Advent Decorating a Catholic Home Domestic Church Ink Slingers Maurisa

Advent Traditions–The Jesse Tree

Our parish priest despises the Jesse Tree. Sadly it is for good reason. As a seminarian, the liturgy director absolutely forbid Christmas decorations, music, etc. during Advent. They were allowed a Jesse Tree, a particularly ugly one at that, and that was the extent of their decor for the season. I feel for those poor seminarians. They had to have been homesick, stressed with studying for grueling final exams, and exhausted being at the very end of the term. Christmas and home being just around the corner, and the little joy they might have felt was being sucked right out of them in the name of Advent. No wonder he has a lasting disdain for the Jesse Tree.

Over the 5 years we’ve known him, I’ve been working on changing his negative feelings for the Jesse Tree. In our family it is a well loved tradition which goes hand-in-hand with joyful preparation for the Christmas Season. As with many of our family traditions, our Jesse Tree has evolved over the years. We’ve done everything from making our own sets of ornaments from paper patterns, markers, and copious amounts of glitter glue to using the permanent set of ornaments which I cross-stitched while exhausted, and enormously pregnant with one of our children. We’ve read devotions we found online, stories from the bible, and stories directly from a set of children’s picture books I’ve compiled over the years. For our family, the Jesse Tree is our Advent calendar counting down the days until the Nativity of our Lord and has become a primary source of catechizing our family about the depth and breadth of salvation history.

The tradition of the Jesse Tree has it’s roots in the Middle Ages. Jesse was the father of King David and is often considered the first in the line of the genealogy of Jesus; the root of Jesse. Medieval art, especially stained glass windows of cathedrals, frequently depicted Jesse reclining with a tree emerging from him with Old and New Testament ancestors of Christ depicted in the branches. Over time, Catholics took this idea and the elements from medieval mystery plays about the Fall of Adam and Eve combining and developing into the present day tradition of the Jesse Tree.

This tradition is so simple to incorporate. First you need to figure out how many days of Advent in a given year, as this number does change from year to year (anywhere between 21 and 27 days). This will be the number of ornaments and stories you will need. Beginning on the first day of Advent read the story of creation from the family bible, a children’s bible, or a picture book. After the story have one of the children place the corresponding ornament on the tree. Every day you continue this pattern until you reach Christmas Eve, on which you read the story of the Nativity and hang the last ornament. Easy-peasy.

In our family, we begin with our main Christmas tree decorated only with lights. It makes for a fairly bare tree through most of Advent, but on Gaudete Sunday we fully decorate our tree and then just continue to add Jesse Tree ornaments until Christmas Eve. You might have a separate Jesse Tree, a fully decorated tree, or keep yours bare until Christmas Eve. That is the beauty of this. You can make it your very own tradition.

You might make ornaments, purchase a beautiful set of ornaments, or just tie purple and rose (or any color for that matter) ribbons on your tree to mark each day. One year I purchased white ribbon and a metallic Sharpie and wrote the names from Jesus’ genealogy on the ribbon and used it as a garland. You might do the same with white ribbons and the name of the main character from the story.

The following list is a good representation in chronological order of the stories you might incorporate. You can pick and choose according to the number of days in Advent.

  • Creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • The Fall
  • Noah’s Ark
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph
  • Moses (divide into several stories–baby Moses, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the 10 Commandments)
  • Balaam and the Ass(this was a completely new story to me and one my kids love)
  • Jericho is conquered
  • Ruth and Naomi
  • Samuel
  • David (divided into several stories–anointing of David, David and Goliath, David and Saul, David as king)
  • Solomon
  • Elijah
  • Queen Esther
  • Jonah
  • Meshach, Shaddrach, and Abednego
  • Daniel
  • John the Baptist
  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity

Each of the stories have symbols we associate with each such as an apple for Adam and Eve or a coat of many colors for Joseph. You can design your own ornaments around these symbols, print a free set, or purchase a ready-made set. Catholic Inspired has a free printable set. Bright and Shiny Things has a free printable set of ornaments and a devotional booklet.  If you’d just like to purchase a ready-made set, I love this lovely wood set from JesseTreeTreasures or this sweet hand-made felt set from Baby What Nots, both on Etsy. 

