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Christmas spirit . . . North Otago Plunket community support co-ordinator Anna Glier prepares for Plunek’s Christmas Tree Festival next weekend. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

North Otago businesses are getting ready to showcase their Christmas creativity.

North Otago Plunket is hosting its first Christmas Tree Festival fundraiser, asking businesses to pay $150 to decorate a tree in any shape or form they want. The trees will be put on display in Smith’s Grain Store, in Harbour St, next weekend for the community to enjoy, and vote for their favourite.

North Otago Plunket community support coordinator Anna Glier said eight businesses had already committed to the fundraiser and two more trees were up for grabs.

Mrs Glier said she hoped the businesses would get creative decorating the trees in the theme of their company.

‘‘It gives them a bit of exposure and gives a little bit of Christmas spirit, hopefully, despite the Covid times.’’

All businesses so far had staff members who were decorating the trees themselves, but if the event was successful, Mrs Glier said they would get kindergartens and preschools involved in the future to ‘‘make it a day out for the kids as well’’.

The trees, which were given to Plunket by The Warehouse last Christmas, were 210cm tall and 110cm wide, making them a decent size for businesses to decorate.

‘‘It’s a bit of a trial run this year, to see how much involvement we get with people and whether Oamaru enjoys having the trees down there or not,’’ she said.

All the money raised from the Christmas Tree Festival would stay in North Otago to support local community services. Those services and educational groups relied on public funding to remain free for participants, making this fundraiser important, she said.

The Christmas Tree Festival had been running successfully on the West Coast for the past few years and Mrs Glier said Plunket wanted to ‘‘try something a bit different’’ on the East Coast too.

‘‘We thought we would start slow — hopefully it will become something bigger.’’

The trees will be on display for the public to vote for on December 4 and 5. The business with the winning tree would receive a morning tea shout from Plunket.