Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

⭐️Deck the Halls! ⭐️ Light the menorah! ⭐️ Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja! ⭐️

It’s time for . . .

The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Contest!

Your contest can be anything you want! Baking, wrapping, decorating (tree or home), raising money or collecting gifts for those in need, ice skating, sledding, caroling, fancy dress, snowman or fort building. . . sky’s the limit! But it must be about a holiday contest!

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted between right now this very second and Thursday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, and must be posted below in the comment section of this post. All entries should include a title, byline (people always ask what this is – it means who the entry was written by, so, by Suzy Q. Writer or whoever 😊) and word count. You are welcome to also post your entries on your own blogs and include your blog address with your entry here if you’d like to encourage people to come visit your blog, but your entry must be posted in the comment section of this post or it will not be counted because we won’t see it. This post will remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so everyone will have plenty of time to visit and enjoy.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email your entry to me and I will post it for you. Please copy and paste your entry with word count and byline into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS please.

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 12 finalists.  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Tuesday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  (But it almost always seems to end up taking us longer. . . so it might be a day or two later.) The vote will be closed on Thursday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to twelfth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Friday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Contest! – the rules state a Holiday Contest story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a contest that in some way relates to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on the contest  – the contest must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important. Please proofread!
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!: Oh! Such wonderful prizes! All I can say is, how lucky are we to be part of such a talented and generous community that offers such amazing prizes!

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique/Zoom Chat (Non-rhyming) from children’s author Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, fiction only) from children’s author Shelley Kinder! Shelley is the author of NOT SO SCARY JERRY (Spork 2017), THE MASTERPIECE (Spork 2018) and GOD AND ME AND THE SEA (Kregel Children’s Books, May 17, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (written) PLUS 15 minute Zoom Chat (no nonfiction) from Cindy Williams Schrauben author of THIS COULD BE YOU (Cardinal Rule Press, April 1, 2022)!

⭐️ Zoom Visit to a classroom or to kids at home by children’s author Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

Author, Ellen Leventhal

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Heather Gale, author of HO’ONANI: HULA WARRIOR (Tundra Books, 2019) which was one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids 2019, one of the Ontario Library Association’s 2019 Top Ten Titles, Featured on the 2020 Rainbow Book List, Featured on the 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, and received a Booklist Starred Review!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Maria Marshall! Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature fun for children. She’s a judge for the Cybils Awards and the #50PreciousWords competition. Four of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. The Picture Book Buzz  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Maria Marshall

⭐️ A Reversible Handmade Christmas Stocking or Other Winter or Holiday-Themed Gift Bag from Karen Gebbia PLUS a Personalized Signed Copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY by Nancy Derey Riley to fill it!

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of either QUEEN OF PHYSICS:How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) or TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (Albert Whitman 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Teresa Robeson


a Personalized Signed Copy of either LISTEN (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2021) or TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Harry N. Abrams 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Gabi Snyder

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⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England (Albert Whitman 2018) by Nancy Churnin PLUS a Digital Copy of THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY (Beaming Books 2018) by Lynne Marie

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel July 2021) by Becky Scharnhorst PLUS a Kindle or Audiobook Copy of either FUNNY JIMMY (AuthorHouse 2011) or THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF RIDDLES (Avid Readers Publishing Group 2011) (Winner’s Choice!) by Vanessa Rose Lee

⭐️ Winner’s Choice of 2 of the following 4 picture books, kindly donated by Dee Knabb!

With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot of entries – the more the merrier!  And you’ve still got a couple days to write, so you can squeeze in under the wire if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

Contest Entrants, remember you MUST post your entry in the comment section below and include title, byline, and word count.

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links below, click on them (they’ll take you directly to whichever story you click on), and enjoy the stories!

So let the Holiday Contest begin!

Happy Writing and Happy Holidays! 😊 ☃️ ✡️ ⭐️ ❄️ 🎄🕯🕎

I can’t wait to read your entries!!!


