Last December, I was invited to a Jesse Tree party. I had never even heard of the Jesse Tree before, so I was very curious about it. The Jesse Tree is basically an Advent Calendar that walks your family through the story of the Bible leading up to the birth of Christ. Each day you hang an ornament on the tree and read a story from Ann Voskamp’s book. It sounded like fun, so we gave it a shot.
I’ve had over half a year to process the whole experience. There were some things that I loved and others that I didn’t. Overall, I think it’s worth looking into if you’re looking for a way to point your family to Jesus during the holidays. Here is my pros and cons list on The Jesse Tree.
-THE PARTY: It was an amazing idea. A friend from church organized it; and she had her house decorated beautifully, and there were delicious snacks too. Everyone invited to the party (25 people) each made one full set of 25 ornaments for one of the 25 days leading up to Christmas. My friend assigned each of us a day and we just showed up, put our ornaments in a basket and picked up one of each. It was so much easier (and cost effective) to make one ornament 25x times than it would’ve been to hand craft the ornament for each day yourself.
-THE KIDS LOVED IT. Peter reminded me every day that we needed to do our mini Christmas tree. They loved searching through the bag for the right day. I ended up putting each ornament in a sandwich bag with the day written on it, just so they wouldn’t get broken or lost. It made it easier for Peter to find which day we were reading too.
-QUALITY CONTROL: When you’re not making every ornament, you don’t have control over quality. Some ornaments looked professionally made, and some did not. If you want an even look, you may have to commit to going to several parties or making your own ornaments.
-THE BOOK: I struggle with Christian books like this. The intent is great; but at least for my family, the author completely missed her audience. The book was just so overly flowery. Anytime I tried to read directly from the book, I could see the sweet eyes of my children glaze over with incomprehension. It probably would be more meaningful to older kids who have a firmer grip on what metaphor & simile are. In the meantime, we became very good at skimming and summarizing.
We are going to do the Jesse Tree again this year. I’ve been looking for a couple years for a way to make Christmas more about Christ with our kids, and this is a great way to do that. Even though I was frustrated with the book, it still brought us back to Jesus. And my friend made us the cutest little wooden trees for our ornaments. So that’s always a bonus.