The One Gift Always Worth Receiving


Eleven years ago my boys were two, three and six years old. I joined a local group who wanted to celebrate Advent with our families and create handmade ornaments for our individual Jesse Trees. There were 25 of us well-meaning moms. Each assigned one day–one ornament, we agreed to make 25 identical ornaments so that when we all got together at the end of November, we could swap them and each have 25 different hand-made ornaments.

Do you smell this recipe for disaster?

It was the worst way to welcome the season of Advent.

Being short of attention span, low on patience and high on hot glue I remember making 25 lambs out of cotton and maybe toothpicks. Rushing around over Thanksgiving.


One sweet mom somehow convinced herself that she had time to cross stitch 25 angel ornaments. Cross Stitch! I still admire her ambition. We’ll go to great lengths to teach our children the real meaning of Christmas.

She came that day full of apology and guilt because only a few ornaments were completed. We were sent home with directions on how to finish up her work and a copied paper print-out stapled together, with daily readings that went along with the Jesse Tree. Bless it. It was 2003 y’all. This is how things were done.


And secretly? This is horrible, HORRIBLE for me to say, but because 25 people made the ornaments, each a different scale and skill level and color scheme–I couldn’t bear to use the motley crew of unmatching ornaments for more than that first year. I am THE WORST. It was my first attempt at a Jesse Tree and I never did one again. It was too much work. I lost that paper printout and I figured only organized, good moms with clean cars did things like this with their kids–and this was light years before Pinterest.


And just like how maternity clothes have come so far now that my childbearing years are over. Now there’s a beautiful hardback book with daily readings for you at Christmas. Our family read The Greatest Gift together last year and we plan to again this year.

greatest gift

And let me tell you, to walk through Advent with Ann Voskamp is to read The Greatest Story Ever Told written in the words of one of the greatest storytellers of our time. Ann, who reminded us all to count the gifts now reminds us how to unwrap The Greatest Gift.

unwrapping the greatest gift


This year, there’s a family read aloud edition — a keepsake hardback book full of beautifully illustrated photos, and a plethora of tools to encourage and guide you through Advent with your family. What I would have done for this 11 years ago. This book is selling like crazy and for good reason, families have been looking for a book like this for ages. Seriously, y’all get everything. Even Pinterest.

If you purchase one thing this season for your family, I hope it’s this book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.


With either book you can access free printable ornaments for your Jesse Tree (that look great together and only take a few minutes to tie on some string!).

jesse tree

May your season be long on wonder, short on ‘to-dos’ and full of anticipation.

May you find true rest, true life and the one true Gift.

our story

Happy Thanksgiving, friends…

Find free resources, encouragement and more about The Greatest Gift here.

And free ornaments for the kids, or coloring pages, just to print out and hang on the tree. Done! Beautiful! All free at




 It’s an honor to share this post about an author and books I deeply love on behalf of its sponsor, Tyndale House.


  1. The family read aloud edition sounds perfect to my family, as my 6 and 3 year olds loves picture books and also learning about Jesus. Thanks for sharing this xx

  2. Oh I STILL remember when you made all those ornaments. I didn’t have kids yet and I was all “oh wow. I guess that’s what I have to do when I become a mom.” Thank God for Ann!!

    • OH MY WORD!! Did we do this together with Homebuilders? I need to go find my print out list because I STILL HAVE IT and if we both are on it then I am printing this post and adding it into my box that I pull out every year because that will just make it even better. I have used those motley ornaments for a decade but the last few years, we’ve needed something new. I do have five sets now, one for each child when they leave the nest. Then they will not have ANY stress with trying to make their own, because it WAS stressful. hahaha

      I did a whole post on organizing one of those ornament exchanges with ideas and everything, but guess how I edited that post this year? Yep, you betcha. I SO WISH we had had this book all those years ago. Especially since there’s no way that I would ever finish a cross stitched ornament. ;) xoxox

      • OH MY GOSH! Jen! I wonder if we did it together? All I can remember is that it was with Westover people–also, you are my hero to have FIVE sets WOW!

  3. Another great choice (although I’m not sure it’s quite as kid-frienly as Ann’s version) would be Russ Ramsey’s “Behold the Lamb of God” (inspired by Andrew Peterson’s epic album).

  4. I too remember 2003 that way! New moms with big ideas. But I had one friend who knew simple was better and kept reeling us in. Awesome post!

  5. My husband bought me The Greatest Gift last year as a Christmas present, but gave it to me before December. I cried. It may have been the first time I ever cried over a gift. I loved it! This year, I pre-ordered Unwrapping the Greatest Gift as soon as she announced it and then I bought another as a gift for a friend because this book needs to be shared.

  6. Tina Matteson says

    I had the EXACT SAME Jesse Tree experience, that same year, with a 3-year old and a baby… Thanks for sharing!

  7. Haha! Yes! That was me last year. Mailing ornaments to CA to be included in a Jesse Tree Ornament swap. I was so excited to get my package of ornaments in the mail. I opened the box and I couldn’t tell what most of the stories were :(. I’ll call them abstract versions ;). I recently bought Ann’s book and can’t wait to use it!!

  8. Darling Lily says

    Thank for for sharing this, I just bought one! You and Ann are pearls without price.

    I have a dear friend who still carries guilt from not wanting the ornaments her children made when they were young on her tree! She thought she had solved it by letting them each have their own little tree, but her 5 year old immediately proclaimed that she KNEW it was because she didn’t want the “ugly” ones. It was all I could do not to laugh!

  9. Lisa McCracken says

    I just went to the Christian Bookstore in my town and purchased what looked like their last copy of this book. I have been looking for something to do for Advent this year (besides the Lego and wax chocolate advent calendars). Not that I don’t love me some Legos, but I wanted something meaningful for the season. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  10. Jennifer Smith says

    I can relate. Every year, our Girl Scout troop makes themed ornaments to sell at our parish’s Christmas bazaar. Oh my. Some of those might not make it on my tree!! Happy holidays.

  11. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  12. Baileywife @ Irishman acres says

    Bought myself an early Christmas present, and this book will be on my doorstep on Friday!! Cannot wait to add this to our daily morning devotionals!!

  13. I have that book sitting on my book shelf, this has prompted me that I should probably read it. :)

  14. We bought these devotionals and have decorated the tree with the ornaments. Can’t wait to read it together! Beautiful :)

  15. I already love this book so much! We are doing a Jesse Tree for the first time this year, and this is such a phenomenal resource. I made a little quilted wall hanging, pink and purple patches for Advent, with buttons to hang the ornaments from. So looking forward to creating memories with my 2-year-old daughter.

  16. I just wanted to say Thank You! This was the first time I ever heard of any of these books and I really wanted to connect with the true meaning of Christmas this year and already I am loving it. It’s quite funny because I went to Barnes and Nobel to buy this book and I had my little boy with me, toys and children’s books were the first thing we needed to see of course. When it came time to look for this book (which I couldn’t remember her name and knew I was going to look it up on my phone), I turned around and there sitting on the corner of the display table was the book! While it was around the other Christian holiday books, this was kind of sitting right on the edge, last copy. Truly a sign that this book was meant for me to read: )

  17. I am so wanting to have my kids do the coloring pages that go with Ann Voskamp’s Greatest Gift for Advent. We have tried the printable ornaments and they just aren’t working to use as coloring pages. I have been desperately trying to find the coloring pages that you have pictured above – without success. I have spent lots of time on her website trying to find them. Can you help me, please?

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