  1. It Takes A Forest – Lucretia Schafroth
  2. The Kelpie Challenge – Bonnie Kelso
  3. The Cookies Of Holiday Hollow – Royal Baysinger
  4. Elf Off The Shelf – Anne Lipton
  5. The Trolls: A Winter Tale – Royal Baysinger
  6. Upon A Winter Solstice – Royal Baysinger
  7. So You Think You Can Prance – Amy Leskowski
  8. The Festive Flying Race – Nicola Beach
  9. Birdie’s Song – Beth Stillborn
  10. The Holiday Homework – Sue Lancaster
  11. How Tiny Won A Seat On Santa’s Sleigh – Elizabeth Westra
  12. The Claus’ Candy Cane Contest – Susan Schipper
  13. He Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good – Colleen Murphy
  14. Olive, The Other Reindeer – Lindsay Moretti
  15. Go Green For Christmas – Margaret Zotkiewicz
  16. Tree Number Nine – Lindsey Hobson
  17. Christmas Boots – P.J. Purtee
  18. Ellarose’s Sweater – Marta Cutler
  19. A Fourth Grader’s Poster Problem – Jennifer Vose
  20. A Buggie Tradition – Kay Inglis
  21. Kendy And The Solstice Solo Show – Sarah Meade
  22. Elsie And The Christmas Comedy Contest – Sarah Meade
  23. The Better Elf On The Shelf – Molly Ippolito
  24. Ernie And The Science Fair – Deborah Foster
  25. Mr. Tweedy’s Christmas Trees – Colleen Fogarty
  26. Best Wrapped Surprise – Sara Dean
  27. Christmas Eve Ride Along Contest – Dawn Young
  28. The Christmas Tree Contest – Dorothy K. Kohrherr
  29. Alfredo Learns The Secret Of Greatness – Joan Leotta
  30. The Pretty Ugly Sweater – Pamela Swanson
  31. Jamie’s Holiday Surprise – Diana Sussman
  32. Katie’s Snow Creation – Marty B.
  33. The Tasty Treat Christmas Contest – Katie Brandyberry
  34. Santa’s Secret Contest – Linda Staszak
  35. Phoebe’s Snowperson – Kelly Clasen
  36. THAT’S Not A Christmas Cookie! – Vanessa Konoval
  37. Candy Pies – Sharon McCarthy
  38. Solstice Skaters – Allison Strick
  39. The Best Gift Ever – Pen Avey
  40. The Most Christmassy House – Jen MacGregor
  41. Candy Caribou – Steena Hernandez
  42. A Christmas Pickle Story – Daniella Kaufman-Schloss
  43. Shining Star – Sarah Hawklyn
  44. Grumpy Snow Pants – Stephanie Maksymiw
  45. The Best Reading Contest Of Winter, 1959 – Beth Schmelzer
  46. Playground Games – Colleen Dougherty
  47. Simply The Best – Nicole Loos Miller
  48. Bear’s Christmas Cookie – Marta Cutler
  49. Happy Everything! – Laura Barens
  50. Dancing With The Elves – Jill Lambert
  51. A Creature Was Stirring – Judy Sobanski
  52. The Monster On Christmas Eve – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  53. What Christmas Means To Me – Marty Findley
  54. A Miscalculation – Emily Durant
  55. Lily And The Winter Festival – Karen J Moore
  56. 2021 Monkey Merry Xmas – Shariffa Keshavjee
  57. The Ginger Friend House – Kelly Swemba
