The Jesse Tree is a lovely Christ-centered Christmas tradition in our home and the homes of so many others. Here is an introduction this wonderful advent activity and several resources to help you start your own this year!
What is the Jesse Tree?
The Jesse Tree is a story that is pieced together every day during advent, bringing about a complete picture of Jesus. Every day, a special ornament is put on the tree. The ornaments represent stories from the Old and New Testaments that tell of Christ, our Savior. This activity tells the entire Christmas story – the 4,000 year long redemption plan of God! The tradition is called the Jesse Tree in reference to Isaiah 11:1-2. God’s people were living in exile and separation from God. They were as a stump, cut away and bare. But then… Jesus.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
That Branch of life, hope, and restoration? That’s Jesus!
Starting Out? Keep It Simple.
There are many ways to do a Jesse Tree. You basically need a “tree,” the ornaments, and a devotion or reading plan. When we first started, I was overwhelmed with the seeming complexity and endless options. However, we were able to ease into it by focusing on the goal: to make Christ the focus of every day leading up to Christmas. With my kids so young, I knew I had to keep it simple. I tacked a dollar store felt tree to the wall, put some velcro dots on it, and printed out free ornaments. Everything else was about focusing on the reading and pointing my kids to Christ. Now, we use a small fake Christmas tree that we bought just for a Jesse Tree. It comes out with the decorations every year. That way, we can start on December 1 or at the beginning of advent season (beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas) even if we don’t have our regular Christmas tree. We use a beautiful handmade Jesse Tree ornament set that we bought the Etsy store InspiredTraditions a few years ago. The devotions we use change from year to year.
Different Jesse Trees
However, different families choose different ways of doing the Jesse Tree. You can spend as much or as little as you like to get started.
- A real tree or a fake tree.
- A paper tree on a wall.
- Ornament stands.
- Jesse Tree Kits
- Felt trees and/or ornaments you can make yourself or purchase.
- Printable ornaments in color or black and white. There are several free options online to choose from.
- DIY ornaments made from scrap materials, clay, felt, etc.
- Use Pre-made ornaments or have the kids make/color them each day.
- Bible readings from a regular Bible, a devotion, or a children’s Bible.
- Extended lessons and activities to accompany each day’s reading.
There are SO many ways you can do a Jesse Tree. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. Free printable Jesse Tree ornament templates and devotion here at Blessed Beyond a Doubt. Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas – A beautifully written Jesse Tree devotion. For her more kid-focused take on the Jesse Tree, Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift – A gorgeous devotional book with free access (with book purchase) to her beautiful printable ornaments. Let’s Make a Jesse Tree!: 26 Full-size Patterns – Patterns for kids to make their own ornaments with a daily devotion
- Jesse Tree advent devotions to go with the Jesus Storybook Bible at Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs
- Confessions of a Homeschooler has a free Jesse Tree study and printable ornament set.
- The Reformed Church in America web site has great info about making the tree, printable ornaments, and ideas for making your own.
- DIY microwave Jesse Tree ornaments from In Lieu of Preschool
- Cute scrapbook paper tree using magnet ornaments from A Thousand Words
Remember, the goal is to focus on Jesus. Find the approach that fits the interest and season your family is in right now, and give it a go!
For more inspiration, check out my Jesse Tree board on Pinterest. It’s growing all year! Follow Tauna Meyer (ProverbialHomemaker.com)’s board Jesse Tree on Pinterest.