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. Steena Hernandez (@HernandezSteena) says:

    Candy Caribou (206 Words)
    By Steena Hernandez

    Candy Caribou lives north where there’s snow.
    The smallest reindeer—she never did grow.

    It’s hard being tiny this time of year.
    Contests everywhere, and this means fear!

    She’s too tiny to bake, and won’t take that prize.
    Too bad ugly sweaters don’t come in her size.

    Hang the brightest lights; you’ll be number one.
    Candy can’t reach, and that’s no fun!

    But wait! Is it true…a singing contest this year?
    This is by far the best news she ever did hear.

    She says, “I can do that. I can sing like a lark.”
    It’s time for Candy to make her mark!

    Mrs. Claws calls her name next to perform.
    Candy’s nose, hooves, and cheeks start to get warm.

    An itty-bitty voice sputters out at first.
    Something in her chest feels like it might burst.

    She sings big, bright notes filling the frosty air.
    Fa, La, La, La, La—it is beyond compare!

    It’s a night to remember, whether big or small.
    She hopes her performance brings joy to them all.

    Even better than that, Candy takes first place.
    She cradles her trophy—a huge grin on her face.

    Candy holds her antlers up high with pride.
    “I’ll always be happy to be me,” she cried!

  2. Danni Schloss says:

    By Daniella Kaufman-Schloss
    Word Count: 249

    Sentimental ornaments
    trim our tree high to low,
    but Christmas Eve tradition calls
    for one to steal the show.

    Dad dons a scruffy Santa hat
    and gathers us around.
    “I’ve picked the pickle’s hiding spot!
    It’s waiting to be found.”

    “Dance! Prance! Blitz and dash!
    All may search until
    the finder claims the first gift and
    the title of ‘Big Dill’.”

    Grammy prods each shimmery bough.
    Mom browses round and through.
    Baby pulls off ornaments
    (to get a better view).

    I snug myself beneath a branch
    to peer up from the bottom.
    A glint of green. A clumpy curve.
    Yes! I think. I got ’em.

    I pluck the pickle from its place,
    eager to claim my prize,
    then notice Dad off to the side
    with sparkle in his eyes.

    His festive fuss for all of us
    makes everybody grin.
    It doesn’t seem to bother him
    that he will never win.

    I put the pickle back, but shift
    it where no one will see.
    Then grumble, “Oh by golly, there’s
    no pickle on this tree!”

    “Ho ho, oh? Check near the stump–”
    That’s when Dad’s eyes meet mine.
    I toss a wink and, in a blink,
    Dad’s rummaging through pine.

    He tugs back on a tree skirt bump
    revealing what I’d done.
    The pickle found, I quickly cheer,
    “Gosh, Dad, looks like you’ve won!”

    He wraps us all up in a hug
    and whispers in my ear,
    “You can have the first gift because
    I’ve got mine right here.”

  3. Grinny Butler says:

    Shining Star
    By Sarah Hawklyn
    WC 250

    Stella dreamed of winning the Winter Solstice Race. She wanted to climb the fastest and furthest in the night sky, but Stella was the smallest star and had never before reached high enough to win. This time she hoped to finally shine.
    All day in bed, unable to sleep, she practiced sparkling and twinkling for imaginary judges at the finish.
    That night, when Moon rose, he called for all the racers. At Orion’s signal, Stella leapt up into the sky ahead of the others.
    She dodged the Bear, vaulted over the Bull’s back and waved to the Seven Sisters as she sped by. She thought she was in the lead until…
    Opps! She slipped on the Milky Way and as she tumbled past, she missed grabbing Orion’s Belt by a star point.
    Down, down she fell, until she landed on something springy. She hung on tight and found herself atop a large Christmas tree. Human faces, lit by her starlight, gazed up at her from below. Instead of being scared, she sparkled and twinkled, just like she had practiced. “Ohh!” they exclaimed and laughed in delight.
    While Stella glittered brightly, the people hung decorations on the tree and sang joyous melodies together.
    Soon the snow began to fall. With the last song finished the people thanked her and drifted away into the darkness. Stella shined with happiness and as she tiptoed up the falling snowflakes to her home in the night sky, she felt just like the winner she was.

  4. stephaniemstories says:

    Grumpy Snow Pants
    By Stephanie Maksymiw
    Word Count: 209

    Christmas Eve – the outerwear sits under twinkling lights.
    “I can’t wait to be opened,” says Gladys.
    “I can’t wait to go outside,” says Harvey.
    “Meh, I like it here. It’s warm,” sighs Sammy.
    “Oh, Sammy,” Gladys and Harvey sigh.

    Christmas morning – the outerwear adorns their wearer indoors.
    “Twirling is fun!” says Gladys.
    “Whee!” says Harvey.
    “Make it stop!” begs Sammy.
    “You don’t like anything!” Gladys and Harvey yell.

    Christmas afternoon – the outerwear prepares to go outdoors.
    “Pssst, let’s have a contest. How long till Grumpy Snow Pants complains? I say 1 hour,” whispers Gladys.
    “30 minutes,” whispers Harvey.
    “What are you two whispering about?” asks Sammy.
    “Nothing,” Gladys and Harvey answered.

    Christmas evening – the outerwear makes snow angels and throws snowballs.
    “This is awesome,” says Gladys.
    “I could stay out forever,” says Harvey.
    “I want to go inside,” whines Sammy.
    “10 minutes, we both lost,” Gladys and Harvey laugh.

    Overnight – the outerwear dries off over the heater.
    “I can’t wait to do this again,” says Gladys.
    “Did you have any fun, Sammy?” asks Harvey.
    “Well, I was a grumpy pants because I don’t like the cold. But I like being with you,” says Sammy.
    “We like being with you too,” Gladys and Harvey agree.