  58. Gingerbread House Extravaganza – Elaine D’Alessandro
  59. Parol: This Little Star Of Mine – Lynn Grace Wong
  60. Christmas Song – YauMei Chiang
  61. Reindeer Games – Tiffany Hanson
  62. The Cookie Contest Caper – Kelsey E. Gross
  63. The Clean-Out-The-Clutter Contest – Sarah Demarest Guthrie
  64. The Contest – Amanda Sherlock
  65. Asher’s Chanukiah – Dina Silverberg
  66. Best Hanukkah Ever! – Paul Kurtz
  67. Cinder-Latke – Paul Kurtz
  68. Bunny Claus – Donna Kurtz
  69. Jangle Shells – Donna Kurtz
  70. Spin – Cheryl Simon
  71. Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest – Ellen Crosby
  72. The Winning Recipe – Judy Abelove Shemtob
  73. The Greatest Display Of All – Barbara Kimmel
  74. Sparky’s Wish – Ingrid Boydston
  75. The Night After Christmas – Abby N. Wooldridge
  76. The Claus’s Hawaiian Vacation – C. S. Boyll
  77. Gifts For Grandma – Cindy Sommer
  78. Keep Christmas Coming – Jeannette Suhr
  79. The Most Special Ornament – Timothy Hicks
  80. Santa’s Workshop Winners – Polly Owen
  81. Elfie Selfie Contest – Stephanie Henson
  82. The Great Holiday Bake Off – Jamie Donahoe
  83. Laughing All The Way – Sarah Hetu
  84. A Sack Full Of Presents – Patricia Nozell
  85. Fairy Tale Houses – Jim Chaize
  86. Christmas…By A Nose – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  87. Reindeer Sing…Are You Listening? – Katie Schwartz
  88. Christmas Carrots – Vashti Verbowski
  89. Being Santa Lucia – Cindy Greene
  90. Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Who Will Win? – Stephanie Wildman
  91. ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  92. The Chubby Bunny Champion – Alicia Meyers
  93. Up And Away! – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  94. Christmas Isn’t – Ingrid Boydston
  95. The Christmas Pirate – Julianna Kurtz
  96. Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas – Shadi Kafi
  97. The Most Beautiful Snowflake Of All – Cassie Silva
  98. Fire And Ice – Jyn Hall
  99. The Santa Spectacle – Mary Cathering Amadu
  100. A Jarring Contest – Bru Benson
  101. Everything – Sandhya Acharya
  102. Similarity Despite Diversity – Eva Felder
  103. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Becky Goodman
  104. Solstice Wars! – Phoebe Browning
  105. Gingerbread Surprise – JC Kelly
  106. Squirrels Christmas – Charlotte Boyer
  107. The Holiday Contest – Denise Seidman
  108. The Witch’s Gingerbread House – Lauri Meyers
  109. Elf Rivalry – Michelle S. Kennedy
  110. Dream Big, Little Pip! – Sally Yorke-Viney
  111. An Extraordinary Elf – Becky Kimbrough
  112. Jasmine Jingletoes And The Christmas Stocking Contest – Brenda Covert
  113. Let There Be (MORE!) Lights – Judy Carey Nevin
  114. Laughing All The Way – Samantha Gassman

