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. THAT’S Not A Christmas Cookie! – Vanessa Konoval
  39. Candy Pies – Sharon McCarthy
  40. Solstice Skaters – Allison Strick
  41. The Best Gift Ever – Pen Avey
  42. The Most Christmassy House – Jen MacGregor
  43. Candy Caribou – Steena Hernandez
  44. A Christmas Pickle Story – Daniella Kaufman-Schloss
  45. Shining Star – Sarah Hawklyn
  46. Grumpy Snow Pants – Stephanie Maksymiw
  47. The Best Reading Contest Of Winter, 1959 – Beth Schmelzer
  48. Playground Games – Colleen Dougherty
  49. Simply The Best – Nicole Loos Miller
  50. Bear’s Christmas Cookie – Marta Cutler
  51. Happy Everything! – Laura Barens
  52. Dancing With The Elves – Jill Lambert
  53. A Creature Was Stirring – Judy Sobanski
  54. The Monster On Christmas Eve – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  55. What Christmas Means To Me – Marty Findley
  56. A Miscalculation – Emily Durant
  57. Lily And The Winter Festival – Karen J Moore
  58. 2021 Monkey Merry Xmas – Shariffa Keshavjee
  59. The Ginger Friend House – Kelly Swemba
  60. Gingerbread House Extravaganza – Elaine D’Alessandro
  61. Parol: This Little Star Of Mine – Lynn Grace Wong
  62. Christmas Song – YauMei Chiang
  63. Reindeer Games – Tiffany Hanson
  64. The Cookie Contest Caper – Kelsey E. Gross
  65. The Clean-Out-The-Clutter Contest – Sarah Demarest Guthrie
  66. The Contest – Amanda Sherlock
  67. Asher’s Chanukiah – Dina Silverberg
  68. Best Hanukkah Ever! – Paul Kurtz
  69. Cinder-Latke – Paul Kurtz
  70. Bunny Claus – Donna Kurtz
  71. Jangle Shells – Donna Kurtz
  72. Spin – Cheryl Simon
  73. Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest – Ellen Crosby
  74. The Winning Recipe – Judy Abelove Shemtob
  75. The Greatest Display Of All – Barbara Kimmel
  76. Sparky’s Wish – Ingrid Boydston
  77. The Night After Christmas – Abby N. Wooldridge
  78. The Claus’s Hawaiian Vacation – C. S. Boyll
  79. Gifts For Grandma – Cindy Sommer
  80. Keep Christmas Coming – Jeannette Suhr
  81. The Most Special Ornament – Timothy Hicks
  82. Santa’s Workshop Winners – Polly Owen
  83. Elfie Selfie Contest – Stephanie Henson
  84. The Great Holiday Bake Off – Jamie Donahoe
  85. Laughing All The Way – Sarah Hetu
  86. The Perfect Christmas Star – Jennifer Lowe
  87. A Sack Full Of Presents – Patricia Nozell
  88. Fairy Tale Houses – Jim Chaize
  89. Christmas…By A Nose – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  90. Reindeer Sing…Are You Listening? – Katie Schwartz
  91. Christmas Carrots – Vashti Verbowski
  92. Being Santa Lucia – Cindy Greene
  93. Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Who Will Win? – Stephanie Wildman
  94. ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  95. The Chubby Bunny Champion – Alicia Meyers
  96. Up And Away! – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  97. Christmas Isn’t – Ingrid Boydston
  98. The Christmas Pirate – Julianna Kurtz
  99. Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas – Shadi Kafi
  100. The Most Beautiful Snowflake Of All – Cassie Silva
  101. Fire And Ice – Jyn Hall
  102. The Santa Spectacle – Mary Cathering Amadu
  103. A Jarring Contest – Bru Benson
  104. Everything – Sandhya Acharya
  105. Similarity Despite Diversity – Eva Felder
  106. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Becky Goodman
  107. Solstice Wars! – Phoebe Browning
  108. Gingerbread Surprise – JC Kelly
  109. Squirrels Christmas – Charlotte Boyer
  110. The Holiday Contest – Denise Seidman
  111. The Witch’s Gingerbread House – Lauri Meyers
  112. Elf Rivalry – Michelle S. Kennedy
  113. Dream Big, Little Pip! – Sally Yorke-Viney
  114. An Extraordinary Elf – Becky Kimbrough
  115. Jasmine Jingletoes And The Christmas Stocking Contest – Brenda Covert
  116. Let There Be (MORE!) Lights – Judy Carey Nevin
  117. Laughing All The Way – Samantha Gassman

1,731 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

  1. 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.

