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Discussion Starter #1
Every year we have awards for several "Best" categories. My wife has little trophies made up and we hand them out for things like: Best Costume, Best Kid Costume, Scariest, Yummiest Snack, etc.

The issue we have is counting the votes. The ballots are paper, and we have to count all of them for each category. It takes us about 20 minutes to count all the ballots, during which time we're gone from the party. As we count near the end of the evening, people are often looking for us as they are getting ready to leave.

Anyone using an efficient/better method?

I thought about using an app or website, even if I had to make it myself, but then I run into the issue of making the entries standardized, so everyone is voting for the same person/thing, and not getting variations of the same entry.
 

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Can you designate a different person to be in charge of one category? split it up a little, it might get done a little faster.

I have a costume contest as well and I may just start picking the winner myself.

other than having a costume parade and having everyone just clap the loudest for who they like the best, maybe get everyone involved?

idk :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
With everyone having smart phones what about using an online voting poll, here's one http://www.anonvote.com/ that allows up to 15 images but others may allow more). You could take each guests pic as they come in and enter them into the appropriate catagories.
Ideally, I'd like to have an app everyone can use on their own device (iOS and Android), snap a selfie, and it would be available for everyone to vote on - in several categories - when the voting portion is opened up. I've looked for an app like this but haven't found one yet.

I've found similar ideas, but nothing that actually works like the above. Most of what I've found is too simple or designed for growing your business through a social media presence.

One big issue with most of what I've found is I would have to take a picture of everyone before the voting happened. With 60-80 people at the party, all arriving at different times, that quickly becomes an arduous task all in itself.
 

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Make a poster board for each category in a less used area. Each award can have pre made, blank columns and people can add their vote to it. If the person they want to vote for isn't up yet, they can add it to a blank column. You'd need several columns with that many people, for each award, but it could be a quick way to look at the boards and see the obvious winner.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hmm, I like the simplicity of the idea, but I'm not sure we have a place to set up the various posters. This would still require deciphering of what people wrote and who they were referring to (the guests don't all know each other's name). I think it would be a little faster than paper ballots, but not by too much.

I'm trying to figure out how I can do something like this but include photos. Which brings me back to some app or even a Facebook contest. We had almost 80 people at the last party, and expect around that again this year. That's a lot of people/photos to manage.

I thought about asking people to send me a photo of themselves before the party, either in costume or not, but that's still a lot of management for someone to organize the photos, etc.
 

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The issue is having to count the votes. I suggest using something like marbles for people to record their vote. Then simply pour the marbles into a tube with numbers marked on it for various levels. If you want to get more complex have them drop their marbles into a series of tubes with some sort of cover (so no one would know the count in advance) and then have the big reveal by removing the cover.
 

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We used to count all the votes and it was tedious and tortuous. This year I came up with a brilliant idea. I'm giving everyone at the party 3 Mardi Gras beads. One purple, one green, one gold. At 10:00 I'll have everyone put their purple bead around the neck of Best Costume, the green around Best Female and gold beads around Best Male. (I may change up the categories) Around 10:30, we'll have everyone count and the one with the most beads around their neck is the winner. Does that make sense? I've never tried it before but I think it will work (we have a bunch of Louisiana people attending who love getting their beads!)
 

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We used to do this for our parties and yes, it took up time we could have spent with our guests.
Now I just pick the winners myself. That way, I'm not disappointed with someone else's decision and I don't have to neglect my hosting duties...and hey, it's my party so I make the rules!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
After discussing the various ideas with my family, we decided to use different colored gel bracelets. Each color will be for a different category (best costume, etc). The Spookiest Snack category will have to be counted separately, but that should be easy.

I noticed you can get them customized with words, but that may be more expensive than we want for this.
 

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I've had the same problem at my parties. Counting the ballots takes too much time and then people hover over you to see who is winning. Last year I glanced through the ballots and got the general idea on who the favorites were and from that I made my own decision on who the winners were. I will do that again this year because it was so much easier. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I like the idea of either making the decision or glancing over the votes and going with what seems to be the most popular, but then family politics comes into play.

For example, last year my daughter and niece coincidentally both dressed up as a "broken doll." My daughter won the "Best Kids Costume" award, but we got flak from certain family about favoritism. There wasn't, as the votes were distinguished by name, not costume; but still. We've thought about excluding our kids, but that wouldn't be fair to them (my wife and I do exclude ourselves).

