This year our Pathmakers’ Church Women’s Ministry had a Jesse Tree Gift Exchange and Dessert Party based on The Jesus Storybook Bible. It was so awesome I wanted to share all the details so you can have your own party next year – or share the idea with someone else!
Here are the preparations I made for the party:
FIRST PREPARATION: I wrote the following informational invitation email and sent it September 16th. (I used www.signupgenius.com as the invitation. The only problem we had with it was 2 days before each person’s date they signed up for they got a reminder and it confused a few people – understandably so. I would suggest making a Google.doc and simply inviting people via email as editors.) I sent the invitation early to give people enough time to make their ornaments and to make sure we had 25 people for the ornament exchange!
The Jesse Tree tradition is a fun way to celebrate Christmas and keep our minds on Christ. It is like an advent calendar and each day of December you will read a Bible story as a family and hang one ornament on your “Jesse Tree” as a reminder of that Bible story. You’ll need a small evergreen and they are easy to find at Michaels in Nov. Our family LOVES this tradition!
Many Jesse Tree devotions are a good summary of a Bible story, but I’ve not found one that ties in Christ each day. As I usually do, I’ve made the adjustment to the normal Jesse Tree advent daily devotional to use The Jesus Storybook Bible for the family’s time together, because each story ends with Christ. It’s one of the BEST kids’ devotionals out there and SO worth your money.
You can find The Jesus Storybook Bible at LifeWay Christian store on at this link on Amazon.com for $10.50: http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Storybook-Bible-Every-Whispers/dp/0310708257/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410378418&sr=1-1&keywords=the+jesus+story+bible
Ok, if this is something you’d like to do for yourself or your family this year, we’re going to do a Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange and Dessert Party to make it easier and more fun for everyone:
WHO: 25 Women (Pathmakers, Family, Friends)
WHAT: Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange and Dessert Par
WHERE: Our Friend’s House
WHEN: Wednesday, November 12th @ 6:30-7:30 pm
WHY: This is a cool way for us to celebrate Christ’s birth together by serving one another!
HOW: Each woman chooses a day from the December devotional calendar (see ornament ideas next to each date – or be creative!) and makes 25 of the SAME ornament. When we get together on November 12th, each woman will bring her “25 of the same ornament” and leave with 25 ornaments – one of her own and the other 24 ornaments from other women to complete her Jesse Tree.
If you still have time and energy, bring a dessert to share. There will be plenty, so please don’t let this be the reason you don’t sign up!
IDEAS and EXTRAS:
- You don’t have to be a mom or wife to participate, it is a rich way to celebrate Christ’s birth at any season of your life.
- You don’t have to hand-make the ornaments; you can buy them, too! There’s plenty of time to hunt for the perfect one at a reasonable price!
- Please feel free to invite your family and friends to sign up. The only thing about this activity is that we can really only have 25 women involved, but we NEED 25 women, so invite away!
- You can google “Jesse Tree” or “Jesse Tree Ornaments” and find LOTS of ideas if you want them.
- If you can’t be there on Nov. 12th, but still want to participate, sign up, get me the ornaments you sign up to bring before Nov. 12th, and I’ll collect your ornaments for you and deliver them to you in plenty of time to start Dec. 1st!
ADDED September 29th from an email I sent out:
Ladies! I am so excited about this event and activity we’re doing together! Just a few things:
1. A friend reminded me to remind you that the ornaments should be small enough for a small tree that could fit on a shelf.
2. If you would please enclose each ornament in a ziplock bag (snack or sandwich work) that is marked with the Day it represents, that would be super helpful.
3. The Jesus Storybook Bible is on sale at http://www.christianbook.com/jesus-storybook-bible-every-story-whispers/sally-lloyd-jones/9780310708254/pd/708257?event=ESRCG for $7!
Happy Ornament making/buying! Looking forward to seeing any of you at the party!
May you be blessed with a warm snuggly blanket on this gorgeous rainy night!