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BETH

    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.

  3. 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!
    Santa”

  4. 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.

  5. 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…
    Maise!”
    “Awesome,” said Catalina.
    “Wonderful,” said Lester.
    “Magical,” smiled Jozef.
    And to Maise, it was simply the best.

    Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2021 Holiday Contest

  6. Marta Cutler says:

    BEAR’S CHRISTMAS COOKIE
    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.

    SPAAAALOOSH!!!!

    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.

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR LAURA

    HAPPY EVERYTHING!
    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!”

  8. Jill Lambert says:

    DANCING WITH THE ELVES
    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.

  9. Judy Sobanski says:

    A CREATURE WAS STIRRING
    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!”

  10. 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.

    ##

  11. 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.
    “Really?”
    “Of course. What are friends for?”

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

  12. 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!

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KAREN

    LILY AND THE WINTER FESTIVAL
    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!”

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR SHARIFFA

    2021

    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!

  15. 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.
    “Create!”

    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.

  16. Elaine D'Alessandro says:

    GINGERBREAD HOUSE EXTRAVAGANZA
    by
    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!”

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

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

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR TIFFANY

    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!”

  20. kgross2 says:

    THE COOKIE CONTEST CAPER
    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…

    THUNK-THUNKA-THUNK!

    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…

    …Jayla!”

    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!”

  21. 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!

    HO-HO-HO!

  22. 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.

  23. 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?”
    “Nah.”
    “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!”

  24. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PAUL

    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!”

  25. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PAUL

    Cinder-Latke
    by Paul Kurtz
    249 words

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

    —EVERYONE INVITED TO ROYAL PALACE HANUKKAH PARTY—

    —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—

    —PRINCESS CINDER-LATKE’S LATKE PALACE—

    —and dine on latkes happily ever after!

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

    THE END

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DONNA

    Bunny Claus
    by Donna Kurtz
    247 words

    KNOCK—KNOCK

    “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—

    “EE-YOWW!”

    —Bunny plows—

    KA-WHUMP

    —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 —

    “NOOO!”

    —and—

    KA-RACCKK

    —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!”

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR DONNA

    Jangle Shells
    by Donna Kurtz
    245 words

    I read the poster taped to a palm tree.

    —CHRISTMAS CRAFT-FESTIVAL CONTEST—

    —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.

    Clink—Clink—Clink

    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.

    Clink—Clink—Clink

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

    A soft breeze blows as I return to the festival.

    Clink—Clink—Clink

    —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.

    Clink—Clink—Clink

    —the wind-chime jangles from the mast.

    Wind swirls—

    “Merry Christmas, Lea and Alanah!”

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

  28. Cheryl Simon (@cmsimon18) says:

    SPIN
    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!

  29. pecrosby says:

    Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest
    by Ellen Crosby
    Word Count: 214

    Fairytown, USA, is a buzz with holiday spirit!
    You can feel a special magic in the air.
    Fairies big and small, tall and short, dressed in all the rainbow colors,
    Hurry here to enter the first-ever, Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest!

    Thousands of fairies dip, drive, and deposit gold, silver, and frosty fairy dust as their creations take shape.

    Ribbons of colors swish and swirl…
    Diamonds and dots, squares and stars, ovals and octagons.
    Shapes! Glittering, glowing, and glorious!

    All beautiful, bold, and bright!
    No two alike.

    First, Second, Third place – which snowflake will win?

    Some snowflakes fall ”Pfffht!” to the ground.
    Oh! Oh! Do they break?
    Some snowflakes float and flow as if they’ll never come down.
    Can they be reached?
    Some snowflakes are pointed and others soft and round.
    How can you compare them?
    Some snowflakes are so feathery that you can see right through them.
    How can you judge them if you can’t see them?

    It takes a long, long, long time…
    But, at last the fine fairy judges four make their decision!

    Every fairy fan holds their breath.

    “Each snowflake is a whimsical work of art,” they say.
    “We ask every fairy participant to spread their wings and flutter high.”

    “For you All ARE WINNERS of the most magical kind!”

  30. Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

    THE WINNING RECIPE
    by Judy Abelove Shemtob Word Count 250

    Brenda’s eyes widened as she read mom’s flyer about a Hanukkah latke contest at the community center.

