Elves and reindeer and Santa in July – Oh my

Designer and Christmas lover Cory Christopher looks at one of the packaged Christmas ornaments that will be unveiled this weekend at First Choice Tree Nursery’s Fifth Annual Christmas Sneak Peak. - Étienne Thevou Photo

By Étienne Thevou

Morinville – It might be five-and-a-half months until Christmas, but Cory Christopher and the folks at First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre simply aren’t waiting. They are holding a big Christmas event July 15 to 17 and have invited Mr. and Mrs. Claus to come down from the North Pole to have a picnic with children of all ages on Saturday.

It’s all part of the gardening centre and year round Christmas store’s Fifth Annual Christmas Sneak Peak, and as is always the case whenever Christmas is contemplated, designer and Christmas crazy Cory Christopher is bustling with enthusiasm.
“This event is for all ages,” Christopher said. “It’s for Christmas fanatics; it’s for slight Christmas lovers, and, as I love to say, it’s even for the Bah Humbuggers. It’s really an opportunity to embrace the spirit of Christmas in the middle of the summer, to come out and enjoy the sunshine and enjoy a visit with Santa Claus. The live reindeer are always a hit. People don’t often actually get the opportunity to see them up close and personal. Santa’s bringing them down from the North Pole.”

He’s also bringing some elves, face painters, balloon twisters and snow cones to provide a festival of colours to complement those on display at the Christmas Sneak Peak, something Christopher is equally excited about.

“It’s new ornaments, new décor, new Christmas designer trends,” Christopher said of the event. “We’re showcasing what’s new for Christmas 2011.”

Last year saw Christmas trends drifting away from the traditional colours associated with the season and the wrapping paper that surrounds it. This year, Christopher is ready to launch some new trends, some of which will be on display over the weekend. “I’ve been developing about eight Christmas designer looks that I’ve hand picked and hand crafted for people to add to their holiday décor,” the designer said. “Some of them include, O Canada, which is based on the entire theme of a Canadian Christmas, incorporating very much our heritage and our history. We have Christmas Gala, which is a spin on the traditional look of red and emerald green, but with an unexpected pop of black. It’s something very classy and very elegant.” Other themes Christopher has been working on include Seussmas, a theme based on the world and colours of Dr. Seuss to create a fun and whimsical display of pinks, greens and whites.

Part of that Christmassy newness is the unveiling of the second custom designed and commissioned Christmas ornament, an opportunity to have something unique on the tree while helping a worthy charity. The Loving Hearts 2011 ornament will once again support the Mazankowski Heart Institute, an organization Christopher became truly aware of when his father had a heart attack and used their services.

Each Canadian-made, hand-blown ornament will be sold for $25 with $10 going directly to the Mazankowski Heart Institute. Just what that ornament looks like, Christopher refuses to reveal until the unveiling at the Super Sneak Peak Soirée July 14, an event open to Garden Club 101 members. The ornament will then be available to everyone beginning the next day and throughout the weekend event.

“It’s a gift from the heart and a gift that continues to give,” Christopher said of this year’s ornament. “You’d be shocked and surprised at how many people utilize the services of the Mazankowski Heart Institute, how many are touched by a loved one or friend or even a stranger that has been there and had their life saved. And even for those who haven’t, it’s usually been an amazing experience being there and surrounded by such love, passion, knowledge, that we can’t even think of supporting another organization.”

Although the ornament and Christmas trends will be on display all weekend long, Saturday will be the big day with the annual Santa Summer Party and Picnic. Christmas lovers will be able to see all the sights and sounds of Christmas while getting a tan in the open spaces of First Choice. “This is an opportunity for families to bring the kids out to meet Santa Claus, meet live reindeer, have some fantastic goodies and refreshments, kids’ activities – it’s just a fun-filled, Christmas-spirited activity day set in the countryside and in the middle of summer,” Christopher said.

The Santa’s Picnic portion of the Summer Party takes place from 1 to 2 p.m. July 16 and costs $5 per child. The Christmas Sneak Peak runs from noon until 4 p.m. Limited space is available and parents are asked to book ahead by calling First Choice Tree Nursery at 780-939-4448.

First Choice Tree Nursery is located on Range Road 245 off highway 642, east of Morinville. For more details and times, visit them online at www.firstchoicetreenursery.ca.

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