“A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots” – Isaiah 11:1
Yesterday my friend Robina and I co-hosted a Jesse Tree ornament making party – it was so much fun! About 16 of us ladies gathered at Robina’s house last night and we worked together to make each participant a set of 29 symbolic ornaments that tell the story of salvation history, from Creation to the birth of Christ.
The Jesse Tree is a classic Advent tradition that is one of the easiest, most effective ways to teach salvation history to children – particularly young children. It’s a way of inviting them into the Greatest Story Ever Told, and helping them understand that this is not only His story: it’s their story too.
I can hardly believe the response Robina and I had to our Jesse Tree invite. It was only about 10 days ago that I had asked Robina and a few friends on Facebook for ideas of where to purchase Jesse Tree ornaments. I really wanted to start the tradition with my children, as my mother had done when I was little, but I honestly didn’t know where or how to get started. Robina emailed me right back and said “The easiest way is to make them yourself with a bunch of friends! If you recruit moms, I’ll host and we can knock the whole thing out in one night!”
And that is exactly what we did, merely a week later. I was surprised to receive numerous emails with questions about our Jesse Tree party after I advertised it on social media. So I decided to explain exactly how my Jesse Tree came about, and how we’ll be using it in our family this year, in the form of 7 simple, easy-peasy Quick Takes:
1. Ornament Pattern. We used the ornament pattern sold by Leaflet Missal Press. It’s available here.
2. Grab your Girlfriends! We sent email, text, and social media invitations to our local girlfriends advertising a Jesse Tree Ornament Making Party. Robina supplied the ornament pattern, and each mom was asked to bring the supplies needed to complete one set of ornaments, plus a snack or beverage to share.
3. Craft list for each mom to purchase in advance of party. Here’s the supply list we used:
- Small felt squares: Brown, Tan or “flesh” colored, Gold or Yellow, Gray, Purple, Light Blue, Orange, Pink, Red, Royal or Navy Blue, White
- Large sheet Kelly green and large sheet of black felt for the tree and background
- Package of small jingle bells at least 30 (for hanging ornaments)
- Package if small safety pins at least 30 (for hanging ornaments)
- 1-2 spools thin ribbon any color (for hanging ornaments)
- .5″ x 36″ Wooden dowel rod
- Tacky glue 1-2 bottles. This is thick crafting glue NOT Elmer’s
- Some pretty thicker ribbon or cording to hang the banner up with
- Good sharp medium sizes cutting scissors. Worth buying a new pair if yours are dull. Will make a huge difference!
4. Divide up the work. We piled all the felt in the middle of the work stations by color, and each woman made two of the ornaments at last night’s party, 16 of each ornament so that we could each take one home. Then at the end of the night, we all swapped ornaments to form a full set of 29 ornaments.
5. Robina’s Blog. My friend Robina blogs at Motherly Loving. She just updated her Jesse Tree post with all the 2014 readings and prayers for each day of Advent, as well as links to coloring pages you can print out that correspond to each day’s ornament. She’s done all the work for us, making the daily devotions SO easy to follow.
6. Help from Holy Heroes. If you want start a Jesse Tree devotion in your family, but an ornament party and felt ornaments is just too much to add to your plate (Thanksgiving week – I know!) another great option is the Jesse Tree tools created by Holy Heroes. Their DVD includes printable ornaments that you can color and hang on a tree, along with daily videos that teach about each ornament.
7. The Greatest Gift (for you). This is a recommendation for you, not your kids, but I greatly enjoyed reading Ann Voskamp’s book about Advent and the Jesse Tree, called The Greatest Gift. I read it each day of Advent last year and I can’t wait to read it again this year.
My favorite DIY-er’s famous motto is, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!” and that’s very true with this project. Our Jesse Tree ornaments are beautiful because they were lovingly made by Mamas who want to bless their families and educate their children this Advent, not because we are expert artists or seamstresses (Ha!).
Last night was a labor of love, but it was also a fun night of fellowship, laughter, and learning together.
There are still eight days left before Advent starts…there’s still time to pull off a Jesse Tree devotion for your family this Advent. Even if it’s Pinterest printouts that you color with your preschooler’s washable markers, there’s still time and it will still be special and beautiful.
Happy almost Advent! I hope this year is special and fruitful for all of us, and for our children.