THROUGH ITS CARTOONS, Google has begun offering twice the entertainment.

First, in the vein of such engaging challenges as The New Yorker’s back-page feature, Google has debuted a themed cartoon-caption contest.

The new Search Caption Challenge features cartoons by such top talents as Lilli Carre, Drew Dernavich, Matthew Diffee, Emily Flake, Christoph Niemann, Joey Alison Sayers, Danny Shanahan and Jim Woodring. The common thread: Each cartoon centers on that oh-so-common act of someone doing a Google search.

“We've left it to you to imagine what they'd be searching for at that moment, and left the caption blank for you to fill in with your answer,” writes Udi Manber, bearer of the great title “VP of Engineering and Cartoons,” on the Google Blog.

Second, for the holidays, the California company is repeating its seasonal offering that lets you send “a personalized call — or video — to Santa.”

Just go to Send A Call From Santa, fill in the blanks and be as wacky — or warm — as you want to be.

According to the Google Blog, you “can create and send a personalized cartoon video message (in English only) from Santa to anyone you know, anywhere in the world, and share them through email and Google+. “

This follows Google’s latest search trick: Typing “let it snow” in the search bar and watching the virtual snowflakes fall until your search results frost over.

Happy holidays, Google -- and thanks for the new toys.


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