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
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
share it

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.

We’ve modified our voting system through the years. We started with the simple “vote on your favorite” method, but quickly found that it wasn’t fair. Not everyone tastes all the chili entries, and unless you taste EVERY chili, how do you know which is your favorite? And as our event gets bigger, we sometimes end up with 10-15 chilis to try, and it’s awfully hard to remember which one you liked best.

Instead, we settled on a system where you score each chili on its own. We find this more fair, easier to keep track of, and a lot more fun, too! To make this system work, we designed a voting ballot, which is part of our Chili Cook-off Printables Collection available on Etsy. It also has an accompanying spreadsheet that makes all the score calculations easy.

Here’s how our voting ballots work:

  • The ballots are numbered to match our coordinating chili pot labels so everyone knows which chili they are voting for.
  • The first item on the ballot asks the judge to classify the chili as either “traditional” or “creative”. I find there both classes of chili appealing, so I like to award prizes for sticking to the classics as well as for 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 we have a pretty good guess at how many chili entries will be at the party, we print out enough ballots for just those entries. So if we’re expecting about 10-12 entries, we printed ballots with numbers 1 through 14, which gives us two extras for last-minute entries that might turn up. We also made sure to print enough copies so that each guests can vote on each chili.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then we cut them out and stack them into piles so that each pile had one of each number. So for 30 guests, you’ll have 30 stacks that each had 14 ballots.

chili cook-off voting ballots

From here you can just staple each stack together and set them out with some pens for the guests to use for voting.

But if you want to get fancy, you can use our notepad making tutorial to turn each pile of ballots into a little notepad with tear-off pages. Oh boy, will your guests love these!

First, cut some ordinary chipboard into pieces the same size as ballots. If you don’t have chipboard on hand, you could use extra cardboard or cereal boxes. These will be the backs of the notepads, to give them some stability.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then stack up layers of cardboard, ballots, cardboard, ballots, etc…

chili cook-off voting ballots

…until you have them all in one giant stack.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Grab the whole stack, put the top edge down on the table, and tap it firmly until all the tops of all the pages are nice and smooth and flat.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Then secure it all together with a couple of big rubber bands near the top edge.

chili cook-off voting ballots

Now you’re going to turn this big stack into one giant notepad. Don’t worry, you’ll split them up later, but it’s WAY easier to glue them together all at once. To make the notepad, you’ll need some white padding compound, which we sell in our Amazon store.

As we described in our notepad tutorial, just brush the padding compound onto the edge of the paper and let it dry.

chili cook-off voting ballots

I find setting it on the edge of the table while it dries helps avoid making a mess.

chili 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 ballots

To separate the stack into individual pads, just lift up the pages of one stack, slip a thin knife blade underneath, and gently cut the glue, separating the pad from the stack.

chili cook-off voting ballots

This is always the most satisfying part of the 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, each guest grabs a pad and pen and can 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.

Remember, our voting ballots are part of our Chili Cookoff Printables collection that’s available on Etsy. This collection lets you make:

Chili cook-off voting ballots
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
share it

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.

leave a comment:

submit comment

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!

Please visit Chica and Jo at for more DIY projects and clever ideas!