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Christmas Countdown Decorating Challenge!

It's never too early to start planning for Christmas, especially when that planning involves a challenge with over $700 worth of prizes! (Yes, over $700. You heard me right!)

 

Thanks to the very generous support of several sponsors (see below), this, our second, Cookie Connection decorating challenge is a doozy - one you'll want to gear up for now! Even though we won't officially accept any entries until November 25 (5 pm central), I wanted to give you plenty of design time since there are so many ways to win. Speaking of which, let's talk about those prizes . . .

 

What's Up For Grabs?

Over the course of December, 25 lucky finalists - one for each day in the lead up to Christmas - will get featured in our weekly Saturday Spotlight. But that's not it. Once all 25 finalists have been announced on December 28, three winners (a first, second, and third place) will be determined by popular vote between December 28 and January 4 (5 pm central time). Here's a handy calendar in case you need a visual:

 

ChristmasCountdown

 

And this is what those lucky prize winners will get:

  • First Prize: $100 gift certificate from Fancy Flours; $100 gift certificate from Designer Stencils; a free Craftsy class, a ticket to CookieCon (yes!), and my new app, courtesy of me. If you already have a CookieCon ticket, the ticket won here is transferable. ($493 combined value)
  • Second Prize: $50 gift certificate from Fancy Flours; $50 gift certificate from Designer Stencils; $50 gift certificate from Karen's Cookies; my new app ($155 combined value)
  • Third Prize: $25 gift certificate from Fancy Flours; $25 gift certificate from Designer Stencils; my new app ($55 combined value) 

Challenge Sponsors

Many thanks to Fancy Flours, Designer Stencils, and Karen's Cookies for their generous contributions to our prize pot. Wow - Christmas is indeed the season for giving! 

 

So What's The Challenge and How's It Going to Work?

As the title says, it's essentially a countdown to Christmas, in which one finalist will be selected for each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The hope is that, taken together, the finalists' entries will form one big, glorious cookie advent calendar!

 

Entries will be accepted between November 25 (5 pm central time) and December 25, 2013 (also, 5 pm central time). The finalists for each week of December will be announced on each Saturday, in lieu of our normal Saturday Spotlight. So, for instance, finalists pertaining to December 1 through 7 will be announced on December 7; those pertaining to December 8 through 14 on December 14; and so on through the final Saturday Spotlight on December 28.

 

What Constitutes An Entry?

Good question. Here goes:

  • Each entry must contain a festive Christmas or winter scene and a single number relating to one of the 25 days leading up to Christmas (i.e., one number from 1 to 25);
  • Both the scene and number must be depicted in cookie and icing;
  • The scene and number in an entry can be contained on one cookie or on as many cookies as you like, as long the entry conforms to all the other guidelines here;
  • The work must be your own;
  • The submitted entry (image) must be square so it can fit in the appropriate calendar position, though the cookies contained in the image need not be square;
  • Non-square images will be disqualified; and
  • Images should be at least 600 x 600 pixels (though optimized for the web), so they read well on the site.

Other Rules

Please keep in mind:

  • You must be a Cookie Connection member to enter (or to "vote" on an image by commenting or liking it). Images must be uploaded to this site to qualify, and only members have uploading privileges. (To join, go to our home page, and click on "Join This Community" in the upper left.)
  • You may enter as often as you want, as long as you don't enter the same image twice.
  • This means that you could enter several cookies for just one day (i.e., many cookies with the number 1 on them) and/or several cookies spanning the full range of days - again, just so long as none of the entries is identical to another.
  • To enter, images must be submitted into the appropriate clip set on this site. I have set up four "Christmas Countdown" clip sets for this challenge, one for each week. So, for example, entries bearing a number from 1 to 7 on them must go into the "Christmas Countdown: Days 1-7" set; those with 8 to 14 on them must go into the "Christmas Countdown: Days 8-14" set; and so on. If a "Day 14" cookie ends up in a "Day 1-7" set, chances are it will get overlooked and, thus, disqualified.
  • No one person can win a finalist spot on the calendar more than 5 times. (Just 'cause I think a variety of styles will look best on the final calendar!)  In this improbable event, the next hottest cookie/cookier will win that day's finalist spot.
  • However, the same person could conceivably win any or all of the three prizes, depending on how the popular vote plays out.

 

Where To Submit

As noted above, I have created four clip sets for this contest, relating to each week in December. All of the clip sets are now open for uploads/entries! Please be sure to upload your entry to the right week. Entries submitted to the wrong week (i.e., a Dec 1 entry submitted to the Week 2 clip set) will likely be overlooked and disqualified. The clip sets will be accessible here in the four links below, and - of course - upon clip upload, where they will appear in the right-hand column of the site among the other clip set selections. Again, you must be a member of Cookie Connection to upload to the site and enter this contest.

 

Week 1 - Days 1 to 7

Week 2 - Days 8 to 14

Week 3 - Days 15 to 21

Week 4 - Days 22 to 25

 

How Will Finalists Be Selected?

