I’m the first to gripe about “Christmas Creep” and how people keep trying to make Christmas happen before its time, which, in my opinion, should absolutely never be before the day after Thanksgiving. (Mostly because Thanksgiving is one of my favorites.) However, I spent the last week obsessively working on finishing the Advent calendar I started making for the girls in 2013. It was a bit more than I could achieve when the girls were one, but now that they’re three, not only do I have more time to craft, I really think they’ll enjoy incorporating this tradition and get something out of it. And I’m writing about it now because if you start soon, you’ve got time to make one before Advent starts, too. But not if you have two one-year-olds — take it from me and take it easy on yourself.
Celebrating Advent has always been part of my family and faith tradition, a way to focus on the “reason for the season” as my dad loves to say. Growing up we had an Advent wreath and candles, and I remember doing family devotionals sent home by our church. Through friends, I heard about the Jesse Tree tradition, which uses the whole “out of the stump of Jesse” prophecy from Isaiah to tell the story of Jesus’s family tree through ornaments and a tree. Each ornament corresponds to a Bible Story about one of the members of Jesus’ family tree, so each day leading up to Christmas, you take out an ornament and read the corresponding scripture. One friend even hosted a Jesse Tree ornament party a few years back, where everybody was assigned one ornament and made enough for everyone, so each guest left with a complete set but only had to make one type of ornament — fun and efficient!
Lots of people put the ornaments on their actual Christmas tree or on a smaller table-top tree that they use just for the Jesse Tree. I had seen many beautiful felt and fabric Advent calendars, so that’s what I had in mind. I love the idea of making a normal Advent calendar slightly more scriptural, so I started looking for Jesse Tree Advent calendars. I wanted to make something that my family could use for years to come and remember fondly, so I bought a kit from an Etsy seller that included patterns, instructions, and all the supplies. My kit was $60, but it looks like my seller is no longer selling the kits, just fully handmade calendars for $390. While I love my kit, I can’t imagine having paid nearly 400 bucks for a completed calendar, though I know that it’s worth that with all the painstaking work that goes into it. So painstaking, in fact, that I modified my calendar– I used puffy paint on the felt to make the ornaments instead of hand-sewing tiny layers and appliques, and I machine-sewed the body of the calendar. I have come to accept that I am just not a fan of embroidering. It’s beautiful, but tedious and frustrating.
Still, I didn’t want to write about finishing this beautiful thing for my family and then be like, sorry, folks, good luck to ya. I found a few felt Advent calendar patterns that I think you could fairly easily adapt into Jesse Trees by swapping out the ornaments, either by making these felt ornaments, by trying one of these other kits, or by buying a set of already–made Jesse Tree ornaments. There are also lots of free tutorials for making felt Jesse Tree ornaments online.
Is a Jesse tree part of your holiday tradition? Do you celebrate Advent in other ways?
4 Replies to “I’m already obsessing about Advent”
I have not done the Jesse Tree Advent but have always used a Hallmark Advent Calendar when I had my in home childcare. Since having my two little ones (son-4 and daughter-2 last one is my baby with SB) I was super excited to find Fisher Price Little People Nativity Advent Calendar. Christmas is fun but I wanted a way to focus in on Jesus being the “reason we celebrate Christmas”. I surprisingly had 25 Nativity story books that I assigned and we read each day for each felt Nativity piece. It was a fun way to start our day and teach my kiddos of the story of Jesus’ beginnings. I plan to do the same thing again this year especially since my son has already requested it!
We have and love a Little People Nativity. This year, I need to get the shepherds for it, because it’s the only part we’re missing!
We love the Little People Nativity too…we have the shepherds as well as the wisemen! I have wonderful memories of playing with my parent’s plastic Nativity Scene under the Christmas Tree. It has been fun to watch mine do the same with their own adorable Nativity.
I grew up in Catholic school, and we had a Jesse tree Celevration every year. Each classroom was assigned one or two ornaments to make as a class, and class representatives were selected to put the ornaments on the tree during a special ceremony where he junior high kids read the scriptures. It is a great memory for me and I love that you are celebrating it day-by-day at home! So fun. I don’t have kids, but I want to make one of these for myself anyway. ;)
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