A handful of years ago I stumbled across the idea of using a Jesse Tree instead of a traditional Advent calendar and was intrigued. The idea of retelling the story of redemption from Creation to the birth of Christ was exactly what I wanted to be doing with my children during the weeks leading up to Christmas. So I planned and plotted and purchased a stack of beautiful wool felt to make my own… and then found myself busy with other projects so it sat in a box in my sewing closet for a couple of years.
Last year, ready to tackle the project at last, I scoured the internet for inspiration and summoned my inner DIYer. I got as far as cutting out all of the pieces for the tree, pockets, and ornaments, but alas! I never got it sewed together. This year, however, I was absolutely determined to finish it so we could finally introduce it as part of our Advent traditions. I’m very pleased to report that (after staying up rather late on Saturday night) it’s done!
I’m pretty happy with the results and we’ve been enjoying adding one ornament to the tree each evening. This year we plan to read a corresponding chapter in The Jesus Storybook Bible on most nights and read straight from the Bible on the nights when there’s not a matching chapter in the JSB. In the future we might try using The Jesse Tree or a Jesse Tree family devotional for our daily reading.
Having been inspired by a variety of different Advent calendars, I’m also going to occasionally tuck in a piece of candy or a slip of paper listing a fun activity in the day’s ornament pocket. I really love the idea behind The Giving Jar, too, so on some days there will also be a slip of paper with an idea for a small act of kindness we can do together.
Many people make 24-day Advent calendars to start on December 1st, but I wanted our Jesse Tree to be aligned with the church calendar. Since Advent technically begins the 4th Sunday before Christmas (which is sometimes in late November and other times in early December), I made 4 rows of 7 pockets. Christmas will always fall sometime during that last “row.” We will have a total of 28 ornaments, but use them all on years when Advent is shorter.
I’m actually still working on finishing up some of the ornaments, but here’s a sneak peek at the two that are already hanging on the tree. Tonight we’re looking forward to reading the story of the flood and hanging a rainbow!