Last year, I was introduced to the idea of a Jesse Tree as a purposeful way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and our family loves it!
The name “Jesse Tree” comes from Isaiah 11:1-2: 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 power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”
The Jesse Tree idea centers around Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophesy being the “stump of Jesse”. I had a blast beginning to assemble my own homemade ornaments to add to our tree throughout the Advent season. Each ornament represents a different story, starting at the beginning of Creation and working all the way to the coming of Christ Jesus. Each reading shows how all the Old Testament points towards the coming of Christ as the Messiah. The Jesse Tree gives such a beautiful picture into seeing how each story of the Bible speaks about God. Each story is a little whisper of His name and a glimpse into character, plan and purpose. The Jesse Tree is a form of Advent, in which you read one story each day from November 30-December 25. It is a fun and purposeful opportunity to sit down as a family and read more about His coming, but also have a visual representation through each ornament.
We used the The Glorious Coming: A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp. It includes all the daily reading plus paper ornaments that you can print and cut out for your tree. Ann’s readings are excellent and very thought provoking and suitable for all age levels. Discussion questions included. She recently updated to include black and white versions of the paper ornaments so you have the option of decorating them yourself and larger editions that can be used as coloring pages for the kids while you are reading the Advent devotions. I wanted to make my own ornaments, so we assembled our own ornaments and will be gradually adding a few more each year until we have a complete collection. I did not want to attempt to put it all together at once. 26 ornaments takes time. Why rush? Making your own is a fun way to include your children in the process. It can be very frugal, as most of our ornaments are simply made with felt and twine. I purchased a little 2 foot tree at my local Goodwill for $5 for which to hang our ornaments. But, the ideas here are endless!
I have included below the pictures of our current collection, in no particular order…
The Crown – this ornament represents King David. I found this wooden design at Joann Fabrics and drilled a small hole in the top from which to hang the twine.
Scepter - this is made of red felt using the outline of a scepter image.
Lion - Another wooden design I found at Joann Fabrics. Daniel & the Lions Den is not included in the Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree edition, but we added it for our own enjoyment as it is in many other Jesse Tree readings.
Heart- I painted a wooden design with red wood paint.
Dove - I found an image online that I cut out and traced onto blue felt for this ornament.
Wolf & Lamb – this is one I am not too proud of. This is the image provided in the Jesse Tree book that I glued to felt. I painted the wolf, very poorly, as you can see.
Rahab’s Cord – A thin strip of red felt bunched together.
Jonah’s Whale -obviously a dolphin, but it get’s the point across.
Sandles representing the Journey to Bethlehem - another wooden design that I found at Joann Fabrics.
Nativity - representing the birth of Jesus. This was a plain unpainted ornament I found at Joann’s. I used wood paint to decorate.
Wheat – This is dried wheat that I cut into a small bushel to remind us of Ruth.
Ram – this is a little toy ram I found.
Jesse’s Tree – yes, its a palm tree, but again, it gets the point across. Jesse’s tree is used to represent the lineage of Jesus.
The Ten Commandments – I used two pieces of felt and a permanent black marker to make this one.
Apple - This is supposed to represent the fall and the forbidden fruit made from felt. Obviously, I need to work on my snake making skills.
Abram’s Tent – made from brown felt. Looks more like pants.
The Rainbow – representing Noah’s Ark and the Flood. I painted this rainbow on a small circle of wood.
Jacob’s Ladder – this was a little wooden fence I found at Joann’s. I just cut off the sides a bit to make it look like a ladder and painted it.
Water – I purchased this ornament this year to represent John the Baptist.
In addition, this year I am going to add a earth globe to represent creation (still trying to find something, but this ornament looks awesome, but spendy!) I also am making a hammer ornament out of brown & gray felt using this image for Joseph the carpenter, and a robe of many colors for Joseph out of colorful fabric. That will bring us up to having 23 of the 26 ornaments used for the Jesse Tree.
Jesse Tree has made our holiday celebrations so much more purposeful and meaningful to our whole family. I highly encourage you to join with us in using this tool this year! If you choose to make your own, I can assure you that you don’t have to get them all made before November 30. I made most of my ornaments as we went along last year. They make fun crafts to make during the Advent season.
Other Ornament Ideas & Resources:
3D Jesse Tree Ornament Kit – buy a set of ornaments, color and enjoy!
Jesse Tree Kit – another nice set of ornaments
Jesse Tree Pattern – print out and color your own set of ornaments with this free download or use it to get ideas for your own.
