⭐️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.
⭐️ 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.
⭐️ 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)
⭐️ 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
⭐️ A Reversible Handmade Christmas Stocking or Other Winter or Holiday-Themed Gift Bag from Karen Gebbia PLUS a Personalized Signed Copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY by Nancy Derey Riley to fill it!
⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of either QUEEN OF PHYSICS:How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) or TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (Albert Whitman 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Teresa Robeson
a Personalized Signed Copy of either LISTEN (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2021) or TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Harry N. Abrams 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Gabi Snyder
⭐️ 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!
- LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS by Joana Pastro
- ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME by Juana Martinez-Neal (signed by the author/illustrator)
- TINY CREATURES by Nicola Davies (NF)
- PIPSQUEAKS, SLOWPOKES, AND STINKERS by Melissa Stewart (NF)
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!!!
- It Takes A Forest – Lucretia Schafroth
- The Kelpie Challenge – Bonnie Kelso
- The Cookies Of Holiday Hollow – Royal Baysinger
- Elf Off The Shelf – Anne Lipton
- The Trolls: A Winter Tale – Royal Baysinger
- Upon A Winter Solstice – Royal Baysinger
- So You Think You Can Prance – Amy Leskowski
- The Festive Flying Race – Nicola Beach
- Birdie’s Song – Beth Stillborn
- The Holiday Homework – Sue Lancaster
- How Tiny Won A Seat On Santa’s Sleigh – Elizabeth Westra
- The Claus’ Candy Cane Contest – Susan Schipper
- He Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good – Colleen Murphy
- Olive, The Other Reindeer – Lindsay Moretti
- Go Green For Christmas – Margaret Zotkiewicz
- Tree Number Nine – Lindsey Hobson
- Christmas Boots – P.J. Purtee
- Ellarose’s Sweater – Marta Cutler
- A Fourth Grader’s Poster Problem – Jennifer Vose
- A Buggie Tradition – Kay Inglis
- Kendy And The Solstice Solo Show – Sarah Meade
- Elsie And The Christmas Comedy Contest – Sarah Meade
- The Better Elf On The Shelf – Molly Ippolito
- Ernie And The Science Fair – Deborah Foster
- Mr. Tweedy’s Christmas Trees – Colleen Fogarty
- Best Wrapped Surprise – Sara Dean
- Christmas Eve Ride Along Contest – Dawn Young
- The Christmas Tree Contest – Dorothy K. Kohrherr
- Alfredo Learns The Secret Of Greatness – Joan Leotta
- The Pretty Ugly Sweater – Pamela Swanson
- Jamie’s Holiday Surprise – Diana Sussman
- Katie’s Snow Creation – Marty B.
- The Tasty Treat Christmas Contest – Katie Brandyberry
- Santa’s Secret Contest – Linda Staszak
- Phoebe’s Snowperson – Kelly Clasen
- THAT’S Not A Christmas Cookie! – Vanessa Konoval
- Candy Pies – Sharon McCarthy
- Solstice Skaters – Allison Strick
- The Best Gift Ever – Pen Avey
- The Most Christmassy House – Jen MacGregor
- Candy Caribou – Steena Hernandez
- A Christmas Pickle Story – Daniella Kaufman-Schloss
- Shining Star – Sarah Hawklyn
- Grumpy Snow Pants – Stephanie Maksymiw
- The Best Reading Contest Of Winter, 1959 – Beth Schmelzer
- Playground Games – Colleen Dougherty
- Simply The Best – Nicole Loos Miller
- Bear’s Christmas Cookie – Marta Cutler
- Happy Everything! – Laura Barens
- Dancing With The Elves – Jill Lambert
- A Creature Was Stirring – Judy Sobanski
- The Monster On Christmas Eve – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
- What Christmas Means To Me – Marty Findley
- A Miscalculation – Emily Durant
- Lily And The Winter Festival – Karen J Moore
- 2021 Monkey Merry Xmas – Shariffa Keshavjee
- The Ginger Friend House – Kelly Swemba
- Gingerbread House Extravaganza – Elaine D’Alessandro
- Parol: This Little Star Of Mine – Lynn Grace Wong
- Christmas Song – YauMei Chiang
- Reindeer Games – Tiffany Hanson
- The Cookie Contest Caper – Kelsey E. Gross
- The Clean-Out-The-Clutter Contest – Sarah Demarest Guthrie
- The Contest – Amanda Sherlock
- Asher’s Chanukiah – Dina Silverberg
- Best Hanukkah Ever! – Paul Kurtz
- Cinder-Latke – Paul Kurtz
- Bunny Claus – Donna Kurtz
- Jangle Shells – Donna Kurtz
- Spin – Cheryl Simon
- Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest – Ellen Crosby
- The Winning Recipe – Judy Abelove Shemtob
- The Greatest Display Of All – Barbara Kimmel
- Sparky’s Wish – Ingrid Boydston
- The Night After Christmas – Abby N. Wooldridge
- The Claus’s Hawaiian Vacation – C. S. Boyll
- Gifts For Grandma – Cindy Sommer
- Keep Christmas Coming – Jeannette Suhr
- The Most Special Ornament – Timothy Hicks
- Santa’s Workshop Winners – Polly Owen