    “Can we enter?” she asked.

    “It’s late but we can try.”

    “Let’s use Grandma Leah’s recipe.” Brenda remembered how wonderful Grandma’s latkes tasted last year. “Do you think the judges will like it?”

    Mom nodded.

    Brenda found Grandma’s recipe written on an index card in the bulging recipe box on the kitchen counter.

    “I’ve never made latkes before,” said Brenda. “Wonder if there’s a secret ingredient?”

    “You’ll do just fine.”

    Brenda peeled and grated the potatoes. She added matzoh meal, salt, pepper, and oil.

    “Hold this chunk of challah in your mouth so you won’t cry when you’re chopping the onions,” said her mother.

    “Challah’s not the secret ingredient.” Brenda patted her eyes with a tissue.

    She mixed everything in a big bowl and dropped thick latke pancakes into the hot frypan. SPLAT! Mouthwatering smells filled the kitchen!

    Brenda turned over each latke until the batch browned. She and Mommy tasted one and placed the others on a pretty dish covered with Hanukkah napkins.

    “Light and yummy!” Brenda licked her lips. “Is there enough time to get to the contest?”

    “Yes!”

    Brenda thought about how good applesauce would taste on her warm latkes. “How much is left?”

    “Just a little.”

    “Maybe we don’t need to enter our latkes in this year’s contest after all. Grandma’s recipe is already a winner in my eyes. Best of all we made it together with love, Mom.”

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Hi Susan! Thanks so much for the alliteration greeting. I’ll have to use “love your latke story” somewhere. So enjoyed your Santa Clause Cane story especially the line rubbing hoof to eye. The pompoms were so cute! How did you ever get to be #14. I’m 76. Lots of luck with your story! So glad we finally got to do something together, penpal!

      • seschipper says:

        Judy, I’m so excited we were finally able to do something together as well! ( #14 happened because I usually get up at the crack of dawn when our alarm “brrngs” because Patrick leaves for work early! I headed to the computer and sent the story 😊)

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Thank you, Allison. I’m so glad you were thinking about tasting the latkes while your were reading. Love when the ending resonates!
        I enjoyed your contest entry. It had a great tone to it. What a great blog you have and Twitter account! So nice to meet someone new!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Thank you so much, Vivian. Life is suppose to be fun isn’t it. I’m glad Brenda had enough confidence to be fine with just enjoying the latkes with her mother. Susanna Hill has provided excellent opportunities to the kid lit world in this contest just like you in your #50 Precious Words Contest!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words, Royal Baysinger. Magical and festive are the greatest compliments to making recipes especially ones from the past. I’m so impressed with your work in micro fiction. You’re definitely a wordsmith to read and watch!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Thank you for picking out such lovely themes as takeaways from reading my story, Jill Purtee. Cooking does exactly that––respecting old traditions and starting new. I love the way you describe books on Twitter in the most concise and gentlest of terms––looking at the big picture!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Glad you were remembering making latkes in your family, Schmelzb! Oh yes, zucchini and sweet potato latkes are definite adult hits in this household! Any other varieties you might suggest? Have you also made fresh fruit compote in addition to homemade applesauce! That’s also a biggie here!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        So glad you enjoyed the ending INGRID BOYDSTON! Thank you for letting me know. Hope you were able to track down some latkes or whip them up! Seems like we have a lot in common––reading, writing, teaching, and all things kidlit? A wonderful life!

      • ingridboydston says:

        Yes, truly a wonderful life! One of the best parts of teaching is getting to learn from experts (the kids) about different cultures. I always get hooked by the food, lol! 😄

    • Anne Lipton says:

      A heartwarming intergenerational Hanukkah story. I love the authentic description and details, especially Grandma’s recipe card in the bulging recipe box. Your evocative writing made my mouth water. And my eyes. It must have been the onions . . .

