Jesse Trees- What Is It And How To Get Started

The Jesse Tree is a beautiful Advent tradition that many Christians use to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It’s a kind of special Advent countdown calendar that is focused on the true meaning of the season, and it is a great way to teach children about the plan of redemption from creation through salvation, tying the Old Testament to the New Testament! It is not hard or complicated, and it does NOT have to involve a ton of work or money! Keep reading and I will explain it all to you. This is a very doable Advent tradition for families, and even classrooms. In this post, I am going to explain the Jesse Tree devotion so you can understand and start incorporating this beautiful tradition in your home. 


It starts on December 1st with Creation, and ends with the birth of Jesus on December 25. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1:

“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”

All through Advent, we hear scripture readings at Mass that remind us of the ancestors of Jesus, so this is an especially great pairing for Catholics!

Jesse Tree Basics And How To Get Started

The basic concept behind a Jess Tree is that you have one ornament for each day in December, and it counts down to the coming of Christ on the 25th. Each ornament stands for a person or event from the Old Testament that leads up to the coming of Christ. Every evening, you hang an ornament on the tree that symbolizes that biblical event and do a small reading or devotional about that Bible story.

What You Need To Start A Jesse Tree

You only need 3 things to get started! Ornaments, a tree of some kind, and a Bible. That’s it!

1. Jesse Tree Ornaments

Each ornament that goes on the Jesse tree has a symbol that represents an event or a person leading up to the foretold coming of the Messiah. Different people use different symbols and scripture, meaning there is no standard or official list, so feel free to find a version you think is a good fit for your family.

You have 3 options for obtaining Jesse Tree ornaments:

  • Print Jesse Tree ornaments
  • Craft Jesse Tree ornaments
  • Purchase Jesse Tree ornaments

The easiest cheap way to accomplish this is to print a set online. Easy peasy! I actually do have a printable set available that you can check out here. My set prints in color AND in black and white so you can either choose to color your own or print them totally ready for your Jesse Tree- your choice.

Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments

You could also craft them from felt, paint them on wood, mold them from clay, or make them in any other number of ways! It’s a great excuse to get creative! You only have to make the Jesse Tree ornaments once and they can be used year after year, so they become and keepsake and it’s an investment.

Some groups get together and do Jesse Tree ornament swaps, where each family makes a whole slew of just one of the ornaments, and then everyone trades so each family ends up with a complete set. (This is the same concept as my peg doll swap)

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2. The Actual “Tree” Part

The basic idea is that you place the ornaments on a tree of some kind. This can be artificial, it can be a tree made out of felt, it can be magnetic, made out of sticks, or even a dead branch from the yard. Basically, you just need a place to display the ornament you put up each day, and however you want to do this is fine- there are no rules!

3. Bible Or Devotional Readings For Jesse Tree

Each night when you hang the ornament, you will want to read a little about that Bible story and say a prayer. Many families choose to print a devotional or use a children’s bible rather than reading from the actual bible to keep it more applicable to children.

That is it! See… not so scary or overwhelming, right? 

List Of Jesse Tree Ornaments And Symbols

  1. The World (Creation)
  2. A Snake With An Apple Tree (The First Sin)
  3. Ark With Rainbow (Noah)
  4. Camel And Tent (Call To Abraham)
  5. Lamb And Mountain (Isaac And The Lamb)
  6. Ladder (Jacob’s Ladder)
  7. Coat of Many Colors (Joseph) 
  8. 10 Commandments (Moses)
  9. Grapes (Canaan)
  10. Wheat (Ruth)
  11. Sling Shot (King David)
  12. Scroll (Josiah)
  13. Stump With Shoot (Jesse)
  14. Lion And The Lamb 
  15. Dove And Crown (Prince Of Peace)
  16. Shepherd’s Staff
  17. Cross (Suffering Servant)
  18. Heart With Writing (New Covenant)
  19. Bethlehem
  20. Fiery Furnace (Exile)
  21. Brick Wall (Return To The Land)
  22. Star
  23. Candle (Light Of The World)
  24. Angel 
  25. Baby Jesus 

DIY Jesse Tree Ornaments: Draw It Yourself!

You can now draw your very own set of Jesse Tree ornaments with my all new how to draw series for the Jesse Tree symbols. Get your how to draw Jesse Tree Ornaments videos here. These how to draw videos are great because you can read the devotions to kids while they draw. Also, if you’re crafting your own ornaments, you can use these videos to draw the symbols onto wood, clay, and more!

More Jesse Tree Resources For Families

If you’re still unsure, I think that Nancy from Catholic Sprouts does a beautiful job explaining the Jesse Tree devotions in this video. She not only explains how to do it, but why it’s so important. Watch below.

Byzantine Rite Jesse Tree Ornaments

We now also offer a set of printable Jesse Tree ornaments for Byzantine Rite Catholics, thanks to our resident Byzantine writer, Carrie! You can check them out here

You can find all of my resources for planning your Advent celebrations with Catholic kids here.

If you are trying to plan out your Advent season with kids and incorporate devotions like this while balancing your time during the crazy holidays, I fully suggest my Advent/Christmas planner!


  1. Is there a list of bible stories to reference for each ornament? Easy enough to search through the Bible for each story I suppose. But I’d like to introduce this to my RCIA class and it’d be great to give them a list of bible verses to reference (or even devotionals) for each ornament.

  2. I love the devotional you recommend for the Jesse Tree and we are using it with my family. I am curious about the songs. Is there by chance a selection of Catholic hymns that could work for each ornament? The kids love singing when they are hanging the ornaments, but I wish they were more familiar hymns. Thanks for any advice on this!