Jesse Tree and Other Advent Ideas

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more! -Dr. Seuss

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

-O Holy Night


Are you wanting something more this Christmas season?

Are you searching for traditions that have staying power with the possibility of being held onto from generation to generation?

I’d like to share with you a growing Advent tradition in our family that we look forward to every December.

It was 2012, I had two children under three years old and I was longing for something to do with my kids during the holidays to bring the focus on Jesus. Enter the Jesse Tree, an idea my friend Ashley had tried with her kids and it seemed like just the thing I’d been looking for.

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If Sally Lloyd Jones would have offered this idea that year, I totally would have gone this route. It’s free, easy, simple and goes right along with the JSB Bible with everything you need. Isn’t this cute?
Photo Credit: Sally Lloyd Jones, Read her post and get the FREE downloads here:

You’ll be so glad you did! It comes with…
a reading guide
printable ornaments
activity ideas
a note for parents from Sally
a special introduction from Sally
NEW coloring page and printable

Things I love about the Jesse Tree Tradition

2020 Advent Night One
Crew & Co.
  1. It can grow with your family. Our first year my oldest was 3 and my youngest 18 months. Reality check: short attention spans. At this age we started with a small tree in their room, a Jesus Storybook Bible and an ornament each night to add to their tree. Since then, more products have been added to aid parents of young children during Advent, like this awesome pop-up book by Ann Voskamp that my family loves. It has the tree, the ornaments, and devotionals all in one! Win! Win! Win!

    This year, now that my kids are all readers, I’m using Crew & Co.’s cards for their personal devotional times during Dec. (as well as incorporating them at dinner time). Super cute and super easy!
  2. You can be a simple or elaborate with each day as you want, but I suggest your first year keeping it simple and asking the Lord to lead you to grow your tradition each year as you go. A few things we do every year to go along with our Jesse Tree stories are:

    We eat Creation Crunch (a snack to help us remember the days of creation) – mini Oreos, animal crackers, m&m’s, raisins, pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, frosted mini wheats, goldfish.
    67635_10151311921181329_3705430_nWe use apples (apple painting, tasting, or baking) when we read about the Fall of Man. Rainbow craft or eat skittles for Noah and God’s promise through the Rainbow.

    I hide 12 rainbow candy canes around the house for Joseph and his coat of many colors to help us remember there were 12 brothers in his family.

    We ride out in the country and look at the stars on the night we read about Abraham.

    We decorate Gingerbread Houses on the day we read about Ruth because she lived in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”).

    On the day we read Isaiah we turn off all of the lights and then light up just the Christmas Tree to demonstrate the darkness before the light of Christ.

    We act out the Nativity story with our cousins when we celebrate our family Christmas (which may not happen this year…sad).

    You get the idea (you can search Pinterest for ideas on most every story that’s covered during Advent). Here’s a link to my board of ideas:
  3. Now that the kids are older I do a full sized tree in our dining room decorated with white lights and gold/biblical themed ornaments. We add Ann Voskamp’s white ornaments that go with “The Greatest Gift” and I try to wrap each one and number it (usually I try to find craft paper sacks for the simplicity). We use this book mainly for a daily guide and love the illustrations, but I highly recommend looking up these powerful scriptures in your Bible. Use her scripture references and read aloud from God’s Word to gain the most impact for discipleship.

    This version is my new favorite!

    As you grow your Jesse Tree tradition year after year, your kids will look forward to it and you’ll look back fondly on how much each of you have learned as the years have gone by. Some of my warmest family memories are us huddled up by the light of the tree focused on our Savior.

    Year One
    IMG_2089IMG_2078In 2017 we added the tradition of lighting Advent candles every Sunday night in December.
    It was such a hit that I ordered this to use in the center of our table to light our nights and mark each day of advent. Bonus it doubles as an Easter decoration and teaching tool, too!
    Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 8.56.55 PM.png
    And also the Messiah Manger to go with it. Loved the idea behind this one!
    Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 8.58.27 PM.png

    Although we have lots of fun with it, my kids will outgrow Santa and they’ll one day soon get too big for the Elf. The presents in a short time will be cast aside. Life changes, the traditions of men may shift with the wind, but the Jesse Tree is rooted in something eternal that will not tarnish, nor grow old or out of style.

    This year more than ever I feel we need the hope that the Word of God brings. It is living, active, and worthy of our attention. We see that people throughout history have struggled through dark times and God’s promises never wavered. What better way to be found faithful as we anticipate Christmas than to take time during this season to focus on what truly matters.

    I hope this post leaves you inspired to try something new this season or grow your own Advent traditions.

    P.S. Two other ideas we haven’t tried are the Star from Afar and The Shepherd’s Treasure Book. We love the Star Kids Company Easter tradition (we use it every year!), so I know I would love this Star from Afar as well.

    Other Advent devotionals I love:
    “Behold the Lamb of God” by Russ Ramsey
    (Also see the Soundtrack by Andrew Peterson)

    “Little Hearts Prepare Him Room” by Holly Mackle