- Elfie Selfie Contest – Stephanie Henson
- The Great Holiday Bake Off – Jamie Donahoe
- Laughing All The Way – Sarah Hetu
- A Sack Full Of Presents – Patricia Nozell
- Fairy Tale Houses – Jim Chaize
- Christmas…By A Nose – Jesse Anna Bornemann
- Reindeer Sing…Are You Listening? – Katie Schwartz
- Christmas Carrots – Vashti Verbowski
- Being Santa Lucia – Cindy Greene
- Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Who Will Win? – Stephanie Wildman
- ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
- The Chubby Bunny Champion – Alicia Meyers
- Up And Away! – Kristy Roser Nuttall
- Christmas Isn’t – Ingrid Boydston
- The Christmas Pirate – Julianna Kurtz
- Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas – Shadi Kafi
- The Most Beautiful Snowflake Of All – Cassie Silva
- Fire And Ice – Jyn Hall
- The Santa Spectacle – Mary Cathering Amadu
- A Jarring Contest – Bru Benson
- Everything – Sandhya Acharya
- Similarity Despite Diversity – Eva Felder
- O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Becky Goodman
- Solstice Wars! – Phoebe Browning
- Gingerbread Surprise – JC Kelly
- Squirrels Christmas – Charlotte Boyer
- The Holiday Contest – Denise Seidman
- The Witch’s Gingerbread House – Lauri Meyers
- Elf Rivalry – Michelle S. Kennedy
- Dream Big, Little Pip! – Sally Yorke-Viney
- An Extraordinary Elf – Becky Kimbrough
- Jasmine Jingletoes And The Christmas Stocking Contest – Brenda Covert
- Let There Be (MORE!) Lights – Judy Carey Nevin
- Laughing All The Way – Samantha Gassman
1,728 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!”
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!
What sweet story with unique MCs and spot-on characterizations for each of them. Lovely rhyme and meter, too. Nice job, Lisa!
Thank you, Lucretia!
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!”
Ah, there’s so much lovely imagery here, and I love the cadence of your writing.
Thank you, Allison! It was a joy to write. I love Susanna’s writing contests! Merry Christmas!
I love the beautiful scenes of colors and shapes, texture and movement! Highly evocative.
Appreciate your comments, Royal! I still have to go back to the beginning and read some of these entries. I see your name among them. I’m sure I will enjoy your storytelling! Blessings!
Ooh, this would be fun to read to kids right before teaching them to make snowflakes! Lovely!
Thank you so much, Ingrid! One of my most favorite memories as a child was creating snowflakes out of paper, cutting every which way to make them unique. Then, my siblings and I would plaster them all over our windows to share with the world.
A story that really sparkles! I love your thought-provoking juxtaposition and exquisite (perhaps interchangeable?) descriptions of the fairies and the snowflakes.
Thank you, Anne! I must admit to a slow start on this one though the idea came quickly. I didn’t have my computer with me when I wrote this so used good ol’ pen and paper. There were a lot of scribbles and crossing outs at the beginning, but then it just flowed. I haven’t had a chance to read any of these, but will endeavor to do so in the next few days. I will look forward to reading yours!
The imagery is wonderful…great job! 🙂🧚♀️
I would love to be a spectator of this wonderful contest!
Ha ha!! I knew what he was saying and I think it is a perfect part!
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?”
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?”
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.”
Hi Judy! “Love” your Latke story! Especially the ending! 🙂
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!
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 😊)
Yumm, I can just taste these. I love the ending!
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!
What fun, Judy. And I love that she knows the recipe is already a winner! Now Brenda and mom can enjoy them. Well done!
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!
I love this festive Hanukkah story! Preparing and sharing food with the ones we love is always magical, and you did such a great job putting us right there in that kitchen. I feel like I’ve made latkes with Brenda and her mom. Such a joy to read!
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!
They remember grandma AND started a new tradition, cooking together. Nice.
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!
Wow. Thank YOU for such kind words!
Evocative of our family cooking of latkes of all variations over the years. Have you ever tried zucchini ones for adults. Yummy! Great story!
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!
I ❤️ the ending! And now excuse me while I go track down some latkes!
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!
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! 😄
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 . . .