Jesse Tree: A Family Oriented Way to Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas - Simple Mom shares an accumulation of different ideas for making your Jesse Tree.
All About Our Jesse Tree- Shannon @ Rocks in My Dryer shares images of her homemade Jesse Tree Ornaments. I found a lot of inspiration from her designs!
Republished from November 18, 2009
For those that are interested in getting started on a Jesse tree for advent this Christmas (without a lot of preparation) I have free printable black and white Jesse tree symbols to print and colour at my blog: http://angathome.com/2013/10/20/our-jesse-tree-symbols-for-advent-2013/
I love this. I am going to send it to my daughters to read and maybe have a Jesse Tree for the grandchildren. I wish I had read this when my own girls were small.
Is the ebook by Ann Voskamp still available? I visited her blog and subscribed but I haven’t received a link to the free ebook until now. Thanks for this…though my children are already growing teenagers, we are excited to start this “tradition” aside from the devotions we do to exalt Christ during this busiest time of the year. By the way, I’m from the Philippines.
She always has a link at the bottom of her RSS feed.
Hi Lindsay! I love this idea and would love to start it this year. I’ve been searching but it doesn’t look like The Glorious Coming or the Jesse Tree Ornament handmade sets are available. Do you happen to know if they’ll be coming back? Thank you .
The Glorious Coming has been re-written by Ann Voskamp. She offers it free to all subscribers to her blog : http://www.aholyexperience.com.
Lindsay, I absolutely LOVE this! I’ve never heard of this before! Definitely going to start this with my family! Question though: Where did you get the water ornament or did you make it?? It’s so cool! Thanks for all your blogs! They’ve been such an encouragement to me as a homemaker!
I posted the link to the water ornament in the post above. You can find it here.
Yes, it will be available November 27th!! It’s coming!
here is a globe ornament that isn’t pricey!!!
That’s funny! That is the exact one I stumbled upon myself while at a recent stop at Crate and Barrel. Cannot beat $3.99!
We are making a scroll out of dowel rods and cardstock to represent the prophets. I will probably write the names of the prophets on the scroll. I found cute ornament cut outs at “The Advent Event.”
Hey Lindsay! I told you I would comment again when I posted our own Jesse Tree. Here’s the permalink to the post – http://buildingwiththreads.blogspot.com/2009/11/celebrating-advent-jesse-tree.html
Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I ordered the e-book and spent about $10 at Hobby Lobby and got almost half of my ornaments, all cute little wooden cutouts! I am making several from felt and such. I am so excited about starting this tradition with my family.
Do you have the actual book, or are you using the ebook? Any advantages/disadvantages to either one? I don’t think we would receive the book in time if I ordered it now.
I have the ebook. I don’t see any advantage to having the book form unless you really cannot stand reading from a computer.
Phew! I was hoping you’d say that! )
Thanks so much for this post! My daughter loves doing an Advent calendar but I’ve been loathe to do a cheesy chocolate filled one from the store. I ended up buying the e-book you highlighted and we’re going to be putting together the ornaments over Thanksgiving weekend. What a wonderful way to take children through God’s amazing path to our redemption!
This is a wonderful idea. I think we are going to try it this year. BTW, I think your homemade ornaments look great. Years down the road, your children will treasure them because you made them.
Thank you for this, I have been looking for a way to make this year more Christ centered for the kids and this is great. I had never heard of this before. I found the perfect tree at the 99 cent store. It comes out of a wood stump! Perfect size for the side table,the kids can reach and touch and enjoy!!
thanks for sharing – I too just heard about the Jesse tree this week and am planning on doing one. I think we are going to stick with simple paper ones this year, but I love the ideas on making your own and I plan to keep a list of the symbols listed so I can watch at Joanns, Hobby Lobby and Goodwill and hopefully have something more creative next year – and hit some nice clearance stuff this year
Oh, how I love this idea! I have never heard of a Jesse Tree before. I have been out of my parents house for 4 Christmases (this will be my 5th) and am always looking for new traditions that will be ‘mine’. I absolutely love the idea of a Jesse Tree and the principle of showing Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament. I am so excited to start making ornaments! : )
This post is so timely. I’ve been thinking about doing something similar and googled “Jesse tree” but became so overwhelmed. Your post broke it down for me. Thanks!
I just picked up THE JESSE TREE by Raymond and Georgene Anderson…it is only $5.99 at Amazon and it has all the ornaments with story and scripture on back that you can cut out…it is really beautiful!
