This is no time for play!
This is no time for fun!
This is no time for games!
There is voting to be done! (just go with it and pretend voting is only one syllable 😊)
There are prizes to be won! (no, that doesn’t work either, although it’s true!)
Maybe we should go with:
liked contests a lot. . .
But the judges
who judged all the entries
(although to be fair, we love the contests and we love reading the entries, we just hate having to cut them to get down to 12!)
The point is, we have done our valiant best to come up with 12 finalists (and let me tell you, it was a Herculean task!) and the time has come for you to read the entries that made the finals, choose your favorite, and vote for it!
Normally, I’d waste a little time with tomfoolery, but it’s been a desperate few days (and nights) of entry judging, which means not always paying as close attention to the puppy as I should, which means there is carpet steam-cleaning to be done. (Maybe I should have found a way to finish up my little stanza with that!)
So let’s just get right to it!
I know these entries are a little longer than the Halloweensie ones, so I truly thank you for taking the time to read through them and vote for your favorite. You won’t be sorry. They are all fabulous and I know you’ll enjoy them!
I will say THANK YOU to everyone who wrote an entry, took time to read other people’s entries and leave supportive comments, shared the contest with friends and family so that all our talented writers could get more readers, is taking the time now to read and vote, and who generally helped to make the contest so much fun, but I’m going to skip reiterating the judging criteria (you can check for it HERE) and save all my usual difficulty-of-choosing stuff for the winners post on Friday so you can get right to the entries!
Please read through the following 12 entries and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday December 16 at 7PM Eastern so I can announce the winners on Friday! As always, I encourage you to share today’s link everywhere you want so that as many people as possible can read these stories and vote, but please do not attempt to influence the voting in any way. It is supposed to be based on merit, not on who can get the most people to come vote for their entry because they’re your friends and relations or they owe you for that time you babysat their kids 😊 If you’re a finalist, please don’t broadcast that on social media – just ask people to come read all the entries and vote for their favorite.
So here we go! Your 12 Finalists for
The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest
~ for children’s writers ~
1 – Tree of the Year
Deep in the forest,
where giant pines grow,
an eager young sapling
stood covered in snow.
She gleamed in the moonlight.
“I’m shiny and frozen.
Tonight is the contest.
I hope I’ll be chosen!”
The first day of winter,
to spread Christmas cheer,
the humans would vote
on the Tree of the Year.
“Sapling,” said Ancient,
“most victors are tall,
so don’t get your hopes up.
Remember, you’re small.”
Sapling’s thin branches
drooped low at the thought:
Big trees are winners.
Small ones are not.
The ground started thumping
with footsteps and drumming.
“Listen,” said Ancient.
“The humans are coming!”
Down from the village
perched high on a hill,
they marched with their music
and sang of goodwill.
Sapling stood taller.
“It won’t hurt to try.”
She lifted her branches.
“I’ll reach for the sky!”
A girl with a garland
of berries appeared.
She said, “This one’s lovely.”
The villagers cheered.
“Me?” Sapling gasped.
“Is it ME they will choose?”
“I’m frail,” Ancient shivered.
“I’m sure that I’ll lose.”
And Sapling remembered,
though Ancient was tall,
he’d never been voted
the best tree of all.
So Sapling leaned gently
and whispered an oath.
“I’ll root for you, friend.
I’ll hope for us both.”
“Those trees are embracing!”
the little girl said.
“Let’s decorate TWO trees
this Christmas instead.”
The town danced around them.
The verdict was clear.
Sapling and Ancient:
The Trees of the Year!
2 – Phoebe’s Snowperson
Outside the city library, a flier flits in the wind. “Snowperson Contest!” it announces, catching Phoebe’s eye. She reads:
Kids, let’s spread a little cheer
and deck the library halls
with handmade “snow”-people
who won’t melt like snowballs!
The prize? Free popsicles at the pool this summer.
“Yes, please!” Phoebe exclaims.
Phoebe hurries toward home, her imagination firing with every step. What can she use to build a snowman? Perhaps she should create a snowgirl? How much glitter does she have? Is there any white paint in the garage?
“Hi, Mom! Bye, Mom!” Phoebe yells and dashes to her room. It might be December, but she can practically taste the watermelon-cherry-coconut flavors of summertime.
But when Phoebe starts to gather materials, she feels doubtful. She looks at the pillows scattered about and wonders how she’ll make a snowperson that stands up—and stands out.
Phoebe starts to hum an old song about a snowman who came to life. “He had a magical hat!” she recalls and races to her closet.
Then she remembers a story about snowmen’s nighttime adventures and another about a silly snowman in a hot tub. She smiles.
