Unboxing the first Amazon Christmas tree

Here's what it's like to set up a Christmas tree ordered from Amazon.

Caitlin Petrakovitz
Caitlin Petrakovitz studies the Marvel Cinematic Universe like it's a course in school, with an emphasis on the Infinity Saga years. As an audience expert, she rarely writes but when she does it's most certainly about Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Westworld, San Diego Comic-Con and great streaming properties. Or soccer, that's a thing she loves, too.
Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Caitlin Petrakovitz
Sarah Mitroff
1 of 22 Angela Lang/CNET

It comes in a box (what did you expect?)

This season, Amazon is selling 6- to 7-foot tall Christmas trees and delivering them right to your front door. We ordered one to see what it was like -- because who really knows what to expect when a company says "We'll send you a Christmas tree"?

We were lucky that our 49-pound (!!!), 7-foot tall box arrived via FedEx early in the day. Even before we brought it in the house, it smelled like a Christmas tree!

2 of 22 Angela Lang/CNET

Getting it out of the box

Don't let her face fool you. It's not that hard to get it out of the box. (But it is heavy for a person to handle solo.) Definitely take note that the process makes a giant mess, so do this outside, not in your living room like we did.

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Off with its ends!

Most tree lots people would traditionally get live trees from will do this for you before you bring the tree home. Many will even attach your tree stand on the premises, getting you that much closer to decorating than Amazon did here. None of the prep work was truly difficult with two of us, but we could see this being an issue for someone living alone, older people, or anyone with less patience or dexterity.

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Easy now...

You'll want to chop about an inch off the bottom to help your tree get all the water it will need throughout the season. 

Chopped trees "seal" themselves off once they've been cut down, so they need to be re-cut to absorb water.

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No assembly necessary

But keep the twine or wrapping on the tree until you've positioned it in your tree stand. It's also important to know that since the tree is so fresh still, it will most likely be moist, damp and full of sap. 

Tip: Either wear gloves as a preventative measure against the sap and needles, or when you want to clean up use dish soap to cut through the sticky mess afterward.

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We goofed tbh

Learn from our mistake and do the opening, sawing, and positioning in the tree stand *outside* -- or at least in a garage. 

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Fancy stand

We had an uber-fancy tree stand that was supposed to make it easy to "grab" the tree. After some finagling, we got it straight(ish) and locked in. Make sure your tree is positioned exactly where you want it for the season, and safely in the stand before you open its branches.

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As you unwrap the Amazon tree, again remember to be careful of the sap, tree branches and needles that will fall off. You may also want to keep some hedge clippers handy so you can snip any damaged or falling branches.

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Fluff it down

As you remove the twine, carefully separate and fluff the branches of your tree. Gently press down and straighten out some, to encourage the tree to return to its natural shape. 

Be gentle here! You want the tree to open up but you don't want to snap off any branches by being too rough. Your tree will continue to open up more as you decorate.

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More clean-up

This part may be unavoidable -- keep the broom and vacuum nearby for clean-up after the fluffing and before adding the tree skirt. 

Probably even after that too, as your tree will continue to shed needles throughout the season (bc death is inevitable).

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Do as we say, not as we do

We got a bit hasty fluffing branches, so be sure to take your time and ensure your tree stays nicer, longer.

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Position your tree first

Plan where you want your tree to live for the season before filling your stand with water or beginning to decorate with the tree skirt. Some people want their trees in the window for all to see and be jealous of, others want it to be the bright and shiny centerpiece of their homes. In either case, be prepared for A Project if you try to move it after decorating.

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Flashing lights, lights, lights

String your lights up, from the trunk of the tree to the tip so that you don't get stuck with an empty bottom. 

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Work smarter, not harder

We plugged our lights into a TP Link smart plug so they could be controlled without crawling behind the tree every day and night. Here are more simple, DIY holiday projects to try right now.

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Streeeeeetch out your lights

If your lights are brand-new like ours were, be sure to stretch them out to get maximum coverage. If they've been jumbled up and in storage for the past year, consider patiently untangling them before starting to decorate. (It will really help your mental health, trust me.)

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Hide yo' ends

Tuck the end of the lights into the back of the tree (assuming you have a side facing the wall or corner), or connect it to a light-up or smart tree topper. 

Make sure the lights are on while you decorate, even if it's daytime when you do so. You'll get a much better idea of spacing, as well as what your ornaments will look like as you place them on the tree next.

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The fun part

Decorating your tree is one of the best parts of the season (for some, I admit). If you put your heaviest and largest ornaments closer to the bottom, they have only a short way to fall and are less likely to break. Lighter ornaments can be placed further up the tree since they won't bend the smaller, lighter branches.

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There's no right way to trim

That being said, always keep spare ornament hooks on hand. You never know what has gone missing or broken in the last year.

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Share the love

In my family, we start with the largest, most important ornaments and go from there. And sure, we have hundreds of ornaments of various sizes, and a huge fake tree, but still! Planning ahead is always helpful.

My mother always made my homemade ornaments face the window, "for everyone to see," she said. But I think they just weren't up to snuff with the rest of the tree. Think carefully about what you want guests and family to see when they experience the tree with you. 

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Hidden treasures

Some people like to hide smaller gifts or envelopes in the tree. Be sure to pick a sturdy branch -- and don't forget about it when you open gifts! 

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Final touches

Once the tree is up, it finally feels like Christmas. We finished up by decorating the rest of the house with gifts (yes, already!), garland, stockings and more throughout.

Here are some more tips for quickly decorating inside and outside your home this season.

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All in all, a success!

After a long day, we finally have a tree! Have a happy holidays all, we leave you with a count of what we messed up so that you may learn from our mistakes:

Times we swept or vacuumed: 4

Broken branches the tree arrived with: 0

Broken branches we caused: 2 (while fluffing)

Ornaments on the tree: 58

Ornaments we broke: 1

Times we washed our hands: 5, not including the one before lunch

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