The Advent Tree is something we added to our family traditions when Noah was finally old enough to participate more fully. I originally got the idea from the old tradition of the ”Jesse Tree,” but we call ours an Advent Tree and focus more specifically on the Incarnation and birth narratives as well as waiting and watching for Jesus’ Return (which is a bit different from the way the Jesse Tree devotionals are laid out – either is great, the above is just our preference).
Every year, we set up a little tree in our dining room that we call the “Advent Tree.” We set it up at the same time as our regular Christmas tree and turn on the lights after our Matthew 25 devotional (usually before Advent starts). Then starting on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the first night of the Advent Wreath too, we have daily devotions as a family (ours are in the evenings). At the end of that time together, Noah (and when Ephraim gets to be old enough to participate, we will divide them up between both boys) gets to put a new ornament on the Advent Tree that somehow symbolizes what we have just read in the Word. Sometimes it’s a stretch, but you just have to be creative. You can make homemade ornaments as another great DIY Advent project, which can be a very good hands on way to reinforce the heart of Jesus during Christmas and Advent for kids, or use ornaments you already have that will work, and/or you can purchase ornaments. We do a little of all three. For any that are store-bought, we try to add just a few ornaments that are new or just better each year (rather than making a big purchase up front). (A good time to shop for them as right before Christmas or right after – for next year).
We also have an Advent Calendar that hangs on our refrigerator. We have several of these that were handed down from Stephen’s family, and we have one or two that we bought. You can find these at christianbook.com and depending what you get, they are relatively inexpensive. If you are a Pinterest follower or just really creative yourself, there are lots of great DIY Advent calendar ideas out there as well.
Every morning, Noah opens the appropriate “window” on the Advent calendar, and we read the verse together. The verses are very short, so it’s a great tool for memorizing and talking specifically about different events surrounding the birth of Christ each day.
For our evening times of devotion as a family, we basically combine the themes or verses from our Calendar, our daily Bible Reading (mine and Stephen’s), and the Wreath wherever and however we can. I am including the verses we are using for our evening devo times this year, some suggestions that could be used for ornaments, and the general theme for the devo on the chart below. If it doesn’t show up in your browser, I’ve also included a pdf file that you can click on. Sorry if it looks a bit weird on phones or tablets (suggest looking at the pdf instead if you are using an iPhone, etc). If you decide to do an Advent or Jesse Tree with your family, you are more than welcome to use all or parts of what we are doing and make it your own. Enjoy!
Advent Bible Reading 2011 (click to view pdf version)
Advent Tree 2011 (click to view pdf version)
Day & Date
|Advent Tree Verses – Family Devo||Ornament/Symbol Ideas||Theme|
|Sun, Nov 27th||1 Pet 1:10-13 & Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 & Titus 2:11-14||Jesus or Isaiah 9||Prophets’ Candle – Candle of Hope: “Unto us a child is born…”|
|Mon, Nov 28th||John 1:1-5 & Heb 1:1-3||Creation||Jesus was in the beginning & His role in Creation|
|Tues, Nov 29th||John 1:9-13 & John 9:5||Lit Star atop Advent Tree||Jesus is the Light of the world|
|Weds, Nov 30th||John 1:14||Word became Flesh||The Word became flesh & dwelt among us|
|Thurs, Dec 1st||Col 1:15-20||Earth/Globe||Jesus made all things, upholds all things, He is supreme & over all things|
|Fri, Dec 2nd||Phil 2:6-11||Cross||He humbled Himself at the Cross, Jesus is exalted above all|
|Sat, Dec 3rd||Psalm 24||Crown/Scepter – King||Jesus is the King of Glory|
|Sun, Dec 4th||Isa 40:1-11 & 1 Pet 1:13-25||Heart||Preparation Candle – Candle of The Way: Preparing & examining our hearts|
|Mon, Dec 5th||Luke 1:5-17, 24-25||Angel||Angel visits Zechariah; Elizabeth’s pregnancy|
|Tues, Dec 6th||Luke 1:39-45||Donkey||Mary visits Elizabeth|
|Weds, Dec 7th||Luke 1:57-66, 80||Baby Boy or Birth||Birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner|
|Thurs, Dec 8th||Malachi 3:1 & Mark 1:1-3||Scroll/Message||The messenger and forerunner|
|Fri, Dec 9th||Tit 2:11-13 & Zech 14:4, 7, 9||Hope||Longing for Jesus’ Appearing & Return|
|Sat, Dec 10th||Rev 19:5-9a, 11-16 & Rev 21:1-5a||Bridegroom or White Horse or King of Kings||Faithful & True Rider, Warrior Bridegroom, King of Kings & Lord of Lords who is coming and who will make all things new|
|Sun, Dec 11th||Matthew 2:9b-11 & 1 Peter 1:8-9 & John 15:9-11 & Isaiah 12:2-5 (Isaiah 35:10)||Joy||Shepherds’ Candle – Candle of Joy: joy in Christ at His birth, joy in Christ now, joy in His Return and Reign, rejoicing in His leadership|
|Mon, Dec 12th||Luke 2:8-14||Singing Angels or Glory to God in the Highest||Shepherds and the angels; “Glory to God in the Highest”|
|Tues, Dec 13th||Luke 2:15-20||Shepherds||The shepherds see Jesus, rejoice and tell everyone|
|Weds, Dec 14th||Matthew 2:1-7||Camel or Star||Wise men journey to Bethlehem|
|Thurs, Dec 15th||Matthew 2:8-11||Wise Men||Wise men give gifts to Jesus|
|Fri, Dec 16th||Mark 14:3-9 & Rev 5:7-14||Gifts or Treasure||Giving everything to Jesus because He is worthy|
|Sat, Dec 17th||Psalm 47||Music or Rejoice||Sing to Jesus, He is the King & Ruler over all|
|Sun, Dec 18th||John 3:16 & 1 John 3:1-2 & 1 John 4:8-10 & 1 Cor 13||Love||Bethlehem Candle – Candle of Love: the journey to Bethlehem and the love of God revealed through Jesus Christ|
|Mon, Dec 19th||Luke 1:26-27||Angel||Angel Gabriel visits Mary|
|Tues, Dec 20th||Luke 1:28-30||Mary||Angel’s greeting & description of Mary|
|Weds, Dec 21st||Luke 1:31 & Isaiah 7:14||Immanuel||His name is Jesus, Immanuel (God with us)|
|Thurs, Dec 22nd||Matthew 1:18, 20-23||Joseph||Angel visits Joseph in a dream (His name is Jesus, Immanuel)|
|Fri, Dec 23rd||Luke 1:32, 35-38||Crown||The baby is a King – He is the Son of God – He is God|
|Sat, Dec 24th||Luke 2:1-7||Jesus in Manger||The Birth of Christ|
|Sun, Dec 25th||Luke 2:1-21 & Matthew 1:18-25||Happy Birthday Jesus or Nativity||Christ Candle: The King is born!|
|Rev 21:1-7, vs10-26 & Rev 22:1-5, vs12-13, vs16-17||Come, Lord Jesus!|