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How to Host a Fun Chili Cook Off Party with Friends

Looking for an easy get-together idea with friends or family? Learn how to host a super fun chili cook-off party.

Do you love to entertain?


Oh…good we do too!

Since you love to entertain like Anne & I, you’ll love our monthly dinner club posts.

Now if you’re new to Simply2Moms you may be wondering what the heck a dinner club is.

Every month we get together with our good friends Stacy, Rachel, Jen, and Michele to share our tablescapes and recipes on our blogs.

We’ve been doing this for two years and it’s just so fun to see everyone’s creativity with the different themes each month.

And to add even more inspiration for our readers, we also invite a guest host to join us too!

We’re thrilled to welcome Regina who blogs at Saved from Salvage this month.

Regina loves to thrift, furniture flip, and upcycle anything she can save from the trash.

Go take a look around her website where you’ll find a ton of inspiration and ideas we know you’ll love.

This Month’s Dinner Club Theme

We’re excited to throw a fabulous casual and easy party with a bit of competition thrown in for fun this month.

It’s a chili cook-off party!

I shared ideas to plan an amazing chili cook-off complete with our free printable bundle to help you organize and decorate for this party!

Then Anne created a delicious brand-new chili recipe you’ll definitely want to try!

And today it’s all about my pretty tablescape design, party decor, and hosting ideas.

Then Saturday we’ll be sharing all the incredible chili recipes…so be sure to check back then.

Have you read our previous supper club menus and tablescape ideas?

If not…we’ve got you covered and will share the link at the end of this post for inspiration tons of different themes and ideas for entertaining at home.

If you’re joining us from Jen at Midwest Life and Style or if you’re new to our blog…

Hey there & welcome!

AnnMarie and Anne, the moms who write Simply2Moms, sitting on a picnic table by a painted wall mural.

I’m AnnMarie (standing) and that’s Anne (sitting), the two moms behind this blog.

We work together to share simple and budget-friendly ideas for decoratingrecipesDIY projects, and tips for life with older teens (and beyond!).

You can read more about us and our families here.

And we would love to learn more about you! Be sure to say “hi” in the comments below and tell me where you’re visiting from.

But that’s enough about us…let’s talk more about this month’s theme… and my chili cook-off tablescape!

Posts on Simply2Moms may contain affiliate links which means we may earn a small commission on purchases at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.

How to Host a Chili Cook-Off at Home

console table with cook off contest supplies on it and mirror leaning against wall

I chatted a lot about planning ideas in this post for organizing a chili cook-off party with friends at home.

A chili cook-off (or any recipe contest for that matter) is a super fun way to gather a group of your friends or family for some good ol’ friendly competition.

Do you remember the chowder cook off party we hosted last year?

The concept is the same except with chili recipes rather than chowder.

Each guest will bring a batch of their best homemade chili to enter the contest.

Then all the guests will taste each recipe and vote for their favorite.

And since your friends and family will be bringing the main dish it makes it a little easier for you as the host to get ready.

You serve chili toppings, sides, and beverages. Check out the lists of the items you can provide as the host here.

Of course, want to decorate a bit and have competition supplies ready for judging too.

What Do You Need to Plan a Cook-off Competition

official rules for recipe contest in photo frame on table

With our free printable bundle, you’ll have everything you need to throw an awesome party for your guests!

Hosting a cook-off competition is pretty simple.

First, let everyone know the rules of your contest.

This printed out official rules sheet is easy to pop into an 8×10 photo frame and set out by the chili dishes.

cook off scorecard on clip board on table

Your friends and family will need a way to judge all the chili recipes.

Give each guest a scorecard and pen to rank each dish on a scale of 1 to 5 based on appearance, aroma, flavor, and spice.

I designed the scorecard to hold six tasting cups so that it’s easy to put your samples in the cups and hold everything on a clipboard.

sample cups and spoons in dough bowl with napkins

On the same table as the official rules and score cards I organized tasting cups and tiny spoons along with napkins that are easy to grab in a wood dough bowl.

A small galvanized bucket holds pens and small rating cards to help guests remember the scale of rankings.

Where Should You Set Up for a Chili Cook-Off

side buffet table set up for chili cook off with pots and banner hanging above

On the other side of the room, I prepared space for the pots of chili recipes that everyone brought to the cook-off.

I made a paper banner that was easy to assemble and included in your chili cook off bundle here.

