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

PLUS!!!

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!!!

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

1,732 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR SARAH

    LAUGHING ALL THE WAY
    by Sarah Hetu, lover of Christmas lights
    Just shy of 250 words

    “Aiden, Mrs. Peterson doesn’t feel well, so Caleb’s spending Christmas here,” Mom says.

    I tug at my turtleneck. Oh noooooooo! Now everyone at school will know how weird we are!

    “Turkey’s ready!” Dad shouts from the kitchen. “Game time!”

    “Whoever makes everyone laugh the loudest wins the drumsticks,” I tell Caleb.

    “Lame,” he mutters.

    “Youngest first!” Dad says.

    Molly turns and then faces us with gigantic ornaments hanging from her earlobes.

    She receives polite giggles.

    Caleb snorts.

    “Moving clockwise…Uncle Pete is next!” Dad shouts.

    Uncle Pete opens his trench coat to reveal a snowman costume….with a strategically placed patch of yellow.

    “Did Rover think you were a tree?” Dad asks.

    “Gross,” Caleb says.

    “Caleb’s turn!”

    Caleb stands, face as red as our cherry pie. He opens his mouth to speak but chokes on his spit. As he gulps water, he spills it down his chest.

    Grammy guffaws.

    “Last but not least…our returning champion!” Dad says.

    I pour gravy on my hair…just kidding…I inhale, then I release the awesomest burp ever.

    Nothing. Tough customers. Before I lose them completely, I begin to pass gas.

    It’s quiet until–

    “Hey, that’s Jingle Bells!” Molly shouts.

    The room erupts.

    “We have a winner!” Dad says, placing the drumsticks on my plate…and handing me a $100 gift card!

    I give the card to Caleb, “for being silly with us.”

    “Cool! Now I can buy that game I didn’t get!”

    At school, when the teacher asks about Christmas, Caleb glances at me, smiles, and says, “Oh, you know, just a bunch of Jingle Bells.”

  2. Jennifer Lowe (@JenZLowe) says:

    THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS STAR
    By Jennifer Lowe
    249 Words

    Last year? Measly fifth. Year before? Pitiful fifteenth.
    But THIS year? I’ll capture the winning star for the Interstellar Christmas Tree Contest!
    For 11 months, I’ve studied, analyzed, and scrutinized all things stars.
    Nothing will stop me. Nothing will slow me down.
    NOTH—
    “Dagan,” says Mom, “this year, your sister joins.”
    “But MO-OM!” I yelp.
    “My two star-chasers—or nothing,” Mom says.
    Rest of the week, I lecture Daphne on the fine art of star-catching.
    For Daphne, my lessons are a fine time to nap.
    I demonstrate proper blaze-proof glove attire.
    Daphne proves gloves go on ears, too.
    We practice swooping and swirling our star nets.
    Daphne tangles her net into one big knot.
    Sigh.
    On Christmas Eve, we load gloves and nets into our Lunar Rocket 3000 and take off.
    “Sit still and be quiet,” I say. Daphne’s head droops.
    Just past the moon, I spy the perfect star! It glitters and flickers and zooms around our rocket.
    But it’s too fast.
    Can’t. Quite. Catch. It.
    “Dagie!” says Daphne. She shuts her eyes. I do the same. The star thinks we’re napping! It slows down.
    Daphne hangs gloves on her ears. The twirling star stops and giggles.
    We tie our two nets with a knot. Together, we extend the oversize net and scoop up the twinkling light.
    On Christmas morning, we place our winning star atop the Interstellar Christmas Tree.
    “Next year,” I say to Daphne, “let’s enter the Christmas Ginger-Planet Contest! Together.”
    Daphne’s face beams.
    “Merry Christmas, Dagie!”

  3. ptnozell says:

    A Sack Full of Presents

    (246 words, by Patricia Nozell)

    Terri pointed at the poster. “A Holiday Talent Pageant! Winner rides with Santa in the Christmas Parade and receives a sack full of presents.”

    “What fun! But I’ll never win, singing solo.”

    Jamie read the poster. “I can play drums, but a bunch of beats is no winner.”

    Stella strummed her banjo. “A talent show! I’m a pretty picker, but it would sure sound better with a singer and some beats. What about…”

    “True Friends Trio”, they proclaimed together.

    “Whatcha looking at?” asked Callie, their new classmate. “A Talent Pageant? Step aside, amateurs, and let true talent shine.”