If you are feeling especially adventurous and would like to read appropriate and beautiful picture books to accompany your ornaments, Ellie from The Bleeding Pelican has an amazing resource list of books to choose from.

Advent is a season filled with anticipation and preparation for Christmas. While we should embrace the penitential aspects of Advent which call us to conversion and deeper faith, we can also find the beauty and joy in traditions such as the Jesse Tree and the way in which the deep love of our Creator is revealed to us throughout salvation history.

Crafts Decorating a Catholic Home Domestic Church Ink Slingers Janalin

Fast and Easy Front Door Wreath for Lent

Our front door started out sad this Lent.  In our defense, we began by finishing up a round of influenza B for mama and all four kids.  And after a lackluster Advent preparation, I was determined not to let Lent get away from us as well.  I decided that this year I want to not only decorate our home for the liturgical year but that I also want to promote our beautiful and rich Catholic faith to others that pass by and enter into our home.  Thus the birth of the #CatholicFromTheCurb project and a quick DIY Lent front door wreath project today.

First up was a trip to Hobby Lobby!  I found this wreath which was love at first sight.  The earthy-ness of the sticks, the simplicity of the design, and the fact that it resembles the crown of thorns a little – I love it!  During Lent, I primarily wanted just the plain wreath hanging from a purple ribbon so I put the wreath and the ribbon in my cart.  Upon turning the corner, I found palm leaves and immediately thought of how the wreath could change as the days to Easter drew near.  So I picked up a bundle of those as well and an extra roll of red satin ribbon for Palm Sunday.  

I quickly found a stick that would hold my ribbon and I looped it through and tied off the ends based on how I was going to hang it from our home.

I then turned my over the door wreath hanger backward and attached the wreath from the backside.  

There!  That is MUCH better don’t you think?  Now our home looks like a Catholic home in the season of Lent!  

I’m thrilled with this simple Lenten wreath I was able to make this afternoon!  I hope you will take the time to make one as well!  


I haven’t decided on what to do for the Resurrection… do you all think I should go with white lilies or the Paschal lamb?  Both would be lovely!  Comment below with your vote and I will make the one that you all choose!  

And let’s chat!  Leave me a hashtag with #catholicfromthecurb so I can see how you are sharing the Faith from your home to the world!  

Celeste Crafts Decorating a Catholic Home Domestic Church Ink Slingers Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary Tutorial


The excitement over the tutorial for the Sacred Heart painting encouraged me to make one for the Immaculate Heart as well. I’m really excited to be able to share this with you, and encourage you to paint both and display them in a place of honor in your home. I’m sure Our Lord and Blessed Mother are both very pleased to have their precious hearts displayed where they can be acknowledged by our families and friends.

The video will show you exactly how I painted it. (Forgive the imperfections of my video! I’m not a professional!) If you haven’t yet painted the Sacred Heart, the video may be a good starting point, as you start both pieces with the same basic instructions. The most difficult part of painting the Immaculate Heart will be the roses. But as I say in the video, we’re aiming for the impression and not perfection. There are also some great tutorials out there for painting flowers too, if that is something that you think you’d like some more in-depth instruction on.

What follows is a list of the materials. I use what materials I have on hand for most of my art pieces, so don’t feel that you need to go out and buy anything high-end or special to accomplish something pretty.

Materials List

Canvas (whatever size you’d like, I did the larger canvas this time for the video)

Paint brushes, a 3/8 flat tip, #2 round, and a #10 flat

Acrylic paints: Red, Gold, 2 shades of Pink, black, Pink, White, Yellow, Black, Gunmetal, 2 shades of green

water and paper towels

I hope you enjoy the video and process if you choose to paint your own!


Decorating a Catholic Home Ink Slingers Janalin

Decorating a Catholic Home: No Cost Hallway Vignette


I have had this space at the top of our stairs on my ‘to do’ decorating list for a while now.  Our upstairs landing is dark and has been a sorting area for my de-cluttering projects as of late.  And  I’m ready to make it a pretty and enjoyable space for our family to enjoy!

Decorating a Catholic Home: No Cost Hallway Vignette

As you may remember I made a PDF printable to share with the Catholic Sistas readers before starting a home décor project like this.  After completing this important step I knew the direction I needed to take to get started with my project. 

