Celebrating Advent with a Jesse Tree {Our New Family Tradition}

Jesse Tree

I’ve been reading about this around the web for some time, but haven’t taken the time until recently to discover what Jesse Trees are all about.  So I’ve finally gotten around to it and LOVE this idea!

A Jesse Tree is a way of celebrating advent in the 4 weeks before Christmas, using the story of Jesus found woven through the Old Testament.  The Jesse tree is the family tree of Jesus, and is based on this wonderful scripture in Isaiah 11:1-3:

Isaiah 11

A Jesse Tree is a countdown to Christmas, celebrating Jesus through the re-telling of the story of his coming (advent means ‘coming’), with the story culminating at his birth.  You simply find a way to display and tell the story, using a tree, and devotionals with your family.

Now is that better than a bunch of chocolates behind cardboard flaps?  I think so!

How to Make a Jesse Tree

You’ll need a tree.  Be it a fresh potted tree, a leafless wintry branch in a vase with stones, a wooden stand, a thrift store tinsel throwaway, a cardboard cut-out fixed to your wall.  I’ve seen photos of quilted and sewn trees, of felt trees, of silhouette trees.  Find something that works for your family.

We tried to find a driftwood branch on the beach, but ended up settling with a flax stem with flowers from our back garden which we’ll hang our homemade ornaments on.  We have a pohutukawa tree in a pot next to it, which is a beautiful native tree that flowers just in time for Christmas.  They are not cheap to buy, which is why we’ve settled for a very small one!  But we’ll use this in the coming years for our Jesse Tree. I just loved the idea of having something ‘living’ and native to our country.

When to Start

Some people like to start on 1 December, others start with the 4th Sunday before Christmas.  Whenever you start, make the most of it by having a plan so you have something ready for every day until Christmas Eve.  If you find a great guide online, you can add in or take out pages so you have just the right number of readings for each day.

Devotionals and Decorations

Jesse Tree 6

Our homemade decorations

There are so many great devotionals about, for younger children, for older children and for adults.  Find what works for you (see the end of this post for some additional links).

For this year in our family, we’re going to use a combination of things, including reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible daily using this great plan.  We love how this storybook bible so beautifully portrays the anticipation of the coming of Jesus through each and every story.

There’s also a super one for children, “Jesse Tree Advent Celebration” by Ann Voskamp (‘A Holy Experience‘) that has beautiful colourful decorations to print onto card (we’ll hang these on our regular tree).  We’ve decided to do both for this year, as our younger children will enjoy the Jesus Storybook Bible readings, and my eldest daughter will love Ann’s beautiful words and the accompanying scriptures.

I’ve gathered some beautiful materials from nature including drift wood, shells, and native flax from our back garden, and have made the decorations with our children from self-hardening clay.  They are hung on hemp twine.  Each piece is wrapped individually, and the children will upwrap one a day and hang them on the tree when we read the accompanying daily devotion.  Perfection!

Jesse Tree (3)

Decorations printed from Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Advent Celebration.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the culmination of the re-telling.  I can’t wait to huddle around His Word together and recount the story…

“…they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

We have three miniature boxes from a local fair trade store, each with a precious gem inside to represent the gifts.  We can’t replicate the originals, but are using precious stones instead.  I’m also putting a couple of drops of essential oil in each to make it that little bit more memorable.

Our boxes will sit under the tree as a reminder that the heart of Christmas is Jesus Himself, the King who came and gave us the gift of Himself.

Jesse tree box

Resources, Ideas and Readings

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10 thoughts on “Celebrating Advent with a Jesse Tree {Our New Family Tradition}

  1. Melanie

    Hi Vic!

    Lovely to see you on the forums today! 🙂 And I love your Jesse Tree post. We went out and gathered sticks for ours from a nearby cottonwood tree a few minutes ago and will be putting up our first ornament (a dove, for Gen. 1:2). I think I will integrate your 3 boxes idea too….what a lovely finish! It’s our first year for a Jesse tree as well. Yay!

    1. Victoria Post author

      Hi dear one! It was fun to be there…. although slightly overwhelming. What a lot of information to digest!
      We are on our third Jesse Tree day and loving it. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s ours and we’re enjoying ourselves so far.
      Bless you heaps, love Vic

  2. Susan Evans

    We did a Jesse Tree last year for the first time, and it was wonderful! We were able to focus on Christ the entire month, and the Christmas season was meaningful instead of commercialized.

    1. Victoria Post author

      Hi Amy, great to hear from you! Hope you’re thriving. I’ll be checking in to your blog to see how those precious twins are doing. 🙂 Bless you heaps.


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