Create Your Own Valentine Tree

Valentine's Day is coming around and it’s the time of year we celebrate love.  There are the traditional means of celebration – chocolates, cards, fancy dinners – but very rarely do we do things that allow us to meaningfully celebrate the love we have for our entire family.  Most of us spend all year showing our love for our family in a variety of different ways, both small and big, but sometimes it can be hard to remember those times, especially when (as always happens) we get snappy or angry at those we love.

Enter the Valentine’s Day Tree.

What is it?

It’s a tree you’ll be making in your house that will allow you to remember and celebrate the moments of love and care that you have for each other year round.  The main point is to have a space in the house where you can take note of the things the people around you have done to make you feel loved.

How do you make it?

Start with a solid container (a large vase will do) and fill the bottom with rocks.  Next get some fallen branches that still have smaller branches off them so you can hang things off them like leaves.  You can start with just one and then find more branches as you need them, or find three or four to start, but make sure they've dried out properly.  Place them in the vase with the rocks holding them in place.  Note that if the branch is too large, it will cause the whole thing to tip over so you want to find branches that are big enough, but not too big.

You now have the base of your tree.  What you need are the leaves.  In line with Valentine’s Day, the leaves should be hearts so you’ll want to get some good card-stock paper (you want these to last, after all) and cut out many hearts of colours.  If you have kids, you can turn this part into a craft activity by having them decorate the hearts on one side, leaving the other blank to fill in.  The hearts should be big enough that you can write something at least a sentence on them, possibly a bit more.  You will want to start with 20 or so hearts.  For each heart, you need to use a hole punch to punch a hole somewhere on it (you can vary where you hole punch if you want the hearts to hang in different directions or always choose the same spot) and run some ribbon through it and tying it off, making each heart an ornament for your tree.

Now, at this stage you can either decorate the tree with the empty hearts (to be filled in later – we’ll get to that) or create a small container for the hearts somewhere on or near the tree.  By the tree, you will also want to put a marker so there’s always one nearby (you can just tie it to the tree with ribbon or string).

What do you do with it?

Once your tree is set up, now is the fun part.  Explain to the family that these hearts are here for them to fill in a little something whenever they feel positively towards someone else in the family.  It may be a thank you for doing something kind.  It may be a feeling of love just because.  Whatever it is, it is the place where each person can put their loving feelings to paper and place it on the tree as a memory of that moment.

Come Valentine’s Day next year, you can take them off the tree and read all the beautiful, loving notes you’ve left for each other throughout the year and be ready to start the year again with new leaves and new loving memories while you store the previous year’s someplace safe.  You can also go to the tree at any point throughout the year if you’re feeling angry or down to remind yourself of the love that is there and ever-present, even if it’s hiding.  Remembering these moments and reliving them together serves as a true celebration of the love that you hopefully all feel for each other and serves as a reminder to everyone how loved they are.

By Tracy Cassels

February 08, 2016