September 23, 2011

Jesse Tree Advent Calendar project

Having a young child has really made me want to start establishing some Christmas traditions that keep us focused on the "reason for the season," if you will. Last year I learned about the Jesse Tree advent calendar from my church's Children's Pastor, and I really liked the idea on a number of levels. It seems like a simple way to introduce children to the Bible stories that lead up to Christmas, with just a short reading each day, and I love that it's reinforced with an image for each day. So this year, since my fall calendar is already pretty full, I decided to get a head start on Christmas by making my own Jesse Tree Advent Calendar that will last us for many Advent seasons.

I used this book, The Advent Jesse Tree to get the idea for the symbol for each day, as well as the Bible verses to read to children for each day leading up to Christmas. Our church uses the same book on Sundays during advent, so I wanted to stickHide all with the same thing to keep it familiar (Google searches taught me that there are a number of lists of verses and symbols to choose from). And after many Etsy and Pinterest searches, and some crafting advice from friends, I finally settled on what I wanted to do for our family. I wanted something I could make myself, that would be lasting and could help build tradition for the years to come.

There are a few components to the final result.

1. Advent Calendar - made out of stiff cardboard and purchased at Hobby Lobby; the drawers are 2" cubes. I used Modge Podge to glue 2" squares of scrapbooking paper to each drawer, and after searching high and low at the craft store for some number stickers I could use, gave up and made the number labels myself.

2. Ornaments - I made each ornament out of Paper Clay, which is pretty nice air-dry white clay. It was my first time using it, and was actually pretty easy to work with. For more of the symbols I just made round ornaments that I could paint symbols on, but I had appropriate cookie cutters for a couple of them, and a few more I decided to hand sculpt just to add some variety to the ornaments. Once they had hardened, I used water color pencils to add the symbols to each one. Then I wrote the day and symbol name on the back of each one just so it will be easy to return them to their appropriate boxes at the end of the season.

3. Verses - I typed out short verse cards to accompany each ornament in their respective boxes. Every day had a short memory verse and a longer Bible passage to read. These verse cards contain the name of the symbol, the full text of the memory verse, and the name of the other passage to be read. Verses are rolled up and tied with a bit of string.

4. Tree - so this part isn't done yet, because I haven't decided the best way to go about it. But I need a small tree that we can hang one ornament on every day. My requirement is that it be something simple and affordable (if I need to buy anything at all), and it can't take up too much space in my closet during the year. This isn't to take the place of a traditional Christmas tree, it's in addition to it. (Not that we're very traditional when it comes to the tree anyways).

5. Oh yeah... I'm also planning on one extra piece to this whole thing, but it's hard to explain so I'll just post about it when I'm done.

Ok, so I showed you mine. Now it's your turn!

What's your favorite Christmas tradition? Do you have any projects planned to make your holiday season special?

1 comment:

Caryn Talty said...

I love it! I first heard about Jesse tree advent calendars last year in the middle of advent. So this year I got started early. I just finished my Jesse tree advent calendar. I didn't use clay. Instead I made line drawings with my computer software. I linked them online for anyone that wants to download them.
I love the box idea with the dates listed on them. That's a great idea to make scrolls with verses on them. I haven't yet decided how I want to do the bible stories. My kids are 9, 8, 6 and 1. I like your idea and might use it.