Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

A friend of mine was so kind and organized a Jesse Tree ornament exchange. Jesse Tree ornaments are used during Advent as a devotional tool. The whole idea of the exchange is that each woman makes 27 of ONE kind of ornament, saving each of us from having to make 27 of different ones.

If you want to do this, these are the steps we recommend:

- Start early. This gives plenty of time to get them all made. My friend started in the summer. Figure out how many dates are in the Advent calendar for your year. (2009 has 27 days of Advent so that is why we made 27 ornaments.)

- Email as many different groups of friends you have. You'll need quite a few women to make it happen, based on the number of days of Advent for that calendar year. We needed 27. For simplicity purposes, I will use the number 27 for the rest of this post, but substitute your number, of course.

- Assign each lady a suggested ornament that follows these Jesse Tree devotionals. They are organized by date, but make sure you assign ornaments not dates because different websites list different dates. This again is because this site will update based on the number of Advent days in your calendar year.

- Ask someone in the group to host the Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange party. The hostess should have a 3-ft tree ready to hang the ornaments on. Our hostess asked each woman to bring either an appetizer or dessert, assigned by ornament devotional dates.

- Give the date of the exchange party up front so the deadline is set. Explain that each lady should make 27 durable kid-friendly ornaments to bring to the party. Each should be about 2-inches by 2-inches. Felt patterns may be used but creativity should be encouraged. Remind each lady to familiarize herself with the devotional and be ready to explain why her ornament represents the devotional (especially if she deviates from the suggested one).

- Remind each lady to bring 27 of her assigned ornaments to the Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange. The ornaments should each be in a plastic shoebox-sized bin with hanger hooks attached. They should also bring a 1/2-inch 3-ring binder to store all of the devotionals. We didn't do this, but I think it would be a great idea to ask each woman to put each ornament in a plastic sandwich bag with the date and ornament written on the outside. This way she can file them in the box so they are easy to find. This also keeps the ornaments from becoming tangled. Each woman will take home a plastic bin with 27 different ornaments and a devotional binder.

- You will need to hole punch, sort and print the devotionals on nice paper to hand out at the party. Also inform each lady to bring money to cover the printing costs. My friend changed the font and put each one on it's own page.

- At the party, each lady will stand to explain her ornament and then hang one on the tree for the hostess to keep. It was really fun to see all of them on the tree. And OH MY, the creativity!

- After the party, email an "index" of ornaments and the women that made them and email the file with the devotionals so each family can make changes to the devotional pages as they see fit.

One other idea that was circulated after our exchange was to allow your kids to illustrate the devotional story each night and then you can bind it at Kinko's and save one from each Christmas.

We had a blast at our party. (Thank you, Miranda and Emily). It was so much fun to see what everyone had come up with. My family is also really enjoying the devotionals. I highly recommend doing this if you're interested.

Here are some photos of our ornaments:
These pictures are of the ornaments scattered around the room for each lady to fill her box with.
These are the "stump" ornaments, complete with our family names printed (WOW!):
The "earth" ornaments were laminated and made with food coloring dropped on coffee filters glued to black cardstock paper.
The "fruit" or Adam and Eve ornament were store-bought apple ornaments. Very creative!
The "Noah's Ark & Rainbow" ornaments were made from dough and craft wire was attached with beads to create the rainbow. Love it!
The camel ornaments are wooden. They were ordered online, painted and given eyes.
Oh, the "baby" ornaments. These booties were handmade by our sweet Jenn. Wow!
The "ram" ornament. So cute!
The "Jacob's Ladder" ornament. I made these out of skinny craft sticks held together by wood glue and then spray painted a champagne color. (Because that's what I had on hand). It was simple but measuring and cutting the pieces took some time.
This is the "Joseph's Coat" ornament. There are no words. I love this one! And don't ask me how to make them. Logan is so creative!
The "Ten Commandments" made from popsicle sticks. You'd never know! I love these so much!
The Rahab "Red Rope" ornament. Simple but very creative.
Again, another one I love. The "Wheat" ornament. No idea how she made these but they are perfect.
I loved this variation from the suggestion. She filled a miniature glass ornament with real oil and hot glued the top. I have to keep mine upright in the box so it doesn't leak, but SO PRETTY! The "Annointing Oil" ornament
The "Crown" ornament. My kids are going to love this one!
The "Rose" ornament to represent the Rose of Sharon and God's promises to us. I love that. What girl doesn't love a rose? She was actually the only one who thought to bring each of hers in a plastic bag. Thanks!
Oh, and do not forget the ever-so-creative "Altar" ornament. Don't you just love the pipe cleaner fire? I do!
And the "Whale" who swallowed Jonah. It's so sweet and completely indestructible! My kids will love playing like it's eating someone!
Ok. This one is so great! The "Lion and the Lamb" ornament. One side is a lamb. Other side lion. To represent the peace God will establish again one day. Great stuff!
And the "City of Bethlehem" ornament turned out so pretty. I cannot believe she cut out all those brown cities!
Daniel's "Lion" den ornament. So great!
My kids will love this "Clock" ornament to represent waiting. I would have never thought of this!
One of the most creative variations. Since Zechariah's voice was taken away he wasn't able to worship with his voice. So this is a "Jingle for Jesus" ornament. Isn't that so much better than a picture of a Zechariah man and Elizabeth woman?
And a "Water Droplet" to represent Baptism. So pretty! I wonder where she found these?
And the ever-so-sparkly-and-bright hearts. I love these. Make me think of Valentine's Day!
Okay, this was such a good idea. A paper "Hammer" ornament with a tin foil top. :)
And another great store-bought idea. Flipflops, a.k.a. "Sandals". They walked a long way in sandals. Great!
And lastly, but certainly not least. The "Star" of Bethlehem to represent the day of Christ's birth. These were perfect. Pretty, sparkly and bright to top it all of. Oh, and store-bought, too! My kids keep asking where the star is for the top. I love that it will be the last ornament we hang!
I'd like to give a SPECIAL thanks to Kathy for providing all the pictures!