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    The Best Reading Contest of Winter, 1959 by Beth Schmelzer (wc 249 without the title)

    “Children, I want to explain about a contest,” Mrs. Shellnut announced to her fourth-grade class. “You can win 25 books if you read and record between the holidays! I will certify the winner of the Holiday Reading Contest who reads the most fourth-grade appropriate novels. Titles and authors must be recorded beginning at Thanksgiving.”
    Debbie Watkins grinned. Lee won games but not awkward Debbie. What a fun contest! Her talent was reading. Debbie loved reading mysteries, biographies, series, even cereal boxes.
    She remembered Mom knew the book reviewer at the newspaper who got children’s books she shared with Debbie.
    “I can read, too,” said Lee.
    “Not you, Shrimp. Your Archie comics don’t count!”
    Lee interfered whenever she tried to do her best. This time she would show she could be the winner.
    Debbie ran upstairs reading Trixie Belden. “I read three books each week. My goal is to speed up that rate.” She chose books on her bookshelf and wrote her favorite authors. Alcott, Graham, Hope, Keene, Sidney, and Webster.
    “The Five Little Peppers is long, but Nancy Drew is alright,” Debbie said. “I can win and nothing can stop me.”
    Sunday, Dr. Harper diagnosed chickenpox. No eyestrain; no visits for books. Debbie was finished. What to do?
    Mom called to Debbie, “Could I read to you while I untangle the tree lights?”
    “No! It’s against the rules!”
    “Debbie, don’t worry. There are recorded books for children.”
    Debbie won the contest by listening to 25 favorites on Listening Library.

  6. Colleen Dougherty says:

    Playground Games
    By Colleen Dougherty
    248 words

    Whoosh! Plop!
    “Ho! Ho! Ho! Joey!” Santa said, dropping his sack.
    “You’re here!”
    “Why aren’t you nestled all snug in your bed?”
    “I have a Christmas wish! I’m in a contest with my friend, Dalton. Whoever takes a selfie with you gets to pick all our playground games! He always picks Dodge Ball. I like Freeze Tag.”
    Santa bit into a cookie. “I don’t believe I’ve ever been photographed…except for my sleigh license.”
    “Why not?”
    “I don’t look the same to every child, Joey. I appear the way they’ve dreamed of me their whole lives,” Santa said, drinking some milk. “It’s part of the magic of Christmas!”
    “I understand,” Joey said, looking down at his hands.
    Santa put his arm around Joey’s shoulders. “It won’t help you win the contest, but you can take a picture of…ah…the button on my cuff?”
    “Thank you, Santa.”

    Joey climbed into bed and studied the picture. He noticed something…in the reflection of the brass.
    He could see himself…and Santa!

    A selfie!
    “I’ll just show it to Dalton, so I can win,” Joey thought.

    Christmas morning, Joey had a text from Dalton.
    “Did you get it?”

    Joey rubbed his temples. “No more Dodge Ball…but it could ruin Christmas!”

    He deleted the picture and answered Dalton’s text.

    “No. U?”

    “Nope. TTYL”

    Joey ran down the stairs to open presents. He opened a bright red card first.

    “Thanks for deleting the picture, Joey.
    Enjoy the magic of Christmas!

  7. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    I like the fact that Santa says he looks different to different people. And that Joey deleted the picture. Great job.

  8. Nicole Loos Miller says:

    SIMPLY THE BEST (180 words)
    By Nicole Loos Miller

    Christmas was Maise’s favorite time of year.
    Awe-inspiring. Wonderful. Magical.
    Simply the best.
    Maise wanted to be awe-inspiring, wonderful and magical, too.

    Maise entered the Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.
    Her house had icing and gumdrops!
    Sprinkles and sparkles!
    It even had an entire reindeer family reunion!
    “It’s very…. creative,” said the judges.
    But, Catalina won with a classic design.
    “Awe-inspiring,” Maise told her.

    Maise entered the Holiday Baking Contest.
    Peppermint sticks!
    Mocha melts!
    Orange and ginger shortbread!
    “Quite the variety,” observed the judges.
    But Lester won with his Yule Log cake.
    “Wonderful,” said Maise, licking her lips.

    Maise entered the Ice Skating Contest.
    Wearing a very sparkly leotard,
    she skated forward!
    And backward!
    She even did a twirl!
    But Jozef had a routine that was…well…
    “Magical,” admired Maise.

    Maise smiled.
    She hadn’t won any ribbons but it had still been a delightful day.

    “We have one last ribbon to award,” announced the judges.
    “The award for the Most Holiday Spirit goes to…
    “Awesome,” said Catalina.
    “Wonderful,” said Lester.
    “Magical,” smiled Jozef.
    And to Maise, it was simply the best.

    Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2021 Holiday Contest

  9. Marta Cutler says:

    By Marta Cutler
    (250 words)

    Of all the holiday traditions, Bear’s favourite was the cookie decorating contest. Hedgehog always won. This year Bear was determined to beat him. He’d been planning his cookie for months.

    The animals lined up with their cookies displayed. The crows approached. They were notoriously picky judges. They started with Rabbit.

    Rabbit had decorated his cookie with a garden of sugar spun carrots and roses.

    Badger had created a glittering forest of silver and gold gumdrops and candy cane stars.

    Hedgehog had outdone himself. On his cookie, he’d crafted a miniature ice-rink with tiny skaters, each holding cups of hot cocoa. You could even see the marshmallows.

    Bear was last. The Crows approached his cookie. Their black eyes widened. Towering above them was layer upon layer of icing, chocolate, candy cane, marshmallows, toffee, sprinkles, sugar plums, and whipped cream. At the top, they could just make out a Christmas angel spinning in the wind.

