DELANO, MN It’s pretty easy to find Eddie Carver each November. That’s when he starts spending up to six hours a day making wreaths in his garage on the western edge of Delano.
“I can make about 25 wreaths in a six-hour day. That’s about my limit of work,” Eddie said, laughing. “After all, I am 80 years old.”
Carver’s wreath-making days began after his retirement from Minnesota Rubber 22 years ago. That’s when he joined his wife, Sandi, at Butterfield Evergreens.
“I never made a wreath in my life,” he said. “She was the wreath maker over there for about 20 years. Just watching her, gradually, as we got older, it was tougher to make the bigger wreaths, so they just had me make the big wreaths. I just learned from watching her.”
At one point, Butterfield Evergreens had a contract with Boy Scouts and was making about 20,000 wreaths a year, Carver said. He continued to make wreaths there when it became Flower Farm and for another three years after Otten Bros. purchased the business.
“They stopped making wreaths, so I bought one of their hand machines so I could make some wreaths for our kids and family members,” Eddie said. “We sell a few here and a few there. ... I just basically make a wreath for whoever wants one. I’m not in competition with Boy Scouts.”
Wreath making is a pastime that allows him to make a little extra money for the holidays.
“Any money he makes from this is Christmas money for our large family of 30 people this year, with immediate family only,” his son Jamie Carver said.
Wreaths are sold word of mouth but, sometimes, that word travels farther than others.
“Hopefully, we’ll have no more shipping to Texas,” Jamie said. “LinkedIn is an amazing thing. I put it out there, but my second contacts could see it, too. A lady from Texas paid $46 in shipping for two wreaths.”
At least the Carvers know the wreaths were sturdy enough to make the trip.
Eddie takes pride in his work and can see the difference between his homemade wreaths and some he sees elsewhere.
“I took one up to someone who called and wanted a wreath,” Eddie said. “She had a wreath on her doorstep. She didn’t even know it was there and didn’t know where it came from. I said, ‘You already got a wreath, why do you want mine?’ She just wanted an undecorated one. That one had a vinyl bow, rather than velvet. It had three cones and they weren’t centered at all. You’d like to have three, six, and nine cones, all centered, and then the bow at six o’clock.”
His wreaths start with balsam and include generous portions of white pine and cedar, topped off with nine pinecones, red berries and a red, velvet bow.
The standard size is 24 inches, but he can also make wreaths measuring 16, 30, 36 or 48 inches.
“I could make wreaths up to 72 inches,” Eddie said. “Individuals with homes, though, don’t want a wreath that big.”
In addition to making wreaths for family and friends, Eddie made about 500 on a contract with an area retailer a year ago and another 300 for this season. That contract also allows him to purchase his supplies. The quality of those supplies was not quite as good this time around.
“This year, the boughs were bad because of the bad winter last year,” Eddie said. “It left a lot of brown stuff on the trees. Last year, the bows were exceptional.”
“It was a hard freeze because it was such a bad winter,’ Jamie added. “All the trees where the boughs come from had winter burn with brown needles.”
Eddie doesn’t necessarily like the cold any better than those trees, but he and his space heater make the best of it.
“It’s kind of fun making these wreaths,” he said. “It’s not a whole lot of fun when it’s 10-below, though.”