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
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!
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
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.
The winning is in keeping Grandma’s recipe alive! I love that Brenda is making them for the first time and so successfully.
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!
You are welcome! And nice to meet you as well!
The Greatest Display of All
By Barbara Kimmel
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!”
“Jordan’s gone too!”
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!”
Oh, I really love this. You had me chuckling with the family names and their ridiculous displays, and then it ended with an ‘awww’ with the sweet kiddos knowing the true meaning of the season. Well done!
Thanks so much, Allison! Glad you got an awww moment!
Wow! Hilarious holiday havoc in Holiday Hills! I LOVE the extreme displays!
“Hilarious havoc” is a great description! Thank you!
The adults compete and the children sing. I thing the children have the right idea.
Exactly 🙂 We should all listen a bit closer to the children.
Hilarious! I actually laughed out loud at times. And such a sweet ending led by the wisdom of a child.
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it!
Lol! Kids would like this but grown ups will love it! 😂
Thank you! Yes, I think many grownups will relate!
Harmony Hills – hilarious, hazardous. Love the alliteration. Love the ending.
Thank you so much!
Definitely seems like the children have a much better perspective on what makes a display spectacular. I would be like Lucy, trying fo get away from all of the chaos.
I’m with you… take me away from the noise and craziness… and seek some holiday peace!
Thank you Susanna and Company! 😃
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!
What a sweet ending to a clever story! This is a great reminder that while the holidays can seem chaotic, it’s all about those smiles of wonder in the kids.
Thank you Allison! Now that I’ve posted I look forward to reading the others.
A nice intermingling of holidays
I love how ALL of the treasured holiday symbols come to life! Even the New Year’s Eve photograph! Such a beautifully inclusive tale of holiday cheer!
Thanks! Trying to figure out how to get fireworks into show and tell took me a while, lol!
Yes. The smiles! I love the name Poinsettia.
Thank you Jill!
This gave me warm fuzzies. “The smile on every child’s face.” Beautiful.
Thank you Barbara! 😊
I love the way you incorporated all the December holidays into this story, and you did it with just 250 words!
Thanks Brenda! It was a fun challenge!
A holiday spectacular full of fireworks, bursting with imagination, and starring a colorful cast of characters! I love how the joy of children brings them together at the end.
Wow! I love your description, thank you Anne!
The true meaning of the holidays indeed:) Nicely done!
Thank you Vashti!
Your dialogue among the different holiday items is awesome. I love the different interpretations of “brightness.” Well done!
Thanks for the great feedback Colleen! I specifically worked on voice for each so I’m glad it worked. I had 2 more ways to interpret bright but had to cut…lol!
It is nice to have too much!
Such a clever way to include diversity in celebrating the holidays. I love the warm ending!
Thank you Lindsay! I knew I wanted to incorporate as many holidays as I could but until I found the ending, I didn’t know where to begin. I appreciate your feedback. 😊
“Boo-yah!”… I love it! Wonderful job of including other holidays and showing how the joy each holiday brings is something they all have in common!
Wow, thank you Judy! I struggled with finding the right exclamation! 😊
Awww…I love this ending, Ingrid! And I love that you brought in such wonderful diversity with this story. Well done!
Always a joy to hear from you Vivian! Thank you for your kind words! I’m focusing on the Persevere P! 💕
I love the creative thinking of your characters, and how fun to have Santa come through with the snow cloud! Best of luck!
The Night After Christmas
by Abby N. Wooldridge
‘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!”
Such a funny scene……”The contestants all shook like bowls full of jelly,
when Santa dashed down the hill on his belly.” I can picture this in a PB! Thank you for sharing your fun and funny story.
It’s good to know that even Santa has to deal with a messy house after Christmas is over. It’s only fair. Such a clever and fun view into his life!
This is so clever and fun! I cant just see the illustrations. Best of luck!
Thank you! I can see illustrations too! Teeny as the leader on the boogie board while giving the others rides.
What a fun take on ‘Twas the Night! You set a vivid scene in the beginning w/ the mess — and it made me want to read on to find out what would happen! The games (and Santa sledding on his belly!) are very kid-friendly. Good luck!
Oh Abby, I am sorry I messed up on comments. I can’t seem to delete so accept my apologies. Cute story AND I can imagine the illustrations on YOUR story!
This was so much fun! Good job!
Abby, what a fun bunch of images you’ve created here. Love knowing what goes on the night AFTER Christmas 🙂 and can picture the scenes beautifully in my mind. Best of luck to you!!!
What an excellent new spin on an old favorite! Everything about it is fun!
Abby, this is such a fun read and a visual delight. I always did wonder what happened up at the North Pole after Christmas was over. Great job!