    “Hmph! We’ll see about that!”

    Dazzling dancers, amazing acrobats, and marvelous musicians performed. Then, the MC announced, “Please welcome, True Friends Trio.”

    Jamie twirled drumsticks. Stella picked out the tune. Terri sang like an angel.

    As the cheering ended, Callie stepped onto the stage.

    “What do you call a duck at the North Pole?…A Christmas Quacker!”

    “And a toad…Mistletoad.”

    “See that cat with a hat? Santa Claws!”*

    The crowd roared, and the judges guffawed.

    “Think we have some competition,” whispered Jamie.

    But in the end, the judges proclaimed, “Please congratulate…True Friends Trio!”

    “Woohoo! Guess the joke’s on you, Callie,” Stella said.

    “Look! She’s crying.”

    “Better luck next year,” Jamie said.

    “I can’t wait that long,” Callie sobbed. “Mama’s sick. Dad lost his job. My little sisters have no Christmas presents.”

    The trio looked at one another, at Callie, and at the sack.

    “Here. For your sisters. No joke!”

    *Jokes are adapted from kids’ holiday jokes found online at https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/a30088418/santa-jokes/.

  4. jimchaize1 says:

    Fairy Tale Houses WC – 246

    By Jim Chaize

    Fairy Tale Land buzzed with excitement!

    “More lights!” yelled Baby Bear, as Papa Bear stretched. “I want to win!”

    “Best holiday stick house ever,” said Pig’s brother. “Let’s hope Big Bad is not in the

    neighborhood.”

    “With my seven helpers we’ll be done in a jiffy,” said Snow White. “Sleepy! No time for a nap.”

    That evening, the three billy goats snuck across Troll’s bridge to do their job.

    “What does judge mean?” asked the little goat.

    “Picking the best,” said the middle-size goat.

    “What if they’re all the best?”

    “That’ll never happen,” said the big goat.

    At the bears’ house, the little goat stared. “Wow! It’s a rainbow of colors.”

    “But too many lights,” said the middle-size goat.

    The big goat shook his head. “Pig’s sticks are shading his decorations.”

    “Snow White and the dwarfs always procrastinate and it shows,” said the middle-size goat.

    Everyone from the forest awaited the judges.

    The big goat TRIP, TRAPPED onto the stage. “I liked Snow White and the dwarf’s house the

    best.”

    Next, the middle-size goat TRIP, TRAPPED up. “Pig’s house was number one for me.”

    All eyes fell on the little goat. TRIP, TRAP. “The bears’ house was my favorite.”

    “I knew we’d never win,” said Grumpy.

    “I’m so angry, I could blow down a house,” hollered Pig.

    “Hey, we had the most lights!” yelled Baby Bear.

    “Wait!” shouted the little goat. “It’s a tie! Everybody wins!”

    A cheer rang through the forest.

  5. jesseannabornemann says:

    Christmas…by a Nose
    By Jesse Anna Bornemann

    Word Count: 234

    Newspapers trumpeted!
    Radios blared!
    Cable news cried in alarm!

    BIG CARROT SHORTAGE REPORTED TODAY:
    CHAOS ERUPTS ON CLAUS FARM

    And, indeed, Claus was troubled.
    Perplexed, some might say.
    To friends, he appeared worried sick.

    (This was Sam Claus, who harvested just up the way
    from his jollier brother, Old Nick.)

    Christmas was coming,
    And, with it, Claus knew,
    The first of the season’s big snows.
    But if carrots were lacking,
    Joy would fade quick…
    For no snowman could count on a nose!

    Assistance was needed—
    “A contest!” Claus thought.
    No sense in lazing about.
    “A trophy” he called. “To the barnyard friend here
    Who can find the best substitute snout!”

    “An apple!” said Horse.
    (Goat and Donkey agreed.)
    “It’s festive and rosy to boot.”
    “But it’s round,” Claus reminded,
    “And, also, it’s red. A not-at-all carrot-like fruit.”

    “Maybe corn?” piped up Chicken.
    “Oh, yes!” Pig enthused.
    “I’ve got a few corncobs right here.”
    “Not bad,” Claus conceded.
    “A veggie, it’s true. But we need a good nose, not an ear.”

    “’Wait, wait!” squeaked a voice. “Down here, take a look!
    May I share my idea with you, please?
    You need something pointy and orange-ish, and so…
    Why not try wedges of cheese?”

