanukkah creep.

    Actually, I’m still waiting for retailers to figure out that Hanukkah moves around and stop putting stuff out too late.

    Although, it works out to my advantage when they don’t know it falls after Christmas and mark down all the gelt before Hanukkah is actually over! You win some, you lose some.

  39. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    You know, people and newscasts have (correctly) bitched about this for decades. If that isn’t enough of a CLUE for retail to get it right, not sure what is, except that they have just set themselves up in their scheduling and order process, they are entrenched now and they will put up Christmas trees before Halloween from now on, like it or not.

  40. Landru says:

    “Winter holidays” is kind of vaugue. I’m sure the people answering were thinking of orange colored leaves and crepe paper turkeys.

  41. Brian W. says:

    I would really like to meet the 1% who answered to the Never and Refused to Answer responses. And I myself am an After Thanksgiving type person.

  42. Russ says:

    I unplugged from Christmas altogether. Not only has this religious holiday been hijacked and turned into a commercial circus, it’s an example of consumers being programmed into equating a holiday with spending money. For non-Christians, what are they celebrating? Or do they have to invent a reason? For Christians, why allow one of your holidays to be used in such a sacrilegious way? It’s all about junk culture and money. Thanksgiving….now that’s a holiday! :-)

  43. robseth says:

    Here’s a request/comment I just fired off to Stop & Shop, a local supermarket here in the NY/NJ area that I normally like to shop at…

    Please stop with the incessant Christmas music. I find the holidays emotionally upsetting to deal with and I make it a point to avoid them at all possible costs, but even I still need to eat. Please consider the fact that this music probably does nothing to increase your business and in reality may cause some people to shop less at your stores. Not all your customers are Christians or even religious, and the fact that you are pandering to an alleged majority presents an image of how little you care about ALL your customers having a pleasant shopping experience, whether that is true or not. Despite what you may hear on certain “news” stations, we are NOT a Christian nation.

    Thank you for considering my request.