“The snowmen are in my books. What if my books are my snowman?”
Phoebe lays a chapter book flat with the pages facing out. She stacks on a fat collection of fairy tales and then some tattered picture books. Before long, a snowman built out of stories stares back at her.
“Perfection,” Phoebe whispers.
3 – A CHRISTMAS PICKLE STORY
trim our tree high to low,
but Christmas Eve tradition calls
for one to steal the show.
Dad dons a scruffy Santa hat
and gathers us around.
“I’ve picked the pickle’s hiding spot!
It’s waiting to be found.”
“Dance! Prance! Blitz and dash!
All may search until
the finder claims the first gift and
the title of ‘Big Dill’.”
Grammy prods each shimmery bough.
Mom browses round and through.
Baby pulls off ornaments
(to get a better view).
I snug myself beneath a branch
to peer up from the bottom.
A glint of green. A clumpy curve.
Yes! I think. I got ’em.
I pluck the pickle from its place,
eager to claim my prize,
then notice Dad off to the side
with sparkle in his eyes.
His festive fuss for all of us
makes everybody grin.
It doesn’t seem to bother him
that he will never win.
I put the pickle back, but shift
it where no one will see.
Then grumble, “Oh by golly, there’s
no pickle on this tree!”
“Ho ho, oh? Check near the stump–”
That’s when Dad’s eyes meet mine.
I toss a wink and, in a blink,
Dad’s rummaging through pine.
He tugs back on a tree skirt bump
revealing what I’d done.
The pickle found, I quickly cheer,
“Gosh, Dad, looks like you’ve won!”
He wraps us all up in a hug
and whispers in my ear,
“You can have the first gift because
I’ve got mine right here.”
4 – SIMPLY THE BEST
Christmas was Maise’s favorite time of year.
Awe-inspiring. Wonderful. Magical.
Simply the best.
Maise wanted to be awe-inspiring, wonderful and magical, too.
Maise entered the Gingerbread House Decorating Contest.
Her house had icing and gumdrops!
Sprinkles and sparkles!
It even had an entire reindeer family reunion!
“It’s very…. creative,” said the judges.
But, Catalina won with a classic design.
“Awe-inspiring,” Maise told her.
Maise entered the Holiday Baking Contest.
Orange and ginger shortbread!
“Quite the variety,” observed the judges.
But Lester won with his Yule Log cake.
“Wonderful,” said Maise, licking her lips.
Maise entered the Ice Skating Contest.
Wearing a very sparkly leotard,
she skated forward!
She even did a twirl!
But Jozef had a routine that was…well…
“Magical,” admired Maise.
She hadn’t won any ribbons but it had still been a delightful day.
“We have one last ribbon to award,” announced the judges.
“The award for the Most Holiday Spirit goes to…
“Awesome,” said Catalina.
“Wonderful,” said Lester.
“Magical,” smiled Jozef.
And to Maise, it was simply the best.
5 – SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PRANCE
“Places, Rudolph. Jump in line.”
(That’s me! Contestant #9.)
“Welcome back to North Pole Live:
‘So You Think You Can Prance,’ season five.
I’m your host, the famous Prancer.
Please welcome back our champion dancer!
He’s shimmied chimneys—Seoul to Atlanta:
the man, the myth, the legend—SANTA!”
Santa’s back? Last season’s best!
His reindeer too? I should’ve guessed.
Dasher coasts. Dancer whirls.
(Prancer hosts.) Vixen twirls.
Comet? She was born a star.
Cupid is on point, so far.
Donner brings the beat, the boom.
Blitzen’s jig ignites the room.
Maybe I’ll sit out this year.
With four left hooves, I’m bottom tier.
Eight contestants soar. I sink.
They float. I flail. They curve. I kink.
They sway. I swoop. They strut. I stop.
They spring. I sprawl. They dip. I drop.
Showing off, they’re busting moves,
I spin and—
I’ve busted hooves!
“Oh, DEAR!” I hear.
Yes, I’m aware—
my spill was broadcast on the air.
The crimson of my well-known nose
extends until my body glows.
Someone whispers, “not a dancer.”
Reindeer snicker—even Prancer!
“Can klutzy caribous compete?”
My antlers shrink. My legs retreat.
Halfway out the door, I hear,
“Rudolph! I need YOU this year!
Ho-ho-ho! That grit! That glow!
Prancer, change my choreo’:
Substitute those samba mixes.
No more formal foxtrot fixes.
Rudi’s riffs will spark my set—
a glow-in-the-dark-breakdance duet!”
