A Jesse Tree for Advent


{Update at bottom}

It’s such an exciting and beautiful time of the year– advent.

Advent means “the coming”– celebrating and anticipating Jesus’ first coming and celebrating and anticipating His second coming.

The word “advent” has different connotations for each person.  If you grew up in a church steeped in tradition and ceremony, you might view advent as a ritual lighting of candles.  Maybe you had an advent calendar growing up to count down the days until Christmas.

As parents who want to point to Christ, there are many ways we can celebrate Advent.  There are adorable advent calendars, that daily reveal a piece of the manger scene until you have built the entire Nativity on Christmas.  There are schedules of daily readings that you can find and print with Google.  Or you can make a Jesse Tree.

I was intrigued with the idea of a Jesse Tree when I first read about it.  Basically our family will chronologically story through the Old Testament through the month of December until we tell the story of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve.  As we read a story each evening, our kids will hang a symbol from the story on our “Jesse Tree”.  The name “Jesse Tree” comes from Isaiah 11– A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

As you can see, we aren’t using a real “tree”, just a mug tree that usually holds my necklaces.  A branch, a small Christmas tree, a house plant, or anything else with arms to hold the symbols will work.  My symbols are nothing fancy.  Some of them are die-cuts I had in our arts and crafts cabinet, some I drew, some I cut out of foam or felt I already had, and some are clip art I printed from the computer.  I punched holes in them and threaded ribbon through the hole, so each symbol can be hung on our Jesse Tree.

desire is not to create an award-winning art project, but to share stories and symbols with my children each night during the month of December. Stories that point to Christ and His first arrival on earth.  Hopefully the symbols will help them remember the stories as the month wears on and anticipate His “coming”!  And as we repeat this Advent tradition year after year, I pray the stories will become engraved on their hearts.  What a great way to celebrate the season of Advent!

Here is a copy of the Scripture readings and symbols we will be using: The Jesse Tree (Feel free to print it out and use it if you wish!)

There isn’t a formula to making a Jesse Tree.  You may wish to include different Old Testament stories than I have.  Or you may think different symbols better represent certain themes.  The important thing is teaching our children about the true meaning of Christmas!  And don’t feel like you’re too late for this year!  You don’t have to have all the symbols ready today!  Prepare yourself by reading a day or two ahead and reflecting on each story and how best to communicate with your children about each theme.  Then draw or print a simple symbol, and you’re ready!

{Update} Ann Voskamp is offering a free Jesse Tree e-book!  Her book even has pages of symbols all ready for you to print and use, along with Scripture and a family read aloud for each day!  How perfect!  Go download it now if you’d like to do a Jesse Tree in your home this year!

How does your family celebrate Advent?

(Eventually I would like to sew or buy a keepsake set of Jesse Tree Ornaments to use with my children.  Until then, my did-it-myself set will work just fine!)

I found a lot of my information and Scripture readings for my Jesse Tree here.


Author: Sheila Stover

I'm a grace-loving, coffee-guzzling, overseas-living wife, mom, home school teacher and I process it all through writing when I can!

13 thoughts on “A Jesse Tree for Advent

  1. Love this post! Thanks for sharing—-I will b doing this with my kids as well 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing, Sheila! I’ve wanted to do this since I learned about it last year….great idea for advent!

  3. Thanks for sharing! Shepard is too young this year, but will certainly think about this for next Christmas. One idea I had was to go ahead and prep my Advent Calendar and things like this in January and tuck them away. It’s so busy in the Fall that Christmas sneaks up on me. I’d like to have these kinds of things already prepped.

    • I totally agree! I’ve already starting planning for how our Advent will be a little different next year (and we’ve barely started this year!) January is a great (and slow) month for getting this kind of stuff ready for the next Christmas season!

  4. I love this idea! So neat!

  5. you’ve inspired us to do one, too! but after the scouring the house for anything with “branches” and coming up short, we spent the evening drawing on and cutting out a construction paper tree and we’re going to do it on a cork board :). when i was cutting the tree out i started thinking that in just a few years our kids could do something like this one their own for a fun christmas project :).

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