“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
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
Teeny Elf ran around and couldn’t find any cookie ingredients. He sat on a stool and almost
Then he spotted the blender. Into it went pineapple, shredded carrots, spinach, and coconut
“Time’s up,” yelled Mrs. Claus.
The elves presented snickerdoodles, brownies, gingerbread people, chocolate chip cookies,
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!”
So good to see Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves enjoying a well-deserved rest after finishing their deliveries! I would love to enjoy a glass of Teeny Elf’s cookie-in-a-cup on a lounge chair in Hawaii! Such a fun, relaxing tale of Christmas!
Thanks so much. I want to go to Hawaii in the sled too.
Yum, what a refreshing treat! I love your unique setting.
Thank you for reading, Allison!
Santa deserves a vacation after the busiest night of the year. I’d like to try a cookie-in-a-cup (nice alliteration, too).
Thank you, Jill! I bet you could whip up a cookie-in-a-cup in no time.
I love this! Very creative and a joy to read.
I am glad to know that even Santa has his limits when it comes to holiday sweets!
Fun story Cindy! We all want that cookie-in-a-cup feeling after the bustling holiday dies down.
So much to love about this entry, Katrina–nods to the troll of Billy Goats Gruff fame and the Grinch sounding, “Whaddya want?” wrapped up with a sweet, perfect ending. Amazing!
GIFTS FOR GRANDMA
BY CINDY SOMMER
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.”
Unconventional Christmas trees have a special place in my heart! Such a sweet story showing children remembering to spread holiday cheer!
Thank you very much!
Grandma is going to be surrounded by greenery and love! Thanks for this sweet story.
Thanks! This is the condensed version of a story I had already written. So it was easy to apply the contest theme.
Sounds like an ABC picture book to me! I wonder if a Christmas Cactus would grow there.
That’s exactly what I was going for…or to inspire kids to find more plants to continue the alphabet. There could be a whole list in the back of the book. A Christmas cactus would be kind of hard to grow outside in Florida since the tender leaves could burn in direct sun, and in some places in Florida they still get freezing temperatures in winter. But in a pot, they could be grown year round there if they were taken inside for any freezing temperatures. Thanks for reading my story!
True! Peace on earth starts in the family room! Very clever.
Thank you very much for reading my story!
Great solution AND Grandma is going to have such a lovely tree display!
Thanks so much for reading my story! I would love to get palm trees for Christmas, although not for up here in New York, ha ha!
Yes, they might look a little out of place. LOL
Wildly creative! I love how Lillith channels nature to put her own ingenious stamp on the contest!
I’m wildly thankful to you Anne! 😂
You’ve created a classic Christmas curmudgeon in Grumble with incredible rhyme and meter!
Lillith is an outside of the box thinker! 😉 I loved this story from beginning to end!<3
That’s funny Steena!!! “Outside the box” 😂 Thank you!!
Wow! I love it when I don’t see the magic coming! Having Santa lasso a snow cloud is beautifully unique! Such festive fun!
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!
Love your unique structure with those hilarious asides! And that last stanza had me laughing out loud!
So clever. Keep up the good work.
Delightful ideas on how to modernize and improve Christmas Operations for Santa and the Gang! I thought requiring proof of vaccination with our stockings was a particularly hilarious addition!
I love all your end rhymes! You really have some nice multi-syllable words in this!!! Good luck to you!
Jeanette you did a great job with your rhyming list, enhanced by asides. I enjoyed the details and the humor. Well done!
Fun story, Jan! Best of luck in the contest (can someone choose those winners already?)
THE MOST SPECIAL ORNAMENT
By Timothy Hicks
“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.
Oh! I didn’t expect that heart-wrenching twist in the middle. This is so sweet!
Oh, yes. The camel . . . perfect choice.
A sweet, nostalgic tale filled with heartache and love. Your variety of ornaments was delightful and brought to mind Christmases past for me as a reader! Well done!
Awwww! Yay for Camille Camel! I love the last line. So very perfect. Good luck to you!
Heart tugged. Holiday blessings counted. Mission accomplished. Well done!
Timothy I love the voice in your story and the fact it is being told from the perspective of the ornaments. Great imagination!
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.
“Don’t forget the….”
“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:
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,
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.
I love this so much! Competition ruins so many things–I’m glad the elves helped Santa learn this lesson!
My favorite part . . . “shhh” and “tap-tap.” It arroused my senses (even the quiet).
I really ENJOYED the chaos of the elves preparing for Christmas! You did a great job putting us in the middle of a BUSY workshop! I especially like the line “Stop copying me!” when they were competing. Hilarious! And I LOVE the visual of Santa happily twiddling his thumbs!
Thanks Royal Baysinger!
