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How to Celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree

 

How to celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree - This free ebook includes printable ornaments and family devotions appropriate for preschoolers, older kids, and even teens and adults. The DIY devotional includes ideas for making the tree, symbols to use, and even where to find patterns to make felt ornaments. Each day includes a verse, story, reading, song, and theme.

I first learned about the Jesse Tree from a now defunct blog way back in 2009. I fully embraced the idea, creating fancy felt ornaments that first year and writing and rewriting devotions for my young family over the next couple of Christmas seasons.

Eventually, at the urging of my local friends, I compiled my devotions into a (very rough) printable devotional for families with young children. I passed it out far and wide, and lots of friends were able to use it.

A few years after that, when that early free ebook had been downloaded over 10,000 times, I decided to invest in a nicer-looking product. I hired a book designer at a hefty personal expense and had the whole thing arranged into a beautiful devotional that rivals any available at the bookstore today.

Through the whole process, I kept the ebook completely free, as it still is today. As of 2018, it has been downloaded over 50,000 times by churches, teachers, and families, leading me to the hope that it has touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of children.

What is a Jesse Tree?

The Jesse Tree is a special kind of Advent calendar that traces the lineage of Jesus the whole way through the Old Testament, back to God Himself at Creation.

Named for Jesse, the father of the famous King David from the Bible, the Tree of Jesse is a traditional emblem in Biblical art. It is also where the concept of a family tree came from. So when you are studying the Jesse Tree, you are really studying the origin of all genealogy itself.

My Jesse Tree includes devotions on traditional Advent concepts (light, hope, & peace), as well as the following Biblical heroes:

  • God & Creation
  • Adam & Eve
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Sarah
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph
  • Moses
  • Rahab
  • Ruth
  • Jesse
  • Samuel
  • Esther
  • David
  • Elijah
  • Daniel
  • Ezekiel
  • Isaiah
  • Zechariah & Elizabeth
  • John the Baptist
  • Joseph
  • Mary
  • Jesus

It also includes a lesson on the journey to Bethlehem.

There are many different Jesse Tree plans with different characters and ornaments; this is just my personal preference.

At its longest, Advent is 28 days, but often it's much less – you have to leave things out. Some plans use Jonah, for example, but I didn't (and, now ten years later, I don't remember why not). My Jesse Tree devotional is full of beautiful and wonderful stories, but as you probably know, it is impossible to include the entire history of Jesus in 28 very short devotions.

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Why celebrate with a Jesse Tree?

It is so important to me to focus December on Jesus, especially as my kids are thinking about Christmas lists and Christmas cookies and Christmas parties.

Santa comes to our house on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day is so much about presents, and I'm really okay with that.

But the rest of the holiday season, all the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve? That belongs to Jesus, and it's all about the excitement of a coming Savior.

We spend our evenings preparing our hearts for the coming Savior by reading The Word, singing children's songs about Biblical heroes, and praying together as a family. Allie, my younger daughter, talks about The Lord and His Son and what they mean to her, and the rest of us follow suit.

Even as my kids have gotten older, the Jesse Tree remains one of our favorite Advent traditions, practiced nightly after we've finished our family meal.

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How can you do a Jesse Tree?

I made fancy felt ornaments for my tree, but you don't have to get that crafty; I've included printable photo ornaments in my ebook. More on ornaments below.

You only need 3 things to do a Jesse Tree:

  1. Devotions
  2. A tree
  3. Ornaments

The devotions

These will come from my free Jesse Tree ebook. You can, of course, find them all over the internet, but none are as simple and nice as mine. {See how helpful I am?}

The actual tree

I recommend one of two options for your tree. Either make a flat poster-like tree (out of paper or cardboard) to hang on the wall or buy or repurpose a little artificial tree.

We went the super ugly route and got a white plastic-y tree that sits on our dining room table all month long, and I love it, especially when it's so laden with ornaments that the white is no longer visible.

The ornaments

You can print ornaments from the Reformed Church of America and have your kids color them. You could print them and trace onto shrinky dinks. I printed that set, cut them apart, and used them as patterns to make my felt ornaments.

You could print the ornaments in my ebook (more on that below) and use them as they are. Or use them for inspiration to make or repurpose existing ornaments. There are lot of options explained in the book, ranging from easy to elaborate.

Where can you download free Jesse Tree devotions?

Here, of course!

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Each page tells about the central character, the theme, the ornament or symbol, a Bible verse to read and talk about, a song (28 different songs, one for each day), a longer reading about the central character, and a prayer that you can read and pray.

Here's a sample:

How to celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree - This free ebook includes printable ornaments and family devotions appropriate for preschoolers, older kids, and even teens and adults. The DIY devotional includes ideas for making the tree, symbols to use, and even where to find patterns to make felt ornaments. Each day includes a verse, story, reading, song, and theme.

As I said above, this devotional was initially written with preschoolers in mind, but it can be easily used by older kids, teens, and even adults with a sense of playfulness and awe of our coming Savior.

Your Own Jesse Tree

If you try the Jesse Tree tradition, I am certain you will love it. If you can't manage to do a family devotion every night, do 2 or 3 a week. The way the book is set up, you can just pull out the ones you want.

The key to a successful Jesse Tree isn't how many times you do it during the month, and it isn't even about the tree itself. It's about preparing your heart for the coming of the Savior on Christmas Day. It's about helping your children to fall in love with Jesus. It's about loving Him yourself.

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I'd love to see how you do the Jesse Tree at your house! Leave a comment below or stop by my Facebook page to share.

How to celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree - This free ebook includes printable ornaments and family devotions appropriate for preschoolers, older kids, and even teens and adults. The DIY devotional includes ideas for making the tree, symbols to use, and even where to find patterns to make felt ornaments. Each day includes a verse, story, reading, song, and theme.

© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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