Amazon's Christmas tree delivery is great if you own a handsaw
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A holiday journey.
A holiday journey.
Image: Chloe Bryan

For many people, it's a cherished holiday tradition to corral the whole family for a pilgrimage to find the perfect Christmas tree. But if you're cool with skipping all that, Amazon will deliver a real Balsam fir to your doorstep.

Amazon's Christmas tree delivery service debuted this year in partnership with Hallmark, much to the chagrin of tree farm purists. The shop features several species, including Scotch pines, Black Hill spruces; and Balsam, Fraser, and Douglas firs. Shoppers can also choose between trees in the 3 to 4' and 6 to 7' ranges, and prices are between $58 (a 3 to 4' Black Hills spruce) to $155 (a 6 to 7' Fraser fir bundled with an Echo Dot and a mini spark plug). There are also wreaths.

I'm not a coward, so I picked the largest tree option: a Balsam fir in the 6 to 7' range. I pre-ordered my tree on Nov. 16, and Amazon gave me a delivery window of Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. Great! I was going out of town until the Nov. 26, so I'd arrive back in NYC with plenty of time to receive my beautiful coniferous son.

Unboxing the tree

For whatever reason, Amazon processed my tree way faster than expected. In fact, they plonked it in my building lobby on Nov. 23, a full six days before anticipated. This meant that when I got back on Nov. 26, my tree had been sitting in the foyer for three days, drying out and alerting my neighbors that the woman in Apt 2 had, once again, ordered something embarrassing.

When I opened the box though, the tree — which ended up being 6'7"— didn't look too bad. In fact, it looked fairly healthy, and the cardboard box was miraculously dent-free. It also smelled incredible — fresh and pine-y, almost like I was at a Christmas tree farm and not inside the long, narrow hallway that makes up 40 percent of my apartment.

"This is better than any candle," my roommate said.

It smelled good.

Image: Chloe Bryan

The tree lost a few needles as we slid it out of the box, but not enough to cause alarm. We hauled it to a corner of the living room, where I'd had a much smaller tree the year before. My goal wasn't for this tree to fit in the same space, necessarily, but instead for it to "kind of" fit. The bar was high, but I was ready to succeed.

It was then I realized that I did not have a handsaw. This is when shit (briefly) hit the fan.

How shit (briefly) hit the fan

First, I want to say that I know a lot of people reading this have handsaws. For many people, it is normal to have a handsaw — in fact, it is not normal to not have a handsaw. This is not the case for me, a person who rents an 800-square-foot Brooklyn apartment and attempts one craft per year. There has never been a reason for me to have a handsaw, so when I unfolded the tree's instruction manual (very helpful!) and learned that I had to saw off the end of the tree because the trunk was clogged with sap and could not absorb any water, I was surprised. Perhaps you would not be surprised. I respect that.

Pre-saw, mid-anxiety.

Pre-saw, mid-anxiety.

Image: Chloe Bryan

Anyway, I knew that I had to find a saw right away. Thanks to Amazon's disturbing efficiency, the tree had already been without water for three days. Unfortunately, it was 11 p.m., which is a not prime saw-purchasing hour, so my roommate walked 40 minutes to borrow a saw from her uncle a neighborhood over. A hero!

It smelled fresh and pine-y, almost like I was at a Christmas tree farm.

I am not going to say we didn't struggle with the sawing process. (Among other issues, the tree was taking up most of the floor, so there wasn't a lot of sawing room.) But eventually, the deed was done and the tree was in the stand. It consumed some water and some complimentary tree food. It mostly fit in the corner of my living room. Crisis averted.

Our life together

I have now had the tree for 10 days, seven of which I was aware of. It's getting a bit dry, but I attribute that mostly to the delivery snafu. If you're able to pick up your tree as soon as it arrives, it should be totally fine. I'm confident mine will be healthy until Christmas.

The final product.

Image: Chloe Bryan

One idea: It would make sense for Amazon to offer a hand saw + tree bundle. (There's already a tree + Echo Dot bundle, which makes less sense, so I know they're not averse to bundling here.) Another option for those without saws is to schlep your tree to a nearby tree seller and see if you can pay for a quick cut. At that point, though, why not just get the tree elsewhere?

At $109.99, the price is likely higher than what I would have paid for a Balsam fir elsewhere. However, it was well-packaged, had clearly been treated with care in transit, and arrived healthy and in a pleasant conical shape. Despite my grievances, I'll be honest: It looks pretty good.

OK yes I know this is a tight squeeze.

OK yes I know this is a tight squeeze.

Image: Chloe Bryan

Forgoing IRL Christmas tree hunting in favor of Amazon has been pretty widely panned since the shop was announced. To a lot of people — and I get it — it seems disrespectful to the Christmas spirit. Still, the shop could be a good option for people with limited mobility, people without a vehicle, or people who don't live close to a Christmas tree seller.

Just be sure you have that saw.

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