Polly, this was a really engaging story to read. I was captivated right to the end to see what would happen next. Great job! Good luck to you!
I had a similar theme! Competitions are often fun at the beginning but by the end, not so much. Great job!
Yes, I agree. Thanks for your comment!
The ending made me chuckle. And I love that Santa realized he didn’t need to have a competition among the elves.
Elfie Selfie Contest
Word Count 248
Written by Stephanie Henson 2021
It’s holiday season at our school,
Time for the Elfie contest, so cool!
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!
What a fun adventure! Elfie Selfie is so clever!
Clever idea — “Elfie Selfie!” The school setting and concept of winning a “real” elf are great for kid audiences.
What a fun entry! I could picture the many happy kids running about the school capturing elfie selfies!
I like so much about this! The name, the idea, the hashtags (I almost went to twitter to see if they are real). I wish that principal had been at my school.
As many have stated before, “Elfie Selfie” is an inspired theme! I love the clues “crack the spine” and “muddy buddy.” This sounds like something I would have REALLY enjoyed doing as a child in school. So much fun!
What a great idea for a story! This would make a fun picture book! Love the title too. Good luck to you!
My principal hosted an Ellie Selfie contest last year! It brought cheer to the few staff members still working from school. I love your clues!
Thanks everyone for your kind words.
I had no idea it was an actual thing, ha.
Since we were supposed to stay socially distant from each other, she hid little “Buddy the Elf” pics all over school and then left clues. We went searching, took a selfie with each elf we found and emailed them to her. The one with the most Elfie Selfies won! Great minds think alike!
Fun story, and the Elfie Selfie title definitely caught my eye. As the parent of teenagers and yas, I’m immersed in selfie culture. Good luck with this piece!
I want to win a live elf!! I guess no homework for the year – as long as it is for the whole school year, not to the end of the calendar year, would be a great win for the students! (Maybe not so much for the teachers. lol)
The Great Holiday Bake Off
By Jamie Donahoe
“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.
I got hungry reading this! Great job!
Cinnamon, sugar, peppermint, butter . . . I could smell them! Nicely done.
This was a fun read. I LOVED the visual of an exhausted Mrs Claus not wanting to make any more cookies! Very clever!
I love the cooking channel so this is perfect! 😂
Thanks! I’ve never gotten into the Great British Baking Show but know may who have, so I figured elves could too!
This is so much fun! Best of luck!
The rolling pin detail made me smile
I love the idea of the Great Polar Bear Baking Show! Thank goodness Mrs. Claus came up with a great solution for Santa’s cookie needs.
Thank you for the kind words – and of course just further proof of the old adage that behind every great man is a greater woman!
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.
“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 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.
“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.”
I love how Caleb is accepting of Aiden and his silly family. It was a believable conflict with a satisfying resolution!
I love that Caleb keeps it between them! A friendship is born!
As the head of a family of very silly people, I can definitely relate to this story! In my house, we have to keep our made up language under wraps, and sometimes a word or two slips out to houseguests, and we all turn various shades of red. I even have a manuscript with one of our made up words in the title. Good luck with this piece!
This is giggle-worthy for sure!
Passing gas to the tune of Jingle Bells? Now that is talent. A Christmas Caleb will never forget!
Lassoed a snow cloud . . . brilliant!
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/.
I was glad to see the bullies change their tune.
I like the believable rivalry between the young performers. A good lesson to us all that we never know the hidden hardships of others. This is a great story to teach Christmas kindness!
Thank you! So true!
Great story Patricia! I love seeing the change of heart!
Next year they can be a quartet and get along in harmony…Vey sweet!
I like that idea! Thanks!
Oh! This is so full of heart. Your trio really know the true meaning of friendship.
It’s not often that you have a child comedian in a talent show. Creative and fun idea!
Thank you! I had fun searching for kid-friendly holiday jokes!
I am glad the trio came together to perform, but in the true spirit of the holidays, they also joined together to help Callie.
Aww. This is so sweet. I’m so happy the siblings managed to work together.
Nice humor (my lessons are a fine time to nap). I like how you broke up ‘Can’t. Quite. Catch it.’ Nice visuals.
Thanks Jill! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
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
“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
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.
I ADORE the opening lines of the three billy goats gruff when they enter the stage! Absolutely STUNNING! Their “trip trapping” was a nice touch! A delightful fairy tale mashup!
That’s a fun and festive fairy tale Christmas mash up!
I love your cast of characters! Thanks for sharing this fun story!
Way to incorporate so many fairy tales into a single story!
Christmas…by a Nose
By Jesse Anna Bornemann
Word Count: 234
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?”
