Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo



Chili cook-off organization for entries

by: Jo

Chili cook-off organization for entries
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Funny thing about hosting a chili cook-off party… you invariably end up with a lot of crock pots full of chili!  In the past, we have tried a couple of different methods for labeling the chili pots so that everyone can easily vote on them.  We ran into problems with the numbers getting moved, the ladles getting mixed up, and the chili getting dripped all over the tables.  So this year, we brainstormed until we came up with a solution to our chili disorganization — foil oven liners!  I didn’t even know these things existed until I spotted them in the store, and I knew they were just what we needed.

I couldn’t leave them that sorry shade of boring foil silver.  No, I had to whip out one of my favorite tools, spray paint.  I especially love glossy spray paint.  First, I had Little Jo lay out all of the foil liners on a big sheet of plastic I put on the floor of our garage.  I let her do this because she loves to “help”, and because she’s a lot closer to the ground, so bending over to straighten them out wasn’t nearly as taxing on her back as it would’ve been on mine.

chili cookoff organizing trays

Then McGeeky and I spray painted them solid red with two coats of paint. While they dried, I made a stencil of a spoon shape with a piece of cardboard, then used that to spray paint some yellow spoons onto each tray.

chili cookoff organizing trays

Sure, all this painting wasn’t necessary, and the foil liners would work fine plain, but I think the paint made them turn out a whole lot cuter.  And without that spoon outline there, how on earth would guests know where to put that ladle?

You’ll notice the cute little numbered crockpot on the tray. Labeling chili with numbers is an extremely important element to a cook-off, because people will be voting on the chili based on the numbers. For that, we have some super cute crockpot labels. These are part of our full Chili Cook-off Printables collection on Etsy, and coordinate with our invitations and voting ballots. There are even labels that say “vegetarian” and “spicy”, and some with names of various meats that each chili might contain. We have some friends with allergies or who don’t eat meat, so it is nice for them to know if a chili is safe for them to eat or not.

chili cookoff crockpot labels

I printed out enough labels for the cookoff, cut them out, and then used my laminator to laminate them.  I am so glad I took the extra step, because they did get chili on them, but it wiped off the plastic easily. This means I can re-use them again next year! 

To make sure the numbers didn’t blow away or get mixed up, I used a little bit of sticky tack to hold them in place.

chili cookoff crockpot labels

These labels also coordinate perfectly with our voting ballots, and the clear numbering makes it so much easier to vote.

chili cook-off crockpot labels

If you like these chili pot labels, you can purchase our template to print your own. It’s part of our Chili Cookoff Printables collection that’s available on Etsy. This collection lets you make:

If you’re hosting a chili cook-off this fall, we’d love to hear all about it! And if you’re looking for some ideas for decorating, we love these festive chili pepper dishes for condiments like cheese and sour cream, and decoration is easy with chili pepper garland and chili pepper confetti. And who doesn’t love a pinata?

Fiesta Chili Pepper Serving DishesFiesta Chili Pepper GarlandChili Pepper ConfettiChili Pepper Pinata

Chili cook-off organization for entries
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33 comments so far:

  • 1
    Christa Owens 10/08/2009 at 12:15 am

    Oh I say! this is a great idea!

  • 2
    Gabreial 10/09/2009 at 11:24 pm

    Great ideas! I’ll be using this tomorrow during our first ever chili cook off!


  • 3
    Jo 10/10/2009 at 12:39 am

    Gabreial, good luck with your cook off! We would love to see pictures of your event! Please add them to our Flikr group.

  • 4
    Julie 10/13/2009 at 1:56 pm

    Wow, thanx ladies, I talked my boss into doing a chile cook off for our christmas party and you will be helping me make it first class. I am a crafter so I will be coming back here for lots of super ideas, please keep it up for those of us who can only create when we are copying someone else.

  • 5
    Jo 10/13/2009 at 3:09 pm

    Julie, glad we could help! Please send us some pictures of your event. We are certain you can create on your own, we are just here to inspire you!

  • 6
    Wanda 11/19/2009 at 11:09 am

    I have some time to plan a Chili Cook Off, for a non-profit organization, and I have NEVER done anything like this before. Thank You so much for ideas and suggestions. Wish me luck and any suggestions please let me know as I am very nervous. LOL

  • 7
    Chica 11/19/2009 at 11:41 am

    Hi Wanda! Be sure to check out our previous post about hosting a chili cook-off party for more tips and ideas. Good luck with your event!

  • 8
    Michelle Rinehart 01/14/2010 at 5:06 pm

    Howdy! I have been observing your site since we decided to have a fund raising event for our non-profit agency, Community Services for the Deaf. So we picked Feb 6, 2010 for our “Chili Bowl”,since our event is the day before the Super Bowl Game. Thanks a million times over for your wonderful ideas. I plan to use almost all of them, hehehe.

  • 9
    Jo 01/14/2010 at 11:09 pm

    Michelle, good luck with your fund raising event. We love the pun you used! We would love to see pictures of your event if you would like to share them in our Flikr group.

  • 10
    Shauna 07/30/2010 at 4:15 pm


    I run my own party and lifestyle blog and do a chili cookoff/movie night series every year at our home. Love your tips and ideas and will be sure to blog a post about our upcoming party along with links back to you.

    Thanks much!

  • 11
    Jo 07/30/2010 at 5:15 pm

    Shauna, glad we could help! We were actually just thinking about our chili/movie party again. We hope to have some new ideas posted for this year so please check back. We would love to see pictures of your party and I have added your site to our RSS reader so we make sure and see your post!