    “Did I win?” asked Bear.

    Suddenly the cookie began to wobble. It leaned one way. It leaned the other.

    “Look out!” cried the judges.


    Every inch of fur, feathers, and forest was drenched in icing, chocolate, whipped cream, and candy. The angel landed on someone’s head. Badger licked sprinkles off his coat. Rabbit brushed marshmallows from his nose into his mouth. Hedgehog wiped icing out of his eyes. He licked his paws with gusto.

    “Actually,” he said, “I think we all won!”

    And that day they all enjoyed the most glorious candy feast, thanks to Bear.

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Laura Barens
    242 words

    All that Ava wanted for Christmas was books.
    So when Ms. Reader, her third grade teacher, announced the classroom holiday contest,
    Ava was beyond excited.

    Guess the number of mini candy canes in the jar and you could win a $25 gift certificate
    to the local bookstore. Runner-up would win a pack of laminated bookmarks.

    Ava’s bedroom was overflowing with books, but one could never have too many, Right?!

    “On the day before Winter Holiday break, I will announce the winners,” said Ms. Reader.

    On that Friday , while we worked on word search puzzles and munched on holiday cookies,
    Ms. Reader looked at our guesstimates.

    “Ok class, listen up. There were 156 candy canes in the jar, and the closest with 153 is Ava!”
    “Yay Ava!” everyone shouted.

    “And the winner of the bookmarks with a guess of 150 is Emma!”
    “Yay Emma!” everyone shouted.

    Ava and Emma went up front to claim their prizes from Ms. Reader.

    “Those are cool bookmarks,” Ava said to Emma.

    “Thanks, but I don’t have any books to put them in,” Emma said.
    “My Mom says we don’t have money to buy books, so if you want them,
    you can have them.”

    “I have a better idea,” said Ava.
    “You take the gift certificate and you can buy some books. I already have lots
    of books at home.”

    “Are you sure?” said Emma.

    “Very sure!” said Ava.

    “Merry Christmas!”

    “Happy Hanukkah!”

    “Happy Kwanzaa!”

    “Happy Everything!”

  11. Jill Lambert says:

    By Jill Lambert 241 Words
    (To the tune of Jolly Old St. Nicholas)

    Santa has just taken flight.
    Reindeer pull his sleigh.
    Mrs. Claus looks up and waves.
    Elves all gaze her way.

    Giggling, she gives a wink.
    They begin to cheer.
    It’s the time to celebrate.
    The disco ball is here!

    Every year when they compete,
    each flaunts flashy moves.
    All perform in perfect pairs.
    Mrs. Claus approves.

    She was first to understand,
    Elves need to unwind.
    Even reindeer have their games.
    So should elfin kind.

    Tootsie turns the playlist up,
    Christmas tunes galore.
    Elves put on their dancing shoes.
    Others clear the floor.

    Boots and Sprinkles open first,
    spin and swoop to jazz.
    The crowd erupts — it eggs them on.
    Oooh! They’ve got pizzazz!

    Next in line is Clementine,
    with her partner Sam,
    demonstrating Salsa steps.
    Dipping is their jam.

    The final couple takes the floor.
    Claire and Albert blend
    Rumba, Cha Cha, Tango, too,
    Freestyle at the end.

    Wow! They’ve got variety
    and a lot of spunk.
    Mrs. Claus displays their score:
    It’s a 10 — slam dunk!

    Hark! They hear some jingle bells.
    Santa must be back!
    Put the shop in order, quick!
    The winners hide their plaque.

    Mrs. Claus runs out to see
    how his evening went.
    Santa Claus seems unaware
    of their dance event.

    Christmas over, Santa rests,
    toasting tired feet.
    Elves talk choreography.
    Combos can’t be beat.

    In her nightclothes, Mrs. Claus
    sashays off to bed.
    Visions of not sugarplums,
    but dance moves in her head.

  12. Judy Sobanski says:

    By Judy Sobanski (247 words)

    Twas the night before Christmas
    and all through the house,
    Every creature was stirring,
    including, Wee Mouse.
    Stirring and blending, creating sweet treats
    for a contest to see which ones Santa will eat.
    “Don’t even bother,” said Pup. “He’ll choose mine.”
    “I don’t think so,” purred Kit. “Because mine are divine.”
    But Wee Mouse said nothing. Her movements were nimble
    as she tossed her ingredients into a thimble.
    She had flour in her whiskers, some dough on her nose,
    and a drop of molasses had dripped on two toes.
    She placed all her cookies in a minuscule sack,
    climbed up to the table then…UH OH! Fell back!
    The cookies all crumbled except for one bite.
    “I’ve barely a taste for Santa tonight!”
    Wee Mouse dried her tears, climbed back up to the platter,
    feeling her one little morsel must matter.
    “It’s totally tiny,” said Pup. “Not ornate.
    Santa will think it’s a crumb on the plate.
    Mine have fun sprinkles on top of red icing.”
    Kit purred, “That brown dot? Well, it’s just not enticing.”
    Wee Mouse ignored them and went straight to bed,
    exhausted yet hopeful for what lay ahead.
    Christmas morning she woke to a gift and a note.
    She opened it up to see what Santa wrote:
    “Dear Wee Mouse, My thanks for your cookie so sweet.
    It was far and away my favorite treat.
    And the thing that I think set it so far above
    all the rest was your secret ingredient—LOVE!”