The banner adds a bit of fun decor to this corner above the tasting area.

Using trivets on wooden tables protects the surface from the hot bottom of the stock pot.

stock pots on wood trivets with tented number cards in front on table

You’ll also need a way to distinguish each chili recipe.

These tent cards coordinate with the scorecards so it’s easy to judge each dish.

wood spoons with diy ribbon prizes attached

Once the scores are tallied and the results are in…it’s fun to give the winner or winners a little prize.

Wood spoons are inexpensive and look cute with a DIY paper prize ribbon attached.

Of course, bragging rights is the best trophy of all don’t you think?!

How to Style a Casual Chili Cook-Off Table

table set with casual place settings for chili cook-off event

I had to set a pretty table for this cook-off contest because I’m extra like that!

Of course, you don’t need to take this additional step when hosting but I wanted to have a nice place for guests to sit and enjoy round two of the competition.

Did you read the rules above?

Round one was actually just the tasting…that’s why the sample cups were so small.

But round two…well, that’s the fun party…guests get to go back and take a big bowl of their favorite recipe to enjoy.

How to Create a Simple Winter Centerpiece

antique wood tool box styled with mason jars filled with fresh cut greenery

If you’ve been around S2M for a while you know I always start with the centerpiece when I’m designing a new tablescape.

I like to keep my centerpieces simple because…well…I’m a simple kinda girl. lol

When Anne and I were shopping at our local antique store a couple of weeks ago I bought this vintage toolbox.

I’ve always loved the one my good friend Stacy has from Bricks ‘n Blooms that she uses and knew this antique toolbox beauty would be a perfect addition to my white dining table.

view of dining table set for chili cook-off party

I didn’t want to spend any extra money decorating my centerpiece (I laid out enough on that toolbox) so I looked around my house for some inspiration.

I’m a big fan of using fresh clippings from my backyard rather than spending money on flowers…gotta love the free decor.

If you don’t have evergreens easily accessible to you check out these affordable faux stems from Amazon that can be used over and over.

After I filled the distressed wood carpenter’s box with 32-ounce mason jars I added some water and evergreen clippings from the arborvites in my yard.

Since I wanted a simple look I placed just one single branch in each jar.

Then I added small glass candle votives around the mason jars.

The glow between all the glass looks beautiful and since the votives are so short I’m not worried about the flame near the fresh greenery.

How to Set a Table for a Cook-Off Contest

place setting styled with galvanized charger and jute placemat

I kept the place settings simple and casual for the party.

First I started with these jute woven placemats at each seat, which added texture to my white table.

There’s no need to set the table with a full set of flatware because we’ll most likely only be using spoons for a chili cook-off.

Plus it keeps it more casual and there’s no need to wash utensils that won’t get used am I right?!

We like easy entertaining around here!

For each place, I did use a variety of layers because they just look so pretty stacked up.

A galvanized metal charger, followed by my favorite black dinner plates from Wayfair.

dining table set for party crock soup bowls on top of mini cutting boards

Next, I placed a folded black and white buffalo check cloth napkin on the black plates.

A mini wood-handled cutting board with a crock-style bowl for chili completes the stack.

The cutting board brings a warm tone to the neutral place settings and also helps if the bowls are too hot.

vintage wood tool box in middle of styled table with greenery in mason jars

Beer mugs are the finishing touch to each guest’s spot at the table ready to enjoy a hearty bowl of chili.

Because what goes better with spicy chili than an ice cold beer?

tablescape styled for dinner party chandelier above china hutch behind

I hope I gave you some simple ideas to host at home!

Check out the supplies I used for this party in the collage photo below.

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collage of products used in AnnMarie's chili cook-off tablescape design

Sources: jute woven placemats | galvanized metal chargers | black dinner plates | glass beer mugs | mini wood cutting boards | crock soup bowls | buffalo plaid napkins | flatware set | square riser | 8 oz mason jar | votive glass candles | 32 oz mason jar | faux cedar greenery | small galvanized bucket | wood dough bowl

More Chili Cook-Off Tablescape Ideas from Our Friends

Next up on the tour is our friend Rachel from The Pond’s Farmhouse. Wait until you see her pretty tablescape!

Be sure to click each of the blog names below the photos to get even more inspiration for your chili cook-off table.

If you’re a blogger and you’d like to join our virtual dinner club for a month leave us a comment below or contact us here.

Get all of our previous virtual supper club ideas here.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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