Chili cook-off voting ballots
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.
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.
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.
Then stack up layers of cardboard, ballots, cardboard, ballots, etc…
…until you have them all in one giant stack.
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.
Then secure it all together with a couple of big rubber bands near the top edge.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- These voting ballots (comes with 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