ANOTHER ADDITION (10/13/14):
This is the schedule I am going to print off and have for everyone who participates and attends the Exchange Party so you’ll know what story you are making an ornament for! The ornament suggestions are in all caps, but please feel free to make whatever ornament most captures that story for you!
(I would suggest sending the schedule with the invitation instead of waiting to avoid any confusion.)
December 1st BIBLE – The Story and the Song (explanation of what it is = The Adventure Story) p.12
December 2nd EARTH – The Beginning: a Perfect Home p.18
December 3rd APPLE/SNAKE – The Terrible Lie p.28
December 4th RAINBOW/ARK – A New Beginning (Noah) p.38
December 5th TALL BUILDING – A Giant Staircase to Heaven (Babel) p.48
December 6th OLDER COUPLE/BABY – Son of Laughter (Abraham, Sarah & God’s promise keeping) p.56
December 7th RAM/SHEEP – The Present (Abraham and Isaac) p.62
December 8th HEART/MANY CHILDREN – The Girl No one Wanted (Leah) p.70
December 9th COAT of MANY COLORS – The Forgiving Prince (Joseph) p. 76
December 10th BURNING BUSH – God to the Rescue! (Moses/Exodus) p. 84
December 11th PARTED RED SEA/WATER – God makes a way! (Red Sea Parts) p. 92
December 12th 10 COMMANDMENTS – Ten ways to be Perfect p.100
December 13th BROKEN WALL – The Warrior Leader (Joshua) p.108
December 14th ANOINTING OIL – The teeny, weenie…true king (David anointed) p.116
December 15th SLINGSHOT/5 STONES – The Young Hero & The Horrible Giant p.122
December 16th SHEPHERD’S CROOK – The Good Shepherd p.130
December 17th HAND WITH SPOTS – A Little Servant Girl and the Proud General (Elisha, Naaman) p.136
December 18th SCROLL – Operation “No More Tears” (Isaiah’s letter) p. 144
December 19th LION – Daniel and the Scary Sleepover p.152
December 20th WHALE – God’s Messenger (Jonah) p.160
December 21st PARTY FAVOR – Get Ready! (Ezra, Nehemiah) p.170
December 22nd NATIVITY – He’s Here! (Mary & Joseph & Jesus) p.176
December 23rd SHEPHERDS/SHEEP – The Light of the Whole World (Angels and Shepherds) p.184
December 24th WISEMEN/GIFTS – The King of all kings (Wisemen) p.192
December 25th – DOVE – Heaven Breaks Through (Jesus Baptized) p.20
- I made little cards to place on the tables at our hostess’ home including each date and title of the chapter (i.e. December 25 “Heaven Breaks Through”). I brought festive table cloths and some baskets to place the ornaments in and make it look pretty! We set up a separate area in the kitchen for the desserts people brought. Make sure to make at least one dessert to have there in case people really do forget or get too busy!
- I wrote label name tags for each of the 25 women (and their daughters and others who came just to check it out). You could make this more professional by printing them on holiday name tags.
- I put together a devotional using Day 25 (December 25th – DOVE – Heaven Breaks Through (Jesus Baptized) p.200) to explain why we didn’t just stop at Day 24 and The Christmas Story. I had my daughter hang the Day 25 ornament on the tree I brought as an example. After reading the following, I read the Day 25 devotional.
“Day 25 Explanation: I chose to do Jesus’ Baptism on Christmas day as a reminder of why Jesus was born and as an encouragement for all of us to continue doing daily devotionals together with our families. There are 19 more devotional stories after Jesus’ Baptism and I’d like to challenge all of us to continue with the daily devotionals and finish the book together. I have added some additional devotional resources to the back of your Jesse Tree Devotional readings sheet for when your family has completed The Jesus Storybook Bible. There are SO many good resources out there and these are just a few.