1,728 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

  1. Anne Lipton says:

    You build great tension with the pacing of your story, leading us to the edge of our seats, and have created a charming character to root for, onstage and off, in Simon. Bravo!

  2. arielwpnov21 says:

    I love how Jonathan and Sabrina are creative problem-solvers! And who knew that Santa could lasso a snow cloud—this is such vivid imagery. Great story, Susan!

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Similarity Despite Diversity
    By Eva Felder
    (239 words)

    The Holiday Season was fast approaching, and the excitement could be felt everywhere.

    The school Principal was brainstorming a special Project for the children. After many ideas ended up tossed in the recycling bin, she knew exactly what to announce over the loudspeakers that day.

    “Good morning fabulous students, I need your total attention: Our Holidays Project this year is a Contest. The entire School will participate, you are going to work individually, each class will have three winners and the prizes are a total secret.”

    “In the last five years, our school has been culturally enriched by kids original of many countries. Diverse festivities are taking place throughout our everchanging community. Your assignment is to interview as many schoolmates as possible and inquire about holidays celebrated in each home.”

    “Explore with great precision each element: Name of the Holiday, history, symbols, customs, music, gifts, food. Once you gather all the information, compare and contrast all the celebrations. The key concept is how much affinity we have with others. The Title of the Contest is: Similarity Despite Diversity. You have three weeks to complete your task and turn in your Project, to the library.”

    “Good luck to all of you, be on cloud nine, and always be exceptional researchers.”

    All participant enjoyed the Contest, learned a lot, and developed new friendships. The Mayor of the City gave the prizes to the winners.

    This wonderful Contest was covered by all the News.

  4. Becky Marie Goodman (@Becky_M_Goodman) says:

    O Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
    by Becky Goodman
    232 words

    After Thanksgiving, the contest begins.

    Participants enter unwittingly, yet strive day and night, to achieve one brilliant win.

    Families work together. They strategize, tinker, and create.

    But when the deadline approaches, few homes achieve the greatness they imagined…
    Few understand their mightiest opponent:

    The Toddler.

    Three feet high and weighing as much as a large turkey, the toddler’s ability to destruct is 100:1, proportionally to her size.

    Adults mistake the toddler’s round, merry belly and stubby limbs for cuteness, until they’re used against THE LARGEST OBJECT EVER INTRODUCED into her home:

    The Christmas Tree.

    This beacon of hope turns into a mountain of mayhem. At first, families react in small ways – moving ornaments, and hiding the pointy, weapon-ready ones.


    In the Merriweather household…
    STAGE 2: BLOCKADE, begins.

    Joy, 11, watches her parents gate off the tree. “Stop!” she calls, as the toddler scales the wall.
    Joy organizes…


    When her parents finish
    tears fall from her mother’s eyes. “I just wanted…”

    Joy runs upstairs, grabs the cat post, and brings it into the family room. She strings lights, gathers small stuffies, and secures them onto perches. Joy picks up the toddler and asks her parents to come see.

    They enter STAGE 6: ACCEPTANCE.
    They all laugh and embrace. “It’s beautiful.”

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Solstice Wars!
    Phoebe Browning
    Word Count: 250

    Mindy and Janet were the best of frenemies.
    Until the day their teacher asked who can create a Winter Solstice celebration.
    Mindy and Janet’s hands shot up in the air. “I can!” they exclaimed in unison.
    “I celebrate Dongzhi for solstice and make traditional foods with my family,” Janet said.
    Mindy replied, “I decorate trees with food for the animals and welcome the light.”
    Mindy and Janet stared at each other.
    “How about we both create a celebration and see which the class likes better. The winner will be crowned Solstice Queen,” Janet challenged.
    “You mean Dongzhi Queen”, Mindy countered.
    Solstice dawned.
    Mindy handed out garlands of popcorn and dried apples, and bird feeders covered in seed and peanut butter to hang on the trees.
    After they did, Mindy led them in singing…
    “Oh Solstice Tree, Oh Solstice Tree
    How lovely are your branches.”
    Back inside, Janet passed out dumplings in warm soup and sweet rice balls.
    Then Janet recited:
    “Clouds fell away at this dawn; the day would be longer since then. Warmer and warmer, as night turns to be shorter.”
    As the class slurped their soup, Mindy gave out lanterns for home.
    “Time to vote on which celebration was better”, the teacher announced.
    Mindy burst out, “Wait, I love Janet’s traditions. She should win!”
    “No, I love your traditions. You should win!” Janet exclaimed.
    “Great job girls, you’re both winners!’, the teacher announced as the class cheered.
    The girls looked at each other and giggled.
    “Yes, we are!!!”

  6. writestuff99 says:

    Gingerbread Surprise
    by JC Kelly
    250 Words

    ‘Twas the night before the Holiday Gingerbread House contest, and Hank was frantically decorating his masterpiece.
    When Mom yelled “Almost bedtime,” Hank worked even faster.

