Jesse Tree exchanges and ornaments

Lots of people are getting into Jesse Trees each year. I hear more and more from my friends and see more on the internet about them. We did our first one just using paper ornaments which we printed, colored and cut off of Holy Heroes website (I still have them). And we made a hand print evergreen tree- which I still hang up. We have grown from there!

So what is a Jesse Tree? Basically you have a little tree and you hang ornaments daily on it each day of Advent. Then on the 17th you start the O'Antiphons up till the 24th- which you can make ornaments for too. You read a Bible stories each day that are about Jesus' Old Testament family tree.  The Jesse tree takes you through Salvation History. It's a great way to keep the focus on Advent and prepare for Christmas. Plus who doesn't love a little family ceremony each evening and a Bible story?  There is a Jesse Tree blessing to go with your Advent Wreath , here's another prayer and Litany, and it's fun to light candles and sing O' Come O' Come Emmanuel.

Here's my tutorials on a few ornaments we have made in the past.
2015 swap- all 28 ornaments are pictured

How to do an exchange

So how many people do you need for a swap? How many days is that anyway?
If you are wanting to start a Jesse Tree ornament swap for just the regular Advent days, you will need minimum of 28 people (unless some are able to make more than one ornament). There is a maximum of 28 days in Advent, some years you won't need all 28 ornaments but that's an individual decision if you still want to hang the extra ornaments and review the stories with your family- we do each year- so we always use 28. 

Should we do ornaments for O'Antiphon days December 17th- December 23rd
YES!! As a nice bonus, it's good to add in the O'antiphon ornaments for days of December 17th-23rd- those dates never change. So with the O'Antiphons you will need a total 35 people instead of 28.

So what bible verses do we reference and what are the symbols which are traditionally used for the 28 days of Advent?
I have seen a bit of variation in trees and ornaments, but nothing majorly different from the list below.  I would suggest using Holy Heroes and their Advent Adventure for reference. They provide paper ornaments to print and cut out, quizzes, the readings with a video of some totally cute kid actors- usually the videos are a LOT OF FUN. AND IT'S FREE! It's an email sent to your inbox, open and click.  You can also buy their DVD and workbooks- they are super cheap, totally worth it. And the DVD can be reused year after year.

Catholic Culture has this list taken from:  Jesse Tree Kit, A by Betsy Walter, Pauline Books and Media, Boston, MA, 1983,  But there aren't 28 ornaments.

This is what I follow though since we always use Holy Heroes. The symbols can vary a little but there's a few ideas for you.
1.  Creation (Earth) Genesis 1: 1-23  
2.  Creation Continued (Man/woman, Adam and Eve) Genesis 1: 24-31 
3.  Fall of Man (Apple, serpent) Genesis 3: 1-15, 20-23 
4.  Noah (Ark, rainbow) Genesis 6:5-20, 7: 1-23, 8: 1-17, 9: 1-13 
5.  Abraham (Tent) Genesis 12: 1-5, 13: 14-16, 18: 1-10, 21: 1-3 
6.  Isaac (Bundle of sticks, ram) Genesis 22: 1-14  {tutorial to come soon}
7.  Jacob (Ladder) Genesis 27: 41-44, 28: 10-17 
8.  Joseph (Multi-colored coat) Genesis 37: 3-28 
9.  Moses (Moses baby basket) Exodus 2: 1-10, 3: 1-12 
10. Moses Continued (Stone Tablets) Exodus, Ch. 7-14, 19, 32 
11. Ruth (Wheat) Ruth 1: 1-16, 7-22  {My tutorial here}
12. Samuel (Lamp, temple) 1 Samuel, Ch. 3 
13. Jesse (Tree Stump with shoot) 1 Samuel, Ch. 16 
14. David (Slingshot with rock, star of David) 1 Samuel, Ch. 17, 19: 1-2 
15. Solomon (Temple, scales of justice, two babies and sword) 1 Kings, Ch. 3 
16. Elijah (Raven, Manna, chariot of fire) 1 Kings, Ch. 17 & 18  {My tutorial here}
17. Elisha (River or dove)  2 Kings 5  {My Tutorial here}
18. Isaiah's Prophecies (Cross) Isaiah 8: 6-7
19. Isaiah (Scroll) Isaiah Ch. 6
20. Daniel (Lion)  Daniel 6: 11-25
21. Jeremiah (Fire) Jeremiah, Ch. 31
22. Angels (Angel or Angel wings) Luke, Ch. 1 
23. Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist (Tablet with chalk with name "JOHN", shell to baptize with river behind) Luke, Ch. 1
24. Blessed Virgin Mary (crown of stars, Mary, Immaculate or pierced heart, Marian symbol) Luke, Ch. 1
25. The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth or path with hills) Luke 1: 39-56
26. Joseph (Wood working tools) Matthew, Ch. 1
27. The Nativity (Jesus in the manger, silhouette of the Nativity) Luke, Ch. 2
28. Magi (Christmas star, 3 crowns, camels, gifts from magi) Matthew 2: 1-12