WOW! This was INCREDIBLE! I am blown away. I LOVE the issues that arise with the carrot shortage! Discounting the corncobs for being ears was nothing short of GENIUS! And your closing line with cheddar was PERFECTION! Oh what fun!
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!
This is fabulous! Way to find a unique angle, add awesome rhythm, rhyme and meter AND funny, twist at the end! 👏👍😂
Thank you!! This was such a fun challenge. Can’t wait to read the other entries!
Ohhh, this is so good! Your rhythm and rhymes are superb. My favorite line has to be “but we need a good nose, not an ear”!
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!
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!
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!
Thank you so much Ellen!
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!
Great job Katie! I love how each reindeer has a different way of singing and that they started a new tradition from their friendly contest. Good luck to you!
Thank you! Once again, Susanna has challenged us, and there are so many wonderful entries!
Love it, Katie! Well done, and I love the last line! Good luck!
Thank you! Got it in just in time!
Katie, This is so well done. Great rhyme, great fun, most inventive. Good luck!
Thank you Marty! Good luck to you too!
Love it. Really original, fun and a joy to read. Some great rhymes in there too!
Thank you! Took a little work, but all Susanna’s challenges do! And are always great practice!
Wow! A truly and tunefully terrific story! ❤️🎄🎼
Thank you Ingrid! And good luck to you too!
The rollicking voice of your story is so fun (Big Guy, melodiousness, dude) followed by the variety of song choices for each reindeer, all with perfect rhyme and meter: it all adds up to nan fabulous Christmastime treat, Katie!
How fun is this?! So kid-friendly and toe-tappy. Well done!
What a wonderful Christmas competition you’ve created! I love this new tradition!
I love the various personalities you gave the famous reindeer we know and love! Excellent job! I particularly love you referring to Santa as “The Big Guy.” Fantastic!
Love the songs they all sing with their own spin. Fun story, Katie! Good luck!
Great job with your story and your rhymes Katie! I love the lyrics to the different songs, as well as the fact this started a new tradition! Well done!
So much fun, Mia! I love how original this is and the last line is great!!! My favorite is that Cat one and Red Rover celebrated the New Year together. Good luck to you!
WOW! I LOVE this! Such a magical setting! I LOVE the believable sibling drama and that Daphne’s frustrating star-catching methods/mishaps are what lead them to success! BEAUTIFUL WORK!
Thank you so much Royal! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
by Vashti Verbowski
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.
Cute story, Vashti! I love that Snowflake was able to win The Golden Watering Can her own way! 🙂
Such a clever and unique premise! Well done!
Such a clever premise! Snowflake is a winner for sure.
This is so fun, fresh, and original, Vashti! I love The Golden Watering Can and how Snowflake awakens to “the drumming of rabbit feet.” Beatrix Potter, move over!
This story has potential for some beautiful illustrations! Such an original idea with a gorgeous visual of her award-winning baby carrot display!
And now she has the Golden Watering Can to help her with her newly expanded garden!!
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.
during the morning,
during the night.
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.
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,
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!)
We celebrated every year and I even got to be Santa Lucia one year! Wearing a wreath of candles on your head while singing is quite a feat! I’m so happy to see it represented here. ❤️
Thank you for sharing this sweet story! Your main characters are very realistic, and I love the ending.
I love that you shine a spotlight on Santa Lucia Day via Eric’s story of rising above disappointment and jealousy to show kindness to the very person he envies.
I LOVE hearing about different holidays! Eric is a very well-written character! His disappointment and ill-wishing are believable. You did a GREAT job showing how he let it all go when he felt the goodness of Santa Lucia through Isabella’s performance! A peaceful holiday hymn.
I have never heard of Santa Lucia Day. Pretty cool that she is the patron saint of the blind. Thank you for the education and this sweet story.
I love your playful kittens! But I ADORE Cat One and Red Rover playing with the yarn together until the New Year! Such an unexpected pair!
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.”
Stephanie, I enjoyed your slice of life story. Also, liked learning that nun, gimbal, hei, and shin are what’s on each side of the dreidel. Very interesting, and sounds like fun!
Thank you so much. I love your story, too. Extra points for taking on rhyming!
Stephanie – Your story rang so true of kids, racing and competing! Fun story.
I just put together you wrote the Santa Lucia story, which I loved.
I love his attitude at the end! If everyone played like that, everyone would have more fun!
Agree – and I would send you a heart emoji, if I could figure out how. Thank you!
Haha, this sounds like a very realistic sibling duo. Well done–and in so few words to boot!
A delightful Chanukah-themed celebration of the love and rivalry between siblings. I especially love the last line.
Joey and Sam are believable brothers! (Sam so eager to play and Joey the ever-reluctant participant) I LOVE that it is the smell of latkes filling the air that gets Joey to recommend playing a game this time. A cute view into the simple joys of the holiday season!
thank you – I do love latkes!