    Mixing bowls piled up in the sink. Everything was sticky with icing.
    Gingersnap the cat scampered around, licking up bits of candy that dropped on the floor.
    Flour dusted everything, making it look like it had flurried inside the kitchen.

    Just as Hank placed the last candy cane, Mom yelled, “Time for bed.”
    His house was perfect. The icing was straight. Each candy carefully placed. But, the kitchen was a disaster. Hank promised he’d clean it after school.

    In the morning, Hank had to rub his eyes — was he seeing things? What happened to his perfect gingerbread house? Why was there a small hole in it?
    It almost looked like a mousehole. Hank peered through, and was shocked to see something INSIDE. He was scratching his head when Mom yelled “Hurry, the bus is coming.”

    When it was time to judge the houses, everyone gathered around Hank’s, amazed at the surprise inside. There was no competition. Hank was the clear winner.

    When Hank brought home his gingerbread house with the first-place ribbon, he asked Mom, “How did you get that surprise inside, after I made the house?”
    “What surprise?” asked Mom as she squinted through the mousehole, shocked to see an intricately decorated cat-shaped gingerbread cookie inside the house.

    Suddenly they both noticed Gingersnap, licking flour off his paws. Grinning like a Cheshire cat.

  7. Charlotte Boyer says:

    Squirrels Christmas
    By: Charlotte Boyer
    250 Words

    “IT’S HAPPENING!” I yell.
    The air has a chill, and I see the first tree tied to a vehicle.
    It’s Christmas.
    Time for the best annual contest.

    While humans find cheer in church and gifts, we squirrels find joy in their decorations.
    It started when my uncle thought acorns were in a Santa’s sleigh.
    We found him; hat draped over his face.
    Uncle Earl as Santa. It was PRICELESS. And thus began our annual contest.
    Who can find the best decorations to become part of?

    Judges select a winner during our Christmas demonstration. Every year Billy wins.

    I start my search early.

    I see Billy. “Hey,” he says, “I found my decoration, it’s the best ever.”

    I get up earlier the next day, but nothing can beat whatever Billy has.

    I do this for weeks.
    Wake up, dash around, nothing.

    Maybe I should give up. Then, like a dream, I see a helicopter with elves. I rush to claim it.

    Today’s the day! As I get to my spot, the decoration isn’t there. The squirrel committee will be here soon, and my entry IS GONE!

    The judges turn the corner and the ground beneath me grows. My decoration! It’s inflating! I grab on. Then, something snags me, propelling me into the air and SPLAT, into the house.

    As I come to, they’re crowing me. I WON! They liked my dedication to the act. From now on though, I’ll play it safe and be a judge.

  8. Denise Seidman says:

    The Holiday Contest
    By Denise Seidman
    WC=244 Words
    Tyler grew excited when he saw the red flyer. He read it and nodded. The prize was an hour-long shopping spree. He could get a lot of stuff for himself and the pediatric wing of the hospital. Ty, a recent patient, knew the kids on the wing would love to get toys and games.

    Ty had an idea. He asked his classmates and the school staff how they celebrated the holidays. This is part of what he wrote.

    Light plays a part in many holidays people celebrate. African American light the kinara for Kwanzaa, Jewish people light the menorah for Hanukkah, Christians used to light candles on trees and around their home. Hindis celebrate Diwali with candles. Muslims light candles for holidays but it’s not part of the celebration. Most of these holidays are celebrated in December. Light chases away darkness, at least for a while.

    Papers were collected and the wait was on. Some kids wrote lists of what they would get in the shopping spree. Ty just sighed glad he entered

    After a few days the teacher said, “Class, the voting committee was very impressed with your writing but one entry stood out. “Ty , can you please come up? You’re our winner.”

    The classroom erupted in applause and Ty went to the front. “I decided that since you all helped me, we should share the prize.