*North Pole Live rewrote its jingle
to feature Ru’ and Kris-Kross-Kringle,
the prime-time prancing pair sensation,
who tours one eve—to every nation.
6 – Cinder-Latke
Cinder-Latke puts down her scrub brush and reads a letter on the kitchen table.
—EVERYONE INVITED TO ROYAL PALACE HANUKKAH PARTY—
—Prince Nudnik Will Wed Latke-Making Contest Winner—
Cinder-Latke sighs. “I wish I could go like Pishka and Kishka, my stepsisters—”
Pink lightning FLASHES—
A puff of smoke morphs into Fairy-Godmother Yenta. “—and you will!”
Yenta waves her wand—
Cinder-Latke rides in a gold carriage wearing a sparkling diamond-studded gown.
“The spell ends at midnight.” Yenta grins. “Have fun!”
At the palace, all the princess-wannabes cook potato-pancakes like crazy.
Finally, Prince Nudnik tastes Cinder-Latke’s latke. “It’s perfection—I love you!”
The tower clock chimes midnight—Cinder-Latke flees.
Next morning, Prince Nudnik searches every house in the kingdom.
“Ugh!” He spits out Pishka’s latke and gags on Kishka’s. “One’s heavier than lead and the other tastes like moldy sweat-socks.”
An irresistible aroma tickles Prince Nudnik’s nose, luring him into the kitchen.
Cinder-Latke flips her latke onto a dish. “I knew you’d come.”
Prince Nudnik, drooling, bites into the latke. “Heavenly—” He sinks to one knee and whips out a ring with a gleaming latke-sized diamond. “Please, be my Latke-Princess!”
Cinder-Latke’s eyelashes flutter. “Sure, why not?”
Cinder-Latke and Prince Nudnik wed on the eighth night of Hanukkah and dance the hora around the menorah.
After the honeymoon, they open a restaurant—
—PRINCESS CINDER-LATKE’S LATKE PALACE—
—and dine on latkes happily ever after!
(Pishka and Kishka become fabulously wealthy businesswomen selling their latkes as cannonballs and bug-repellent.)
7 – Christmas…by a Nose
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?”
8 – TREE NUMBER NINE
Sofie could barely contain her excitement. Today was Noel Knob’s first ever Christmas Tree Decorating Contest!
She had been gathering decorations for weeks —
Berries from the holly bush next door.
Strings of garland strung with white, fluffy popcorn.
Bows made from leftover ribbon.
She packed everything in her backpack and headed to the town square.
There, evergreen trees lined the lawn. The smell of fir, spruce, and pine tickled her nose.
At the sign-in table, Sofie was assigned tree number 9.
She got right to work — a bow here, berries there, garland wrapped around and around, and a big pinecone right on top!
Proudly, she stood beside her tree. But soon her shoulders sagged.
Around her, trees twinkled with tiny lights, dazzled with store-bought decorations, and on top of each tree was a shining star.
She glanced at the ceramic teapot on the prize table and felt her hopes evaporating like steam.
Zipping up her bag, Sofie headed home.
Behind her, the judges were ready to announce the winners.
“Third place goes to… Tree 21, for most decorations!”
Everyone clapped. Sofie kept walking.
“Second place goes to… Tree 7 for most sparkly!”
Everyone cheered. Sofie kept walking.
“And first place goes to… Tree 9 for most creative!”
Everyone celebrated. Stunned, Sofie hurried to the stage.
“Which prize would you like?”
“The teapot, please.”
When she got home, Sofie carefully wrapped the teapot in red and green paper.
Then, she filled out the gift tag —
9 – A CREATURE WAS STIRRING
Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house,
Every creature was stirring,
including, Wee Mouse.
Stirring and blending, creating sweet treats
for a contest to see which ones Santa will eat.
“Don’t even bother,” said Pup. “He’ll choose mine.”
“I don’t think so,” purred Kit. “Because mine are divine.”
But Wee Mouse said nothing. Her movements were nimble
as she tossed her ingredients into a thimble.
She had flour in her whiskers, some dough on her nose,
and a drop of molasses had dripped on two toes.
She placed all her cookies in a minuscule sack,
climbed up to the table then…UH OH! Fell back!
The cookies all crumbled except for one bite.
“I’ve barely a taste for Santa tonight!”
Wee Mouse dried her tears, climbed back up to the platter,
feeling her one little morsel must matter.
“It’s totally tiny,” said Pup. “Not ornate.
Santa will think it’s a crumb on the plate.
Mine have fun sprinkles on top of red icing.”
Kit purred, “That brown dot? Well, it’s just not enticing.”
