Have you ever heard of a Jesse Tree?
“Using a Jesse Tree at Advent involves a series of 25 daily scriptures, devotional readings, and symbolic ornaments. Each day’s theme teaches a piece of redemption history, beginning with creation and culminating with the birth of Jesus. It is visual, interactive, and adaptable to all ages. A Jesse Tree is a great way to lead children through the story and build anticipation for Christ’s coming. Of course, we as parents will benefit, too!” – source
I’m going to explain the simple way we do a Jesse Tree each Advent, but before I go any further, I want to pause and say this: My biggest hesitation in writing this post was that someone would read it, sigh, and feel some level of guilt about doing something like this.
You know… the feeling you get when you spend too long on Instagram, or see someone else’s amazing 1 year old birthday party, or whatever.
You are not allowed to read this and experience mommy guilt. Comparison steals joy. I can’t stand it when I fall into doing something out of guilt/ obligation… Nobody likes that feeling. I’ve written about keeping Advent with our children simple and just doing what works for you over in this post.
If a Jesse Tree raises your blood pressure and stresses you out, don’t do it. Read one verse from the Christmas story in Luke 2 each day, or one chapter in John each day, or one story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.
Advent is about reflecting on what Jesus has done, and what He is doing, and what He has promised to do. It’s about taking time to slow down, reflect, pray, and worship the God of the universe who came to us as a little baby – perfect love incarnate.
A Jesse Tree can be an added way to reflect about Jesus and redemption history, but if it adds stress or becomes the object of our focus, then there’s no point.
Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus at Christmas, friends! And if this Jesse Tree idea is a helpful symbol for you and/or your kiddos, great! Go for it.
The Basic Idea of a Jesse Tree is this:
- Read one Bible Story/ verse per day that begins with creation (Dec. 1) and ends on Christmas Day with the birth of Jesus.
- Hang an ornament each day that goes along with the verse.
NOTE: There are many different versions of a Jesse Tree, with slightly different verses to go with each day. But, every Jesse Tree focuses on Old Testament prophecies of Jesus’ birth and stories of people in His ancestry.
Here is how we are doing a Jesse Tree:
I did a Jesse Tree ornament exchange with some moms one year, and the hostess made these cool verse cards to coordinate a Bible Story for each day with the ornament we made. The cards have the story and the Bible verses that go with it. My friend said you can download and print them for free! (Thanks, Laura!)
There are 4 copies of each card per page because it was made for a group. To use them individually, just print all 3 pages, cut each page into quarters, whole punch the top left corner, and tie them together with a piece of yarn or a binder ring. You could give the other copies to a friend or just toss them 🙂 My friend laminated them for us. Fancy Schmancy.
Where to Get the Ornaments
I did an ornament exchange with some moms one year. Each person chose 2 different days and made 12 of those ornaments. Then we all swapped so we got a whole set. Here’s how a friend and I hosted a super last minute ornament exchange party!
If an ornament-exchange-level-of-crafting sounds like torture, here are some other places to get Jesse Tree Ornaments.
PRINT THEM FOR FREE
Here are some free printable patterns that I found from the Reformed Church Press. Letting your kids color them is probably the easiest. There’s one for each day. Here is the original source where I found them. They have a bunch of ideas for how to incorporate them, but I would just keep it simple. Read the Bible story while your kids color them. Hole punch the paper ornament and hang it with some ribbon on your tree. If your kids are epic color-ers and you want to save them for next year, laminate them 🙂 Or just throw them out and do it again next year.
BUY ON AMAZON
Buy this Jesse Tree Ornaments Coloring Kit, have your kids cut out and color one each day. This one wins the easy-for-parents award.
BUY ONE ON ETSY
There are also tons of cute completed sets on Etsy! Here are a few:
The Jesus Storybook Bible Version of a Jesse Tree
Note: a few of my ornaments from my original exchange broke over the years, so we have shifted to using the Jesus Storybook Bible with some accompanying ornaments. Many of my old ones work for the Jesus Storybook Advent readings and we’ve just added some new ones in that kinda work. Most years, we’re missing 1-2 ornaments and we have to print off the free ones to color. It’s hodgepodge but it works! This doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, friends.
There are 24 stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible from Creation to the Birth of Jesus! You can read 1 story per day and hang an ornament to go with it. You can buy handmade ornaments to go with the Bible, make them yourself, or print out the free ones!
The Greatest Gift Version of a Jesse Tree
One Jesse Tree devotional that comes highly recommended is Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. Some close friends of ours have done this one with their young grade-school and preschool aged children. I also love the adult version of Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional, so I’m guessing the family version is good too.
Where to Put the Ornaments
We’ve always just put our ornaments right on our regular tree each morning. My husband is often working by the time we’re doing this, so the kids like to play “hot/cold” when he arrives home to help him find the new Advent ornament.
Some people I know have a separate little tree or some sticks in a vase that they hang their ornaments on. There is no right or wrong way to do this! You cannot possibly fail! 🙂 Here are a few Jesse Trees that popped up in a quick google search.
So, what do you think!? Have you done a Jesse Tree with Kids!?
p.s. check out my super simple free printable Advent Calendar that your little ones can decorate!