    And he did help both the school and the hospital with games and toys for all.

  9. Lauri Meyers says:

    The Witch’s Gingerbread House
    By Lauri Meyers (250 words)
    Aggie never won the Gingerbread House Contest. That witch Thelby always attracted the plumpest, cutest children for her Winter Solstice feast while Aggie sipped cold carrot stew. She needed this year’s prize. With the Electric Cauldron 3000, she’d have HOT carrot stew!

    She baked her gingerbread walls over a bonfire, like mum taught her, then built a cozy cottage.
    She peeked at Thelby’s two-story mansion. “Aww, frog legs!”

    Aggie planted cactus outside to welcome the children. Thelby poured a chocolate pudding pond with a cake diving board. “Aww, drat rats!”

    Aggie shivered in the cold, thinking about that new cauldron. She spied on Thelby for inspiration.
    Red licorice covered the house. Thelby hung taffy windows with gummy shutters. A candy cane chimney puffed cotton candy smoke. Marshmallow icicles melted from the chocolate bar roof.
    “Well, spicy spells! I could win.” Aggie giggled. “Candy is icky. Kids love… VEGETABLES!

    She covered the walls with carrot logs, added sliced zucchini windows, and hung green bean shutters. She stacked pickles into a chimney. Ranch dressing icicles dripped from the tomato slice roof. She added a celery slide for after feast fun!

    The kids looked at her house in confusion, then headed toward Thelby’s.
    “Enjoy your carrot stew, Aggie!” Thelby sneered.
    Aggie stood up for herself. “What’s your winter solstice feast?”
    “Plump children!”
    “Wizard whiskers! You EAT the CHILDREN?!” Aggie yelled. “I’m a vegetarian.”
    The kids came running to Aggie’s gingerbread cottage.
    And she enjoyed eating hot carrot stew with the cutest, plumpest children.

  10. Michelle S Kennedy says:

    ELF RIVALRY (242 WC)
    By Michelle S. Kennedy

    ‘Twas right before Christmas and all through the shop
    A contest was brewing that no one could stop!
    Elf Tinker had bragged that his toys were best.
    But Winkle asserted, “HA! Surely you jest!”

    “Just look at my trains!” said Tinker with pride.
    “They’re made to perfection that can’t be denied!”
    Then Tinker continued, “Come see for yourself.
    They’re better than yours— because I’M the best elf!”

    “Well gaze at my trucks!” replied Winkle with spite.
    “At least mine have wheels ‘cuz their lug nuts are tight!”
    They squabbled and quibbled but wouldn’t agree…
    “Let’s have a challenge and then we will see!”

    A rivalry match was about to begin!
    The other elves watched them to see who would win.
    The first event started. They stuffed and fluffed bears.
    Their workmanship suffered— with needed repairs.

    “Strike one! Neither wins if the job’s not precise.”
    Lead Elf told them both: “Broken toys won’t suffice!”
    The next match was better. They got in a groove.
    But still there were oodles of room to improve.

    “Strike two!” said Lead Elf. “The paint’s chipping on these!
    So, please be more careful.” he said with a tease.
    The last round then started but Tinker was stuck.
    His screwdriver broke. For Winkle— what luck!

    The contest was over. Poor Tinker sat brooding.
    But Winkle looked over, “I’m sorry we’re feuding.”
    This whole thing is silly so don’t be distraught.
    Your train is the best and I’m sorry we fought.”

  11. pecrosby says:

    Great rhyme and meter, Katrina (something I have yet to master, but working on it). Strong main character, such a “lovable” Bah-Humbug’er. Actually, I like that the focus is not necessarily on the contest per se. However, a satisfying ending with everyone winning!

  12. syorkeviney says:

    Dream Big, Little Pip!
    By Sally Yorke-Viney
    Twas the night before Christmas and though it looked tame
    The elves were preparing their holiday game,

    The gifts were all wrapped and now it was time
    To stack up the presents and see who could climb?

