Maine Christmas Wreath Industry

By: Lynn Jebbia

Maine is the largest producer of balsam fir Christmas wreaths in the United States. Millions of wreaths are shipped out every year. Maine’s forests cover over 85% of the state. A lot of this forest is available for harvesting of balsam fir tips which is a sustainable harvest. Only 12 to 20 inches of the ends of the branches are cut and they grow back year to year.

A wreath is made by attaching bunches of the balsam fir tips to a metal ring. The bunches of tips are wired to the ring. The common sizes for the wreath rings are 8,10, 12, 14 and 16 inch. The outside diameter of the wreath is determined by the size of the ring. For example, at Acadia Wreath Company, our 24” Christmas wreath is built on a 12 inch ring and our 30” Christmas wreath is built on a 16” ring. The amount of balsam tips needed for a wreath depends again on the size of the ring. We make very full, double-faced wreaths except for our vehicle wreath.

Our 24” wreath weighs about 6 lbs and our 30” wreath weighs about 8 lbs. A double-faced wreath has the balsam tips attached to both sides of the wreath ring making a much fuller wreath. We have a customer who has us decorate both sides of her wreath because she hangs it on a glass door where it can be seen from each side of the door. This wouldn’t work with a single-faced wreath with the balsam tips attached to only one side.
Naturally, the single-faced wreaths are cheaper to make in materials and labor. Most of the major big box retailers sell single-faced wreaths.

The wreath industry in Maine includes tippers, wreath makers, wholesalers and retailers. Tippers (people who gather the tips) sell to a local wreath business or wreath maker. There is a large cottage industry of wreath makers who make wreaths at home and sell them, undecorated for the most part, to local wholesalers or retailers or directly to consumers.

The balsam fir tips are not only used to make Christmas wreaths. Christmas centerpieces, kissing balls, swags and garland are also made. Garland is not a huge part of the industry because wreath makers can make a lot more money making wreaths and so garland is harder to find. Demand for balsam fir Christmas products is increasing every year. It is the most fragrant of all the firs with the smell most associated with Christmas. Also, it’s natural and sustainable and artificial, plastic wreaths are viewed as tacky and they sure don’t smell like Christmas.

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