  13. Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf says:

    The Monster on Christmas Eve
    Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
    250 words

    Every year, on Christmas morning,
    Evan raced his sister to the tree,
    Because the first person got to open a present first.
    Every year, though, he lost.
    Now it was Christmas Eve. Evan lay tingling with excitement in bed.
    He thought about peeking at the tree,
    And then he remembered the monster under the bed,
    Who would grab his ankles when he got out.
    Evan listened. He didn’t hear anything.
    Just to be sure, though,
    he hung upside down to look with a flashlight.
    No monster!
    Where was he?
    Evan peered into his sister’s dark room.
    No monster.
    He flicked on the bathroom light.
    No monster there either.
    Finally he tiptoed down the hallway.
    And there was the tree — with a mound of presents!
    But as Evan gazed at it with big eyes,
    He saw the monster huddled between the branches.
    “What are you doing there?” asked Evan.
    “I heard a bang.”
    “That was just a car door.”
    “Evan?” called Mom from the living room.
    They flew down the hallway.
    Evan vaulted into bed and the monster scrambled under it.
    “Trouble sleeping?” whispered the monster after a while.
    “I want to be the first to see the presents.”
    “I’ll wake you up early before I leave,” said the monster.
    “That will be my Christmas present to you.”
    “Come into bed,” said Evan. “It’s nice and warm.
    That will be my Christmas present to you.”
    So the two of them snuggled together,
    And they fell asleep waiting for Christmas morning.


  14. martyfindley says:

    What Christmas Means to Me
    By Marty Findley
    221 Words

    Holly and I have been besties since Kindergarten. We do everything together.
    While window shopping on the square I couldn’t wait to show Holly what I found at Sam’s Sporting Goods Store – girl’s ultimate figure skates on sale for $94.99!!! They were still too expensive though. Sigh… With those skates I knew I could do that new turn I’ve been working on.

    As we passed by the newspaper office we saw a notice in the window.

    Essay Contest
    “What Christmas Means to Me”
    Ages 7 – 10
    Grand Prize $100
    Winner’s Essay will be printed in Christmas Eve Edition

    Holly and I looked at each other. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” we said together.
    “What would you do with the money?” asked Holly. I told her about the skates and she got quiet.
    “How about you?”
    She told me how her mom and dad lost their bakery business during the pandemic and are barely making ends meet by catering out of their home. There would be no money for Christmas this year. Holly wanted to win so she could buy gifts for her younger brother and sister.

    “You write the essay and I’ll help,” I heard myself say.
    “Of course. What are friends for?”

    Long story short… she won!!!
    I felt like I did too.
    Those skates can wait another year.

  15. Emily Durant (@emilydurwrites) says:

    A Miscalculation
    By Emily Durant
    152 words

    *Attention all children!
    Come out in the snow
    And bring all your shovels and gear
    Join in the sport,
    And build your best fort
    For the holiday contest this year!*

    We dig and we pat
    We scoop and we splat
    To build the best fortress of all
    No torrent of snow,
    No, nothing they throw
    Will knock down our unyielding wall!

    Two towering turrets
    Three tactical windows
    Four bunkers built into the floor
    Snowballs piled high,
    Stacked up to the sky
    There must be two hundred or more!

    We hold up a finger
    So that we can tell
    Which direction the cold wind is blowing
    We take up our stance,
    They don’t stand a chance
    Let’s get this tournament going!

    Whoosh, whoosh, THUD, THUD
    Oh no, wait a minute!
    We should have seen this from the start
    The snowballs we chuck
    Don’t have any luck—
    Our snow forts are too far apart!

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Karen J Moore

    Dressed in her new sweater, Lily admired her reflection.

    “I’m sure I’ll win a trophy at the festival this year. Maybe for the ornament making contest or the cookie decorating contest or my favorite, the gingerbread house contest,” she said with a twirl.

    Fancy trees, twinkling lights, and sparkle everywhere adorned the community hall.

    Lily stopped first at the hot cocoa making station. With her cup piled high with whipped cream, she backed out as someone spun around…KERSPLASH!! A clash of sprinkles, puffs of white and chocolate dripped from her knitted sleeves.

    Next, Lily tried the ornament making station, but when someone from across the table sneezed…AAACHOO… a storm of glitter, buttons and bows covered her sticky sweater.

    She scooted over to the cookie decorating table and picked out a star and a tube of purple frosting. But she squeezed too hard…OOEY-GOOEY! “Oh, phooey.”

    Lily had one last chance, the gingerbread house contest. The sides were up and the roof was on. “I’ve got this,” she said as she added the last gumdrop…CRASH! Candy canes, peppermints and licorice whips stuck everywhere.

    Lily looked down and frowned. With a shrug, she decided to make the best of her mess and lined up with the others on stage.

    The announcer stepped up to the mic. “The judges have made their decision. The trophy for the ugly sweater contest, goes to Lily!”

  17. Susanna Leonard Hill says:



    Monkey Merry Xmas

    On the Athi plains Xmas was unusually warm. Geno and Alid strung the solar Xmas lights around the thatched roof and the trees nearby, where it said, “Do not Feed the animals.”

    The Xmas tree was out in the veranda. The tie and dye scarf for Mama was wrapped, the tool set for Baba too.

    In the evening at dinner, it became dark. The solar lights lit up. The children clapped in delight.

    “Look, it’s magic.” Said Geno

    “Wow, I love it.” Said Alid.

    Suddenly a monkey perched on the ledge.

    “Mama, look it’s Momo. He has come to visit.”The children said.

    “Looks just like Momo, our pet monkey” Mama said.

    “It’s too dark, my camera cannot take a picture” said Alid disappointed.

    On Xmas day Alid and Geno woke early. Under their tree were beautifully wrapped gifts, cell phones for Alid and Geno.

    “ Now we can take pictures of Momo, I hope he comes tonight” Alid was excited.