BONUS The O'Antiphon ornaments if you can find 35 people.
Dec. 17th  #29. O Antiphon: O Wisdom (Bible)
Dec. 18th  #30. O Antiphon: O Lord of Lords (Burning bush) 
Dec. 19th  #31O Antiphon: O Flower of Jesse's Stem (Lily)  {My tutorial here}
Dec. 20th  #32. O Antiphon: O Key of David (Key) 
Dec. 21st  #33. O Antiphon: O Radiant Dawn (Sunrise)
Dec. 22nd  #34. O Antiphon: O King of All Nations (Throne) 
Dec. 23rd  #35. O Antiphon: O Emmanuel (Chalice and Host)

And what about the tree? What should we use?
You will need a tree to hand these on. We have a separate small tree we reserve just for the Jesse Tree. People often just cut an evergreen branch and rig it up to stand on its own. Or you can be like us our first year and do paper ornaments on a paper tree.

Summarizing what you should do....

1. Find out when the first day of Advent is.

2. Announce Advent's starting date and that you are wanting to plan for a Jesse Tree swap ahead of time, giving people enough time to choose and make and ornament (maybe that takes 3-4 days)- be sure and give them a deadline for response time. Offer to allow them to make more than one ornament when they are signing up. Email everyone you know. Offer your phone number in the email too as well as your address.

3. Get their addresses and phone numbers in the return emails- handwriting is often hard to read. And then you can pre-label you boxes for the return.

4. Explain to them they will be making 28 (or 35 if you do O'Antiphons) of the same ornaments. Be sure and tell them it needs to be hanger ready- so some sort of loop or hanger will need to be attached. Offer material suggestions, like clay, or wood, felt etc.. or maybe Pinterest, or a blog for more inspiration or how to make or what to make.

5. Tell  them to label each of the ornaments somehow with a slip of paper or on the ornament itself with the day or Bible verse. Then you don't have to guess and the other participants don't have to guess. I put mine into baggies this year that were individually labeled. You will see in my next post.

6. Give them a mail in date deadline or a date to meet at a friend's house or church to have the swap. (For instance, "ornaments need to be in my hands by Nov. 20th").

7. Have them send you either check or paypal to cover return shipping costs- or YOU DON'T SEND them their ornaments. I don't want to sound mean, but you have to do this or you may never get your money back. If you do flat rate boxes, you already know your total.

8. Once you start receiving the ornaments. Start sorting the ornaments into 28 boxes or bags (or 35 boxes or bags if you have O'Antiphons) and hopefully you prelabeled label the participants addresses on each box or bag, giving everyone one of each ornament. This might be a good time to go with Priority flat rate boxes- so you don't lose your mind.

9. Ship them and your done! PHEW!

Just so you don't have to go searching for another other Jesse Tree ornament tutorials are:

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