Wee Mouse ignored them and went straight to bed,
exhausted yet hopeful for what lay ahead.
Christmas morning she woke to a gift and a note.
She opened it up to see what Santa wrote:
“Dear Wee Mouse, My thanks for your cookie so sweet.
It was far and away my favorite treat.
And the thing that I think set it so far above
all the rest was your secret ingredient—LOVE!”
10 – BEAR’S CHRISTMAS COOKIE
Of all the holiday traditions, Bear’s favourite was the cookie decorating contest. Hedgehog always won. This year Bear was determined to beat him. He’d been planning his cookie for months.
The animals lined up with their cookies displayed. The crows approached. They were notoriously picky judges. They started with Rabbit.
Rabbit had decorated his cookie with a garden of sugar spun carrots and roses.
Badger had created a glittering forest of silver and gold gumdrops and candy cane stars.
Hedgehog had outdone himself. On his cookie, he’d crafted a miniature ice-rink with tiny skaters, each holding cups of hot cocoa. You could even see the marshmallows.
Bear was last. The Crows approached his cookie. Their black eyes widened. Towering above them was layer upon layer of icing, chocolate, candy cane, marshmallows, toffee, sprinkles, sugar plums, and whipped cream. At the top, they could just make out a Christmas angel spinning in the wind.
“Did I win?” asked Bear.
Suddenly the cookie began to wobble. It leaned one way. It leaned the other.
“Look out!” cried the judges.
Every inch of fur, feathers, and forest was drenched in icing, chocolate, whipped cream, and candy. The angel landed on someone’s head. Badger licked sprinkles off his coat. Rabbit brushed marshmallows from his nose into his mouth. Hedgehog wiped icing out of his eyes. He licked his paws with gusto.
“Actually,” he said, “I think we all won!” And that day they all enjoyed the most glorious candy feast, thanks to Bear.
11 – A Miscalculation
*Attention all children!
Come out in the snow
And bring all your shovels and gear
Join in the sport,
And build your best fort
For the holiday contest this year!*
We dig and we pat
We scoop and we splat
To build the best fortress of all
No torrent of snow,
No, nothing they throw
Will knock down our unyielding wall!
Two towering turrets
Three tactical windows
Four bunkers built into the floor
Snowballs piled high,
Stacked up to the sky
There must be two hundred or more!
We hold up a finger
So that we can tell
Which direction the cold wind is blowing
We take up our stance,
They don’t stand a chance
Let’s get this tournament going!
Whoosh, whoosh, THUD, THUD
Oh no, wait a minute!
We should have seen this from the start
The snowballs we chuck
Don’t have any luck—
Our snow forts are too far apart!
12 – THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS STAR
Last year? Measly fifth. Year before? Pitiful fifteenth.
But THIS year? I’ll capture the winning star for the Interstellar Christmas Tree Contest!
For 11 months, I’ve studied, analyzed, and scrutinized all things stars.
Nothing will stop me. Nothing will slow me down.
“Dagan,” says Mom, “this year, your sister joins.”
“But MO-OM!” I yelp.
“My two star-chasers—or nothing,” Mom says.
Rest of the week, I lecture Daphne on the fine art of star-catching.
For Daphne, my lessons are a fine time to nap.
I demonstrate proper blaze-proof glove attire.
Daphne proves gloves go on ears, too.
We practice swooping and swirling our star nets.
Daphne tangles her net into one big knot.
On Christmas Eve, we load gloves and nets into our Lunar Rocket 3000 and take off.
“Sit still and be quiet,” I say. Daphne’s head droops.
Just past the moon, I spy the perfect star! It glitters and flickers and zooms around our rocket.
But it’s too fast.
Can’t. Quite. Catch. It.
“Dagie!” says Daphne. She shuts her eyes. I do the same. The star thinks we’re napping! It slows down.
Daphne hangs gloves on her ears. The twirling star stops and giggles.
We tie our two nets with a knot. Together, we extend the oversize net and scoop up the twinkling light.
On Christmas morning, we place our winning star atop the Interstellar Christmas Tree.
“Next year,” I say to Daphne, “let’s enter the Christmas Ginger-Planet Contest! Together.”
Daphne’s face beams.
“Merry Christmas, Dagie!”
Now YOU get to enjoy the agony of decision as you try to choose which of those amazing entries to vote for!
Please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 7PM EST Thursday December 16th.
Tune in Friday December 17th to see THE WINNERS!!! – same bat time, same bat station 😊
Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote! These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!
I truly cannot wait to see who you choose as the winner! Good luck!!! 😊