There's nothing like celebrating Lent by writing about Advent. I've started most of my Advent posts, though, so I don't want to waste the time invested already by just deleting them.
I've tried a Jesse Tree in the past and have always been disappointed by the response of the children, but I felt like I needed one more thing for Advent and a Jesse Tree seemed perfect. This devotion is such a beautiful way to include Scripture in our Advent plans. Also, the Jesse Tree aids us in preparing our hearts and waiting for the Messiah in a way reminiscent of the way the Hebrew people waited for the Messiah. Ideally, we would also remember we are still waiting--for Christ's second coming.
I used the Jesse Tree from Advent, Christmas Epiphany in the Domestic Church. (You can find it for a reasonable cost at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts.) I like this version which focuses more on the "waiting" aspect of Advent rather than just the lineage of Jesus. It also does not include the O Antiphons, which I wanted to do separately.
I made two copies of each page of Jesse Tree ornaments (photocopies are permitted with purchase of the book). I colored them with colored pencils so I had two colored copies of each ornament. I cut them out and glued one set to some Christmas paper I had left over from last year's Advent drawer project. (Pink and purple would have been better but I didn't want to buy anything and already had this paper.)
Then I created a little book of the readings. I copied the NRSV text from an online Bible and pasted each day's reading into a new page of a Word document. I added a little purple rectangle at the top right corner for the second set of the ornaments I colored. I put them all in sheet protectors (because I love sheet protectors) and made a binder for our Jesse Tree readings. I took this picture when I had glued the ornaments to the page but before I had found a binder for them. Most of the readings fit on one page. I always put them in the sheet protectors so you could read the entire reading without turning a page. If it needed two pages, I put them facing each other. I'm just thoughtful that way.
I've uploaded my pages to Scribd and embedded them here in the post just in case you own Advent, Christmas Epiphany in the Domestic Church and would like to use them. (I emailed the authors of the book to let them know I was going to share this document, but I think the download is only useful if you own the book and the only text I included in freely available online already.)
It would be nice to read each night from an actual Bible, but this book is much easier for daily prayer time with young children. I grab the book and we're ready to go. The kids can look through the ornaments for the matching one for the day.
We don't have an actual Jesse Tree. One of these days Kansas Dad will make one for me, but I have to figure out a good place to put it so I'm not in a hurry. In the meantime, we taped them to the side of the bookcase (high enough to keep them away from the two year old; they're destructive by nature, you know).
I think the Jesse Tree in 2012 here on the Range was a success. I was a little sad to notice that First Son did not seem as interested in the picture books each day, even the new ones, but he was always focused for our Jesse Tree readings. I felt a little like the Holy Spirit led me to put all the pieces of the Jesse Tree together this year because First Son needed a little more depth to our Advent.
You can find a lot more wonderful ideas in Catherine and Peter Fournier's books or on their website: Domestic-Church.com.