    The fastest one up, would tie up the sack,
    Round the mountain of gifts behind Santa’s back.

    Now, Pip was the littlest elf at the Pole.
    Custodial elf, knee high to a troll.

    He cleaned up the workshop, under chairs and the table.
    He did what he could, cause he knew he was able,

    He worked out so hard, while the other elves slept.
    He vaulted and cartwheeled, he jumped and he leapt!

    For he had a dream that he couldn’t be beat,
    And the big day arrived for each elf to compete.

    But none of them got to the top of the pile
    And Pip announced shyly, but then with a smile

    “ I think I can climb it” He said to the crowd,
    And the other elves laughed and said, Not allowed!”

    With one giant leap though, he hit the pile running
    Grabbed onto a ribbon, and swung. It was stunning!

    At one point he teetered and he heard the crowd gasp
    They’re rooting for me, and he tightened his grasp.

    As he got to the summit, his heart skipped a beat
    As he saw Santa’s face and he said with a squeak.

    Santa, I’m here, but I must say I’m nervous
    I’m Pip Squeak the Elf, totally at your service!

  13. pbbeckyk says:

    An Extraordinary Elf
    By: Becky Kimbrough
    249 words

    Elliott studied the sign and grinned:
    Santa’s Spectacular Snow Day!
    Greatest Gift Wrap!
    Swiftest Snowballs!
    Tallest Tower of Tasty Treats!
    “An elves’ day of holiday contests,” said Elliott. “Maybe I can win them all!”
    The other elves laughed.
    “Your efforts are always over-the-top, Elliott. You are exceptionally…extra. Remember when
    you overflowed the whipped cream machine?”
    I’ll show them. Elliott frowned.
    Whoosh! He raced to Snowball Stadium.
    “My extra-icy snowballs are super-speedy.”
    Fling! Zoom! Crash!
    “Ice-packed snowballs are too swift,” Elliott sighed.
    Whoosh! He dashed to Christmas Kitchen.
    “With extra fudge and frosting, my treat tower will be the tallest!”
    Elliott’s tasty tower shot up in no time.
    “Just one more brownie.” He balanced precariously.
    Wobble, wobble, crash!
    “What a mess!” Elliott’s lip quivered.
    “But there’s still time for gift wrapping glory.” He dragged an enormous bag of glitter to Gift
    Wrap Grotto.
    Phew. Elliott huffed.
    Beep! Beep! Beep!
    The contest ended as he arrived.
    “Oh no! I didn’t win a single contest.” Elliott sniffled.
    “Don’t cry, Elliott,” said Santa. “We added an extra contest this year. The Over-the-Top
    obstacle course is starting now.”’
    Elliott looked up to see Reindeer Games Racetrack strewn with glitter, ice, and walls of fudge.
    “Gobs of glitter? Slippery snowballs? Foothills of fudge? I’ve been practicing for this contest all
    Whoosh! With ten speedy scrambles, ten careful climbs, and ten jaunty jumps, Elliott zoomed
    through the course in two minutes!
    “Ho-ho-ho! Our winner is Elliott, an extraordinary elf,” Santa bellowed.
    Elliott’s grin was extra-wide.

  14. Brenda Covert says:

    Jasmine Jingletoes and the Christmas Stocking Contest
    By Brenda Covert (248 words)

    Jasmine Jingletoes added a dab of glitter and held up the stocking.

    “Dazzling!” said Dreamy MacTwinkle.

    “Stunning!” said Cedar Sparkleshins.

    “Thanks!” said Jasmine Jingletoes.

    “Perfect!” said Joy Gingersnap, the elf arts manager. “Are you ready to compete?”

    Jasmine nodded. “Christmas stocking art is my favorite!”