Sorry Joey, but I think most families have a Sam in them. Hopefully Joey ends up winning the most gelt.
I’m rooting for Joey, too!
Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD
81 Chappell Drive
Milford, NH 03055
ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON
“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.”
̶ 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.
“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 it over the paper.
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?”
And now I am hungry! Thank you for this awesome sounding recipe and a great story!
The love between your character and his abuela really shines through. They deserve that giant ribbon!
I love the bilingual aspects of this story, exposing readers to Spanish words and phrases! It was fun to see the modern ways we are able to enjoy the holidays with the ones we love, even when they live far away.
How lucky for Andres to be able to learn from his abuela!! I am sure the ribbon made both of them very proud.
What a great story – I love how you showed how technology connects us with family! Well done, Carmen!
Great reveal with the ending using a double entendre! Simon’s highly anticipated appearance made for a suspenseful performance for everyone. Nice job, Reed.
The Chubby Bunny Champion
By: Alicia Meyers
(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:
Stretch the cheeks to prepare!
The judges take their seats.
Let the countdown begin.
sugary to the taste.
“Chubby Bunny,” comes easily.
Add one more.
A remarkably gooey revelation.
“Chubuh Bunuh,” trips over the tongue.
Here goes another!
Feel the fluff.
Lots of giggles.
Finalists go marshmallow-to-marshmallow.
Can I fit one more?
With each increasing ‘mallow
(A plenitude of puff),
Comes a confusing…
Cheeks fill with warmth.
(A particularly delicious problem.)
My opponent hesitates,
with no space to spare.
Only two words to win!
Mouth like cotton..
Cheers of encouragement.
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.
I want to enter this contest! A fun and funny story. I particularly liked the spelling out of how Chubby Bunny sounded through the marshmallows!
You had me a marshmallow! Riveting from beginning to end! Great job. Good luck to you!
This is so fun–and even better when read aloud! My kids are going to want to play after hearing this. Good thing I have a fresh bag of marshmallows!
A great idea for a Christmas contest! Excellent description of “mouth like cotton.” I love the line “It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas!” Awesome!
I don’t think I would make it very far into this contest, but it certainly sounds like something that would create a lot of laughter!
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:
Absolutely delightful! The tension, the stakes…the solution! Fabulous! 😂
Aww, thanks so much for going on the story sleigh ride!
Love this, Kristy! Hooray for Davey and his grandma.
Thanks so much Marty! Hip hip hooray for holiday fun.
Great rhyme and meter! Nice job and good luck!
Phew! Rhyme and meter are so tricky! Glad that it worked out–thanks!
That’s so lovely. Full engaging story and perfect rhyme. Love it.
Thanks Polly! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
You had me at “rare reindeer fleas.” This was great. A sweet ending, and lovely rhymes. Well done!
Thanks! That was one of my favorite lines to write! It came to me on the bus while I was chaperoning my son’s fieldtrip.
Wow Kristy! Love this!!! Rhyme and meter perfection and I love that the grandmother got to ride in Santa’s sleigh too. Good luck to you!
Right? The more the merrier for the sleigh ride!
I love this so much! Still chuckling about reindeer fleas.
Thanks Allison!! Riendeer fleas is one of my favorite lines too.
So fun and what a great grand prize! Bear hug –> bear kiss and a dog with “breath like a hog” both made me chuckle!
I love it, Kristy! Lots of wonderful humor and an uplifting ending 🙂 Kissing grandma is the perfect solution!
So MANY clever elements! Reindeer fleas and bear kisses – Ha! Love it! And I would love to hear Davey and his grandma’s elf giggles – they sound oh so jolly! Well done!
Thanks Royal! I like imagining the elf giggles too!
Grumpy no more! I loved your rhyme and your details. Well done.
Thanks Colleen! It was fun to write.
I had so much fun writing I decided to post this one too. 😊💕
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.
I love this, Ingrid! It would make a wonderful poem picture book!
Thank you❣️I couldn’t sleep and … 🙏❤️
(((Ingrid!))) This is beautiful!!! And I agree with Jill- I see a picture book here too!
Thank you so much❣️ This is a special one for me.
This is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much for commenting❣️ I’m so happy you think it’s beautiful.
When the creative energy grabs us we must write! Thank you for this beautiful poem!
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!
Life is often obscured by the “white noise” of things. This is a good reminder of what Christmas is.
Simply beautiful! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂
Wow! Perfectly said and rhymed!
Thank you Colleen! I really appreciate it.
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!”
This is so sweet! Thank you for this inclusive story.
Such a sweet Christmas story of beautiful inclusiveness. I enjoyed reading about the treasure chest and the Christmas notes! A great reminder to us all!