    “Yes, CHEESE!” Claus applauded. “A trophy for Mouse!
    Or perhaps a large crumb would be better.
    And while we’re addressing the subject of snacks:
    …do we know if the reindeer like cheddar?”

      • jesseannabornemann says:

        Royal, you are so kind! Thank you SO much! My first draft was 320 words. It was quite a slice-and-dice job to get it under 250. Whew! Looking forward to reading yours and as many of the others as I can today!

      • jesseannabornemann says:

        Awww, thanks! (I usually see you on Twitter — nice to see you here, too!) There is so much brainpower in this story contest. It’s intimidating, but also inspiring!

    • Colleen Owen Murphy says:

      I like the idea of Santa having a brother. And when you first mentioned the shortage of characters, I was thinking your story would primarily be about finding a substitute for the reindeers treats! I didn’t even think about snowman noses. (Maybe that is because I am currently living in Florida. LOL) And hooray for Mouse for finding a solution!

  6. schmelzb says:

    Thank you for the comments, Royal, Allison and Steena.
    I wasn’t able to find the link for comments on my Android phone, but I am glad I can comment now to so many great stories from my computer! This contest was fun for me. It taught me to be more concise in my writing. This particular story helped me to bring Debbie out of hiding. As the star in an old WIP, she is still on my mind, so this story is a prequel to my novel in progress for MG readers who love family mysteries. The 1959 setting is a real family time I remember. I had to research about BOT or Audible and I found out that they were in use at this time in our history. I love Audible now for children’s books, too, Steena!

  7. Katie Schwartz says:

    REINDEER SING…ARE YOU LISTENING?
    By Katie Schwartz
    WC – 245

    The reindeer were bored. They’d been waiting all year
    for their Christmas Eve flight spreading holiday cheer.

    They put on some tunes while The Big Guy was napping…
    it perked them right up…rocking, rolling, and rapping!

    “Let’s have a contest…and see who sings best…
    we’ll put our melodiousness to the test!”

    “Me first” shouted Dasher, “My Christmas-time rap –
    an ode to the dude in the red suit and cap!”

    Dancer jumped up, “Time to rock ‘round the tree.
    A-bopping…no stopping…a dance jamboree!”

    Prancer pranced lightly, “Oh come ye, find joy,
    the night all were blessed with a sweet baby boy.”

    Vixen, the trickster, trilled “Fa-la-la-la,
    deck the walls, deck the halls, deck it all – ha-ha-ha!”

    Comet was next, beaming bright – like a star…
    “Joy to all creatures, wherever you are!”

    The sweet voice of Cupid rang out, “Sing Noel –
    the story the angels were honored to tell.”

    “Let it snow-oh-ee-oh” Donner yodeled, and then,
    “I lu-uh-uhve Christmas, I give it a ten!”

    “My friend Frosty dances, he’s something to see…
    so cool” Blitzen boomed, “like a snowman should be!”

    Rudolph piped up, “Olive played reindeer games
    in a Christmassy song…that proclaimed both our names!”

    The elves, list’ning closely, were tasked with the vote…
    “Deer-friends, one more time, sing your most tuneful note.”

    They stood, hoof-to-hoof, all together, a chorus…
    The elves cheered and chortled, “You’ve managed to floor us!”

    “We decree, you all win!” Thus began the tradition –
    a Christmas Eve sing-along, reindeer rendition!

  8. Vashti Verbowski (@VashtiVerbowski) says:

    CHRISTMAS CARROTS
    by Vashti Verbowski
    (250 words)

    All the rabbits in Carrotville hopped with excitement—it was time to decorate their Christmas carrots. The winner would receive The Golden Watering Can.

    Snowflake gazed at the prize…
    If she won, maybe her baby carrots would grow bigger next year.

    With her head in the clouds, Snowflake bumped into Buster. His Christmas carrot was already up—stunningly straight and tall as a beanstalk. Snowflake’s ears dropped. How could one of her tiny carrots compete with that?

    Then, she spotted Flopsy and Mopsy. They had decorated TWO carrots. And they matched, strung with stars of holly. Snowflake tugged at her whiskers—what chance did she have now!?

    With her nose to the ground, Snowflake thumped straight into Thumper’s colossal Christmas carrot. It was so orange and so big, thought Snowflake, that it could feed all the rabbits in Carrotville for a month. Even Thumper’s tossed-away carrot top looked impressive.