  • 12
    Heather 10/14/2010 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you so much for your ideas!! I am doing a chili cook off for our middle school. You just made it a lot easier for me!

  • 13
    Maybeth 09/30/2011 at 11:04 am

    Love this website, totally helpful. I can’t wait for our chili cook off.

    I am super excited.

  • 14
    Lynn 12/30/2011 at 6:20 pm

    This website ROCKS!!!Great ideas and very helpful. Thank you for all the ideas!!! Hopefully my chili cook off will go well!

  • 15
    Jennifer 01/05/2012 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks for all the helpful ideas! We are thinking about doing something like this at work, and to help raise money for a fundraiser….

    How many people would you think 1 pot of chili serves? We have 50 male employees, and trying to make sure we get enough participants bringing in chili to feed everyone! Would you think at least 10 would be enough?

  • 16
    Chica 01/05/2012 at 4:41 pm

    Jennifer, so glad we could help you with ideas for your fundraiser. Depending on the recipe each cook uses, each pot of chili will probably make a different amount, so there’s no way to tell just how many each will server, but it seems to me like 10 pots of chili is a great start for an event with 50 people.

  • 17
    Sabina 02/04/2012 at 7:45 am

    This is a great site! Lots of good ideas. I’m having my 2nd Annual Chili Cook off tonight and I’m using some of your ideas.

  • 18
    Linda 02/15/2012 at 11:19 am

    This is an outstanding resource! We are having a chili cook off at work and your sight helped so much with your ideas and printables. I’ll let you know how it goes. We have 20 entries!

  • 19
    Chica 02/15/2012 at 1:13 pm

    That’s awesome, Linda! We can’t wait to hear how it goes. 20 entries is a great participation level, too!

  • 20
    Karen 08/27/2012 at 4:09 pm

    Great website! We will host our 3rd Chili Cook-Off in October. It’s certainly a learning process! Each year we have changed or modified something. Love your labels and the organizing ideas! :)

  • 21
    Beth Brooks 09/12/2012 at 8:33 am

    Thanks so much for all your hard work in this. You’re making mine easier. We are having our first chili cook-off this month. I think all but about 2 or 3 are bringing chili and Ive invited about 50+ people. My question is this: some of my participates think I need to make the pots hidden so that no one will know their own so as not to say vote for mine… Do you think that’s really necessary? Im not real sure how i would do that anyway. It’s all in fun, right?!!! who would want to cheat? That’s what Im thinking. What do you think?

  • 22
    Chica 09/12/2012 at 10:52 am

    Beth, there are always going to be some people who might recognize a friend’s crock pot, but I’m afraid there’s not much you can do about that, so I wouldn’t worry about trying to cover them up. We’ve found that everybody judges fairly based on how the chili tastes, and hopefully your friends will as well.

  • 23
    Pam 10/02/2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for all of the wonderful idea’s for a Chili Cookoff. It has been ton’s of help for me and will help make our party a huge success. Thank you for sharing your talents with those of us not so talented in party planning-We plan on having 22 entries, fingers crossed it will all go smoothly.

  • 24
    Chica 10/02/2012 at 3:32 pm

    Pam, so glad we could help. You’re having 22 entries? Wow! We had 13 at our cookoff this year. Let us know how it goes!

  • 25
    Donna 10/08/2012 at 9:46 am

    Thank you for the great ideas! I’m in charge of a Chili Challenge and can’t wait to use all of your great ideas!

  • 26
    Sarah 10/10/2012 at 4:13 pm

    I’m not finding foil liners for less than $2/ea in packs of 12 for $24 plus nearly $9 in shipping from Amazon. Any better ideas on where to find these for cheaper? Planning our 2nd annual New Year’s Eve Chili Cook-Off party at our church, so I have time. Love the idea to paint them red! :-)

  • 27
    Chica 10/11/2012 at 3:58 pm

    Sarah, you may be able to find them at a food service store like a Sam’s Club, Cosco, or GFS if you have one in your area. If not, try a grocery store, Walmart, or even a dollar store. Ya never know what they might have!

  • 28
    Rena 01/02/2013 at 12:46 am

    For our cook off, we used searving trays, like the ones at cafaterieas or buffets instead of the foil trays. Had room for the “labels” and ladels. Everyone loved the “chili pot” themed items. Love your site!

  • 29
    Linda 02/16/2013 at 10:01 am

    Did you hand cut the number chili pots or use some sort of sticker?

  • 30
    Chica 02/16/2013 at 1:58 pm

    Linda, we printed them onto cardstock and cut them out by hand. You could easily print them onto sticker paper, too.

  • 31
    Sarah 03/20/2013 at 11:02 am

    I was looking for some awesome ideas for a chili cookoff at my office and this was the jackpot of ideas! I will get back to you to let you know how it went.

  • 32
    Kate McGonigle 06/27/2016 at 5:04 pm

    I am hosting a chili cook off fundraiser in Sept. I have 9 entrants so far. Can you tell me what amount of chili should each enot rant should make. I am anticipating maybe 75 – 150 people. Do you think 8 – 10 lbs each be enough or too much. I do plan on making my own chili with hot dogs, salads, a pasta & maybe a pull pork for the guests to eat. Please let me know. The amount needed is holding me up from posting my event. Thanks

  • 33
    Jo 07/01/2016 at 9:38 am

    Kate, what a great fundraising idea. I am sorry, we cannot give advice on how much to make. I would estimate that you need 1.5 full bowls per person that will attend.

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