Sandra Di Carlo Valdez looked at her Christmas tree in January and felt a wave of sadness. One week in 2022 and nearly two years in a pandemic, the tree was a source of joy; she wasn’t ready to take it down.
So Ms. Valdez, 46, a nail technician and blogger in Miami with nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram, decided to try something she’d seen on social media: She would hold up the tree but fix it up, swap the ornaments for organza and the holly for hearts.
Her Christmas tree, now covered in pink and red baubles, has become a Valentine’s tree.
Taylor Swift may keep her Christmas lights on until January, but images of evergreens (real and fake) decorated with candy hearts and pastel tinsel are popping up online well into February, usually on certain sly corners of Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.
Mrs. Valdez decorates her tree with Dollar Tree supplies: heart clips, which she attached to the branches; wooden hearts, which she painted; and amenities like pin buttons and red and pink fabric that made them into homemade leprechaun ornaments.
Likewise, Jennifer Houghton, a blogger, designer, and homemaker in Dallas, has used finds from discount stores for her trees, including oversized conversation hearts that she turns into ornaments.
When she decorated her first Valentine’s tree five years ago, she postponed the inevitable.
“I was so tired of Christmas, and I was like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to take this down!'” said Mrs. Houghton, 54.
This year she has three Valentine trees: one wrapped in red roses and stencils spelling the word “love”; one dripping with pink X’s and O’s; and one covered in those pastel conversation hearts, with ribbons, ladders, and pink candy canes climbing the sides too.
“Especially with the pandemic, people are hungry for anything that brings joy to their homes,” said Ms Houghton. “We spend a lot more time in our homes, so there’s this need, this need, to make our home as joyful as possible.”
Retailers eager to cash in on a Hallmark vacation have jumped on the trend. Valentine’s Day decorations are sold at Walmart and Target, and by many people on Etsy.
An Overstock.com representative reported that the top-selling tree of the past holiday season was not green. It was pink.
Amber Dunford, a design psychologist and Overstock’s style director, said that during times of stress, people are naturally drawn to so-called transitional objects. “We’re in such a common situation right now, so we want that object of comfort,” she said. “Trees are symbolic — they’re the element we gather around.”
Bobby Berk, the ‘Queer Eye’ star and interior designer, said he saw some Valentine trees on social media and understood why people might want them.
“Your Christmas decorations bring so much warmth to your home and so much joy,” he said in a telephone interview. “I understand why people, especially now, who are stuck in our homes, going into the third year, want to extend that.”
He noted that a few of his friends still had Christmas trees in their homes. “I’m always like, ‘Girl, take it down,'” he said. “But now I’m like, ‘Actually, no, don’t take it off, let’s just switch it to a Valentine tree.'”
For the past three years, Monica Burt, an interior designer in the Chicago area, has made that transition in her own home. “I love Christmas,” she said. “I have about 10 trees a year and it’s always sad to demolish them.”
This year, Mrs. Burt, 39, has four Valentine trees: a bright pink in her family room, decorated in fuchsia and red; a white one in an upstairs hallway that she decorated with pink ornaments; and two little pink ones, one for each of her daughters, which she let them keep in their bedroom and decorate themselves.
Sami Riccioli, who works in interior design, made three trees this year, including an ombré at the base of her grand staircase in her home in Lower Gwynedd, Penn., from several thousand fake roses.
She has no plans to cut down her tree after February 14. Instead, she said, she’ll reuse it for St. Patrick’s Day, then Easter, Halloween, and all the way through Christmas.
“After I did that first Valentine’s tree, I said, ‘It wouldn’t just be Valentine’s Day,'” said Ms. Riccioli, 37. “‘I’m going to keep the tree here and keep decorating it.'”