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Love your comments, Anne Lipton! Thank you so much for mentioning that file box filled with recipes. Sometimes it takes forever to find the right one and other times––A recipe pops out as if someone is handing it to me. Oh yes, the onions did it. But they added so much taste! What a beautiful rose! Fascinaearned that our botanical gardens has two showing seasons

    • Brenda Covert says:

      What a sweet story! I approve your character’s name, and just so you know, I *did* win a couple of recipe/cooking contests! Teehee It’s been so long since I made potato pancakes. I think I need to dig my recipe out and treat my granddaughters to some. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Love your comments, Anne Lipton! Thank you so much for mentioning that file box filled with recipes. Sometimes it takes forever to find the right one and other times––A recipe pops out as if someone is handing it to me. Oh yes, the onions did it. But they added so much taste! What a beautiful rose! Fascinated to learn that our botanical gardens has two showing seasons

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        Can’t imagine why you liked the character’s name! Congratulations on winning recipe/cooking contests! Which ones? I was a county apple pie baking queen in 4H many moons ago. Definitely dig out your recipes–– your granddaughters will love them and probably want to make them too. Thanks for inspiring me to delve further into the recipe box.

    • Colleen Owen Murphy says:

      The winning is in keeping Grandma’s recipe alive! I love that Brenda is making them for the first time and so successfully.

      • Judy Abelove Shemtob says:

        You’re absolutely right, COLLEEN OWEN MURPHY. Keeping Grandma’s memory alive is the winning aspect! I wonder if that’s why they taste so good too. Making something well the first time is quite satisfying for a child and an adult as well. Thanks for posting the invitation to read the finalists for the Halloween contest which I missed. So many amazing entries! So nice to meet you!

  31. Barbara Kimmel says:

    The Greatest Display of All
    By Barbara Kimmel
    250 words

    In Harmony Hills, neighbors relish time together, especially during the holidays when they sip cocoa, sing carols, and reflect on long-lasting friendships.
    This year, the Harmony Hills’ Homeowner’s Association decides to do something more… a holiday display contest! The winner will receive an “I WON!” yard sign and a 95-decibel, gas-powered leaf blower.
    Competition is fierce as neighbors complete their displays.
    The Looneys orchestrate a laser show with synchronized music that blasts “Silent Night” across state lines. The Bozos finalize a three-hour fireworks extravaganza. And Lucy’s mom hopes her live nativity scene will secure the prize.
    “Are you done yet?” asks Lucy.
    “Almost!” shouts Mom from the roof. “Once I install these spotlights, I need to feed the camels.”
    Lucy sighs and kicks a pebble.
    She waits on the front porch, but the glaring lights hurt her eyes.
    She wanders out back to her tire swing, but the blaring music hurts her ears.
    She heads inside to make a fort from blankets, when…
    Zip-Zap-BOOM! The lights go out!
    Neighbors fly into the street, shouting over the brays and neighs.
    “LOOK WHAT YOU DID!”
    “ME?! It’s because of YOUR flashing strobe lights!”
    “What about YOUR inflatable ski slope?!”
    “What about YOUR… ”
    Lucy’s mom interrupts the bickering… “LUCY’S MISSING!”
    Everyone stops.
    “Jordan’s gone too!”
    “So’s Oliver!”
    “And Ava!”
    The panicked neighbors race from yard to yard. They turn the corner to see… a field of children singing carols beneath the brilliant moon. Lucy points to the shimmering stars, “Best display ever!”

  32. ingridboydston says:

    Thank you Susanna and Company! 😃

    Sparky’s Wish
    250 words
    Ingrid Boydston

    Sparky was jealous. He loved being Jamie’s Elf on the Shelf. It was fun making mischief every night! He was thrilled when Jamie chose to take him to school for “Brighten up the Holidays Show and Tell.” But compared to the dazzling items the other children shared, Sparky felt dull. Then he had an idea.

    Once the children left for recess, Sparky said, “I wonder which one of us is the brightest? Personally, I vote for me. I think up crazy shenanigans every night! “

    “Silly Sparky! Bright means… bright! Like my scarlet leaves. That’s why Maria chose me for Los Posadas.”

    “Bright means light, Poinsettia!” interrupted the Winter Solstice lantern. “I’m on fire when Lucas lights me. Beat that!”

    “Ok! As Jamal’s Kinara, I have seven candles. Boo-yah!”

    “Ahem! Ben lights all nine of my Hanukkah candles! Clearly, a menorah is the brightest.”

    “We light up the entire tree!” scoffed Gloria’s colorful lights.

    “I was taken last New Year’s Eve at exactly midnight,” boasted the photo Stella brought in. “Nothing is brighter than a sky filled with fireworks!”

    Arguments continued. Tempers flared. Holiday spirits dimmed. Sparky wished he hadn’t started the competition, but how could he fix it?