UPDATE: The Domestic Notebook blog has a slew of great Jesse Tree ideas, as well!


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. I wasn't able to be at the party so it's great to hear a little explanation about each ornament. -Bonnie (maker of the lion/lamb ornament)

  2. Hi - I found your blog by doing a search for Jesse Tree ornament ideas. I am going to be hosting a Jesse Tree ornament making night next month. We're mostly doing paper ornaments and just jazzing them up a little with glitter glue, but I'm taking a few of the ideas from your Jesse Tree ornament exchange and making some more special ornaments. One of the ones that I decided I had to do was the lion/lamb ornament. I got all the stuff and put one together last night as an example, but I wasn't able to find anything to make the little fur layer between his face and mane. I looked all over my craft store, but just couldn't find anything that looked like that. The sample I made is still really cute, but it would be way cuter with the fur, so I thought I'd ask if you happened to know what formed that cute little fur. Thanks!

  3. Bonnie shared the following with us, I hope it helps:

    The lion's fur is made out of yarn. The kind I used is called Elvish Eyelash Yarn by YarnBee. I got it at Hobby Lobby. For each lion I cut a short piece of yarn and glued it in a circle on the back of the lion's face. Glad you like the ornament.

  4. Sara, I am stunned by the creativity of these gals with their ornaments! Several years ago when the women's ministry was called E2 (were you at Grace yet?) I hosted a group and we had a couple of ornament crafting days, but I like so much better the make-them-at-home idea and then get to have a fun party to share them. :)

    I think I have Charlie talked into inviting our 1st graders over for some kind of party during December where I hope we can use an activity or two from the Jesse tree guide. I can't say how much I've loved the Jesse tree over the years with our family!

  5. Hi...I know its been a couple years since you did this, but I came across your blog and LOVE the stump ornaments complete with family initials & names. Do you have any idea how that person did those? Did they order them or make them themselves?

  6. G. Lee,

    Lindsey provided this regarding her stump ornament:

    We found a large branch and sliced it into thin discs. My husband designed the labels and printed them on regular printer paper. We cut out the circles and glued them to the branches with Mod Podge, then when that dried, we glazed the entire ornament with Mod Podge. Small holes were drilled into the top, then twine was used to hang them on.

    I hope this helps! Please send pics!

  7. Are there any templates/or directions for creating these? I would love to make the lion/lamb, but don't know where to begin!!

  8. For the lion/lamb I used a picture of a flower (like a daisy) that I found on the internet as the template for the lion's head/lamb's body. (I don't remember where I found it.) Then I just found something circle to trace for the lion's face. I used puff paint for the mouth. For the whiskers I used plastic whiskers designed for stuffed animal making and cut them down to the appropriate size. The yarn for the mane is called Elvish Eyelash yarn. I think for the lamb's face I printed out a capital letter "U" in the appropriate size and used that as my template. Then I glued the two animals together with a pipe cleaner hook in the middle. Hope that helps. :-)

  9. Any idea what the name of the font on the stump is? It's perfect but I'm having no luck finding it.

    1. Stacey, knowing her husband, it was most likely original. Have you tried Pinterest for font ideas?

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  11. How is the eye hook attached to the ten commandment tablets, please help, I must know, thanks.

    1. It's a really small "eye hook" and the screw part is glued to the back.