It is SUCH an honor to have you with us tonight and I hope you and your family are blessed by this new tradition as my family was when Arissa shared it with me. My daughter Anna and I are going to show you an example of the devotional time. I will be reading our Christmas Day reading “Heaven Broke Through” devotional while Anna places our Day 25 ornament on our tree.
4. I also put together the following suggestions list and printed enough for everyone to take home.The purpose of the Jesse Tree Advent Devotional is to show us how the entire Bible points us to Jesus.
How to do it a Jesse Tree Devotional Time:
- Choose a place for your Jesse Tree where your family can gather around it or at least see it for a daily devotional time together. Keep your The Jesus Storybook Bible and ornament bag near the tree so there’s not a distraction in having to go find it when it’s devotional time. Also – either organize the ornaments so they are easy to find and grab for each day or find and grab the day’s ornament just before your devotional time so your time isn’t spent digging through the ornaments.
- Choose a time for your family to do your Jesse Tree ornament and devotional each day. We have done our advent devotionals at breakfast and at dinnertime and keep our Jesse Tree near the Kitchen table.
- At your devotional time, pray to start your time together so there is a focus on the Bible reading. Have one of your children hang the day’s ornament on the Jesse Tree. Then read the Bible story designated for that day on the devotional readings sheet. After you finish the reading, discuss the reading with a few questions, like:
- What was that story about?
- What does that story have to do with Jesus?
- What is something we can thank God about from that story?
- Why do you think Jesus wanted you to hear that story today? Is there something you need to be reminded of from that story? (to trust God, God loves me, God has a plan for me, etc)
- (For Older Children: What does that story have to do with your life?)
5. I printed off enough Devotional Readings sheets for everyone that included the following on the back:
MORE FAMILY DEVOTIONAL RESOURCES
There are many other wonderful Family Devotionals you can do with your children. Here is a list of a few of them our family has enjoyed or we recommend:
God Loves Me Bible from ZonderKidz (Toddlers – we read it in Nursery each week at Pathmakers Church)
God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh
Little Boys Bible Storybook by Carolyn Larsen
Little Girls Bible Storybook by Carolyn Larsen
The Beginner’s Bible Book of Devotions: My Time with God Written by Catherine DeVries
Play-and-Learn Bible Written by Terry Julien
The Family God Uses by Tom and Kim Blackaby
Family Time Training Resources and Family Devotionals www.famtime.com
National Center for Biblical Parenting Resources and Devotionals http://www.biblicalparenting.org/
6. I went a few hours early to set up at the hostess’ house with her and take my dessert in case I would be late. I arrived 30 minutes early to greet the guests and planned to stay until the last lady left.
Every preparation was worth the time! I loved making my ornaments this year. I wanted a tree for each kiddo to take with them when they start their own family. I have 3 kiddos. I updated the one I made last year with extra ornaments left over, made one and my daughter and her grandma worked together to make an ornament together so she could have her very own tree and be a part of the Women’s Ministry Event making her very own Jesse Tree (with fun Gramma memories!)
1. When ladies arrived, we asked them to find their name tag, place their ornaments by the correct date place card, and ask at least 2 other people one of their favorite family Christmas traditions. They also got some goodies as they chatted with the other women.
2. My plan was to start the Devotional time at 7 and let the women gather their ornaments after that, but we waited until 7:25 for 2 more ornaments to arrive. I started the devotional about 7:15 just waiting for the other ornaments to arrive and we ended with the last ones arriving just as the women were about to go around and collect their ornaments. We did end up having about 5-6 women who couldn’t come to the event, but they got us the ornaments ahead of time, so some sweet volunteers collected their ornaments for them. It worked out just fine in the end.
3. There were more than enough desserts and it might be good to have a plan of where to take the extras (Nursing Home, Soup Kitchen, etc).
It was SUCH a wonderful event! We are SO blessed to have been a part of it! If you have any questions in preparing for your own Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange, please feel free to comment or email me at Beth@PathmakersChurch.org.
Part 2 will include pictures of each ornament!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are blessed by all this amazing fun we had!