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

Chili cook-off voting ballots

by: Chica

Chili cook-off voting ballots
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If you’re ever seen our collection of ideas for hosting your own chili cook-off party, then you know how much Jo and I enjoy having a cook-off each year. I’m hosting such a party this weekend, and I’m really looking forward to all the yummy chili recipes that I’ll get to sample from our friends.

I decided to make new voting ballots this year that were simpler, easier to use, and way cuter than anything I’d used before. I also thought it would be a nice addition to my growing collection of matching chili cook-off printables that also includes chili cook-off invitations and chili pot labels.

Here’s how my voting ballots work:

  • The ballots themselves are numbered to match the chili pot labels I told you about previously. This makes it really clear for voters to be sure they vote for the right chili each time they taste one.
  • The first item on the ballot asks the judge to classify the chili as either “traditional” or “creative”. I find there are merits to both classes of chili, so I like to award prizes for sticking to the classics as well as innovation. Each chili will be classified in the category most people choose for it, and the best one in each category will win.
  • The next item on the ballot asks the judge to rate the chili’s taste, from “Amazing” (5 points) down to “Bad” (1 point). The chili with the highest average score in each category will win!

Once I had a pretty good guess at how many chili entries would be at the party, I printed out enough ballots for just those numbers. I was expecting about 10-12 this year, so I went ahead and printed ballots with numbers 1 through 14, just to be safe. I also made sure to print enough copies so that each of your guests can vote on each chili.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then all I had to do was cut them out and stack them into piles so that each pile had one of each number… so I had 30 piles that each had 14 ballots in them. Whew, that was a lot of cutting!

chili cook-off voting ballots

From here I could have just stapled each stack together and set them out with some pens for my guests to use for voting.

But I had some extra time, and figured I could make it even easier. I decided to use my notepad making skills to turn each pile of ballots into a little notepad with tear-off pages.

I cut some ordinary chipboard into pieces the same size as my ballots. If you don’t have chipboard on hand, you could use extra cardboard or cereal boxes.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then I started stacking my papers and cardboard, one after the other, until I had them all in one giant stack.

chili cook-off voting ballotschili cook-off voting ballots

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then I grabbed the whole stack, put the top edge down on the table, and tapped it firmly until all the tops of all the pages were nice and smooth and flat. I then secured it all together with a couple of big rubber bands near the top edge.

chili cook-off voting ballotschili cook-off voting ballots

To make these loose pages and boards into one giant notepad (don’t worry, I’ll split them up later), I reached for my trusty padding compound. This stuff is a great way to turn any paper pages into a notepad quickly and easily! It’s pretty hard to find locally, so we sell 2oz bottles of padding compound in our Amazon store, to make it easier on ya.

As we described in our notepad tutorial, just brush the padding compound onto the edge of the paper and let it dry. I find setting it on the edge of the table while it dries helps avoid making a mess.

chili cook-off voting ballotschili cook-off voting ballots

Once the glue dries, you’ll have a nice smooth coat on the end. If you tapped the ends down firmly enough, you’ll have a giant notepad with all the sheets attached.

chili cook-off voting ballotschili cook-off voting ballots

Now I couldn’t have everyone working off a single pad, of course, so the next step was to cut the individual pads apart. To do this, I just grabbed the top set of sheets and chipboard, lifted it up, and gently slid a thin paring knife underneath. I ran the knife along the glued edge, cutting that pad free from the stack.

chili cook-off voting ballotschili cook-off voting ballots

I’m not sure why exactly, but this was the most satisfying part of the whole project for me. It’s so fun to have all the little notepads appear so quickly!

chili cook-off voting ballots

During the chili cook-off, I’ll just let each guest grab a pad and a pen and go about their tasting and scoring throughout the evening. They will get to classify each chili as either traditional or creative, and then rate how good it tastes.

chili cook-off voting ballots

My cook-off will have two prizes — one for “Best Traditional Chili and one for “Best Creative Chili”. When the voting is over, I’ll just look at all the ballots for each chili and then determine based on the votes whether a chili goes into the traditional or creative category. Then I’ll add up the taste rankings (5 points for Amazing and 1 point for Bad) and the chili with the highest average score in that category wins!

If you like these voting ballots, 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, why not consider 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 voting ballots
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18 comments so far:

  • 1
    Teddie Milner 10/22/2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for making the invitations, chili entry numbers on the cute pots and tally sheets. They saved me a lot of time and will make our cook off much more festive.

