What goes better with cold December nights then a warm cup of hot chocolate? A little booze thrown in there doesn’t hurt. This weekend I hosted a cookie exchange with some of my girlfriends, and set up a cozy sweet little hot chocolate bar to help get us in the holiday spirit.
A hot chocolate bar is easy to set up and super fun for your guests to create their own sweet drink. You can add this to any holiday or winter party or event. If you’re having a skating party, bonfire, or another outdoor event setup up a hot chocolate bar is a great way to keep friends and family warm and toasty. Adding special little touches will take a simple cup of hot chocolate to a wonderful event that will give your guests warm fuzzies from head to toe.
The first step is deciding how you want to make your hot chocolate. You can certainly use a hot chocolate mix, but making your own is pretty simple. I made two different kinds; a classic hot chocolate recipe from Bon Appetit, and an eggnog hot chocolate. Both were extremely rich due to the melted semi-sweet chocolate so if you’re hoping your guests have more than a cup or two you may want to find a lighter recipe.
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
- 3 cups whole milk (I used 2% and it was still super rich)
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (BA recommends Sharffen Berger), finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar
Bring ¾ cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder until no lumps remain, then add milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in chocolate and sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes.
Eggnog Hot Chocolate
- 3 cups eggnog
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (you can use chocolate chips if that’s all you have on hand)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Whisk eggnog, cocoa powder, and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in cinnamon.
Hot chocolate bars are so much for both kids and adults. I set this up for my cookie exchange so I added a little booze for whomever wanted. I chose several different types of alcohol; peppermint schnapps, coffee liqueur, and a spicy vodka from a local distillery called Sons Of Vancouver. All were delicious but the spicy vodka combination was amazing. I added some vintage glass stir sticks that were perfect for the occasion, look around your house and you never know what you can find to add to your table.
Whipped cream is a must for a hot chocolate bar, as are marshmallows. I had mini marshmallows as well as homemade peppermint marshmallows. Marshmallow are ridiculously easy to make at home and you can make them in any flavor you desire. I’ll be doing a tutorial later this week on how to make these pillowy delights for yourself.
I also had some cookies, Ferraro Rocher, and cocoa batons out for guests as well. I served up a cheese plate and some other savory goods as well, but had them on a separate table. When you’re setting up any type of dessert table you don’t want to overwhelm your guests by having too much going on.
Decorations and Setup
I bought this festive plaid table cloth last month with the intention of using it for my hot chocolate bar. I wanted to cover the carafes in paper to add to the theme but didn’t want the effect to be too much with several different patterns going on. Instead, I used the plaid tablecloth as the backdrop and a simple off-white linen for the tablecloth. You can never go wrong with white, and it’s great if you’re taking pictures.
I borrowed the hot drink carafes from my husband’s work, but if you don’t have access to these a crock pot with a label is another idea. If you have kids serving themselves though this could get messy. A large thermos also works well. I also covered whipped cream container with paper.
I used my Silhouette Cameo to make the ‘cup of cheer’ labels for the mugs. You could also just use a printer and cut out circles. I then hot glued the label to baker’s twine and tied it around each mug. Adding little details like this is a great way to avoid buying new props for your party. Rather than going out and buying a set of festive mugs, just add tags to white mugs to create your look. White dishes and serving pieces are timeless and will go with any theme and color scheme.
The ‘warm up’ backdrop sign with the mittens was also made using my Silhouette Cameo, as was the mug and mitten garland I put on the front of the table. Die-cut machines like the Silhouettes and Cricuts make paper crafting super easy and fun, but they are quite expensive. If you’re doing a lot of paper crafting these are totally worth it.
I love the twinkling warm white lights that are everywhere during the holiday season, so I jumped at the chance to add them to my setup. Depending on where you are setting up your hot chocolate bar you may want to add some extra light, and white Christmas lights are a great way do this. With so many strings that just use battery power it’s easy to place them anywhere without having to worry about a power outlet.
Some Christmas greens and a white tabletop Christmas tree placed at the base of the table completed the look. I also put some birch trees on either side to add more light.
Thanks for reading about my hot chocolate bar and I hope you were able to get some inspiration for your own. If you have any questions or would like to share your own hot chocolate bar ideas please leave a comment below!