I’m not crafty. And I struggle with follow-through. Sometimes my vision is bigger than my commitment to making it happen. I am not an “Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mom.” I’m not going to barricade my children into their rooms with paper mache or tear up my child’s homework. I’m just not that fun. We don’t have an Elf on the Shelf, and we never will.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb. I’m going to suggest that you shelve the Elf and do a Jesse Tree instead.
If you don’t know what a Jesse Tree is, that’s perfectly fine. In a nutshell, it’s sort of like an Advent calendar, but better. This is one of the best write-ups I’ve seen to explain it.
So, here are five reasons to shelve the elf and do a Jesse Tree instead.
1. Jesse Tree requires only a little bit of your time.
Your Jesse Tree could be super-involved and really intensive. You could carve your ornaments out of wood, or cross-stitch them. You could hike around in the woods and find a perfect branch for your Jesse Tree, paint it white, and sink it in a decoupage paint can filled with river stones.
Or, you could do what we have done. Print out the template that I’ll provide . Cut out the super simple symbols and divide them between your children. Have the kids color them. And then day-by-day hang them on a little fake tree. Just a little bit of time.
2. Jesse Tree provides you with simple and meaningful devotions for Advent.
If your family struggles to do devotions on a regular basis, Advent provides the perfect opportunity to develop this habit. I’m going to provide you with verses to read and discussion questions for your family.
If your “littles” can’t sit through the whole scripture reading, just tell the story of the passage or read it out of a children’s Bible. For children’s Bibles, we like Egermeier’s Bible Story Book and the Golden Children’s Bible.
But, here’s what I really love. The verses can be for your quiet time too. Read these verses in the morning for your personal Bible reading. When you do your Jesse Tree with your family, family devotions will flow from what God has already been revealing to you.
Simple and meaningful … for all of you.
3. Jesse Tree illuminates the truth of the Christmas story.
Now, I’m not going to hammer Elf on the Shelf, but the whole idea is based on a lie. And it’s got this weird adoption thing thrown in. I don’t like that. Jesse Tree illuminates truth. When you do a Jesse Tree, you see God’s promises and the fulfillment of these promises in the birth of Jesus. Beautiful, simple truth.
4. Jesse Tree involves your children.
You print out the symbols, which I’ll provide. They color them. We have had a few years we’ve gone a little bit further than this. And this is what I mean by a little bit further. We’ve mounted them on cardstock and laminated them. But then there was the year I went all-out and bought Sculpey clay and they shaped the ornaments.
The key here is that they are doing the real work. You’re not. You could save them to use year-to-year, but I like doing them each year. It’s more meaningful and less perfectionistic because you’re not worried about them having to be, well, perfect. Your children get involved.
5. Jesse Tree grows with your family.
If you do this every year, your kids will have solid truth associated with celebrating Christmas. And the promises and their fulfillment in Jesus are SO deep and SO rich that the depth of your family discussions will increase as your kids get older.
Are you interested in shelving the elf and doing a Jesse Tree? What’s not to love about something so simple and so meaningful.
So, here’s what I will do for you. Tomorrow I’ll post a Jesse Tree Family Devotional Guide that gives you scripture and discussion questions. It will start this Sunday, December 2nd, and finish on Tuesday, December 25th.
I have the symbols that go along with the readings, but I can’t post them online. So, you can email me at email@example.com and I’ll send them to you as a Word doc. Don’t worry. I’m not going to add your name to a list. I’m just not.
So what do you think? Do you have big Elf on the Shelf plans? Do you love Elf on the Shelf and can’t believe I’m not a fan? If so, tell me why. And, if you’re thinking of shelving the elf and doing a Jesse Tree instead, I’d love to hear!