Looking Forward To It

Advent is a season of waiting expectantly, of preparing, of looking forward.  When I think of Advent, I automatically get full of the Christmas Spirit…but, it’s July…that’s not allowed.  Well, I’m going to be rebellious and open up the holly jolly flood gates.  {I’m even breaking one of the biggest holiday rules of all and listening to Christmas music as…I…type.  Very sassy.}  If this makes you uncomfortable, just think, “She’s only doing this for research’s sake.”

I’m not the only one looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year…I’m seeing Christmas boards filling up on Pinterest.  If people are like me, they have a year-long love of Christmas and all the trappings.  An even more likely possibility is that they know that if they let the summer go by, there may not be any time after school starts to do any large scale projects. {Sometimes, as I scan through Pinterest, I see ideas a week into December that I have no business attempting, making me wish I had seen them four months ago.}   It’s okay to want to be able to enjoy decorating, wrapping, cooking, and celebrating without worrying about sewing up the Star of David, or threading the Three Wise Men, or  stamping up Santa Claus greeting cards.

My big sister, Mary, is a wife, mother of two boys, and does amazing work with the Family Ministries at her church.  Last year, about this time, she started on one of the most beautiful hand-crafted projects I’ve ever seen, felt Jesse Tree ornaments.


Of course, I had a few questions for her:

Me:  There are tons of ways to decorate for and celebrate Christmas.  How did you land on using the Jesse Tree concept?

Mary: I really love Christmas and like to celebrate the season with special traditions for my family.  I was looking for a way to turn our focus back to the real reason for Christmas, Jesus’ birth and what that means for us.  You found the idea on Pinterest and I knew immediately I wanted to do it with my family.


Jesse Tree Days 1-5


Me:  Where did you get the inspiration for this project? Did you use a pattern?

Mary: The first year we did the Jesse Tree, I used a devotional that came with paper ornaments that could be colored and cut out.  I knew I would want to make my own ornaments to keep and use from year to year.  I started looking around on Pinterest to see if I could get some ideas.  Some of my ornaments I copied directly from ones other people had done.  I just eyeballed the pattern and started cutting felt.  Some I found inspiration and modified to make my own.

Jesse Tree Devotions (2)


Me:  You’re a busy lady, so where did you find the time to hand-stitch all these amazing ornaments?

Mary: I worked on these over the course of last summer.  It took about two months of working a little here and a little there.  It really goes fast once you get used to it and know what you want it to look like.

JT Days 6-11


Me:  There are lots of kinds of Jesse Tree ornaments out there…why did you decide to use felt and embroidery floss?

Mary: I decided to use felt and embroidery floss because it’s easy to work with and I really like the way it looks- bright, colorful and folksy.

 JT Days 12-17


Me: Why did you decide to start this project during the summer?

Mary: I decided to work on them over the summer because the summer was a slow time for me and I knew I wanted to get them done for the upcoming Christmas season.  Life gets so busy once we hit October, so I didn’t want to wait until then.

JT Days 18-23


Me:  How did you use these ornaments to celebrate the Advent season?

Mary: When Advent Season finally rolled around (which some years starts at the end of November) we were ready.  We read a devotion from the Jesse Tree book together as a family each night and the kids took turns hanging the corresponding ornament.  They loved it!  The kids never let us miss a night.

 I love the Jesse Tree devotional because it takes us from Genesis to David to Mary and Joseph.  It shows us how the Bible is one big love story of redemption and how it’s all connected back to Christ.  It has really helped us put the focus of Christmas back on Jesus!
JT Days 24-29


Unfortunately, Mary isn’t offering these ornaments for sale, but there are ideas all over Pinterest from blogs or websites that do offer printables/patterns to help proactive folks craft their own.  If you love the idea of the Jesse Tree, but don’t want to craft, there are several books and devotionals available to easily insert the tradition into your Christmas season.  My favorite is The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean.

The Jesse Tree

It’s totally okay to plan ahead, to prepare, to start celebrating.  I love what Mary did to make sure that her family’s season of Advent was amazing.  She started ahead of time, did the work once, and now she can peacefully enjoy this beautiful tradition for years to come.




  1. Becky (and Mary),
    What a wonderful post. You are so right about the business of the Christmas season, and the minimal time for such a project as you’ve described. I love the idea of preparing slowly in advance. Thank you!!!! Maybe I’ll tackle this. I’ve always adored them in homes we’ve visited. Makes you feel such warmth and nostalgia with not only the great love story they tell, but the story of their creation.

    • Kristen! So true. I love the story behind the craft! Mary totally inspires me. Glad she does you too!

  2. Mary does beautiful work! I make felt Jesse Tree Ornaments and have been for years. Advent is such a special time and the Jesse Tree is a special tradition for the family.

    Pink Scissors Design on Etsy

  3. My 10yo daughter fell in love with Mary’s ornaments, and has sewn a set of her own. We’re having trouble figuring out which ornament represents what. Did Mary use a specific list of symbols from a particular book?

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful project!!!

    • Hey Kate!

      So glad y’all love Mary’s work! I was so proud of her, I had to share it. Mary used a symbol of each scripture for the days throughout Advent. She used “Jesse Tree Devotions: A Family Activity for Advent” by Marilyn S. Breckenridge. She came up with most of them on her own, getting some inspiration from Pinterest as well. I hope this helps and that you and yours have a beautiful, blessed Holiday Season!

  4. I love this!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to start today, even though I’m a little behind. My daughter is almost 3 and I’m looking for some good Christmas traditions to begin and this is perfect. She’ll love it.

  5. I love these! They are beautiful! The only one I can’t figure out is the brown circle with the swirls and the green leaves- what symbol is that?

    Thanks so much!

    • Amy! Yes! Mary did an amazing job! The first circle is a stump representing the family tree of Jesus staring with Jesse the father of David. Scripture reference of Isa. 11:1,2

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