With Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the frenzy to try to save money, it’s hard to stay focused on the Reason for the Season. I mean, we all have budgets, right? As faith filled parents we are always looking for new exciting ways to bring the Reason for the Christmas Season into our homes. It’s important to us that it remains a prominent focus in the minds and hearts of our children. So,at the beginning of each Advent , we try to add at least one Christ focused tradition to our family’s growing list of traditions. And this season, we all made a Jesse Tree Craft together!
Let me preface this by saying, I am literally the least crafty person you will meet. My skill set begins and ends with coloring in the lines…of a kids coloring book. You see, I don’t have the patience for crafts. They are meticulous, they make major messes, and with a gazillion kids it’s utter mayhem.
However, my kids somehow have a craft gene. I don’t know where they got it, but they really love working with their hands and they are surprisingly good at it. I mean, the last few days have been nothing but making ornaments and picture frames … Cardy even made a machete! Nothing says Merry Christmas like a machete! LOL
Typically my MO during crafts is to hide out somewhere else. Anywhere else. In fact, I have even been known to hide in the laundry room and actually DO laundry just to get out of crafts. Nothing changed with the Jesse Tree Craft. I was MIA for most of it. So, the good news is, even kids can figure it out … on their own. I’ll tell you what I told the kids below …
A Jesse Tree Craft is a tradition we began hearing about a few years back, but it literally dates back to the Middle Ages. They are used to help tell the story of the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story. The name comes from Jesse who was the Father of the great Jewish King David.
A Jesse Tree is very much like the Resurrection Eggs at Easter. A Jesse Tree teaches all the major events leading up to the birth of Christ and introduces kids (and adults) to the people who prepared the way for Jesus.
For us, as Catholics Advent is a time during which we are preparing for Jesus’ birth. I point out that we all wait for something like our birthday, or a trip or Easter, etc. Same with Jesus’ birth. Many waited for the coming of Jesus just as we wait for Christmas morning.
Jesse Tree Craft
A Jesse Tree ought not be complicated. We simply went out into our yard and cut off a dead branch from an Aspen Tree. Unfortunately, there are many of those. In addition to not being crafty, I’m not much of a green thumb.
So, the branch needs to have several smaller branches shooting off the main part so you can hang your ornaments on them. And it shouldn’t have leaves, just keep it simple.
You can go all elaborate with the Jesse Tree Craft, including using a small-ish fake tree. I think after Christmas this year, I will shop the clearance sales and find a pretty fake tree for next year’s Jesse Tree. Regardless, after finding the perfect branch, we took it and stuck it in one of our potting plants and filled it with dirt.
Now that you have your branch, all you need is the ornaments. You can make them yourself or buy them online. One year we opted to keep our costs down so we simply downloaded and printed already made symbols which we then colored and cut out. We glued them to cardboard circles we had cut from a pizza box. Finally we hot glued string to the backs and called it a day.
We found these adorable Free Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments and used these in the past year. They even had the corresponding bible verses to make it super duper easy for you.
Or you can step it up a notch in the creativity realm, as we did this year. I found these awesome ideas for our Jesse Tree Craft.
Of course there are so many options for Jesse Tree ornaments. I’m amazed at the incredibly talented and crafty people in this world.
The Jesse Tree represents the Old Testament up to the Christmas story. Each ornament represents a story from the Bible that tells about God’s people before Jesus was born. Which obviously, makes a great way to spend a few minutes together as a family leading up to Christmas.
Each night starting on the first day of Advent we sit down as a family and say a quick prayer. Usualy we ask God to help us keep Jesus in our minds and our hearts while we await his birthday. We ask for patience and love and we include any prayer intentions for that day. And again we keep it simple, we are not trying to impress anyone with our words and it is our goal that the youngest of our children participate and understand.
Then, we read the Bible Verse associated with the ornament we will be hanging on the tree. After we read and discuss the Bible story, an ornament is hung on the Jess Tree.
It’s funny because our kids all love this. I mean like, who would have thought. They love the anticipation of the story … hanging the ornaments they made. It really is a totally awesome family activity!
We also just added this book and it’s a fave amongst our younger kids.
My next hurdle is to learn about the O Antiphons! Believe it or not, I’m a cradle Catholic and I’m hearing about this for the first time this year! Feel free to pontificate or share resources with me. I’d love to hear about your family traditions for Advent, Lent, Holy Days of obligation, or any other religious days.