By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – For First Choice Tree Nursery’s resident designer Cory Christopher there simply is no time of year or location that cannot use a decorative touch. But while Christopher is equally at home decorating an interior or exterior setting throughout the calendar year, he has a particular fondness for the Christmas season.
Christopher will be hosting First Choice Tree Nursery’s Second Annual Mrs. Claus Ornament Swap this Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. – a time when people can trade their old ornaments for something different.
“It’s a lovely evening just to socialize and have fun with the ornament swap,” Christopher said of the event. “Often times, people have misfit ornaments or odds and ends that don’t fit with their new colours. What’s really nice about this is they are able to bring three of those ornaments and swap them to take home three new ornaments.”
Christopher said the evening will include refreshments and three holiday-themed demos, allowing participants to take some ideas back home with them.
All ornaments brought to the event will be hung on a Christmas tree. Participants then draw numbers from a hat to determine what order they will select the ornaments they want to take back home with them.
But while Christopher and the crew at First Choice are certain people will find some gems in each other’s old ornaments, they are also offering a brand new ornament to aid a worthy cause.
Once again this year, First Choice is offering an exclusive holiday ornament. This year’s selection is a hand-blown glass ornament that will raise funds for the Mazankowski Heart Institute.
“It’s an exclusive to First Choice Tree Nursery,” Christopher said of the heart-shaped ornament. “It is a Canadian-made product and $10 from the purchase of every ornament will go directly to the Mazankowski Heart Institute. So it really is a gift that keeps on giving for the holiday season.”
Last year First Choice sold an exclusive ornament in aid of Little Warriors, a child sexual abuse education and prevention program. Christopher said the switch in charities this year came about from his family’s own experience with the heart institute.
“In March, my father was rushed to the Sturgeon Hospital, and then directly transported to the Mazankowski Heart Institute,” Christopher said, adding he was largely unfamiliar with the institute at the time. “I really didn’t know much about this organization until we needed it.”
Christopher said as he began to research the organization, he developed a greater interest and appreciate of the Mazankowski Heart Institute.
“The world-renowned doctors that come here to work at the institute; the technological advances being made at the Mazankowski Heart Institute are second to none,” he said. “It is really an international institution and I felt it very necessary to take that on.”
Christopher said he feels academic institutions often do not get the recognition and financial assistance they deserve, people often regarding charity solely as those in need.
“I think they are just as much in need because they are furthering our ability to live longer – to save people’s lives, which happened in my father’s case,” Christopher said. “To give back and have that real personal connection has really solidified our relationship there.”
The exclusive ornament can be purchased from the Santa’s Treasures Store during regular business hours.
The Mrs. Claus Ornament Swap takes place at First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre Nov. 20 from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Cost per person is $10.
First Choice is located on Ridge Road 245 north of Highway 642 (east of Morinville).