    Xmas turkey was delicious, the family sang carols and the lights were festive.

    That night, Momo came again,he was wearing a mask. They could not stop laughing. They took pictures with Momo.

    Alid rushed to get bananas for Momo. Geno took some picture.

    “We can feed him today, it’s Xmas after all .” Said Geno

    What a Merry Masked Momo, Memorable Xmas it was.

    The children sent pictures of Momo on WhatsApp, Tweeter and Instagram! I hope you got one too.

    • Kathryn Powell says:

      Allison, our neighborhood has a mailbox decorating contest. So it was on my mind when Susanna announced the theme. Thank you!

  18. kswemba says:

    The Ginger Friend House
    Kelly Swemba
    word count: 250

    Excitement buzzed through class as Mrs. Snickerdoodle announced
    the gingerbread contest was today!
    I had planned, prepared, and picked out my favorite toppings.

    Gumdrops for the roof.
    Starbursts for stepping stones,
    and red and white candy for holiday cheer.

    “Ready?” she asked with twinkling eyes.

    I slathered the icing and carefully connected my corners.
    Next came the roof, which topped off the house
    like cherries on an ice cream sundae.

    I glanced around the room to check out my competition.
    I’m totally going to win this year!
    But that’s when I saw Sam, the new kid.
    He moved to town midway through the year.

    His roof had collapsed.
    And the sides of his house kept falling down.
    Worse yet, his eyes met mine as he started to cry.

    I glanced at my gingerbread house.
    Then back at him.
    I felt a gentle tug on my heart.

    “Would you like some help?” I offered.
    Sam nodded.
    We worked together, two builders on one house.

    He globbed on the icing and laughed at his messy fingers.
    “Here, you try.” he said to me.
    So I tried his way, and found that a little mess was a lot of fun.

    The seams weren’t perfect.
    And the house had a lean,
    but it was still magical.

    We added my candy.
    Gumdrops on the roof.
    Starbursts steps, and a little holiday cheer to share.

    Our house wasn’t picked, but I still felt like I won that day.
    Because unlike gingerbread houses,
    friendships last forever.

  19. Elaine D'Alessandro says:

    Elaine D’Alessandro
    247 words

    The twins woke up early
    For their busy day ahead.
    They kicked off all their blankets
    And jumped right out of bed.

    Their homework was designing
    A gingerbread house this year.
    When the teacher announced
    The contest, everybody cheered.

    Sara plotted her rooftop
    With some gables front and back.
    She worked straight through her lunch time
    Never stopping for a snack.

    First, she spread some frosting
    On her peaks, seven in all,
    Displaying lots of patience
    Making sure they didn’t fall.

    She then chose only M&M’s
    To parade a string of lights,
    Hoping her simplicity
    Would capture her teacher’s delight.

    Sid, on the other hand, wanted
    His mansion smothered with sweets–
    Like gum drops and licorice sticks,
    Candy canes, and other treats.

    He used a mass of frosting
    To glue his confections on
    A slanted roof, four large sides,
    Even a colorful lawn.

    Finally, Monday came, the twins
    Could see what others did.
    Houses tall, houses small,
    And some more candy than Sid.

    Competition wouldn’t start
    Until the judges all arrived.
    They weren’t some parents anyone knew,
    But scholars from Grade Five.

    They walked into the classroom
    With a pencil and a pad,
    Ready, willing, and able
    To see what the students had.

    They studied all the entries,
    Jotted notes in front of each.
    And by the time they finished,
    The class waited for their speech.

    The judges huddled, and they talked,
    Yet they couldn’t decide on one.
    After sampling so much candy,
    They announced, “Everybody won!”

  20. lynngracewong says:

    Parol: This Little Star of Mine
    Lynn Grace Wong
    250 Words

    Glue on her pigtails, Cristela didn’t care. She bent two bamboo sticks and tied the ends together.

    POP! The twine snapped as a stick flew across the kitchen and landed in Mama’s flan. Mama handed the stick back.

    The scent of caramel tickled Cristela’s nose. She licked the stick clean.

    Mama laughed. “With a prayer to Our Lady, your star may win us the Christmas ham.”

    Cristela glued more gold Japanese paper to the sticks. She wished she could win the ham especially since Papa lost his job right before Christmas break. But Betty, the mayor’s daughter, had won best parol three years in a row.

    Cristela stuffed a candle in her lopsided star-shaped lantern. She bit her lip as a tear trickled out.

    “Oh, my dear.” Mama hugged Cristela. “Baby Jesus loves your parol because it’s your big heart that lights it.”

    On Christmas Eve, the parol parade rivaled the night sky. Cristela held her parol high, guiding her family. Church bells rang, merrily awaiting the arrival of the stars.

    SMASH! Capiz shells scattered on the street. Betty stood frozen, staring at her broken parol. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

    “Papa, I don’t care about the contest. Lola will think I forgot her.”

    Cristela knew about Lola. Betty’s grandmother who the angels took this year.

    “Here, Betty. Baby Jesus wants Lola to have my parol.”

    “Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining…” Cristela and Betty sang as Lola’s Christmas star lit the way.

    But Cristela’s heart shone brighter.

  21. YauMei Chiang (@YaumeiChiang) says:

    Christmas Song
    By YauMei Chiang
    224 words

    Win cash prize for your favorite charity!
    BettyBOT saw this opportunity for the Children’s Wish Fund. All she had to do was win the singing contest.
    Shy BettyBOT hummed a song.
    Could she sing out loud? In front of others? Would the humans allow a bot to join their competition? She wondered.