I have considered doing a Jesse tree for the past couple of years, but it always slips to the bottom of the list. Your ornament pics were a great help. As for the earth/Creation ornament, you could try making a marbled glass ornament (http://crafts.kaboose.com/marbled-glass-ornaments.html). We have made these a few times and the one we made using blue/green/white looks very “earth-y”. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing this. No children for me and my husband yet, but I’m trying to contemplate things now so that when we do, we’re prepared. This is a great idea as a way to bridge our faith with the culture we live in–still let the little ones have the fun tree that they see everywhere but show that it truly MEANS something. I also love the homemade ornaments, definitely adds personality!
We are going to do a version of this too. I was also introduced to the idea last year. I have really enjoyed seeing your ornaments. Thanks!
What a beautiful idea. And followed through with so many lovely examples and useful links – thank you so much for sharing this.
best wishes, Julie.
I have a question. I noticed in your pictures that you have a sceptor for Esther. In downloading a couple of different sets of material for following this they seem to have omitted Esther. Where does Esther fit into your order? And are there various orders out there?
Esther is included in the Ann Voskamp’s edition of the Jesse Tree, right about in the middle. I have seen one or two different editions but this one has definitely been the most thorough as far as I’ve seen.
I have to say, that even though I am not affiliated with a Christian church, I find your Christ-centered adaptation of decorating a Christmas tree very beautiful and inspiring. I was raised as a Christian, but unfortunately in a church and family setting that were truly awful (I won’t go into detail). Since then, I have found ways to express my spirituality that don’t bring up the horrible emotions and memories of my childhood. Your website and your thoughtful and loving approach to Christianity, to your personal spirituality, to your family and your home, all give me a chance to experience the best of what true Christianity has to offer. Thank you for being a shining example, and someone who is obviously a humble follower of Jesus, because there are those of us who have been hurt by the church and by self-professed believers, and we can have a very hard time overcoming our fears and perceiving the freedom you seem to have in Christ. Blessings to you. I hope that your family has a very Merry Christmas.
Randi- I’m sure there’s nothing one can say to help you overcome your past, but please know that I, along with other Christians I’m sure, will pray for your deliverence from these past chains. I too had horrible past experiences, but through many years of counseling and faith in God, have been able to overcome them and experience healing. Remember, the Lord is NOT the sum of his “followers,” he wants you just because you are you… I hope you find peace.
Chastity – you are so kind to say that. I do still focus my spirituality upon the person of Jesus, what he taught during his life on earth, and I still celebrate the grace I experience in Christ. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are Christians who are very compassionate and wise. But I just find I can not identify myself as a Christian, or feel comfortable in a Christian church. And for me, the sight of a cross or crucifix, and the focus upon sacrificial death is terrifying and grotesque, whereas other people might see those concepts in a completely different light. I love my God, and Jesus, and I pray and try everyday to become the woman God would mold me into, but I still receive condemnation from the Christian community and my family. Thankfully, I know that they do not speak for God.
I feel for you and I wish I could give you a hug right now. I have met so many who feel the way you do and I agree, it is so refreshing to find this blog and those who follow in the steps of Jesus. I am so sorry that you are receiving condemnation and I also will include you in my prayers that Jesus will reward your hearts desire to become the woman He would have you to be.
As catholics, Advant is something we celebrate every year, but I have not done the Jesse tree before- what a good idea. I found a great website with other ideas for Advent/Christmas… just click on the “Advent/Christmas” icon. Some of the ideas are a manger for Jesus that the children get to add hay/yarn to every night then a baby Jesus gets put in the crib by the parents on Christmas eve… we’re using oatmeal boxes cut in 1/2 to do this. Hope you find this helpful!
found your site looking for advent celebration ideas – it i lovely
oops – i meant “it IS lovely”……. typing with a three year old my lap is always fun
Okay, I cannot express to you how much I LOVE this idea!! We’re definitely going to look into this for our own holiday tradition. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
I had no idea that Ann Voskamp had this book out. I’ve been reading her blog for a while. How did I miss this? I started making our own Jesse Tree ornaments, but I’m behind and I don’t think I’ll be done in time either. This looks like a great alternative. Thanks for sharing. I’m on it!
I love this! I’m in the middle of making our Jesse Tree as well, but I’m doing a felt banner tree, and each symbol is mounted on a felt leaf that we’ll add day by day. The women’s ministry at our church put together a 30-day Advent Bible study several years ago, and it will be the material for our evening family worship time beginning on Nov 26, which just happens to be Thanksgiving night this year! I’ll post another comment with a direct link to a blog post when I complete the project and blog it.