I love this inclusive story! And I love how Nick opened his heart to Chris.
I knew the pirate would come through!!
You had me from the title! Thank when I realized why he’s a “pirate”…well, you got me again. Lovely!
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.
I feel like I’ve been given a glimpse into a world I’ve never known, this is lovely, thank you!
This sounds like such a magical celebration in a family oozing with love. Thanks for sharing!
This is lovely! I feel like I’m celebrating with this loving family.
Maryam and her helpful attitude is an excellent example to us all! I loved the beautiful details of their Christmas dinner and the evening’s festivities! This story is a beautiful celebration of Christmas, culture, family, and selfless giving!
I loved being introduced to the smells and traditions of a Persian Christmas. Thank you for sharing your story.
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
“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!”
So very sweet! Happy holidays!
Wow! The pressure did lead you to write a wonderful piece!
Such kindness! I think the pressure helped you craft a very heartfelt story.
Lucy is a lovely character! Her good attitude and selfless giving, despite hardship, is a good example to us all!
Well that was a pretty amazing story if it was written last minute. I would love to see Lucy’s snowflake. ❤
Fire and Ice
by Jyn Hall
“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.
This is great, Jyn! I love all the different holidays you incorporated into the sand sculpting. Good luck to you!
Oh I love this! I’m so glad your character was able to find a new holiday tradition–I’d take a sandy beach right now…
Thank you! And omigoodness, me too. I am staring at the near-freezing rain out my window and dreaming of the beach…
Jyn, I love this story of celebration and change!
Thank you! Love that wording “celebration and change!” 🙂
I love this! Noelle and her situation are so relatable. And I am right with her in awe of those magnificent sand sculptures!
Thank you! Me too – how do they do that?! 🙂
Hi Jyn! I can’t relate. It is December 10th, and 79 degrees, and sunny here in San Antonio today! 🙂 Such a fun story, and I love that snow cones are their ice! HA! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! I’m from San Diego, so the beachy, sunny Christmases (complete with decorating the tree to the Beach Boys Christmas album) are what I grew up with. Always dreamed of a White Christmas. Now I’m in Atlanta and we get icy, freezing SuperBowls, haha!
Love the Fire and Ice concept and how you threaded her love and nostalgia for the celebration into her new life. A culturally inclusive story.
Thank you! I love your phrasing of “threaded her love and nostalgia for the celebration into her new life.”
I love this piece! A move is often difficult, especially for young people, and it was sweet to see Noelle find a piece of home in her new place! Such a heartwarming, inclusive story!
Thank you! I moved a lot as a kid, so there’s a piece of me in Noelle.
Very cute and clever Jyn. I can relate to Noelle’s dismay as there is little sign of Christmas here in Florida, but I do get to go home to CT soon! I love the sand sculptures. The place where we often vacation has a competition with them, so great idea.
This was such a satisfying story and would be lovely to see illustrated!
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’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.
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!
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.
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 twisted my head,
and as I was twisting…
something fell off my hat!
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.
This is so cute
Haha, poor Santa! I loved “holy night–she was right!” Such a great line.
Some excellent word play, “Holy night” and “Beard-first collision!” I love that you say Santa isn’t organized, now it makes sense why he has so many helpers!
Ha ha!! Oh Santa!! And of course Santa needs to go potty; why didn’t I think of that? Thanks for the fun read.
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.”
“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.
Aha! Thinking “inside” the box gave the needed clue this time….clever story!
Very clever! I enjoyed reading this.
Thank You. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.
Oh, that’s so tricky and clever! I love Mia’s funny calculations and how Buzz ended up helping Kevin in the end.
Mia the math wizard is a spectacular character! Her opening conversation with Kevin is some GREAT writing! Even her simplified version made her sound like a math wiz! Great job!
Thank you. It’s my tribute to Professor Erwin Corey from the 1960’s-1970’s.
I recognize those names!! Kevin and Buzz from HOME ALONE?? And each is true to their character, but Buzz would probably be disappointed if he knew he helped Kevin win. LOL
Thank You. My Christmas nod to John Hughes.
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.
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.
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.
….a bit too much,
….all over the place,
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 –
What a lovely story!
Oh, this is lovely. I love your use of repetition to tie ‘everything’ up in a beautiful package. Best of luck!
This is wonderful Sandhya. Again, you tap into the senses so well, making me feel like I’m there with Veeru! Well done:)
I love the thump thump of the pestle and the aromatic spices bringing cherished memories of Amma to Veeeru’s recollection. A beautifully nostalgic holiday for a young boy!
I like that you don’t tell us what happened to Amma. And I love the memories of Amma’s thump-thump in the kitchen.