    Everyone fell silent as the children returned to claim their treasures. Sparky looked at Jamie. The glow of holiday joy was returning. Why? Suddenly the answer was obvious. Sparky flashed a grin to the others. Silently they all agreed. The brightest symbol of the holidays? The smile on every child’s face!

  33. Abby Wooldridge (@ANWBooks) says:

    The Night After Christmas
    by Abby N. Wooldridge
    241 words

    ‘Twas the night after Christmas when Santa returned
    to a mess of a kitchen and cookies that burned.
    The dishes were piled sky high in the sink,
    and the milk on the counter was starting to stink.

    The backyard was covered with peppermint sticks
    and gumdrops and chocolates and gingerbread bricks.
    Then what to his wondering eyes should appear
    but a handwritten sign that made it all clear:

    CONTESTS! it said. CAN WE COUNT YOU IN?
    MANY WILL ENTER, BUT FEW WILL WIN!
    So that’s what elves do while I fly all around?
    Santa heard shouting and followed the sound.

    “For our next contest, we’ll race down the ice!”
    “Hold it!” said Santa. “That sounds rather nice!”
    The elves stopped their cheering and froze in the snow.
    “Santa! You’re early! Uh… How’d your night go?”

    “Don’t change the subject–I’m lively and quick–
    a jolly old elf! You can’t beat Saint Nick!”
    The contestants all shook like bowls full of jelly,
    when Santa dashed down the hill on his belly.

    He chuckled and made his way home toward his bed,
    but the sight on the lawn made him turn back his head.
    Rudolph was chomping the huge candy canes
    with a sign on his antlers that said: REINDEER GAMES!

    Santa stood laughing in spite of himself
    at this CLEANUP CONTEST designed by the elves.
    Before they could spot him, he slipped out of sight.
    “Merry Christmas to all of you winners tonight!”

    http://abbywooldridge.com/2021/12/09/holiday-contest-2021/

  34. boyll says:

    “The Claus’s Hawaiian Vacation”
    By C.S. Boyll
    Word count: 244

    “Santa, please pack your swimming suit in the sled.”

    “Why, Mrs. Claus?”

    “After we finish delivering toys in Australia, we’re vacationing in Hawaii.”

    Santa looked unsure about this plan, but the elves bounced all over the place.

    Christmas deliveries were merry and bright. Then the Santa clan glided into Hawaii.

    They put on their swimsuits and laid out on lounge chairs. There was, however, one itty-bitty
    problem.

    The elves couldn’t rest. They needed work.

    Finally, Santa said, “Okay elves. Let’s have a cookie baking competition. You have one hour to
    whip up your best cookie and milk treat. The winner gets a boogie board.

    Even before saying ho, ho, ho, the elves hit the kitchen, grabbing flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and
    pans.

    Teeny Elf ran around and couldn’t find any cookie ingredients. He sat on a stool and almost
    cried.

    Then he spotted the blender. Into it went pineapple, shredded carrots, spinach, and coconut
    milk.

    “Time’s up,” yelled Mrs. Claus.

    The elves presented snickerdoodles, brownies, gingerbread people, chocolate chip cookies,
    and more.

    Santa and Mrs. Claus took tiny bites from each and politely smiled. They were stuffed from too
    many holiday cookies.

    Finally, they came to Teeny Elf’s “cookie-in-a-cup.” They sipped, sighed, and sipped again.

    “Teeny Elf, how satisfying!” exclaimed Mrs. Claus.

    Teeny smiled. “I thought you might enjoy something different after Christmas.”

    Santa Claus roared. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Teeny Elf, your delicious cookie-in-a-cup is our winner!

    Now go try out your boogie board!”

  35. horsewriterlady says:

    GIFTS FOR GRANDMA
    BY CINDY SOMMER
    247 Words

    Not ready to be beaten again, Alex faced his cousins, Ben and Sophia. “Let’s see who can get Grandma the best plant for Christmas.”

    They nodded. “You’re on!”

    “I just want you all to get along,” said Grandma. “No fighting.”

    Weeks before Christmas, Alex lined up a poinsettia, a holly bush, and a small spruce tree in the nursery greenhouse. Boring. He wanted to find an extra special plant to beat them. But what would Grandma want? He carried the plants back to their shelves. A huge leaf smacked him in the face. He looked up and got an idea.

