The response to the free resource Jesse Tree: God’s Big Advent Story has been overwhelmingly positive since it was released in 2019. Several people have shared their own ideas for making and displaying the story symbol ornaments, so we thought we’d share!
Print the ornaments on paper. Our colleague Mimi Larson printed the symbols off on cardstock rather than on label paper—easy peasy! Hang these light-weight paper symbols on a tree or on a pine garland, or simply clip them to a strand of yarn. Display them all at once, or invite kids to turn one ornament over each day in Advent to reveal the story.
Print and color your own set. When Craig Van Hill asked us for a set of the story symbol ornaments his students could color, we were happy to oblige! Here you’ll find the black and white version. Invite kids to make their own ornaments at church and send parents/caregivers the link to the devotions so they can use them at home.
Make the ornaments into magnets. Jill Benson printed the symbols at 50% and attached magnets to the back and clear epoxy stickers to the front of each. Her young kids will have fun playing with these symbols on her fridge or on a large cookie sheet.
Print ornaments on label paper and stick on wood disks. Jill also made some fancy wood ornaments by printing the story symbols on Avery label paper and sticking them on wood slices. These wood ornaments are perfect for hanging on a Christmas tree year after year, and might even become a family keepsake!
Use the ornaments in an Advent Calendar. Sandy Swartzentruber shared this idea based on a DIY Advent calendar from the blog A Beautiful Mess. Print the story symbols and insert them into the envelopes on this easy calendar along with small treats and voila!
Use the ornaments as part of a nativity scene. Use 25 small stones to create a pathway to your favorite nativity scene. Place a different story symbol under each stone along the path. Remove one stone each day to reveal the story of the day. By Christmas you’ll have a path of stories which lead to Jesus. (For ideas on easy ways to create a nativity scene, check Two Super Simple Advent Ideas for Families.) Photo: rhythmsofplay.com.
Provide families with keepsake copies. At Sherman Street CRC, copies of the devotional were printed into spiral bound booklets and tucked inside plastic envelopes along adhesive backed copies of the ornaments and a cover letter; providing families with a way to save and reuse the resource for years to come.
Hang the ornaments on a recycled tree. A family in London, Ontario created their Jesse Tree from an old wooden pallet. Before hanging their ornaments, they used a fine tip marker to number the back of each one.
Decorate a tree made of dowels. Families at Hope CRC in Brantford, Ontario were given simple trees as part of their advent at home package. Karen VanHouten says that for each tree they used a 3/4" piece of plywood for the base, a 1/2" dowel for the trunk and three 3/16" dowels (cut into three different lengths) for the branches. To prepare the trunk for the branches, three 3/16" holes were drilled, each at 3" apart. A 1/2" hole was drilled into the plywood square to form the base. The assembled tree is 24" tall.
How about you? How have you used Jesse Tree: God’s Big Advent Story? We’d love to know!