Jesse Tree Advent Calendar and DIY Ornaments

A few weeks ago, I participated in a Jesse Tree ornament exchange with 24 other moms. Eli's a little young to understand, but, let's be real. He doesn't really understand anything yet besides food and sleep. With all that talk about traditions the other day, this is one of them I do want to implement this year (mostly because I actually have everything to do it) and I figured we could swap this with his bedtime read of the Jesus Storybook Bible, to help us get into the mindset of Advent. 

If you're not familiar with the Jesse Tree, it's a Christ-centered advent countdown with each ornament representing the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus and is the story of God's salvation plan. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."

There are lots of ways to get the ornaments for the Jesse Tree, you can print them (here's a great list of FREE printable kits), you can purchase them from a shop like this or this on Etsy, and even Walmart sells them, or you can make them. But since I would probably fail miserably at trying to make 25 different ornaments that are creative, child-safe and something I would actually want to display, an ornament exchange is BRILLIANT. Basically in the exchange, each person is assigned a different ornament and tasked with duplicating it 25 times, then the group all gets together for a night to exchange them so each person goes home with 25 different ornaments. It's way more efficient and affordable this way, and bonus, you come home with a ton of ornaments that are way better than anything you could have made on your own. 

There are several books associated with the advent calendar that you can purchase, such as The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean (on my Christmas list), or you can just use the scripture associated with each day and read from the bible. There are also a couple free resources online such as, Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional and Jesse Tree Devotions. (A quick word of warning on this one - while it's very child-friendly, it doesn't follow the same days as the ornaments below. It's the one we started out with, but pretty quick, we just switched to scripture.)

There are a handful of ideas out there for ornaments, but in my search for examples, I didn't find a lot, so I thought I'd share them here if anyone needs inspiration. If you have any questions on hosting an exchange or have other ideas for implementing The Jesse Tree into your family traditions, please let me know, I'd love to hear from you!

Day 1 – Globe
Story of creation: Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-4

Day 2 – Apple and Snake
Story of the First Sin: Genesis 3:1-10, 23; Isaiah 53:6; 1 John 1:8-10; Isaiah 59:2

Day 3 – Ark with a Rainbow 
Story of the Ark: Genesis 5-9:7; Romans 6:23; Joshua 23:14

Day 4 – Camel and a Tent
Story of the Call to Abram: Genesis 12:1-7; Hebrews 11:8; Matthew 1:1

Day 5 – A Lamb
Story of Isaac and the Lamb/Ram: Genesis 22:1-13; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19

Day 6 – A Ladder
Story of Jacob’s Ladder: Genesis 27:41-28:22

Day 7 – A Colorful Coat
Story of Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors: Genesis 37-50, especially 50:18-21; Romans 8:28

Day 8 – A Tablet with Numbers
Story of Moses and the Ten Commandments: Exodus 1-15; 20; 32:15-18; Psalm 119:11; Galatians 3:19

Day 9 – A Cluster of Grapes
Story of Canaan, the Promised Land of Blessings: Numbers 13-14:38; 24:17; Psalm 103:2

Day 10 – A Sheaf of Wheat
Story of Ruth and Boaz: Ruth 1-4; Matthew 1:5

Day 11 – A Slingshot
Story of King David: 1 Samuel 16-17

Day 12 – A Scroll or Bible
Story of Josiah Finding the Law: 2 Kings 22-23:25; Psalm 119:105

Day 13 – A Stump with a Fresh Shoot or Leaf
Prophecy of a Shoot from the Stump of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-5, 10; John 1:14a; 1 Samuel 16:13; Revelation 5:5

Day 14 – A Lion and a Lamb 
Prophecy of the Lion and the Lamb Resting Together: Isaiah 11:6-10; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 21:1-7; Philippians 2:9-11


Day 15 – A Dove and a Crown 
Prophecy of the Prince of Peace: Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:2-7; John 14:27

Day 16 – A Lamb and a Staff 
Prophecy of a Gentle Shepherd: Isaiah 40:9-11; Psalm 23; John 10:27; John 10:11-16

Day 17 – A Cross 
Prophecy of a Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53; Luke 2:8-18; John 19:11-18; John 10:15; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22; Romans 5:9-10

Day 18 – A Heart with Writing on it 
Prophesy of the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-24; Acts 16:31; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Hebrews 8-10

Day 19 – Bethlehem 
Prophesy of Bethlehem: Micah 5:2-4; Luke 2:1-7

Day 20 – A Fiery Furnace 
Story of the Exile: 2 Kings 17:1-23; 25:1-17; Daniel 3; Jeremiah 1:8

Day 21 – A Brick Wall 
Story of the Return to the Land: Ezra 1; Nehemiah 6:15-16; Malachi 3:1; Revelation 22:20

Day 22 – A Star 
Story of the Star: Matthew 2:1-12; Numbers 24:17; Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19

Day 23 – A Candle or Light 
Story of the Light of the World: Luke 1:26-56; 2:21-33; John 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Isaiah 42:6; John 8:12; Revelation 21:23-24; Isaiah 60:1-3

Day 24 – An Angel 
Story of Angels Proclaiming the Coming of Christ: Luke 2:8-14; Hebrews 1:1-4; Psalm 91:11

Day 25 – A Baby in a Manger 
Story of the Birth of Jesus: Matthew 2:1-7; Luke 2:1-21


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