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. 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. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    Lisa you have done a great job with your story and your rhymes. I could picture each scene as it developed and I loved the relationship between Ancient and Sapling. Well done!

  2. Lucretia Schafroth says:

    What sweet story with unique MCs and spot-on characterizations for each of them. Lovely rhyme and meter, too. Nice job, Lisa!

  3. 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!”

  4. 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!

  5. 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!”

  6. 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!

  7. 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/

  8. 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!”

  9. 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.”

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.”

  16. ptnozell says:

    A Sack Full of Presents

    (246 words, by Patricia Nozell)

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

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

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

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

    “True Friends Trio”, they proclaimed together.

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

    “Hmph! We’ll see about that!”

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

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

    As the cheering ended, Callie stepped onto the stage.

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

    “And a toad…Mistletoad.”

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

    The crowd roared, and the judges guffawed.

    “Think we have some competition,” whispered Jamie.

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

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

    “Look! She’s crying.”

    “Better luck next year,” Jamie said.

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

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

    “Here. For your sisters. No joke!”

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

  17. Jill Purtee says:

    Nice humor (my lessons are a fine time to nap). I like how you broke up ‘Can’t. Quite. Catch it.’ Nice visuals.

  18. jimchaize1 says:

    Fairy Tale Houses WC – 246

    By Jim Chaize

    Fairy Tale Land buzzed with excitement!

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

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

    neighborhood.”

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

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

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

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

    “What if they’re all the best?”

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

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

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

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

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

    Everyone from the forest awaited the judges.

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

    best.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A cheer rang through the forest.

  19. jesseannabornemann says:

    Christmas…by a Nose
    By Jesse Anna Bornemann

    Word Count: 234

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

    BIG CARROT SHORTAGE REPORTED TODAY:
    CHAOS ERUPTS ON CLAUS FARM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • jesseannabornemann says:

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

      • jesseannabornemann says:

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

    • Colleen Owen Murphy says:

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

  20. schmelzb says:

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

  21. Katie Schwartz says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  22. Vashti Verbowski (@VashtiVerbowski) says:

    CHRISTMAS CARROTS
    by Vashti Verbowski
    (250 words)

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

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

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

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

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

    And that’s when Snowflake got an idea…

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

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

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

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

  23. cinzialverde says:

    BEING SANTA LUCIA
    By Cindy Greene
    Word Count: 249

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

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

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

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

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

    He held his breath as the winner was announced.

    “Isabella Smith”

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

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

    This made Eric even madder.

    I hope she gets a sore throat he thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  24. Stephanie Wildman says:

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

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

  25. Carmen Cecilia Castillo Gilbert says:

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

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

    Tap!

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

  26. Lucretia Schafroth says:

    Great reveal with the ending using a double entendre! Simon’s highly anticipated appearance made for a suspenseful performance for everyone. Nice job, Reed.

  27. Alicia Meyers says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Contestants concede.
    Finalists go marshmallow-to-marshmallow.

    Can I fit one more?
    Maybe, two?

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

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

    My opponent hesitates,
    with no space to spare.

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

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

    “Uhh………….”
    Eyes watering…

    “Ehhhhhhhhhh!!!”
    STANDING OVATION.

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

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

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

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR KRISTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  29. ingridboydston says:

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

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

  30. Julie Kurtz says:

    The Christmas Pirate by Julianna Kurtz 227 words

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

  31. shadikafi says:

    Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas by Shadi Kafi 250 Words

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

  32. Cassie Silva (@cassieswriting) says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As they worked, the children chatted about holiday traditions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    choose a gift from under the tree!”

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

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

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

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

    beautiful of all!”

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

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

    with twelve wrapped gifts.

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

  33. jhall2018 says:

    Fire and Ice
    by Jyn Hall
    wc: 249

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

  34. Mary-Catherine Amadu says:

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

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

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

    I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    that cocoa made me
    need TO TINKLE!

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

    something fell off my hat!

    MY GLASSES!

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

    “HO HO HO!”

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

    “UH-OH.”

  35. readmybook2002 says:

    Word Count: 248 A JARRING CONTEST
    By Bru Benson

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

  36. sacharya78 says:

    EVERYTHING
    By Sandhya Acharya, Wordcount 246

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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