Hosting a Holiday Cook-Off for your family or friends can be a lot of fun, maybe the beginning of a new tradition. There are plenty of options, from choosing the holiday and food categories to planning invitations, rules and decorations. This is also a great way to alleviate the host from having to do all the cooking for the whole mob. I first read about this on Amazing Christmas Ideas and thought how easy it would be to adapt to this to any holiday.
Choose Your Holiday and Menu
This can be centered on any holiday such as Christmas, 4th of July, Memorial Day or others. Menus can be themed around traditional foods for that holiday. Baked hams, cornbread, and potato dishes for Christmas or Hamburgers, Brats and Corn on the Cob for 4th of July might be some of the options. Memorial Day is the kick off for summer and lots of people like to fir up the grill. You could do a whole cook off meals made on the grill, shish-kebobs or foods with barbeque sauce like ribs.
The cook-off could be limited to just one dish, like barbeque ribs or left wide open to include all the courses. Met dish, side dish, appetizer and dessert could be entries in the contest. You can go as simple or as wild as you want. If you want to serve a full meal and not have to prepare other foods to accompany the contest entries, then go all out and include all the categories.
Set the Rules
Some of your guests may be highly competitive and want to compete in more than one category. Other guest may not want to compete but might want to be judges. Establish that the food should be prepared at home and brought to the party, except for finishing touches, unless you have the cooking space for everyone to work at your house. It can be fun to charge a small fee for each entry or guest and award prize money to the winner in each category. Whatever you decide on, print the rules out and include them with your invitation.
Buy a trophy that can be passed on year after year. Have some fun and buy a plain white chef’s apron you can decorate. Each year add the name of the winner, the year and the name of the dish in colorful, permanent markers to the apron. The winner gets to keep the apron for the year and it is brought back, like the trophy, to next year’s cook-off to be updated and passed on. It can make a wonderful family treasure.
Snacks and Beverages
Set up a bar in an area away from the food so that traffic doesn’t become congested. Serve beverages that compliment the holiday theme: hot cocoa or eggnog for Christmas, lemonade and beer for 4th of July and so on. Serve simple light snack while the cooking is underway. Your guests will have plenty to heat when the food is ready. Popcorn, pretzels and vegetable trays are staples at most parties. For summer get-togethers, try a watermelon, scooped out and filled with fresh fruit salad.