MISSOULA, Mont. - Local businesses are spreading holiday cheer by decorating for Missoula's annual Festival of Trees event.

The trees are in several different downtown businesses this year, instead of all in one spot, and admission is free.

It's something they started doing during the pandemic last year, and it proved to be a success.

Ten different local businesses are putting their creativity to the test for this year's festival.

Along with a tree, the Bitterroot Flower Shop is raffling off a basket full of gifts from partnering businesses.

They took part in the festival for the first time last year, and Manager Marjorie Dula said decorating this year's tree is a team effort.

"We have an incredibly talented staff. We design beautiful flowers and we have a lot of craftspeople here. So, our staff members have made at least ten ornaments from scratch, and that's what we're decorating our tree with," Dula said.

At Frame of Mind, a local frame shop, they put up what they're calling a 'Creativity Tree.' It has all sorts of art supplies hanging on it, including paintbrushes and paint.

Unlike Bitterroot Flower Shop, Frame of Mind hasn't taken part in the festival before. But in September, they added on an art supply store to their business. So, owner Amy Doty, can't wait to show off the tree and the new store to the community.

"This is our first year having our art supply store. It's really great to have people come in to see the tree and also see all our products in our art supply store," Doty said.

Missoulians can buy $2 or $3 raffle tickets at any tree location, for a chance to win one of the trees and packages that are worth at least $500. That money goes towards the Missoula Downtown Foundation, which helps keep your local businesses afloat.

"I love that we have the tree here in our shop because we have a beautiful Christmas store. And, we did see new people coming into the store and it's always lovely when we get to share what we do with our community," Dula said.

Other businesses decorating trees include Clyde Coffee, Missoula Bicycle Works, Worden's Market, Mary's Mountain Cookies, the Missoula Public Library, One Eleven, the Residence Inn at the Mercantile, and Board of Missoula.

The Downtown Missoula Partnership is also selling Teddy Bear Tea Kits for families to take home. You can buy them online or in-person for $10.

The Festival of Trees starts Friday, Nov. 26, and goes through Sunday, Dec. 5.

Winners of the raffle will be announced on Monday, Dec. 6.

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