    Toook! Toook! Toook!
    A masked face made sounds in the tree. The crest and plumes revealed a red songbird.
    Worry! Worry! Worry!
    How did the cardinal know BettyBOT’s state of mind?
    Move-ye! Move-ye! Move-ye!
    “I get it,” said BettyBOT, “instead of worrying, what can I do to win this contest?
    Cheer-up! Cheer-up! Cheer-up!
    BettyBOT listened.

    All are welcome, they told her, so BettyBOT signed up for the Christmas contest. She had hoped otherwise because she didn’t want to go onstage. Now she had to prepare for it!

    BettyBOT practised and practised her song.

    Contest day arrived. Excited kids packed the hall.
    “BettyBOT,” they called to the microphone. There was no turning back now!
    She pulled on a bird face mask and looked at the audience. Then she thought of smiling faces as-if she’d won the contest.
    BettyBOT sang.
    “Blip-blop, Clink-clank, Ding-dong! Cheerie-chirp, Too-wee, Cherrie-cheerie!”
    She trilled, whistled, and tweeted!

    But the bot-song did not win the prize.
    However, they heard about and supported her favorite charity!
    BettyBOT could sing!

  22. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Title: Reindeer Games
    Name: Tiffany Hanson
    Word count: 250

    “All you elves out there hold onto your sleigh bells because it’s time for the Annual Reindeer Games. This is your host, Snickerdoodle, live from the North Pole, here with my cohost Gingersnap. This year’s contest is a tough one.”
    “That’s right, Snickerdoodle. Only the top competitors get to pull Santa’s sleigh.”
    “Our next competitor is Marshmallow the Moose. Rescued by Santa and adopted by Vixon, he is dedicating this year’s run to his mom who was sidelined from competing due to an injury. Remember folks, only Santa’s reindeer can fly which makes Marshmallow the ultimate undermoose.”
    “What’s that on his back, Snickerdoodle?”
    “It’s a jet pack!”
    “Marshmallow is up. He’s blowing through the course. He dodges the snow, skims past the ice. He’s going to make it. Whoa! Is he flying?”
    “I’d say he’s falling with style, Gingersnap.”
    “Looks like Marshmallow is having trouble. The jet pack is smoking. He crashes to the ground.”
    “Ouch. That’s going to leave a scorch mark.”
    “I can’t believe it, he’s still going. Limping toward the finish line, singed fur and all. Marshmallow had previously said that he wanted to finish the games and make his mom proud. His times are well behind the other finishers but the crowd loves it.”
    “Looks like Santa himself is coming down to greet him. He’s awarding him a victory sash and a dash of Christmas magic so he can fly. Extra points for the extra effort. Marshmallow the Moose has made the sleigh team this year!”

  23. kgross2 says:

    By Kelsey E. Gross
    WC 250

    “I like your sparkly reindeer cookie!” Maura said.

    Jayla giggled. “I like your star’s smile!”

    “Attention!” called the announcer. “Judging for the Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest will now begin!”

    The judge studied each cookie.

    “It’s so quiet!” whispered Jayla. “Makes me nervous.”

    Maura nodded.

    But then…


    The judges’ table wiggled.

    Maura’s star cookie stood on its pointy legs!

    Maura gasped.

    “Watch me go, I’ll run far. I’m a speedy cookie star!”

    It took off.

    The audience screamed.

    “STOP THAT COOKIE!” shouted the judge.

    Maura tried, but her star blazed by.

    “Can’t catch me!”

    Jayla lunged … but only caught stardust sprinkles.

    “Watch me go, I’ll run far. I’m a speedy cookie star!”

    CRASH! “Oh no! The Christmas tree!” shrieked Jayla.

    “I have an idea!” Maura flew to the reception table.

    She poured milk into an empty bowl.

    “Hey, Star!” she called. “You ARE a fast runner. But … can you SWIM fast?”

    Star blinked. “Never tried. But CERTAINLY, I’d be SUPER fast.”

    “Show us,” said Maura.

    “Okay.” The star dove in…

    “I’m a speedy…uh-oh…”

    His legs went MUSHY.

    “I can’t kick!”

    “Got you!” said Maura.

    “Whew, thanks,” said the judge.

    “It’s time to declare the winner!” boomed the announcer.

    “The CUTEST CHRISTMAS COOKIE award goes to…


    Maura gave Jayla a high-five.

    “And, we have a new award. The ONE SMART COOKIE award goes to Maura, for her clever cookie capture!”

    Maura grinned.

    “Let’s celebrate with cookies and milk!” said Jayla.

    “No thanks,” said Maura. “I already had some!”

  24. Sarah Guthrie says:

    Title: The Clean-out-the-Clutter Contest
    Name: Sarah Demarest Guthrie
    Word Count: 249

    It was the week before Christmas. Deja and Brooklyn climbed over clutter to email their lists to Santa.

    “ . . .a fort, a stuffed dinosaur, a doll with wings . . .,” Deja said.
    “. .. a soccer ball, cleats, and a tea-party game with extra cups!” typed Brooklyn.

    After they hit “send”, the girls danced around the room until they tripped over a train set, bumped into a bookcase, and fell with a thud on a Lego castle.

    “Ow!” shrieked Brooklyn. “We need more space.”
    MOM!!! Santa should bring us a bigger house!

    Mom stood at the doorway surveying the mess.
    “I’m going to tell Santa to skip this house because there’s no place for anything new.”

    They looked at each other in horror – no Christmas presents?
    “What can we do?” whispered Deja.
    “Let’s have a contest to see who can clean out the most clutter. The one with the most bags for charity wins!”

    In a flurry, the girls attacked the piles. Soon Deja had a stack as tall as she was. Brooklyn was close behind. Each girl tried to “out-give” the other so she would win the clutter-clean-out contest!