    She read the door sign aloud. “Christmas Stocking Stuffing Contest.” She tugged at a curl. “This can’t be the right place, Joy. Where is the stocking art contest?”
    There was no art contest. Jasmine clutched her elf hat and cried, “I’m an artist! I haven’t practiced stuffing stockings. What should I do?”
    Her friends gathered around. “You can figure it out!” Dreamy said.
    “You can do this!” Cedar added.
    Joy handed her a candy cane. “Study the items for the stocking. Think about what makes sense to go in first, second, and third.”
    A red stocking lay on the table beside a box.
    Santa stood in front of the contestants. “On your mark, get set, and … go!”
    Inside the box, Jasmine found a cocoa bomb for making hot chocolate. Beside it was a peppermint stick, a tub of slime, and a pet rock turtle! The other elves stuffed the items into their stockings. Jasmine picked up the stocking.
    After thinking, Jasmine put in the heavy turtle, then the slime, and last the cocoa bomb. She slid the candy stick down the side. The final touch was to add her candy cane.
    “Nice touch!” Santa grinned. “It looks like we have a winner!”

  15. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Let There Be (MORE!) Lights
    by Judy Carey Nevin
    66 words

    “This is the year we’re going to win, Honey. I can feel it. I can just feel it! Go ahead—plug us in!”


    Fizzle, fizzle.


    “Daddy, will Santa be able to find us without any lights on the trees?”

    “Mommy, how will Santa find us if there aren’t any lights on the houses?”

    “Mommy! Daddy! Will the light on Rudolph’s nose be broken, too???”

  16. Samantha Gassman says:

    By Samantha Gassman
    Word Count: 242

    Ever since his dad died two Christmases ago, Jared couldn’t imagine entering the town’s sledding contest. He and his dad had been four-time “Jingle All the Sleigh” team winners. But now, it was too much to bear. Other kids with their dads giggling, throwing snowballs. The hiss of his solo sled sliding over the snow reminded him of all the silent nights without his dad. So, when his Uncle Gary asked if Jared would compete with him, his uncle was met with a slamming door.

    Inside his room, Jared flopped onto his bed, tears heavy behind his eyes.

    “Isn’t this supposed to get easier?” he asked the photo of him and his dad next to his bed. He closed his eyes and tried to bring forward as many details as he could from the last contest. But he couldn’t remember his dad’s twinkling brown eyes in the Christmas lights, or the sound of his contagious laugh.

    “I’m losing you,” he whispered.

    Then, from the kitchen, came a familiar chuckle. He sprung up and cracked open the door.

    Could it be?

    But it was just his uncle and sister joking around. Jared plodded into the living room.

    “Will you go with me?” Jared asked.

    “Sure, buddy,” his uncle replied.

    As Jared and his uncle glided down the freshly powdered hill, Jared closed his eyes. And if he listened closely, and opened his heart, he could hear his dad’s laughter on the cold wind.

  17. Kristy Nuttall says:

    This story is filled to the brim with Christmas spiriit and delightful rhythm and rhyme. I love imagining Sapling and Ancient sharing the honor of being Tree of the Year. I really, really hope you make this into a PB so I can read it with my Forest Kindergarten class when we study evergreeens.

  18. Ann Grilli says:

    Lots of fun and ingenuity in so few words! I love that Jonathan and Sabrina won the prize through their own agency before Santa lassoed the cloud. Making snow friends for their snowmen was an extra sweet touch. Great work! Good luck in the contest.

  19. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    I would love to see Jonathan’s snowperson with its green wig and sparkly glasses. And not only were they able to build, but in the process they managed to clean up the leaves in the park!!

  20. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    For as much as cats like to sleep, that was a very challenging contest! This was a fun and playful read. I like the introduction of the pup at the end.

  21. Anne Lipton says:

    Original and innovative! I love how the children improvised a practical solution and how you added a magical twist at the end!

  22. Sarah Guthrie says:

    Beautiful story — my favorite line was “like ornaments falling from the sky”. I could just see it happening. Good job.

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