This Christmas will be our family’s 8th year to celebrate the Jesse Tree together. We have come a long way from our first Jesse Tree.
Although the stories of the Jesse Tree remain the same each year, our family’s experiences have not.
Some of it has to do with their ages. They are understanding more as they get older.
But most of the richness of our experiences has been in the variety and spontaneity in which we make each season a new adventure.
To keep the Jesse Tree fresh, fun, and exciting for all of us, we spend some time beforehand planning ways to surprise the kids.
Because Jesus is the reason we are celebrating Christmas, we put the most effort, time, and resources into making it the most memorable time of the holidays. I am amazed (and impressed) at the creativity parents put into Elf on the Shelf.
With just a little bit of energy, we too can make the Jesse Tree something our families will look forward to with excitement and anticipation!
So whether this is your first time doing the Jesse Tree, or like us, you are becoming a seasoned veteran…
Here are 10 ways to make the Jesse Tree memorable this year:
1. Reveal each day’s ornaments like a present waiting to be opened!
2. Save some Halloween candy to tell the story. Yummy!
3. Let your kids each have a story to lead. See what they come up with to do!
4. Add some coloring pages to the story. Ann Voskamp has some gorgeous and fun coloring pages and kid’s ornaments to go along with her family Jesse Tree Devotional called, “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.” And guess what? They match our stories perfectly! There is one extra story in her set (Rahab).
5. Change the scenery. If it’s a beautiful day, take it to the park. If you are talking about Abraham’s promise, why not go outside and sit under the stars?
Look for ways around your neighborhood and city to provide a backdrop to the Jesse Tree. We just found a rainbow near our house! Story of Noah, maybe?!!
6. Invite another family over to do the Jesse Tree with you.
One of my favorite memories of the Jesse Tree was the year we had three families over to go caroling. After we sang some carols in the neighborhood, we all gathered in the living room of our house and read the story for the day of the Jesse Tree. The kids loved this and ended up acting out the story afterwards.
Invite a neighbor, take it with you when you go visit family, share it with a non believing friend. Let God speak His love story to others as well.
7. Just add popcorn or hot chocolate. Does this need any further explanation?! Maybe watch a movie that tells the story. The “What’s in the Bible” DVD’s are great!
8. Share the gospel. Duh, right?! But sometimes we get caught up in just “telling” the story and forget how many ways we can bridge the gospel through the Jesse Tree. Let’s pray God gives us wisdom to find ways to lead our kids to accept His invitation.
9. Sing and dance as much as you can! Make a playlist and add some Christmas carols and songs suggested in our devotional for each accompanying story.
We always end our Jesse Tree time with this. My kiddos usually end up running around the living room like crazy people–but it is fun. And we want our kids to see that loving and praising Jesus is so. much. fun!
10. Know when to take a night off. The Christmas season can create a lot of pressure on you–parties, shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining…the list can be long. Don’t let the Jesse Tree become something to check off the list or a burden.
There are plenty of times we skipped a night and doubled up another day OR we just let it go. Chances are, if mom needs a break–the whole family does.
Here is one of the sweetest things about the Jesse Tree–each year you will be sharing these stories again.
Each year they will get something new, something different from God’s Word. Each year new memories will be created. So give yourself a break when it’s needed.
It is God’s job to move in our children’s hearts and draw them to Himself. Not ours–we have the privilege of communicating His word and story, and living a life that is dependent upon Jesus.
God takes care of the rest.
We LOVE hearing and seeing ways your family does the Jesse Tree. We learn so much through your experiences as well.
What are you planning on doing this year to keep it fun and memorable?