Hopefully, going with the gel wrist bands will alleviate a lot of these pain points.
 

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I like the marble and tube idea. You can have a different color of marble for each category, and issue each guest one of each color to prevent ballot stuffing. Color code the voting stations to match the marbles. (I'm sure there's a "have you lost your marbles?" joke you can work in somehow.)

You could make it cheaply by using PVC pipe, and drill holes so you could see the marbles inside. If you wanted to get fancy you could back-light the tube.

Other variations that occur to me are slotted track and checkers or poker chips.
 

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If you have a kitchen scale, you could do the marble thing with mason jars, and weigh them. That would be a much quicker way to count. It would also allow you to quickly remove any cross-voted marbles by color.

If the different colors of marbles end up being different sizes, you can check the weight for each color in advance, and divide the jar weight by the per-marble weight if you want an exact vote count. If not, all you need to know is which jar is heaviest, and it doesn't matter if one color is heavier than the other. All that matters is that all the marbles are the same color for any given contest category.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I like the marble and tube idea. You can have a different color of marble for each category, and issue each guest one of each color …
I like the idea, but unless I'm missing something (quite possible), I don't see how something like this would work when you have 60+ people and 5 categories. You'd either need 60+ different colors and 5 tubes, or 60+ containers and 5 colors.
 

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The idea was black marbles for Scariest, green for Funniest, red for Sexiest, etc. Each guest gets a packet with one marble of each color. You vote by putting your marble into the jar/tube belonging to the person you are voting for.

If you split people into categories you wouldn't need 60 for every category. Adults and kids might split the 60 about in half. Someone competing for Scariest wouldn't enter Funniest, etc. Maybe you would end up with 20 entrants/containers per category. It could still run into a considerable number of containers. (Now I am looking for bulk purchases...)

Tubes would have the benefit of not taking up much horizontal space, compared to jars. Maybe soda bottle preforms? Set it up like a test tube rack? Even at 2 rows of 10, that would be around 2 ft wide.

You could use skittles to make the votes smaller.

Might work, might not. Hmm....
 

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One track mind here... You could have a single jar for each guest (clip their photo to it), and let people put marbles for any category in it. Get five volunteers at the end of the night, and counting should go pretty quickly. "John gets three black, no green, two red, no clear. Victoria gets no black, no green, seventeen red, no clear." and so on.

Or you could close the contest 45 minutes before announce time, and let people get their jar, count it, and write their totals on the scoreboard at their leisure during the time between closing and announcing. The scoreboard could be on a laptop (say, a Google spreadsheet), where you had them sign in when they arrived. They would know what they called themselves, find their row, and fill in their totals. You could even have multiple laptops signed into the Google sheet in different rooms, so people didn't stand around waiting.

If you don't trust them to not misreport, make them produce their marbles to claim their prize.
 

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I have used the ballot method and it is time consuming. Also had "secret judges" who walked throughout the party and picked the winners. That worked out pretty good. One time we did an actual contest on a stage and prizes were awarded by the loudest applause
.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
oops… I forgot to come back to this and tell what we decided to do.

We went with several colors of long pipe cleaners and it worked great. When someone wanted to vote for someone, they either simply gave them the appropriate colored cleaner for that category, or more often they wrapped it around their wrist. We had printed signs posted in various locations that contained the color for each category.

The pipe cleaners allowed even people without pockets to carry their "votes" with them and it was easy to see who had the most votes. We had several people tell us how much they really liked the system.

The only issue we had was when there was a tie in a category… Need to figure out a tie-breaking method before the next party.
 

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oops… I forgot to come back to this and tell what we decided to do.

We went with several colors of long pipe cleaners and it worked great. When someone wanted to vote for someone, they either simply gave them the appropriate colored cleaner for that category, or more often they wrapped it around their wrist. We had printed signs posted in various locations that contained the color for each category.

The pipe cleaners allowed even people without pockets to carry their "votes" with them and it was easy to see who had the most votes. We had several people tell us how much they really liked the system.

The only issue we had was when there was a tie in a category… Need to figure out a tie-breaking method before the next party.
THANK YOU! I have tried many ways over the years. This by far is the best! No need for strangers to know your name or get your costume name wrong. This saves my night!
 
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