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First Annual Chili Contest

In Michigan, we all love the fall... and what a better way to celebrate the fall than with a chili contest? This was our first time hosting a chili contest, and it was a lot of fun... we plan to do one every year. Check out some of the stuff we did for the contest, and what we learned for next year.


- Spoons

- Forks

- Dessert Plates

- Napkins

- Cups

- Bowls (I used the hot/cold ones so my guests didn't burn their hands)

- Sampler Cups

​- Take Home Containers


- Pop

- Water

- Wine

- Apple Pie Sangria (Thanks Jenny!)

- Beer

- Ice


- Chili

- Buffalo Chicken Dip

- Monster Cookies (Thanks Kaeley!)

- Corn Bread (Thanks Kaeley!)

- Mac & Cheese

- Chili Toppings

Print Materials:

- Voting Ballots

- Signs for the Food

- Signs for the toppings

- Signs for the contestants

♡ Voting ♡

Chili Contest Voting Ballot

Everyone EXCEPT for the contestants could vote. We had 8 contestants, so everyone else at the party was able to sample the chili (see photo below), and place their vote. At the end, the person with the most "Great" votes, won.

Instead of having the people dish out the chili on their own and potentially waste unwanted chili, I put each chili in a little cup, where they could quickly taste each chili, then vote on each chili with their voting ballot (pic above).

Chili Contest Contestant Signs

Chili Contest Contestant Signs

♡ Food ♡

Chili Contest Food Signs
Chili Contest Food Signs

Knowing that there will be TONS of chili available for people, we also wanted to supply other food options for our guests. Everyone loves finger food, and since we were having children at our party, it was important for us to supply a kid-friendly dinner option.

I HIGHLY suggest doing crockpot meals. It was so nice to prep the food a bit, then throw them in the crockpot for the next several hours. I can't imagine having to cook a bunch of stuff in the oven, while trying to prep my home and overall event.

Beyond chili, we offered corn bread muffins, monster cookies, crockpot buffalo chicken dip, and crockpot mac and cheese.

♡ Toppings ♡

Chili Contest Toppings Sign

After doing some research on other chili parties, one of the BEST suggestions was to make sure the host has enough toppings.

Here is what we supplied:

Hot Sauce, Chives, Sour Cream, Bacon, Chili Cheese Fritos, Jalapeno, Cheese, Avocado, Chips, and Cilantro.

What We Learned

More space is needed for voting. I would prefer to have the voting in our dining room, but it's currently carpeted, which could cause a problem. The way our house is setup, the kitchen/living room become very congested.

Ask the contestants what toppings to put on their samples for voting. Some contestants asked to have stuff on their chili, but I think it would be better to offer everyone the opportunity to have toppings.

Additional food is a must have. There was nearly nothing left of the additional food options we supplied. Next year I may add one more food option.

Voting needs to change. As I stated above, I didn't like how I setup the voting ballots. Next year I may do a point system instead. I think I might also supply little clipboards, it's hard to write in the air on a cardstock piece of paper.

Need more sample cups! I counted incorrectly, but everyone seemed to like the idea of taking a little sample of the chili.

Make the take-home containers more visible. I may even pre-fill some up for people and label them with what chili number they were.

Better winner prizes. I bought gift cards... lame. I also think it would be fun to have other winning topics, like most original, overall best, etc.

More water. We ran out of water almost immediately.

Make this an annual event. We had a lot of guests ask us if we planned to do this every year, and we had a great time.

Supply heartburn and tums. With all that chili tasting, someone is bound to have stomach problems.

Print Material Templates

All of the printed materials were designed by me. I also used a kraft paper to bring out the overall style, but any type of paper will look nice. Check them out below!

Voting Ballot | Food Labels | Toppings | Misc. Signs | Contestants

#party #chili #home

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