Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Jesse Tree: Made for under $40!

Posted by Angie at 7:37 AM
Meet our family's new Jesse Tree!

Last year was the first I had heard of a Jesse tree.  Here's a more detailed explanation, but essentially it is an advent activity that weaves its way through the Old Testament and the ancestry of Christ to the birth of Jesus.  The ancient church would paint or carve a Jesse tree in the chapel to share the biblical stories with those who could not read.  The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, that "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots."

Today, there are several devotionals and books that share the stories told with a Jesse tree.  To make the activity more interactive, you can make (or purchase) your own Jesse tree and hang an ornament each night with each devotion. A Jesse tree can be made in all sorts of ways, like this one over at Christmas Your Way.

Unfortunately, I am not much of a sewer, so that knocked out cute ideas like this one below from the blog So Happy.

My Jesse tree needed to be a simple do-it-yourself project that wouldn't break the bank (or take weeks to complete)!  Here is what I did.

First, I ordered Geraldine McCaughrean's The Jesse Tree book.  There are lots of great Jesse Tree devotionals out there, like the free one from A Holy Experience, but I wanted something child-friendly and tangible.  I really do love a glossy book.  After reading the glowing reviews, I ordered McCaughrean's book and am not disappointed!  There are 24 beautifully written stories, each only 2-3 pages long.  The illustrations are GORGEOUS too!  

I picked up an artificial tree after Christmas (on sale!), so my next step was to make ornaments that coordinated with the stories.  I contemplated all sorts of ideas, like painting (but I can't paint), sewing (would take me forever), modge podge on wood (a possibility), but when I saw these ornaments (again, on sale after Christmas), I knew I had my Jesse tree ornaments!  These little glass ornaments came 6 to a pack and are heart-shaped.

At the top of each page in my Jesse tree book is an drawing of the symbol that the carpenter in the story was carving that day.  So, I took a picture of each of the images (a scanner would work too, but I don't have one of those), uploaded the pictures onto my computer, and cropped each one so I just had the image.  I tossed all the images into a word document and made them all the same size (about an inch by inch square), added a number to it, and printed them out!  It may sound like that took a lot of time, but it was only an evening of computer time on the couch while watching a What not to Wear marathon!

I printed out two copies of my word document so I had two copies of each image.  Then I taped the images back to back because I did not want there to be a blank side.  Make sense?  In other words, the seventh image is of Joseph's multicolored coat, so I took the two multicolored coat cutouts and taped them together, images facing outward.  One by one, I cut out the little squares, stuck them to one another, and stuffed them into the ornaments.  Easy peasy!

And when they all hang together, they look just beautiful!

Now I just needed something to store them all in.  Again, there are a lot of cute ideas out there, like this one from The Crafty Nest.

But I was going for ease!  So, I purchased this plastic container from Wal*Mart's tool section.  Guess how many storage slots it has?  24!  Doesn't get much more perfect than that!

I decorated the box by lining the bottom with some cute scrapbook paper I found at Hobby*Lobby and added a label to the front of the container.

All the ornaments fit perfectly!

Here is a close up of some of the ornaments, so you can get a better idea of what they look like.  I used twine for their hangers to add a bit of rustic charm (and because I already had it on hand!)

Here's another close up.

In each square, I added a little number sticker, so that we would remember where they all went.  It will probably also be good to practice counting skills with the future kiddo(s).  As you remove each ornament, the little numbers become visible.

Here is what the box looks like empty.

And now for the financial breakdown!  Technically this project cost me nothing (thanks to a variety of Christmas gift cards) but here is what I would have spent.

Book: 9.99 (Christmas sale at and I had a coupon for free shipping)
Artificial tree: 10.70 (66% off at Hobby*Lobby)
Ornaments: 6.81 (4 packages, 6 ornaments in each package, on sale at Mich*aels)
Plastic container: 3.97 (from Wal*mart)
Scrapbook paper to line the plastic container: 1.18 (59. each, bought 2 sheets from Hobby*Lobby)
Stickers to mark the date: 2.98 (2 packs, one in read and one in green, from Hobby*Lobby)
Total: 35.63

Other Notes:
I printed the ornament images on normal printer paper
I already had the twine to hang the ornaments in my craft bin
I taped the two images for the ornaments (back to back) together with acid free scrapbook tape 

And there you have it, our family's new Jesse Tree!  

I'm seriously in love with it!  Probably more than the tree art I made last year for our guest room/nursery.

How about you?  Does your family have a Jesse tree tradition?  Did you complete any fun projects over the break?  Are you going to pin this on your pinterest board for next year?  Seriously, I already have so many ideas for things I want to do in the future on that website!

Much love,
Future Mama 

It's a new year so I am trying something new...Linky Parties!  I'm linking this post up to: 


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Stephanie said...

ooo I really love this!! So pretty! I will definitely have to pin that for next year :)

becolorful said...

I had never heard of this but what a great tradition. Definitely will have to remember this for next year. Thanks so much for sharing on Motivated Monday at BeColorful

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