Maple Crest Farm typically sells Christmas trees over the first three weekends after the Thanksgiving holiday. But after being “bombed with people” this past Friday and Saturday, the farm already sold out.
Owner John Elwell said he could cut more, but then he wouldn’t have as many for next year. “We’re all sold out,” Elwell said Wednesday of the farm in West Newbury. “I’ve never sold so many so fast.”
Whether people are looking to get a jump start on the Christmas spirit or itching to spend time outside with their families after months of staying home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple Christmas tree farms in Massachusetts have reported being wiped out of cut-your-own trees, having only shorter or pre-cut trees left to sell, or being sold out altogether.
“I think people just needed to get out,” Elwell said of the busy post-Thanksgiving weekend, which he said brought between 1,200 to 1,500 people. “They wanted to experience the outdoors, and because everything is so limited, they haven’t been able to do any activities with the family. It was a chance to get out in the open air and not worry quite as much about COVID.”
In a Facebook post, MerriHill Tree Farm in Merrimac announced it was closed for the year on Monday after selling out of trees.
“Many thanks to all of our families who enjoyed the mild temperatures to spend some time outside,” the post read. “We could tell you were smiling behind your mask!”
In Hampton Falls, N.H., Tonry Tree Farm is urging customers to come with an “open mind” and a willingness to hunt around this year after a busy weekend meant only shorter trees are left.
“Our tree inventory is now six feet tall and smaller,” the farm said in a Facebook post. “We have had an EXTREMELY busy first few days of selling. If you’re willing to hunt and to have an open mind, you may find a taller tree out there, but we can’t guarantee it.”
Mistletoe Christmas Tree Farm in Stow said on Facebook that they have sold out of cut-your-own trees, but still have hundreds of pre-cut trees between 6 and 9.5 feet tall, but nothing taller than that.
“We have been in communication with many other Christmas tree farmers this week (in Mass, NH, and Connecticut), and they all report families came out much earlier this year to get their trees (clearly due to the pandemic),” one of the farm’s posts read. “We have heard of a few Farms that are already closed for the season (BEFORE DECEMBER!! Wow!)”
Greenwood Christmas Tree Farm in Billerica is sold out of cut-your-own trees after a “very busy” first weekend, owner Crystal Card said, but the farm still has a good selection of pre-cut trees for people to peruse.
The farm opened at noon on Friday, but by 11 a.m., its parking lot was full and both sides of the road were lined with cars, she said.
“Getting out to a farm and being outside, doing something fun with the family was important to people this year,” Card said. “Getting back to the old traditions of a real tree and things of that nature are forefront of people’s minds at this time.”
David Morin, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association, agrees that more people are looking for real trees this year, partly for the nostalgia factor, and also because they have more time on their hands.
“[A] real tree takes more time and people have more time,” he said Wednesday. “They’re looking to do something special this year. Everything’s been so restricted and depressed, the Christmas spirit seems to be overflowing.”
Morin said the farms closer to Boston tend to sell out faster than farms in other parts of the state during the holiday season, and that was particularly true this past weekend, when people were “panic-buying trees like toilet paper.”
Morin, who operates Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge, said the farm had record sales this past weekend. He spoke with a number of farm owners who over the weekend had people lining up and down the roads for trees, a good thing for the farmers in a year that brought uncertainty about what the season might look like amid the pandemic.
Liza Brackbill, 24, whose family owns Crane Neck Christmas Tree Farm in West Newbury, said the farm’s main site where people can cut their own trees sold out over the post-Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s definitely been busier a lot earlier than it usually is,” she said, adding that a lot of first-time tree cutters came to the farm over the weekend looking to start new family traditions.
“I think people are trying to extend the Christmas spirit,” she said. “Somebody said to me: ‘I just need more Christmas this year, as much of it as I can get.’ People are looking for something to celebrate in such a tough year.”
The coronavirus has also changed the offerings farms provide for families this year, with some deciding against wagon rides that would make social distancing difficult, or opting not to offer food on site to encourage people to keep their masks on.
Greenwood Farm decided not to make free hot cider and honey tastings available this year due to the pandemic, and at Crane Neck Farm, the wagon rides that were typically used to transport people instead held trees.
Elwell said his farm, which has been in his family for 103 years, usually provides hot chocolate, has a fire pit for people to toast marshmallows, and provides children with plywood ornaments for coloring. But they weren’t able to do any of that this year.
Instead, Elwell provided families with children ornaments they could take home to color. And he bought 250 coloring books about a farmer who grows Christmas trees to distribute.
“I enjoy the chance for people to come and experience the holidays, have a tree and the wagon rides. I like making it an event for them,” Elwell said. “I kind of miss the excitement this year, but we made it work.”