Santa and company coming to the garden

Interior and exterior designer Cory Christopher holds one of the Christmas ornaments his company sold to aid the Little Warriors program in 2009. First Choice Tree Nursery and Gardening Centre will be bringing Christmas to the garden centre this weekend with their 4th Annual Christmas Sneak Peek.

By Étienne Thevou

Sturgeon County – Santa, Mrs. Claus and a couple of their reindeer are scheduled to make a landing at First Choice Tree Nursery and Gardening Centre just outside of Morinville this weekend. The jolly old elf and his friends will be participating in Santa’s Summer Party from 1 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, all part of the gardening centre’s 4th Annual Christmas Sneak Peek, running July 16-18.

Interior and exterior designer Cory Christopher said children and adults will be able to see two live reindeer as well as have an opportunity to meet with Santa Claus in the summer time, even partaking in a picnic lunch with him from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

“Parents can bring their children along and they’ll be able to have a fantastic hot dog lunch with Santa Claus,” Christopher said. “They’ll be able to talk to him. They’ll receive a free ornament. They’ll get to sit on his lap and take a picture. It’s a fun filled afternoon for the family.”

Christopher said people often wonder how anyone can be thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer, but for Christopher and his family, Christmas is a year round event.

“For us, Christmas goes beyond the trinkets and the décor,” he said. “It goes into what it really stands for for us, which is a time of giving, a time of being cheerful. And often in the summer months when it gets really hot, we all get grouchy, we get our Bah Humbug on, and it’s not the greatest thing to be around. So we like to think of Christmas happening every day just as a means of something cheerful and exciting, and just remembering how we treat everyone in the world and how important that is.”

As part of their own Christmas excitement, First Choice is hoping to inspire others to get in the holiday mood.

“We turn our entire store into a Christmas wonderland filled with the latest trends and products for the coming holiday season,” Christopher said, noting this year’s sneak peek will be even more exciting than the three previous events. “I’m showcasing what the new colours, what the new trends are for décor.”

Christopher said often people do not expand their Christmas colour palettes beyond the traditional red, green, gold and silver, but he is looking to push the boundaries this year of what people might normally associate with Christmas colours and themes.

In addition to the Christmas sneak peak, Christopher said the garden centre will be holding Mrs. Clause’s Sizzling Summer Clearance, a summer cleaning and clearance of home décor and garden displays to make room for new inventory.

This weekend also marks the end of Art in the Garden, and indoor and outdoor art and horticultural event that has been running for the past two weeks. This year the event is raffling off five of Christopher’s Hort Couture creations to benefit five local charities.

Reservations are required for the Santa Claus picnic and can be made by calling 780-939-4448 or by e-mail at


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