    Alex told Dad to call his cousins to join him. When they arrived, Alex described his plan. They gave a thumbs-up.

    On Christmas Day, the cousins gathered on Grandma’s lanai.

    “No fighting?” asked Grandma.

    “We all worked together this time,” said Alex. “Merry Christmas! This is an Alexander palm tree.”

    “Is it named after you?” Grandma chuckled.

    “This is the first plant to start a new section of your alphabet palm tree garden.”

    Sophia stepped forward. “Merry Christmas! This is a bottle palm tree for the ‘B’ part of your garden.”

    Ben couldn’t wait. “Merry Christmas! This is a Christmas palm, for the letter ‘C’.”

    “Thank you! I’m proud of all of you.” Grandma hugged them.

    “I know you don’t like fighting,” said Alex. “Now that we’ll follow the alphabet, we won’t argue. Well . . . not as much.”

    “That is the best present of all.”

  36. Jeannette Suhr says:

    Keep Christmas Coming w/c 232
    By Jeannette Suhr

    Our holiday contest was to write an explanation
    To ensure that Christmas was a smooth operation.
    (Isn’t this task too big for me?)

    That’s simple, I thought, I’ll just make a list
    Check once, check twice, so nothing is missed.
    (Says the person who can’t find his socks in the morning.)

    I’ll create a survey and question the elves
    About the North Pole and about themselves.
    (After all, who doesn’t mind completing another survey?)

    They might have ideas about improvements
    Maybe new toy ideas and assembly movement.
    (No one knows toys better than elves.)

    I’ll walk through the workshop and plan construction
    Maybe install technology to speed up production.
    (I always knew there was an engineer in me.)

    A new-do for Santa and a stylish new coat
    Pack cookies and milk in his snazzy snack tote.
    (Gotta have snacks for the flight.)

    We’ll upgrade the sleigh to a sleeker design
    WiFi, self-driving, and seats that recline.
    (Move over Elon Musk!)

    Give Mrs. Claus a headset for communication
    It’ll keep her informed of Santa’s location.
    (Good to keep the Mrs. happy.)

    Feed the reindeer carrots and hay
    Brush their fur and hear them BRAY.
    (Can someone come clean up the stalls?)

    Be sure you’re on the nice list when Santa sets on your roof
    Hang stockings, clear space, and show vaccination proof.
    (No one wants coal for a present.)

    Merry Christmas to all!

  37. Timothy Hicks says:

    THE MOST SPECIAL ORNAMENT
    By Timothy Hicks
    248 Words

    “It’s Choosing Day! It’s Choosing Day!” said the Christmas ornaments inside their box.

    “Maybe Eleanora will choose me. I’m always her favorite.” Said Pretty, Pretty Princess ornament.

    “I just know Ethan will choose me. I’m big and strong, and my cape lights up.” Said Superhero Man ornament.

    “Maybe they will choose me.” Said Camille the Camel ornament.

    All the other ornaments laughed. “Oh, Camille. You’re just an old wooden ornament. You’re not sparkly.” Said Sparkly Star ornament.

    “And you’re not shiny.” Said Shiny, the golden ornament.

    “You’re not even new.” Said Baby ornament, still in her wrapping.

    Camille tried to hide in the corner. They were right. Her bright green seat paint was faded, and her legs chipped. Maybe next year she would hang on the Christmas tree again.

    “Here they come!” Said the ornaments.

    The box opened. A small hand pulled out Superhero Man. He was so proud.

    Another little hand pulled out Princess. She was so happy to be chosen.

    One ornament after another left the box until Camille felt herself lifted out.

    “What about this one?” Said Eleanora and Ethan.

    “Why did you choose the camel?” Said Momma.

    “Daddy made it for us before he got sick.” Said Eleanora and Ethan. “It’s our favorite.”

    “Mine too. Let’s hang your camel up high beside the star where special ornaments go.” Said Momma.

    Camille smiled and smiled, faded colors and all. She now knew it’s not how you look that matters, but how much you are loved.

  38. Polly says:

    Santa’s Workshop Winners
    Polly Owen, 250 words.

    Santa walked around his busy workshop.
    “Beep! Beep!” went the drivers.
    “Caution! Elves at work”
    It ran like clockwork. So why was he sad?