    And that’s when Snowflake got an idea…

    After asking the other rabbits for their unwanted scraps, she raced home and worked through the night.

    In the morning, Snowflake woke to the drumming of rabbit feet. When she hopped out of her burrow, the whole town had gathered in her garden.

    Dusted with fresh snow, Snowflake’s carrot top tree stood tall as a fir. Baby carrots dangled from every leaf, dancing like candles. And under the lowest bough, sat The Golden Watering Can. Snowflake had the best Christmas carrots!

    That Spring, Snowflake expanded her garden… to grow MORE baby carrots for Christmas.

  9. cinzialverde says:

    BEING SANTA LUCIA
    By Cindy Greene
    Word Count: 249

    When Eric’s school announced its first Santa Lucia Day procession, Eric jumped to enter the singing contest to be Santa Lucia.

    After all, Eric actually celebrated the holiday at home. Singing the traditional song, Eric always felt tingly, as if the goodness of Santa Lucia was coming from him, filling the room with joy.

    Eric practiced
    during the morning,
    during the night.
    alone,
    when his sisters wished he was alone.

    “We want you to win, and we need sleep” they said.

    Contest day, Eric was ready. He stood straight. Eric sang like Santa Lucia, goodness pouring out.

    He held his breath as the winner was announced.

    “Isabella Smith”

    WHAT? Eric thought. Isabella didn’t have a Swedish grandma like him. Maybe Isabella could sing, but she probably didn’t even know how to be kind and good like Santa Lucia.

    Except Isabella did know how –
    on the playground,
    in class,
    even to Eric.

    This made Eric even madder.

    I hope she gets a sore throat he thought.

    The day of the procession, Isabella looked healthy. Eric frowned.

    But when Isabella started singing, Eric’s shoulders relaxed. He felt tingly. He thought of Santa Lucia.

    He smiled, then noticed Isabella was repeating the same verse.

    “Natten går stor,” Eric whispered. Without a Swedish grandma, it was probably easy to forget the words.

    After the procession, Eric said, “You were great.”

    “Thanks for your help,” said Isabella. “You’re lucky your family celebrates Santa Lucia.”

    “We can all celebrate,” Eric replied. “All year long!”

    (If you don’t know Santa Lucia Day, it is a sweet holiday, introduced to me by my mother-in-law and now quite beloved. I’m happy to tell anyone about it!)

  10. Stephanie Wildman says:

    Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Who Will Win? (110 words)
    by Stephanie Wildman

    “Why do you always make everything a contest?” sighed Joey.
    “I just want to race to the mailbox,” Sam grinned.
    “Okay,” Joey started running, knowing his older brother would win.
    “Race you back?” asked Sam as he tagged the mailbox first.
    “Sure,” Joey shrugged.
    Back in their house the smell of latkes frying filled the air – the first night of Chanukah!
    “Let’s play dreidel,” said Joey.
    “Dreidel is a contest,” teased Sam. “It’s about who gets the most gelt. Are you sure you want to play?”
    Sam smiled, “The fun is spinning the dreidel and seeing how it lands. I don’t have to win all the gelt. But I might.”

  11. Carmen Cecilia Castillo Gilbert says:

    Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD
    81 Chappell Drive
    Milford, NH 03055
    cacegi@comcast.net
    (603) 672-0889

    ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON
    (246 words)
    “Where’s Grandma Sofía’s turrón blando recipe? I can’t find it,” Andrés wailed. “I need it for the school holiday contest.
    Oh, I know! I’ll video chat with Abuela Sofía in Spain and she’ll help me.”

    Tap!

    ̶ Hola, Abuela, how are you? ¿Cómo está?
    “Think you can help me make your turrón blando for my school holiday contest? It’s sweet and special just like you.”
    “How nice of you to say that about me, Andrés. Of course, mi amor! I can help you. Gather your ingredients.”
    Andrés saw her get closer to her screen.
    ––Miel–– she said.
    “Honey, got it!” Andrés answered.
    ––Almendras molidas.
    “Ground almonds.”
    ––Canela.
    “Cinnamon.”
    ––Huevos.
    “Eggs.”
    “Remember to separate the whites from the yolks. Now join las almendras molidas with la miel. Mix the egg whites and la canela,” Abuela said.
    Andrés’s stirred the mixture on the stove.
    He put wax paper on a dish.
    When the mixture was ready, he …
    spread,
    spread,
    spread it over the paper.
    Then he…
    waited,
    waited, and waited for it to harden.
    On the day of the contest, Andrés held his breath as winners were called. The tables were full of usual eggnog drinks, sugar cookies, gingerbread houses and fruit cakes.
    One of the judges said:
    “This year we’ve chosen an international dessert. For the best turrón blando we’ve ever tasted, we ask Andrés Pérez to come forward.”
    That night, Andrés video chatted with his Abuela.
    “Look, Abuela, have you ever seen a bigger ribbon?”