    Two days later the room was full of bags. 10 on Deja’s side, 10 on Brooklyn’s side. The girls glowered in the middle.

    I had more stuff—I won!
    Did not!
    Did too!

    Suddenly they heard a jingle. Santa peered in the room.
    Looks like you both won! There’s plenty of room for new toys!


  25. Amanda Sherlock (@amanda_sherlock) says:

    The Contest
    By Amanda Sherlock
    Word Count: 240

    It’s holiday time again.
    My friends at school are excited.
    “I’ve asked for a remote-control car,” Matt says.
    “I’m getting a Disney Cruise. My parents are trying to hide it, but I’ve figured it out,” Jennifer says.
    “That’s so cool. I want Road Slayers 2000 for my PS5,” Fred says. “What are you getting Jake?”

    I don’t know what I’ll get.
    My mom lost her job this year, so we don’t have much money right now.
    I don’t want to ask for things I know we can’t afford.
    I know my mom will try to get them.

    On Christmas Day, I sit with my large family and eat all my favorite foods.
    I feel a warm glow in my tummy.
    After lunch, I play football in the street with my brothers and cousins.
    We laugh and tumble in the wet grass.
    The sun sets and we move back inside and gather around the best desserts and ice cream.
    When her song comes on, I ask my Nana to dance.
    She smiles and wobbles up out her chair to stand facing me with glassy eyes.
    Nana’s grip is surprisingly strong as she clutches me to her musty warm chest.
    We soar around our small living room with my huge family all around us loudly singing and cheering.
    I glance at my mom, who is smiling at me through her tears, swaying slowly to the song.
    That’s when I know I’ve won.

  26. dina silverberg (@dinkybop) says:

    Asher’s Chanukiah
    by Dina Silverberg
    Word count: 249

    Asher plopped on his bed with a sketchbook and dreamed about winning the schoolwide Creative Chanukiah Challenge.
    He could make a chanukiah out of glass and add water, maybe put eight fish inside.
    Perhaps he could mold eight dragons that breathe candle fire. He could even make the shamash a knight!
    Or eight unicorns with pointed candles for horns!
    Just as he was thinking about a chanukiah bigger and taller than the bus, Sammy walked into the room.
    It was pointless. Sammy would probably win again this year. Sammy won every year. He won everything every year.
    “What’s this?” said Sammy, picking up Asher’s dropped plans.
    “Oh nothing. It’s stupid.”
    “Are you entering the Chanukiah Challenge?”
    “Can I use one of your designs?”
    “They’re not good. You wouldn’t win.”
    “I don’t care about that. I just want to make something cool. Thanks!”
    Yeah, right. Asher didn’t believe that.
    Sammy left the room, dragon plans in hand.
    Asher stomped into the kitchen. “Give that back!”
    “Too late!”
    “I never said you could have it!”
    “No backsies!”
    “I AM going to try and I AM going to win!”
    “You said it wouldn’t win but fine.”
    Asher looked down at the sketch Sammy threw at him. It now had a list on the side.
    Materials needed: eight colors of modeling clay, wooden base, silver foil.
    Ugh, maybe having Sammy’s help would be a good idea.
    “Sammy, can’t you just help me make it?”
    Sammy’s eyes twinkled. “I thought you’d never ask!”

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Best Hanukkah Ever!
    by Paul Kurtz
    247 words

    “Mom, there’s a Hanukkah craft-making contest at school. Can we go to the art supplies store?”

    “Sure Sarah—let’s bring these.” Mom hands me two tan canvas shopping bags. Three green “R”’s are printed on the fronts and backs.

    “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmatic?” I ask.

    “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. By reusing recycled bags, we’ll reduce trash and help the environment.”

    “Cool. Forget the store, Mom—I have a great idea!”

    I collect cardboard boxes and other stuff Mom is tossing out.

    Gathering my scissors, stapler, colored markers, tape. and glue, I begin working.

    I show Mom my work when I’m done.

    “Sarah, what a beautiful entry you made.”

    I smile. “It’s not for the contest.”

    That night, I wrap my work and take it to my best friend’s house.

    “Happy Hanukkah, Ruthie!”

    “Oh Sarah! Our store isn’t doing well—I wasn’t expecting gifts.”

    She unwraps her present.

    “You knew I wanted a dollhouse more than anything in the world. I love it!”

    “Everything is environmentally-friendly,” I say. “The furniture is made of reused cardboard and cloth from Mom’s scrap bag. The carpets and drapes are reused fabric, too.”

    Ruthie giggles. “The vases of flowers are toothpaste tube caps.”

    “See the silver menorah on the mantle? I scrunched recycled aluminum foil.”

    “And the paper dolls standing beside it are you and me!” Ruthie says.

    She gives me a humongous hug.

    “Thank you, Sarah. This is my best Hanukkah ever!”

    I wipe tears from my eyes. “Mine too!”

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    by Paul Kurtz
    249 words

    Cinder-Latke puts down her scrub brush and reads a letter on the kitchen table.


    —Prince Nudnik Will Wed Latke-Making Contest Winner—

    Cinder-Latke sighs. “I wish I could go like Pishka and Kishka, my stepsisters—”

    Pink lightning FLASHES—

    A puff of smoke morphs into Fairy-Godmother Yenta. “—and you will!”

    Yenta waves her wand—

    Cinder-Latke rides in a gold carriage wearing a sparkling diamond-studded gown.

    “The spell ends at midnight.” Yenta grins. “Have fun!”

    At the palace, all the princess-wannabes cook potato-pancakes like crazy.

    Finally, Prince Nudnik tastes Cinder-Latke’s latke. “It’s perfection—I love you!”

    The tower clock chimes midnight—Cinder-Latke flees.