As previously noted, there will be a finalist for each day between December 1 and 25. On Saturday of each week, the site trending algorithms will determine the finalists for each day of the preceding week. So, for instance, the hottest entry with a number 1 on it over the preceding week will be the December 1 finalist; the hottest entry with a number 2 will be the December 2 finalist; and so on. Though people can continue to "vote" for cookies (by liking and commenting) after the finalists are announced (and cookie rankings may change), the finalists indicated in the Saturday Spotlight will remain the finalists going into the final voting round starting on December 28. Once finalists are named each week, they are the finalists through the duration of the contest.

 

In the (hopefully) unlikely event of there being no entries for a certain day, there will be no finalist named. So put on your thinking caps and poise your pastry bags for action - we don't want any gaps in our advent calendar! 

 

Of course, once a given week's finalists have been announced, it will no longer make sense to enter cookies with those numbers on them, because they will have no chance of winning. (The clip set for that week will also be closed to further entries for that week.)

 

However, if you're cagey, you should always be looking ahead to see which days are lean on entries and designing cookies for those days to maximize your chances!

 

How Will The Top Three Prizes Be Selected?

As noted earlier, they will be determined by popular vote on this site. On December 28 (sometime after 5 pm central), all 25 finalists' images will be posted in a poll in one of our forums. Voting will be open to Cookie Connection members between that time and January 4 (5 pm central). The three entries with the most accumulated votes at the end of that week will take home the big prizes!

 

Keeping Tabs On The Entries

For those of you who are interested in keeping track of the Christmas Countdown Challenge entries (i.e., to see where the odds of winning are greatest or slimmest), jump on over to our Hot Spot page in the main navigation line, also accessible here. There you'll see the hottest (fastest trending) cookies in each of the four weekly clip sets over the most recent week, displayed in rank order. 

 

That's all for now. If I missed anything or if you have any questions, please email me so I can clarify. 

 

Oh, and Merry Christmas (though, granted, I'm a bit early)!

 

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  • Christmas Countdown Calendar: 25 Finalists for Each Day in the Lead Up to Christmas!

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Comments (42)

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Julia, Great idea!  Regarding this rule:
"Both the scene and number must be depicted in cookie and icing;"
Does that mean the number has to be a separate iced cookie stuck onto the iced scene - 2Dish effect?? OR just a square iced cookie with an iced number somewhere on it??

 

Yay, I'm super excited about this! Not that I think I have a prayer of winning, but because I love the idea of challenging myself to up my game. And just seeing what everyone else comes up with will be fun! Thanks Julia--and sponsors!

Originally Posted by Maggie Loves Cookies:
Julia, Great idea!  Regarding this rule:
"Both the scene and number must be depicted in cookie and icing;"
Does that mean the number has to be a separate iced cookie stuck onto the iced scene - 2Dish effect?? OR just a square iced cookie with an iced number somewhere on it??

 

Maggie, it just means there has to be a number made of cookie or icing or both in the picture, so the number could be integral to one cookie or it could be a separate cookie. Up to you. And the cookie doesn't need to be square either, just the image that is submitted needs to be square. (I'm trying to avoid having to crop images so they fit the calendar, so nicely framed square shots is what I'm after.)

Julia,

  I am not an expert on picture cropping, but I know my camera takes rectangular images. Then what i will have to do is edit them to a square image, right? So, I totally get it that you don't want to do all the editing, but we need to pre-crop any image to a square one, right? Thanks, Nancy

Originally Posted by Nancy@SeasonsOfJoy:

Julia,

  I am not an expert on picture cropping, but I know my camera takes rectangular images. Then what i will have to do is edit them to a square image, right? So, I totally get it that you don't want to do all the editing, but we need to pre-crop any image to a square one, right? Thanks, Nancy

Yes, you have to pre-crop your image to a square before you upload and you should also optimize it for the web (so it's not a huge file, a couple hundred kB is best). My system will not re-crop for you, and if I have to crop an image, I will disqualify it.

Originally Posted by Yael's Yummies:

Are Hanukkah cookies eligible?

Sure thing, Yael, just so long as they have a number on them and conform to the other requirements. Thanks for asking!

I am so excited about this. I hope I can find enough free time to participate. This will help me stretch my decorating skills I have learned this year so much.  What a great way to end the year.

Glad to see the excitement here. I may have one more surprise before the end of the year though . . . fingers crossed that I can pull it off.

Very excited about the countdown. I am sketching down ideas, dont know if any will make it on a cookie. i am really excited to see everyone else's wonderful cookies. Everyone is so creative

Originally Posted by Sissygirl:

Very excited about the countdown. I am sketching down ideas, dont know if any will make it on a cookie. i am really excited to see everyone else's wonderful cookies. Everyone is so creative

I'm excited to see what people do too!

A giant cookie advent calendar - how fun is that??!!  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.  I have a question regarding the design of the cookies. Are they supposed to be a scene drawn out on the actual number it corresponds to, or can it be a cookie with the number somewhere on the cookie where it stands out?  I hope this makes sense

Originally Posted by TriciaZ@The Cookie Loft Girls:

A giant cookie advent calendar - how fun is that??!!  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.  I have a question regarding the design of the cookies. Are they supposed to be a scene drawn out on the actual number it corresponds to, or can it be a cookie with the number somewhere on the cookie where it stands out?  I hope this makes sense

It can be either, as long as there is a clear number in the cookie and the image submitted is square.