All About Our Jesse Tree

Several of you have asked me to post pictures of my Jesse Tree (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read an explanation here and here).  This post will contain several pictures–I’ve made them thumbnails so the page will load faster, so you can click on each photo for a better view.

PlacementI have kept this project simple and affordable.  I bought a two-foot tree at Wal Mart for $10.  Most of my ornaments cost a dollar or less, and they came from Wal Mart or Hobby Lobby (the latter frequently puts the ornaments on half-off during the holiday season; you can find that info here). 

Here are a few of the ornaments I bought out-right, with no craftiness involved whatsoever (I’m not going to try to link to the particular Bible story, just to save time, but you can find the devotions we use here):

Here is a globe, for the creation story:


Here’s a heart, to represent Mary’s pure and loving heart:


This was meant to be a decorative icicle, but we use it for Queen Esther’s sceptre:


Here’s my favorite–the very last ornament, the one we hang on Christmas Eve:


This next one we use when we talk about King David:


To demonstrate how God used the prophets to unlock the mysteries of the future, we use a key:


This next ornament represents the story of Abraham, Isaac and the ram (and yes, I know this is actually a reindeer, but we’re using our imaginations, remember?):

Another of my favorites, here is a lion for the story of Daniel in the lions’ den.  I’m guessing Daniel’s lions weren’t this cute:


A few of my ornaments come from the small, wooden cut-out shapes you can find at most craft stores (for 50 cents or less each).  They’re very easy to paint–you don’t have to be an artist (I’m certainly not).  Below are some ornaments I made with that method.

One of the earliest devotions is about the fall of man.  I painted this wooden apple and glued on a rubber snake (with three boys in the house, rubber snakes are in VAST supply):

This next one was fun.  To represent Mary and Joseph’s long journey to Bethlehem, I painted this wooden footprint and put brown felt around it like a sandal:

For our very first ornament, in which we explain the meaning behind the phrase "Jesse Tree", I painted this wooden piece:

Of course, what else would I pick for the story of Jonah:


When we learn about John the Baptist coming to prepare the way for Jesus, we use this water splatter design.  Get it?  Water?  Baptism?  This one is kind of a stretch, but it gets the point across:


Noah, of course, got a rainbow (this wooden cut-out was actually pre-painted.) 


For some of my ornaments I had to get a little more creative.  For Jacob and his dream about the ladder to Heaven, I got a wooden cutout intended to be a picket fence for a dollhouse.  I cut off the top points and, VOILA!  A ladder:


The Ten Commandments were easy–this is just parchment-style paper glued to cardstock, and I free-handed it:


When we talk about how God chose Joseph, a carpenter, to be Jesus’ earthly father, I use a hammer made out of aluminum foil and brown felt glued on card stock:


For Joseph’s coat of many colors, I found some striped fabric and cut it out in the shape of a coat (with a cardboard backing to give it form):


During the devotion about God choosing little Bethlehem as a birthplace for His Son, we hang this ornament, made out of craft foam and glitter:


Here is Abram’s tent, made simply out of felt (and again, cardboard backing):


Here is Rahab’s rope–it’s simply twine bundled up:


For the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, I downloaded this picture on-line, printed it and colored it with markers:


For Sarah’s much longed-for pregnancy, I put this scrapbook sticker on cardstock and simply cut it out:


During the lesson about how the Israelites watched and waited for the Messiah, we hang this ornament (a watchtower), which is actually from the dollhouse supply aisle at a craft store:


I cannot express strongly enough what a meaningful tradition this has been for our family.  We always try to emphasize with each Bible story/ornament how that particular episode in the Old Testament pointed toward Christ.  For example, over the weekend we talked about when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden.  We explained that their sin (and our subsequent sin) was why Jesus had to come to Earth in the first place–to save us!  In every story, Christ is present, in one form or another (sometimes it’s subtle).  Looking for that link, and sharing it with your children is, at moments, breathtaking.

For more Jesse Tree resources, see the sidebar at Advent For Evangelicals.

Since this has turned into an All-Jesse-Tree-All-The-Time post, I might as well include a Mr. Linky below and let you jump in.  If you’re writing about your own Jesse Tree project at any point this Christmas season–(pictures are great, but not required)–post your link(s) below.  Please only link if you’re posting about your Jesse Tree.  Non-related links will be removed. 


21 thoughts on “All About Our Jesse Tree

  1. Maren says:

    Thanks Shannon! I’ve been waiting to see what your ornaments look like! They look great and very creative! I can’t wait to start on my own Jesse Tree!

  2. Gina says:

    I never grew up with a Jesse Tree and it’s taken me till your post to finally figure out what it’s all about. I’m not sure if we can manage it this season, but I already have a tree where we hand our “Adornments” and I’ll be looking for those great ornament ideas!

  3. Brenda says:

    What a wonderful tradition! This will be my next project. I’m considerably less creative than you seem to be, but my kids are pretty artsy. I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with. Thanks for sharing yours!
    By the way, I LOVE your header.

  4. Tammy says:

    A friend from my home school group was just telling me about this…it’s something I had never heard of before! Thanks for sharing this and the pictures, so I can get an even clearer idea of this…it’s a great idea! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Kelly says:

    I love the idea to use real ornaments–so much fun to search for the perfect one. This is the first year we are doing a Jessee Tree, and we are just using laminated colored paper ornaments. I think I will check out the Christmas sales and try something like this next year.

  6. misslionheart says:

    Well, as is tradition in our household, the tree goes up on my birthday (today) but as you can see from my blog, it’s not going to plan!

  7. stacey says:

    This is a great idea. I had never heard of it before but I think I’ll talk with my husband and see if he’s interested in doing this with our family. Thanks for all the tips!!

  8. Erna says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I wish you had bundled a bunch up into packets for purchase along the way. :0) I want to start at Jesse Tree or something like that. Oooh . . . yours makes me want to do it even more!

  9. PeanutButtersMum says:

    i love all of your ornament ideas! here are a couple more:
    tie a ribbon around a nail and hang it on the tree to remind you of the sacrifice Jesus made.
    also, show your kids that candy canes turned upside down are J’s, again representing Jesus.
    i have a girlfriend who plans to bake a birthday cake for jesus on christmas day to help her 3-year-old daughter understand what christmas is about.

  10. Theresa says:

    Mines up! Thanks Shannon for sharing this. I never grew up with this and your post back on a WFMW was the first I had heard of it.
    We started today and Sissy had a blast making the ornaments. Like your beautiful ones you so kindly posted, we’ll soon be collecting/making some for next year.
    Thanks again!

  11. GiBee says:

    Thank you, oh creative one! Your ornaments are WAY easier than the ones provided at the site you sent us to! My head is not full of ideas.
    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing this very meaningful way to celebrate Christmas!

  12. Kilikina says:

    I am behind on blogs. But I LOVE your new Christmas blog design. Also, I am totally jealous of this ornament idea. I LOVE it, I absolutely LOVE it!

  13. angela says:

    This is really lovely…we have done Jesse Tree for a number of years and as has yours, it has become a real event.
    We have tried it all sorts of ways, but as you have so beautifully said, the point is focusing on Jesus and helping everyone to make a connection. Great great post.

  14. Pam says:

    Just received one from my sister. She adapted it to include more women – Rebeccah, Miriam, Ruth, Rahab, etc. She also gave us a devotional with each symbol/day.
    Does anyone have a good toddler’s Bible they would recommend??

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