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E ach day of Advent, many families hang an ornament that symbolizes a different story about someone on Jesus’s family tree. This popular take on the Jesse Tree Advent tradition helps you trace how God’s plan for Jesus to arrive on earth unfolded over many generations. Making your own Jesse Tree ornaments is a great way to deepen your engagement with each Bible story.

As you make Jesse Tree ornaments, you’ll naturally reflect on the story each ornament symbolizes and how it relates to God’s big story. A little bit of crafting can go a long way to enrich your family’s experience of the Advent story. Making Jesse Tree ornaments doesn’t require an art whiz or Pinterest superstar. It can be as simple as coloring our free printable Jesse ornaments

Use our printable Jesse Tree ornaments

Supplies:

1. Print the ornament patterns

Standard settings for your printer should do the trick. You may want to use a heavier paper type like cardstock to create a sturdier ornament. (This is especially true if you want to reuse the ornaments next year and don’t intend to mount the symbols on wood pieces.)

2. Color and decorate your ornaments

Color in the ornaments with markers, crayons, and colored pencils. Or add dimension and texture with materials like fabric, colored paper, ribbons, sand, and foam. 

As you decorate with young children, try to be intentional about connecting the symbols to the Bible stories they represent. Our family Advent devotional includes a daily devotion and Bible passage that corresponds to each symbol. Read the day’s devotion aloud as kids decorate the symbolic ornament. 

3. Prepare your ornaments for your tree

For keepsake Jesse Tree ornaments:

We suggest gluing each symbol to a blank wooden circular ornament. (You can buy a fairly inexpensive pack of these on Amazon.) 

Cut out your decorated ornament design. Then punch a hole in the ornament design for hanging. Be careful to align the hole with the one in the wooden circle you’ll be mounting the design on. For best results, use the wooden circle as a guide to stencil the hole in the right spot. 

Glue your symbol to the wooden circle ornament. Tacky glue is best, but regular Elmer’s glue works, too, if that’s what you have on hand. Brush the glue on the wood in a thin, even layer to avoid bubbling. 

Complete your ornament by tying ribbon or twine through the hole and hang it on your Jesse Tree. 

For ornaments headed to the recycle bin on December 26: 

Cut out your ornaments once you’re done decorating. Then punch a hole at the top of each ornament. Use ribbon or string to hang your ornament on your tree.

For busy families:

It’s 100 percent okay for kids to enjoy coloring the symbols without worrying about hanging them on a tree. Your fridge works great, too!

Totally DIY Jesse Tree ornament Ideas

Get creative with these 100 percent DIY Jesse Tree ornament ideas.

  1. Collect materials for your ornaments in the great outdoors! For example, you could use bark from a tree for the Jesse Tree symbol. A pine cone angel could remind you of the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream. A shell from the beach could symbolize the story of John the Baptist.
  2. Turn your recycling bin into craft supplies. For example, you could cut a crown out of a cardboard box.
  3. Repurpose common household items. Red yarn could be reimagined as Rahab’s red rope. Filling a clear (plastic) ornament with rice or another grain could help you remember the story of Ruth and Boaz.
  4. Put a twist on a classic. Fill or decorate clear, round ornaments to represent the Jesse Tree symbols.
  5. Use felt or fabric to create your ornaments. You could glue them to the ornament templates or sew your own symbols.
  6. Create origami ornaments. For example, make an origami star symbol.
  7. Use Legos to create Jesse Tree symbols. If you have a child who already loves to play with Legos, this could be a great way to get them excited about the Jesse Tree tradition. 
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Grace Ruiter is digital content coordinator for the Reformed Church in America. If you'd like to connect with Grace, her email address is gruiter@rca.org.