A cancer survivor was selected in the fall to be that year's honoree, and the public was invited to hang an ornament on the Tree of Hope for a donation, in honor or memory of the honoree, or of any loved one lost to cancer. Each ornament was given a tag to show the donor and the honoree.

During the ceremony (early December) the honoree and/or their family would have an opportunity to speak, refreshments were provided, and the tree was lit up in celebration of the winter holidays. In subsequent years, the trees and their ornaments were displayed at local businesses around town (also a possible sponsorship opportunity). Trees, refreshments, and event space were donated so there were no expenses.