    Next morning, Prince Nudnik searches every house in the kingdom.

    “Ugh!” He spits out Pishka’s latke and gags on Kishka’s. “One’s heavier than lead and the other tastes like moldy sweat-socks.”

    An irresistible aroma tickles Prince Nudnik’s nose, luring him into the kitchen.

    Cinder-Latke flips her latke onto a dish. “I knew you’d come.”

    Prince Nudnik, drooling, bites into the latke. “Heavenly—” He sinks to one knee and whips out a ring with a gleaming latke-sized diamond. “Please, be my Latke-Princess!”

    Cinder-Latke’s eyelashes flutter. “Sure, why not?”

    Cinder-Latke and Prince Nudnik wed on the eighth night of Hanukkah and dance the hora around the menorah.

    After the honeymoon, they open a restaurant—


    —and dine on latkes happily ever after!

    (Pishka and Kishka become fabulously wealthy businesswomen selling their latkes as cannonballs and bug-repellent.)


  29. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Bunny Claus
    by Donna Kurtz
    247 words


    “Who can that be?” Ms. Claus says.

    Santa opens the door.

    “Hi, friends.” Easter Bunny smiles. “I’m here to enter your Christmas Winter Sports Contest.”

    “Which sports do you do?” Santa asks.

    Bunny shrugs. “I never tried any.”

    Bunny, Santa and all the elves carry their snowboards to the top of a hill.

    “This slope is steep,” Santa says. “Let’s start you on an easier sport.”

    “No way!” Bunny hops onto his board. “I’m an awesome athlete.”

    “Wait—” Santa shouts.

    Bunny zips down the hill. “Whoa!”

    Zigging and zagging—


    —Bunny plows—


    —into a snow-drift.

    At the frozen pond’s edge, Bunny, Ms. Claus and the elves lace their speed-skates.

    “It’s slippery,” Ms. Claus says. “Be careful.”

    “Don’t worry—my balance is fantastic.” Bunny shoves off.

    “Wait—” Ms. Claus yells.

    Bunny wobbles and slides. “Yikes!”

    He skids past a sign — DANGER THIN ICE —




    —plops into freezing water.

    Bunny, bundled in a blanket, shivers by the fireplace sipping cocoa.

    “Guess I didn’t win anything, huh?”

    “Well—” Ms. Claus’s eyes brighten. “Santa and I have a special prize for the contestant who tries the hardest.”

    “Wow!” Bunny grins from floppy ear-to-ear.

    That night a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer streak across the sky.

    “On Dasher—on Dancer—” Bunny in his red Santa-suit shakes the reins. “—WHEE!”

    At dawn half-way around the world, two surfers skim across the waves.

    “Ho-Ho-Ho—” Santa laughs.

    Ms. Claus’s eyes twinkle. “—Merry Christmas!”

  30. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Jangle Shells
    by Donna Kurtz
    245 words

    I read the poster taped to a palm tree.


    —Lots of Fabulous Holiday Prizes—

    “Wow! What should I make?”

    A breeze rustles the palm fronds.

    “Oh, I know!”

    I gather happy-colored shells from the beach and string them onto vines.


    Like Christmas bells, my wind-chime jangles in the breeze.

    “What a pretty sound—I’ll make one for me.”

    At the festival on Christmas morning, I hang my wind-chime.

    “Uh-oh, there’s no breeze.”

    An idea pops into my head.

    Clutching my other wind-chime, I climb a steep cliff and reach the cave.

    “Please wake up, Wind.”

    Wind stirs in a sleepy whisper.

    “Lea, like you I rest on Christmas.”

    “Here is your present.” I hang the wind-chime.

    Wind sighs, jangling it.


    “How enchanting—I could listen forever! Thank you, Lea.”

    A soft breeze blows as I return to the festival.


    —my wind-chime jangles.

    “I love this, Lea—you win First Place,” Judge Alanah says. “But I think it will sound even lovelier somewhere else.”

    Carrying the wind-chime, I follow Alanah to the beach. A yellow sailboat bobs in the water.

    “Lea, this is your prize from the contest—”

    “—and from me,” whispers Wind.

    “Oh, thank you!” I say.

    Alanah and I dance my sailboat over the waves.


    —the wind-chime jangles from the mast.

    Wind swirls—

    “Merry Christmas, Lea and Alanah!”

    Alanah and I laugh together. “Happy New Year, Wind!”

  31. Anne Lipton says:

    A Christmas charmer! You’ve drawn the characters so cleverly, and I love how you bring the story together at the end!

  32. Cheryl Simon (@cmsimon18) says:

    By Cheryl Simon
    195 words

    I’m a cute little dreidel,
    who loves a good spin.
    Determined and focused,
    I just want to win.

    Most of the year,
    I sit on the shelf.
    I don’t get much play,
    like the infamous elf.

    It’s a little bit lonely,
    a long eleven months.
    Everyone passes right by me,
    they don’t mention me once.

    I just want my moment,
    but I’m starting to wonder.
    The gifts and delicious treats,
    steal all of my thunder.

    With the menorahs aglow,
    and the latkes in sight.
    Chanukah is here,
    Could this be my night?

    The one trick up my sleeve,
    is the dreidel game.
    I just hope they remember,
    And don’t decide that it’s lame.

    To my great surprise,
    the kids don’t forget.
    they give me a spin,
    and I no longer fret.

    I spin round and round,
    and the laughter is real.
    I forget about wining,
    I let out a squeal.

    I realize that night,
    it’s not about the hype or the win,
    The real gift is making memories,
    and appreciating the space you are in.

    Whatever you celebrate,
    or maybe it’s nothing at all.
    If you create smiles and laughter,
    it’s a holiday haul!

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