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An evening of inspiration and challenge to create a Christmas celebration that takes us "back to Bethlehem."

Packed with ideas on how to create a Christmas celebration filled with purpose and Christ's presence, it is targeted to a Christian audience. This message is for everyone... from a single Mom with a busy household to a SS teacher to Grandma and Grandpa, with examples they can all benefit from.

Length of time: 40-50 minutes long, including demonstrations.

Items needed:

  • long table (at least 3 feet)
  • a lectern from which to speak
  • and a wireless mic to make demonstrating easier.
  • small table will be needed for the book table.

Books available: Celebrate with Joy will be available at a reduced price for this evening only.

Fee Schedule: Available on request

Types of Meetings

  • Christmas brunch or an evening Christmas tea is our usual event.
  • Mini-retreat. Ladies come for a brunch, Sondra's presentation, a special feature (for example how to make a live green arrangement), a question/answer time with Sondra and an Advent craft made to take home. IF you chose this type of arrangement, Sondra is glad to work with you with choices, but is not able to gather the resources for the craft or teach it.
  • Couples night out: Husband/wife evening in which Sondra and her husband come and share the talk together. Very helpful in encouraging husbands and fathers to join in family traditions.
  • Very casual evening in which ladies bring goodies or appetizers. Only one table would need to be decorated where the refreshments would be served.

About the Speaker:

Sondra loves family and celebration. Her desire to transform Christmas into a Christ-honoring celebration throughout the entire "holy day" season compelled her to write Celebrate with Joy. To provide more visual impact for her message, Sondra began speaking in 1986. Having spoken to countless ladies groups over this time, her joy and challenge for YOUR group continues to be fresh because she believes it is the message God has given her to share.

NOTE: Because of the nature of the presentation (and lack of time) she is only able to target larger audiences. She is sorry to not be able to accommodate smaller Bible study groups. At the present time she is also not available on Sundays.

How to teach your Children to be Grateful Givers

Bethany, Sondra's oldest daughter, speaks in a more informal setting. It is great for a Mother/Daughter event or a Mom's Morning Out venue. Ideas are given for creating your own Christ-centered celebration around the theme of being Grateful Givers while presenting the "truth" about the original St. Nicholas who was a follower of God and a very giving person.

Length of Time: 30-40 minutes including demonstrations.

Items needed:

  • table for display
  • a lectern
  • a book table
  • and a wireless mic

Books Available: The books will also be available for sale as stated above.

Fee Schedule: Available upon request

The following ideas can be used with having the Burnetts speak OR you may create your own Advent evening with minor adaptations.. All you need is a copy(ies) of Celebrate with Joy and ladies to do demonstrations from the book. Sondra and Bethany are willing to help you. Write them with your questions.

1. Building the need.
Prepare your group ahead of time for what they will be experiencing. There is a better receptivity to the message when they come with an air of expectancy. When they have begun to see the need, they will come ready to learn more about Christ-honoring celebrations.

This happens through:

  • Announcements/ advertising.
  • Aesthetics of the meeting room.
  • Decorations are very important. Since the theme of the evening is more a "heart issue", we've found that a well-prepared room leads to a well-prepared heart.

NOTE: If your group is used to coming together for a craft afternoon/evening, our talk may not be as appropriate for you. Care must be taken to show how this afternoon/evening will be different. If not properly prepared, we have found that the ladies "tolerate the talk" and "rush to the craft."

While enjoyable, our presentation is not meant to be entertaining, but rather seeks to challenge for change. One way to help focus the evening toward "life change" is to centre the crafts around ideas presented in the book, crafts that would then be used in creating a Christ-centered tradition in their home.

2. Creating the Mood
Ladies groups have done a variety of creative things to help their ladies slip into the Christmas mood even if it is only September!! (Or if we may suggest . . . May or July?? This gives PLENTY of time to prepare for Christ-centered "holy-days"). While the majority of our meeting are in November and December, don't forget the goal is trying to motivate ladies to prepare early. That takes time.

1. Centerpieces play an important role. Following are a few ideas:

  • "The Basic": centerpieces with candles, greens, and festive bows.
  • "The Natural Look": centerpieces with all the above using hollowed out oranges and grapefruits filled with coarse pickling salt and/or cranberries (for color) and tea light candles. Experiment.
  • "Traditions": focusing around a beautifully wrapped package. Enclosed inside the package would be one of the names of Jesus, or a Symbol of the Season. For instance: a small lamb, a paper with the Lamb of God and the verse John 1:12 written on it. (See Celebrate with Joy pages 24-25, 33). At a specified time in the evening the boxes are opened as the idea is presented (by myself or one of your ladies).
  • "Advent Jar": uses a larger, more elaborate version of our Advent Jar and adds meaning to your decorations. Use a quart jar, sunflower seeds in the shell and walnuts (also in the shell) sprayed gold. Add a jar topper in Christmas fabric and ribbon and you have both a centerpiece and a door prize. Another idea is to actually have the ladies make an advent jar to take home (see page 11-12 of Celebrate) as part of their evening. This idea is demonstrated in the main body of my presentation.
  • "Individual place settings" could include: a small baby food jar version of the advent jar, a small (candy size) paper luminary bag spray painted and including a tea light candle (see page 66-67 ), small baby food jars with a decorated lip and a small tea light candle inside.

NOTE: It is nice to use as much candle light as possible as there is so much meaning to the symbolism of light.

2. Refreshments
One ladies group made their evenings refreshments from the recipe pages of Celebrate with Joy along with little stand-up cards telling the name of the recipe and what page it could be found on in Celebrate.

Another fun activity would be to include a cookie exchange with your ladies, see pages 105-106 in Celebrate.

3. Worship
We have found worshipful singing to be very beneficial at the beginning of the meeting to open ladies' hearts to the message. An idea to close the meeting is to sing Silent Night and have the room totally in candle light. Allow time for contemplation.

4. Gift Giving
Some groups have also given their ladies a gift when they leave. Although this is not necessary, it does extend the evening's message in a meaningful way. We share it only to give additional ideas of what has been done, not to set precedent for future events.

  • Give a taper candle with the reminder to let it be their Bethlehem candle (see page 66 Celebrate with Joy).
  • Another group purchased a commercial Advent taper candle (with the numbers 1-25 imprinted on it) and encouraged their ladies to burn it each day as they have their devotions.

...restore the spiritual beauty to your Christmas season by learning the true meaning of our traditions. Wreaths, holly, bells, angels... these are not just pretty decorations for the season. They are symbols with rich spiritual meaning. We should know why we use them and teach our children and grandchildren their significance. How much richer to put up a wreath knowing it symbolizes God's never ending love for us than to simply put it up because it is the thing to do.
Martha Zimmerman tells of an old Proverb: "Put something where you can see it so your mind will remind your heart."

Sondra's Bethlehem Bound Talk

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