  12. Alicia Meyers says:

    The Chubby Bunny Champion
    By: Alicia Meyers
    WC: 185
    (Also posted on my blog: https://www.heyaliciamae.com/blog/susanna-hills-annual-holiday-writing-contest )

    The rules are simple
    at the Marshmallow Munch.
    A confectionery, Christmas-time contest.

    Fill your mouth to the brim with marshmallows
    and speak the golden words:
    “Chubby Bunny.”

    Stretch the cheeks to prepare!
    Smile wide…stop.
    Smile wide…stop.
    The judges take their seats.
    Let the countdown begin.
    “GO!!!”

    First marshmallow–
    sugary to the taste.
    “Chubby Bunny,” comes easily.
    Applause!

    Add one more.
    A remarkably gooey revelation.
    “Chubuh Bunuh,” trips over the tongue.

    Here goes another!
    Sticky, sticky.
    Add another!
    Feel the fluff.
    “Chuhhh–oooo-unnn-ehhhh”
    Lots of giggles.

    Contestants concede.
    Finalists go marshmallow-to-marshmallow.

    Can I fit one more?
    Maybe, two?

    With each increasing ‘mallow
    (A plenitude of puff),
    Comes a confusing…
    “Uhh-ehh-uhh-ehh”
    “Uh-uh-uh-eh”
    “Uh–uhh-uhh-uhhh”

    Marshmallows fold.
    Cheeks fill with warmth.
    (A particularly delicious problem.)

    My opponent hesitates,
    with no space to spare.

    Only two words to win!
    “Aaaa………….”
    Mouth like cotton..

    “Ehhh…………….”
    Cheers of encouragement.

    “Uhh………….”
    Eyes watering…

    “Ehhhhhhhhhh!!!”
    STANDING OVATION.

    Hoorays!
    Handshakes!
    Thank-you’s!
    Beaming.
    A first-time winner.

    Piping hot chocolate for the victor?
    “Why, yes please!”
    Milky, creamy, chocolatey!
    It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

    Trophy held high.
    A proud participant.
    The new Chubby Bunny Champion.

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KRISTY

    Up and Away!
    by Kristy Roser Nuttall
    Word count: 245

    The Christmas elf contest was not to be missed.
    A scavenger hunt with a long quirky list.

    But one elf named Davey stood off to the side.
    “This contest is silly!” the grumpy elf cried.

    But then he saw something that made his toes tingle.
    The contest grand prize was a ride with Kris Kringle!

    A chance to ride high in the real Santa sleigh—
    To be the first elf to fly up and away!

    So Davey joined in with his scavenger chums.
    He raced to find holly and crisp sugar plums.

    He dove to grab tinsel; he leapt into trees.
    He even found one of the rare reindeer fleas.

    Only one item was left on his list.
    He gawked in dismay–a mistletoe kiss?

    Who would he smooch? He did not have a clue.
    Till a bear wandered over, and then–Davey knew!

    He’d heard of bear hugs, why not a bear kiss?
    So with mistletoe hanging he puckered his lips.

    Instead, the bear roared and ran after a moose.
    Davey stood stunned, and a teardrop let loose.

    Next he saw Chuckles, a hairy old dog.
    But who could kiss Chuckles, with breath like a hog?

    Then Davey grabbed onto his elf grandma’s hand.
    He whispered a question–she liked his new plan.

    He gave her a peck, under bright mistletoe.
    And Santa was watching, so what do you know?

