Host A Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

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Many years, our family started a really simple Jesse Tree tradition during Advent, and I loved it! A friend and I threw together a Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange as an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get a bunch of hand-made DIY Jesse Tree ornaments for Advent.

It was much easier to make the same ornament 12 times and trade with friends than it would have been to make a set of 25 individual ornaments for myself! Even the least crafty people in our group said it was easy to search Pinterest & Google and find simple ideas.

A Jesse Tree is created with a set of 25 symbolic ornaments, each representing a different piece of the overarching redemption story of the Old Testament leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments typically coordinate with a story or verse from scripture and can be hung on your regular Christmas tree or on a separate tree. 

My first ornament exchange group used 25 carefully chosen Bible verses. 7 years later, I hosted a second one and we chose to pair our ornaments with the first 25 stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible. We also paired the Jesus Storybook Bible stories with their original scripture references so people could read directly from their Bibles if they wanted.

Everyone’s list of scriptures & stories to cover will vary. You can use this post and my free printables in it freely for your own use. Or you can search more extensively to compile your own list of 25 Advent Scriptures.

Here’s How It Works

We had 11 people in our Jesse Tree ornament exchange, and 25 ornaments to do – one for each day of Advent. So, everyone signed up for 2 ornaments and made 12 exact copies of the same ornament. You could just host a Christmas party where everyone brings their completed ornaments and you eat, drink, swap and be merry!

Because we didn’t plan this idea until right before Advent started, we gave people the option to come make ornaments craft-party style. About half the participants came for the afternoon to finish crafting theirs, and half just showed up for the drop off/ exchange part.

The second time I hosted, I sent invites out in early November. Here is the exact email I sent. Feel free to download & edit however you want.

Download & Edit My Message

Advent Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange Letter

Tips for Passing Ornaments Out

Surprisingly the trickiest part was divvying up the ornaments at the end. You may think it sounds silly, but here’s the process I’d suggest:

  • Everyone brings a container or bag to carry their ornaments home (or the host provides lunch-sized brown paper bags, or clear ziplocks)
  • Lay out piles of ornaments in a line… kind of like this except don’t do them in a square… trust me, put them in a line. The square was so complicated.
jesse tree ornaments ideas
  • Have a sheet that lists the days and the ornaments for people to take home, so they can pair up their ornaments with whatever verse/story method they’re using.
  • Have each person go through the line with her own bag putting one of each ornament in her bag.

If you hate crafts but want Jesse Tree ornaments…

My mantra when it comes to stuff like this is: Do what works for you. If a crafty ornament exchange sounds like a slow, painful, torturous death, buy a Jesse Tree coloring kit for your kids to do on Amazon. Here are some Jesse Tree ornaments on Etsy, or you can just print this kit for free.

If you are drowning in life and have no room for anything but survival, skip a Jesse Tree this year. Instead, spend your free time during Advent reading your Bible, singing carols, hanging out with family, and resting in Jesus’ love, joy, peace and hope.

I have many more ideas for Jesse tree readings and ornaments in this post.

Our Original Scripture Verses

My friend who hosted the Jesse Tree ornament exchange made these printable cards for everyone to go along with the ornaments. She said I could share them with you! CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THEM (and click here to read more details about doing a simple Jesse Tree with kids.)


FYI – There are several 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. The stories and ornaments below correspond with the cards above. If you order different ornaments, you might need to tweak my cards slightly.

Jesse Tree Ornaments DIY | Jesse Tree Ornaments Printable | Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange | Advent With Kids