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.
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!
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.
Then I started stacking my papers and cardboard, one after the other, until I had them all in one giant stack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
- These voting ballots and a scoring spreadsheet to help you determine the winner
- Our matching chili pot numbers and labels
- Our customizable Chili Cookoff invitations
- Our fun chili pepper banner and decorations that are great for hosting your own chili cookoff party
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?