    He let them both ride in his magical sleigh.
    And their elf giggles echoed—up, up and away!!
    ****************
    And here is a link to the story on my blog:
    http://www.kristynuttall.com/blog-1/up-and-away

  14. ingridboydston says:

    I had so much fun writing I decided to post this one too. 😊💕
    Christmas Isn’t
    135 words
    Ingrid Boydston

    It isn’t the wrapping, the ribbons and bows.
    It isn’t the song about Rudolph’s red nose.
    It isn’t the garland of tinsel and holly.
    Or even Saint Nicholas, always so jolly.
    It isn’t the cookies or candy cane treats,
    the colorful Christmas lights strung in the streets,
    or decking a tree to look perfectly right
    with tinsel and ornaments glittering bright.
    It isn’t the gifts waiting under the tree,
    this package for you and that present for me.
    It isn’t the wreath hanging up on the door.
    It’s all of these things, but it’s also much more.
    The best part of Christmas was born long ago.
    He lived, then he died but He rose again so
    that we could live with Him in Heaven above
    The best part is Jesus, the best gift, His love.

  15. Julie Kurtz says:

    The Christmas Pirate by Julianna Kurtz 227 words

    Today, Mrs. Lerner would reveal partners for the Christmas Spirit Contest-the highlight of third grade. Nick was hoping his partner would be someone like Marcy who had been wearing Countdown to Christmas Sweatshirts since Halloween or Noelle who had been plastering Christmas stickers everywhere for days.
    Nick held his breath as choices were made. Finally his stick was drawn Oh no! Not Chris the pirate! Nick thought Chris was kind of cool the way he always wore a pirate doo rag and had that fancy communication device but as a partner for the Christmas Spirit contest. Whoever heard of a Christmas pirate?
    He did not want Chris to see his disappointment so they high-fived and Chris typed out “MATIES-YAY! “ on his machine. Nick noticed that all of the other partners were brainstorming their projects in hushed voices.
    “Got any ideas Chris?”
    “Arrrrgh TREASURE!” typed Chris and handed Nick a battered notebook. As Nick leafed through the pages,he knew what they could do!
    He whispered his plan to Chris who nodded and hand flapped excitedly!
    The next Friday it was time for the project reveal! When it was their turn Nick and Chris pushed a big treasure chest filled with rolled pieces of paper, tied with red ribbons into the room.
    Each person received a hand drawn picture that said, “You are a real treasure! Merry Christmas!”

  16. shadikafi says:

    Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas by Shadi Kafi 250 Words

    “I’ll help you maman,” said Maryam as she whisked around maman to help her prepare the Persian Christmas dinner party.
    The lovely aroma of saffron covered rice filled the air.
    “Mmm,” said Maryam as she carried the tray full of rice to the white laced sofreh on the floor for their guests to sit around to eat.
    Maryam then set the table with the rest of maman’s dishes–the second plate of herbed rice, turmeric spiced fish and the gold-trimmed crystal tea cups mamani gifted the family.
    “You are a great helper!” said maman.
    Maryam smiled and kissed maman on the cheek.
    Next, Maryam dashed outside to help baba.
    “Baba, can I help you decorate the tree?”
    Baba loved to decorate the Alberta spruce Christmas tree each year in the front yard.
    “Of course Maryam,”said baba. He handed her a string of lights. “This year we are sure to win the neighborhood award for best decorated tree,” said Maryam.
    Baba nodded yes.
    Maryam strung the lights around the tree until she could not reach any higher. Baba made the final twist to the top.
    “Beautiful,” said Maryam.
    Maryam kissed baba on the cheek and ran back inside.
    When their guests arrived they began the evening reciting poetry from the poet Hafez and a Persian dance party. Mamani danced with Maryam.
    That night, Maryam’s parents tucked her in bed.
    “Did you have a special Christmas?” asked maman.
    “Yes, I love our Persian Christmas!” said Maryam.
    Baba kissed her on her forehead.

  17. Cassie Silva (@cassieswriting) says:

    I just wrote this in the past hour since learning about this lovely competition! I love last minute pressure to get me in the holiday spirit!

    The Most Beautiful Snowflake of All
    By: Cassie Silva
    WC: 250

    “The fourth-grade snowflake-crafting competition starts NOW!” Miss Pinecone announced to her

    class. “Who can craft the most snowflakes before winter break starts?”

    Scissors flashed and paper flew as students carefully crafted their creations.

    “Let it snow, boys and girls! I want this classroom to look like a blizzard hit!”

    As they worked, the children chatted about holiday traditions.

    “We spend all day unwrapping gifts,” Brenna boasted.

    “We make so much food we have leftovers for weeks!” bragged Michael.

    “What about you, Lucy?” Miss Pinecone asked.