  • 2
    Chica 10/23/2011 at 9:45 am

    You’re welcome, Teddie! Have fun at your cook-off :)

  • 3
    Katie Parks 11/07/2011 at 4:29 pm

    I am an apartment manager throwing my first chili cook off with all of our residents and I just have to give you a big ol THANK YOU for making things so much simpler! Your templates and spreadsheets and experienced advice have been a huge, huge help and made me really excited for our upcoming cook off. You obviously put a ton of time and effort into this site and all of the info and I wanted you to know it hasnt gone un-noticed! Thanks again! ~ Katie Parks

  • 4
    Chica 11/07/2011 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks so much for your comments, Katie. Good luck with your cook-off, and let us know how it goes!

  • 5
    Lindsey 01/10/2012 at 9:38 pm

    Planning my first Chili cook off for Super Bowl at my local bar and all these ideas and spreadsheets are SO helpful thank you soooo much!

  • 6
    Denise 01/25/2012 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks so much for these great ideas and tools! Just one question on voting – what do you do if there is a tie?

  • 7
    Chica 01/25/2012 at 8:29 pm

    Denise, we’ve never had a tie so I’ve never even thought of what to do! I guess either you could ask your guests to do a tiebreaker vote, or maybe the host could cast the deciding vote?

  • 8
    Clara Wilson 02/08/2012 at 6:10 pm

    Thank you so much for your site.Our pastor of 43 years was retiring and we had a big celebration planned,everyone was asked to bring in some ideas to make this a fun event. Will i opened my mouth about doing a chill cook-off,had no idea how to even begin,and then one day i stumbled upon your site and what a Blessing. Everything that i needed was there. Thank you so very much.

  • 9
    Chica 02/08/2012 at 6:48 pm

    So glad we could help you throw a fun party for your pastor, Clara!

  • 10
    Jean Thomas 02/23/2012 at 12:50 pm

    We do a different cook off each year. Meatloaf, pasta sauce, chili…. The cook off product is the main ingredient for dinner.I host serving the sides and setting up the “theme”.

    We use themed music (Meatloaf for meatloaf, Italian for pasta sauce, Red Hot Chili Peppers… you get the idea).

    We do a blind taste test putting all the entries into tin chafing pans purchased at the $1.00 store and kept hot by sterno. This way no one recognizes each other’s dishes, pots or slow cookers. We have a “professonal” judge who cooks the least but eats out the most. She’s aided by the crowd who does a taste test before dinner.

    After our blind taste test the entries are relabeled with everyone’s name and brought to the table for a giant family style dinner.

    Once dinner is over we have a trivia contest using the subject as our theme. “What’s the biggest meatloaf? 300 lbs.” Get it?

    We then give our awards. Our First Place prizes rotate from one year to the next. For best food item the prize includes a chefs hat (signed by all previous winners and their cook off product), and the Golden Spoon (a wooden spoon, sprayed gold and mounted in a gold sprayed can. The winner also gets a large gift basket full of all kinds of themed items.

    Second Place gets a smaller basket and finally a basket for the trivia winner. This makes it interesting for the non-cooks in the crowd.

    We usually have our event in March or April the time of the year that everyone is just waiting for the weather to break. Thanks for an enjoyable site. It was fun sharing.

  • 11
    Chica 02/23/2012 at 12:56 pm

    What a fun idea, Jean! I love all of your ideas, and thanks so much for sharing them with us :)

  • 12
    Julia 08/28/2012 at 2:52 pm

    Your site is great, i’m getting so many ideas and the voting ballots are super cute. I do my cookoff on Labour day and insist that everyone wear white. Its the last day off the year to wear white and everyone has fun with it because it is such a messy cookoff:)

  • 13
    Chica 08/28/2012 at 3:51 pm

    Julia, that is so funny! I can’t imagine what would unfold if my friends dressed in white and tried to keep chili spills at bay. Our friend Rita in particular would have a terrible time! :)

  • 14
    Ashley 09/20/2012 at 12:01 am

    Hey thanks so much for the GREAT ideas on the chili cook off. We are going to be having one at work and this is such a great way to bring it all together! Whoot I cant wait.

  • 15
    Deborah 11/04/2012 at 11:53 pm

    How fortunate I was to stumble across your site. Your templates are adorable and the scoring method is a real time saver that will be attractive to attendees. I can also see that there are other areas for me to explore after I get my ladle out of the chili! Mucho Thanks!!!

  • 16
    Lisa 01/14/2013 at 11:37 am

    Thank you so much! The templates are by far the cutest I have seen. Love your site.

  • 17
    Kathy 10/18/2014 at 3:41 pm

    How to I print the labels!0?

  • 18
    Chica 10/19/2014 at 11:36 am

    Kathy, the labels are part of our Chili Cookoff printables collection, available in our Etsy store.

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We are two best friends sharing our creative journey. You never know what we will be into each time you visit. We could be throwing a unique party, refinishing a flea market find, or whipping up a new cupcake recipe. We invite you to join us for the ride as we tackle life one project at a time!

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