First of all, I decided that this project was going to be a no cost space and that I would use things that I already had on hand.  Last spring during the city wide cleanup I had found a large custom black frame and had picked it up with the idea that I would re-frame one of my other pieces of art with it.

Decorating a Catholic Home: No Cost Hallway Vignette

If you are a thrifter like I am you know the excitement of a find like this!  What a gift!  The frame had been sitting out overnight and had some condensation on the inside of the glass.  I took it home and set it outside on our porch and faced the face of it to the west for maximum sun exposure and sure enough by the day it had cleared up. 

Decorating a Catholic Home: No Cost Hallway Vignette

Here are the items I gathered that I decided to use for my no cost decorating.  The trash to treasure picture (for the frame), a green urn, a very special vintage guardian angel picture  (that was needing re-framed), a crucifix, and a pair of candlesticks.

The next step was to take the two frames apart in preparation for the guardian angel’s new home.  The trashed frame was obviously newer and came apart easily.  What I was not prepared for was the vintage guardian angel image to break apart in my hands.  *sob*  After a moment of thinking I had ruined this special gift I realized that I could glue it back together with Modge Podge and possibly also give it an extra layer of protection for years to come if I gave the entire image a coat.

You can see the pieces that had broken off here as well as the carpet showing the gap between the new smaller image and the black frame’s mat cut out.  I decided to use a piece of black foam core to mount the angel image to.

At this point I had to trim off the edges of the guardian angel print and use a Sharpie marker to hide the tear lines in the paper.

I’m not a super perfectionist when it comes to hanging things but I do have a stigmatism so I used a ruler to check and make sure that everything was square and centered.

Next came the coat of Modge Podge underneath and entirely over the top.

After about an hour of drying I was able to clean the frame and put my ‘new’ image inside!

I was very pleased considering I was using entirely free or found objects!

I found a couple of handsome guys that could help me hang our new artwork…. and now we are ready to finish up the space with  the other pieces to make a nice vignette.

Here is the final result which I am really happy with considering that I did it all with no outside purchases!  In addition to the items I knew I was going to use I also added some vintage books, a framed verse, a small dish with my grandmother’s rosary, and some snowball flowers to make the space seem fresh.  

Do you have a space that needs a Catholic touch?  I would love to help a reader or two with some low cost suggestions to bring the faith into their home decor in a future blog post.  Email me your space at hello (at) with Catholic Sistas REFRESH in the subject line if you would like to be considered! 


Advent Decorating a Catholic Home Ink Slingers Janalin Liturgical Year

GIVEAWAY: A Catholic Jesse Tree Ornament Set!

GIVEAWAY: A Catholic Jesse Tree Ornament Set!

It’s Advent 2016!  Happy New Liturgical Year, Sistas!  Advent is my *favorite* time of year and we are still adding to our Advent traditions that we do together at home.  You can see my own home tour post from last year here. And don’t feel bad if your home doesn’t look like my does in that post just yet.  We just returned from an out of town trip over Thanksgiving and I still have several things to finish getting out.

Our long standing tradition that we have been doing for years is the Jesse Tree, and it is hands down everyone’s favorite!  This fall I participated in a SWAP where a group of Catholic women exchanged a set of rustic log ornaments through the mail.  This set of ornaments is great because it is Catholic and it corresponds with the Holy Hero Jesse Tree DVD.  I painted an extra set with you all in mind and am so excited to giveaway these gorgeous ornaments to one of you!

GIVEAWAY: A Catholic Jesse Tree Ornament Set!

This set of Catholic Jesse tree ornaments has been lovingly painted and prayed over by women all over the United States of America.  The winner will receive a full set of the 34 ornaments shipped to their home.  (USA addresses only please.)  Please comment below with why you or your family would benefit from this set and I will pick a winner Thursday, December 1st at 12PM CST! 

But wait, I also need your help!  In the upcoming weeks I would like to put together a Home Tour post with all of your beautiful Advent displays.  Would you please take a second to send me some photos of your home and/or your family this Advent season?  I’m looking for any way that you celebrate- decorations, displays, traditions, etc.  Use the hashtag #CSAdventDecor on Instagram or email your photos to: hello (at) janalinhood (dot) com


UPDATE:  Mary Jones is the winner of the Jesse Tree ornaments!  Mary, please email me your mailing address to hello (at) janalinhood (dot) com!