    “My parents said Santa won’t be coming this year, because other kids need him more. But that’s

    okay, Lucy said, brushing away snowflakes from her threadbare coat. ” I’ll play games with

    my younger siblings, and sing songs, and we’ll make it a special day.”

    “The student who crafted the most snowflakes is Michael!” announced Miss Pinecone. “Go

    choose a gift from under the tree!”

    All twelve gifts were snapped up by students who had made piles of sloppy snowflakes. They

    looked at Lucy who was still crafting her first snowflake, then quietly snuck out the door.

    “Lucy, time’s up!” Miss Pinecone smiled. “You’re the last student left!”

    Lucy finally unwrapped her snowflake, and Miss Pinecone gasped. “Oh Lucy, it’s the most

    beautiful of all!”

    “It’s for you Miss Pinecone. I wanted to give you a special gift for Christmas.”

    Through the intricate snowflake designs, Lucy saw something surprising. Her desk was piled

    with twelve wrapped gifts.

    “Oh Miss Pinecone! Santa found me after all!”

  18. jhall2018 says:

    Fire and Ice
    by Jyn Hall
    wc: 249

    “Fire and Ice Festival is a tradition!” Noelle burst into tears. 
    Nothing — absolutely nothing — was right this year.  No wintry snow, no ice sculpture competition, no fiery chili cook-off. This move to California away from her friends was bad enough. But no Fire and Ice Festival?
    Noelle pushed food around her plate, kicking the table leg. “It doesn’t feel like the holidays.”
    “You’re still coming with us today,” said Dad. Her little brother, Chris, smirked.
    Tonight her friends would celebrate on the other side of the country. Without her. She would even miss Lucia’s same old joke after finishing their chili, “That’s the fire. Now the ice!” And they would traipse through the snow, proclaiming their favorite ice sculptures and predicting the winners.
    When they piled out of the car, Noelle scuffed her shoes on the sandy sidewalk, squinting at the too-sunny, too-hot-for-December day.
    Chris sprinted past a sign: “Sand Sculpting Holiday Competition.”
    Noelle’s eyes grew wide. Up and down the beach, breathtaking sand sculptures rose: an enormous pirate ship captained by Santa, a twenty-foot Hanukkah dreidel, an elaborate nativity scene, a Kwanzaa kinara with seven sky-high candles.
    A smile dawned across Noelle’s face at a sculpture of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves relaxing around a bonfire. She snapped a photo for Lucia. “That’s the fire…” She looked around. “And the ice?”
    Chris pointed to a distant shop.
    “Snow cones!” Noelle squealed. “Race you!” Sand spraying, she sped off down the beach.

  19. Mary-Catherine Amadu says:

    Title: The Santa Spectacle
    By Mary Catherine Amadu
    Word Count: 250

    Everybody knows about
    The Night Before Christmas.
    Papa cracked up
    because he spotted Santa.

    But do you know what, exactly, was so funny?

    I do.

    I’m Santa, a.k.a. Saint Nick,
    or, as Mrs. Claus teases,
    Saint “Nick of Time”.

    I’m not the best at keeping track of time….
    or laundry…or cookies…
    organization’s not my strong suit.

    Anyway,
    there was more to that Christmas Eve
    than meets the eye.

    I had checked the list once,
    and was heating some cocoa,
    when Mrs. Claus stormed in.

    “You’re moving slow as molasses!
    It’s Christmas Eve!” she scolded.

    “CHRISTMAS EVE?!” That wasn’t what the calendar said!
    I peered at it again.
    Holy night, she was right!
    “UH-OH!”

    I downed my cocoa,
    squeezed into my suit,
    and dashed to the sleigh.
    One whistle, and away we flew!

    Everything after that was a bit of a blur,
    but I do recall glitter exploding in my face,
    a wardrobe malfunction making me blush,
    some suspicious tasting cookies,
    and a beard-first collision with a snowman.
    THUMPITY-THUMP!

    When I finally bounded down Papa’s chimney,
    I was quite the spectacle.
    Not only did my eyes twinkle but…

    that cocoa made me
    need TO TINKLE!

    I tried to signal Papa for help.
    I winked.
    I twisted my head,
    and as I was twisting…

    something fell off my hat!

    MY GLASSES!

    When I put them on,
    the reason for my mistakes became crystal clear.

    “HO HO HO!”

