How to Organize a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap

Jared December 18, 2013


Every year around Christmas I have big plans to “do” lots of things. My Christmas Bucket List would include activities like: make Jesse Tree ornaments, do Truth in the Tinsel with my kids, drive around and look at Christmas lights, make neighbor gifts, bake cookies, go caroling, decorate the house, read nothing but Christmas books about Jesus all month long, and cut a Christmas tree. Those things sound so easy and simple. Right? But then I get up in the morning and am bombarded with everything else that also has to take place during the day.

When a friend said she was going to participate in a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap, I jumped at the chance. Without even a second thought, I said yes. Looking back, I should have asked some questions. But this is an awesome activity to participate in regardless.

What is a Jesse Tree?

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” – Isaiah 11:1-4

I had heard of Jesse Tree’s before, but until last year, I wasn’t exactly for sure what it entailed. When people talked about their Jesse Tree, I thought they were talking about an actual tree. I was really confused.

It’s actually pretty cool. By using the Jesse Tree devotionals, your family is led through the story of God’s perfect plan. Starting at Creation and ending at the birth of Christ. It’s a countdown to Christmas that highlights key people and events in the Old Testament that come together to tell the story of how God chose to save the world. With an ornament for each day symbolizing each story, children, and adults, have a visual reminder to remind them every time they gaze upon the tree.

How to Organize a Swap

First you have to pick out a version of the Jesse Tree that will work for everyone in your family. Last year we didn’t do ornaments, but every night we read The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. With a 3 year old, a newly 2 year old, and an 8 month old, that’s all I could do. There are so many different version out there. At the end I’ll include some others you might enjoy.

Find some friends. You’ll need to find 24 friends who also want to participate. They can all be local, or you can include friends from out of state. The swap I participated in was nationwide, but based out of San Diego. Those that lived out of state just had to mail their ornaments to “home base” for the swap. Have each person choose a story to base their ornament on. Then each person needs to order the base of their ornament. Ours were 3 inch circles.

Jesse Tree Ornament List


Each person will make 24 of the same ornament based on their story. For example, I chose the story of Jonah and the Whale. I made 24 ornaments with whales. I painted them all blue and then used my vinyl cutter to cut out little whales.

blue circles

Of those participants in the swap I was in, there were two groups that got together for a Jesse Tree Ornament Making Party. How fun would that be? Crafts, friends, food! It doesn’t get much better than that!!

Time for the Swap

Since I was out of state, I mailed my finished ornaments to the hostess of the swap. If everyone is local, I would set a date and have a Girls Night In. More time for food, friends, and crafts!

Set up 24 stations in your house, preferably in the same room. Each station will have each ornament group, and it would be fun to have a little snack based on the story too. Make such that the ornaments are in order – starting at the first story and ending with the birth of Jesus. Having it set up this way, each person can visit the stations and pick up the ornament for their set. Once they reach the end, their ornament set will be complete!

Other Resources

I had no idea there were so many different versions of the Jesse Tree and Advent activities! Here are some of the ones I have come across recently. Feel free to leave others in the comments!

The Jesse Tree Project

Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Printables

Truth in the Tinsel with Printable Ornaments

More Than Candy

Jesse Tree with Ann Voskamp and free printable ornaments

Have you ever participated in a Jesse Tree Ornament swamp? What tips do you have to share?

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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