    “Can I help?” said Santa.
    “Nope!”
    “Don’t forget the….”
    “Sure.”
    “Could I have a…”
    “It’s in your office!”
    Santa twiddled his thumbs. Just how could he help? “I know! A competition! To reward the very best elf!”
    So he made a poster:

    “Fastest Elf!
    Most toys, wins!”

    *Brrrrmm brrrmmm!* drove the elves. “Move! Elves at work.” They made 1000’s of toys but…
    *Ka-Ping!* they broke.
    “No!” said Santa. “The speed’s good. But the quality’s poor.” So he made a new poster:

    “Most skilful elf.
    Most beautiful toy, wins!”

    There were no bangs or beeps, just “shhh” and *tap-tap*, until… beautiful toys appeared…
    all three of them!
    “No!” said Santa “We need quality AND speed.”
    So he made a new poster:

    “Best all-around elf!
    Most speedy and stylish,
    wins!”

    The elves glared at each other.
    “Where’s the glue?”
    “Who spilt my paint?”
    “Stop copying me!”

    It was chaos!

    “Oh no,” sobbed Santa. “What have I done?!
    Competition has ruined everything. I just wanted happy children at Christmas. Boo-hoo.”
    “Like your sign?” sniffed Elfina
    “Yes.” sobbed Santa.
    “Well why didn’t you say?! We love making children happy!”
    They cleared up the paint, shared the glue and did what elves do best….
    made a mountain of beautiful presents!

    “I’m pleased to announce the winning elf is…
    …A truly terrible idea!”

    And the next year, Santa happily twiddled his thumbs.

  39. Stephanie (Lupo) Henson (@stepha_henson) says:

    Elfie Selfie Contest
    Word Count 248
    Written by Stephanie Henson 2021
    @stepha_henson (Twitter)
    ___________

    It’s holiday season at our school,
    Time for the Elfie contest, so cool!
    #ElfieSelfie

    It’s a scavenger hunt to win a prize,
    Take your elf along and use your eyes.

    Find the items on the list,
    Snap a pic, an “Elfie”, get the gist?

    Find the stuff – take photo proof,
    Don’t be so shy, be a goof!

    The Elfie winner gets a real live elf,
    Not the kind you put on the shelf.

    This elf is pure magical bliss,
    Rumor is, he’ll grant one wish.

    First clue is crack the spine,
    Run to the library in time!

    Next, find stinky shoes,
    Snapping a pic in the gym will do!.

    Now, take your elf to the place,
    Where you chat & stuff your face.

    Yup, to the lunch room,
    Don’t let the elf over consume!

    Almost through the course,
    Elf magic in full force.

    Take a pic with your buddy,
    But be careful, it gets muddy.

    You found your way to the sports fields,
    What kind of wish will your elf yield?

    You are nearing the end,
    One clue left to comprehend.

    Go to where the Principal works,
    In his office is where it lurks!

    Camera out, get ready to see,
    Catch the elf before he flees!

    Aww, shucks, the elf is not here.
    The Principal will spread holiday cheer!
    No homework for the entire year!

    Hope you enjoyed the Elfie Selfie game,
    We’re so glad you came.

    Happy Holidays to all
    May wishes come true, big and small!
    #MerryEverything!

  40. Jamie Donahoe says:

    The Great Holiday Bake Off
    By Jamie Donahoe
    206 Words

    “What is going on here!?” roared Santa. “Christmas Eve is days away and the workshop is empty. Where are all the elves?”

    Head Elf Gasper gulped. “It’s the holiday edition of the Great Polar Baking Show, Santa. Qualifying rounds are tomorrow.”

    Santa peered into the kitchen. The scents of cinnamon and sugar, peppermint and butter filled the air. But there were no cartons of Christmas cookies. There weren’t even trays of cookies.

    The elves had been so focused on their creations for the competition that they had completely ignored cookie production.

    “This won’t do. I need sustenance on Christmas Eve. Meringues and sponge cakes, lovely as they are, won’t fill me up.”

    Mrs Claus, who had already baked thousands of cookies, was not about to pick up a rolling pin again.

    She quickly took to social media. “Children of the world – please set cookies out for Santa alongside your carrots for the reindeer this year,” she tweeted.

    The next day, from the set of the Great Polar Baking Show, she posted pictures of the elves and their Christmas confections, sparking a flurry of last minute wishes for gifts of baking equipment.

    Which the elves happily loaded on the sleigh, a winning recipe tucked in each package.

  41. 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.”

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