    It was a good belly laugh,
    until I realized I still needed the potty.

    “UH-OH.”

  20. readmybook2002 says:

    Word Count: 248 A JARRING CONTEST
    By Bru Benson

    During Christmas, as far as Kevin could remember, Mr. Leyman’s candy storefront window had a clear glass jar as big as a watermelon filled with striped balls, for the store’s annual “HOW MANY PEPPERMINT BALLS ARE IN THE JAR?” contest. The sign said, “Whoever guesses the closest without going over, will win $50. One guess per customer.”
    “Gosh,” ten-year-old Kevin said to his fourth-grade friend, “I want to win. That’s a lot of money.”
    “And candy too,” said Mia.“If my measurements are right, the radius and the orbital mass exceed the imperfections in each candy ball by one eighth.”
    “What?” Kevin said.
    “It means precisely 643 peppermint balls are in the jar,” the math wizard said.
    For the past two years, Mia won.
    Kevin wasn’t even going to try.
    “Not winning wouldn’t be the worst Christmas gift I ever received,” Kevin said,” My older brother, Buzz, gave me a large wrapped box every year with bows and ribbon. All I found inside was wadded-up toilet paper; no real present at all. At least the outside looked good.”
    He paused.
    “THE OUTSIDE LOOKED GOOD,” Kevin repeated then smiled.
    Three weeks later, Mr. Leyman opened the jar in front of everybody. He turned it upside down. Peppermints fell out rolling around and then a big wad of newspaper from the middle tumbled out.
    “My little secret,” Mr. Leyman said.
    The only person this year not going over is… Kevin.
    “Way to go,” Mia said
    “Thanks to Buzz,” Kevin replied.

  21. sacharya78 says:

    EVERYTHING
    By Sandhya Acharya, Wordcount 246

    The gingerbread-house decorating contest was about to begin.
    Veeru was supposed to win it this year. Amma had promised him.
    But Amma left without keeping her promise.

    Bump!
    Bump!
    The other children rushed past.
    The gingerbread pieces were disappearing.

    “Go on,” Appa nudged Veeru, “I’ll help.”
    Veeru filled his tray.

    The aroma from the gingerbread swirled in the air.
    Veeru breathed it in.
    “Mmmmm…” Appa breathed it in too. “Ginger, cloves, cinnamon. It smells just like…
    “Amma’s chai,” whispered Veeru.
    Appa’s eyes crinkled as he smiled.
    “Yes,” he said, “it does.”

    They smeared the buttercream and shaped the walls together.
    “Amma’s chai was special, wasn’t it?” asked Appa.
    Veeru nodded.
    He remembered the thump-thump in the kitchen as Amma pounded the spices for her chai.
    Once, when Veeru asked her what was in it,
    “Everything!” she replied.

    It was time to decorate.
    “What would you like on your house?” Appa asked.
    Veeru’s lips curved into a smile.
    “Everything!” he replied.

    Sprinkles poured
    ….a bit too much,
    glitter flew
    ….all over the place,
    candy-canes covered,
    coconut flakes showered,
    chubby marshmallows melted on their fingers and hair,
    and before the judging could even begin – the roof caved in with the weight of gum-drop candy – Veeru’s favorite.

    Veeru didn’t win the contest.
    But later, at home,
    as he sat in the kitchen listening to the
    thump-thump of the pestle as Appa pounded spices for their chai,
    Veeru felt like he had won something even better –
    Everything.

  22. 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!

  23. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR EVA

    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.

  24. 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.

    This is STAGE 1: REDISTRIBUTION.

    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…

    STAGE 3: BYE-BYE BALL ORNAMENTS
    and
    STAGE 4: TREE ON A TABLE.

    When her parents finish
    STAGE 5: THE TREE IS OUTSIDE,
    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.”

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PHOEBE

    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!!!”

  26. 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.

  27. 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.
    Nothing.

    I see Billy. “Hey,” he says, “I found my decoration, it’s the best ever.”
    HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!?

    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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.”

  31. syorkeviney says:

    Dream Big, Little Pip!
    By Sally Yorke-Viney
    WC=250
    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!

  32. 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
    along!”
    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.

  33. 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!”

  34. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR JUDY

    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!”

    Pop.

    Fizzle, fizzle.

    Pop.

    “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???”

  35. Samantha Gassman says:

    LAUGHING ALL THE WAY
    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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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!!

  38. 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!

  39. 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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