This is a wonderful idea! I too have been struggling with ways to make this coming season more meditative and purposeful. I love the idea of making a few ornaments each year so that it’s not overwhelming – my nature is to want to do it all, get overwhelmed and do nothing! Although our 16 month old might not understand a lot of it yet, I am sure it would be quite a meaningful reminder for my husband and I and a great tradition to get established.
What a great idea! Thanks for sharing! This is the first I have heard of a Jesse Tree but I’m always looking for ways to celebrate that remind us of our Jewish roots (that we Gentiles have been “grafted in”) and to celebrate more intentionally.
Also, have you read “The Jesus Story Book Bible, Every Story Whispers His Name”? We love it as a great reminder that all of history is about Jesus!
Oh, I am really excited about this! I was raised in an unbelieving home, so I have struggled to find ways to make Christmas more Christ-centered. I have a two year old, so I think we’ll do the ornaments that you color, to keep her engaged. I’m thinking about mixing it with an advent calendar so that she can open a door or something each day to find each ornament she gets to color. That might make it fun for her! Thanks so much for your website, it has been instrumental in helping me focus on God and my family.
This is great, Lindsay! I would love to do this, just trying to figure out how. How do you work it into your daily routine? What happens if you miss a day?
Thanks for your amazing site!
We usually do our Advent readings each evening before we go to bed. The readings are actually pretty short (5-10 minutes or so in length), so if we miss a day it is not hard to catch up by doing two readings the next night.
i really like this. i have read about it in previous years, but am thinking that this will be perfect for a 4yr old and 2 yr old boy this year. we do have a special advent “calendar” with drawers that i put the bible verse in (along with a small chocolate) so we do a short scripture reading, prayer, and song every night of advent. but i think this might engage them more with the visual reminders.
thanks for showing us your ideas!
That’s a very good idea. We might think of incorporating this into our traditions at Christmas Thank you!
This is a great idea! Our Pastor’s wife does a tree like this and mentioned that we might want to do it in our church. We are going to set up 2 trees and ask the families to make the ornaments to add to them each week. I think that I will get the book so we can do the daily readings and explain each type of ornament. We didn’t just want the church to look nice, we wanted to keep the season centered on Christ- this is a perfect way to that.
Advent has always been my favorite time of year because of traditions that our family has had. I nannied for a family that had something very very similar to this Jesse tree. I great addition was that Grandma had made neat felt ornaments and also a “calendar” made out of cloth with pockets for each of the 25 days of Dec. leading up to Christmas. As the days past during eve. family devotions the children took turns taking the next ornament from the right pocket and then Dad led a devotional that talked about how this ornament reminds of Jesus. It was already becoming the kids favorite part of Christmas.
Our family has always had an advent wreath that we light each eve. of Advent and spend about 10-20 min together singing Christmas carols and listening to an advent devotional that Dad will have researched and have to share with us that year. As we have gotten older we have begun to use this time as a witnessing and fellowship tool. We invite our neighbors (and other friends) over for cider and cookies during the Christmas season. This is a lot easier for most people to fit in that a whole meal and then we ask them to join us in singing some Christmas carols. Even unbelievers know these songs so it is fun and comfortable for them and gives us an opportunity to share as Dad leads in a short but meaningful devotional.
I love your focus on advent here! Keep up the great work!
This is a great idea! I’ve been looking for ways to bring the real meaning of Christmas into our home besides just reading the birth of Christ. Which I love, but this brings it to life for my children..thanks Lindsay!
What a wonderful idea! I have 4 small children and I know they would love this project. I heard of the Jesse tree las year, but wasn’t really sure what it was about. Thanks for sharing your tree. The ornaments are wonderful!
We’re going to start this Christmas, so I was excited to see your post on it! There are some great ideas, and I’m thankful for those of you who share them b/c it’s so helpful to see the pictures of each ornament. I was starting to feel overwhelemed about collecting all 26 in the next few weeks. Great point that we don’t *have* to have them all the first year ha ha! Your posts on the holidays have been encouraging, Lindsay.
Beautiful. I have been looking for something that will draw us closer as a family and to the Lord this Holiday season. This is a great idea.
I am l.o.v.i.n.g. your website. Such great ideas! I have incorporated many into our home life so far and it has been awesome.
God bless you and your sweet family.
We use the Jesse Tree from the book Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes. We love it too! Although, our ornaments/stories are all very different. I guess truly we could use the whole Bible and every story. =0)