Get the best ideas and tips for hosting your own DIY Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar!
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One of the favorite traditions in our home, that’s simple to pull together, is having a Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar. The kids enjoy hot chocolate during the cooler months, but having a Hot Chocolate Bar, with toppings, is THE BEST. And, it’s a party theme that can customize to just about any budget AND any time commitment. Once you have shopped for everything you need, you can have this Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar put together in no time.
We usually enjoy our Hot Chocolate Bar along with Christmas movies and making gingerbread houses. But it’s also great for a night of playing board games, wrapping presents, or reading a book by the fire. Or do you really need an activity with it? Ah…no. Drinking a yummy cup of hot chocolate is an excellent activity all on its own.
To help make your own holiday festivities as effortless as possible, we’re sharing my best tips for putting together your own DIY Hot Chocolate Bar.
DIY Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar Ideas & Tips
Find a place in your home that will be best suited for setting up your DIY Hot Chocolate Bar. Cover the area with a table cloth, if you wish. I actually use a piece of Christmas fabric. Make sure that there will be enough room for the hot chocolate and the cups, but also all of the toppings.
I like to use three different textures that coordinate on my food bar setups. For example, the fabric is one, another might be the use of wood cutting boards, and last I might use glass bowls and cake stands. I also try to have varying heights for my items. For example, I might place some of the toppings on cake stands. Then, I go around my home and gather a few Christmas decoration to add in the back. Easy stuff, but I think these things make the Hot Chocolate Bar extra special.
Ideally, using mugs that you already have on hand is the easiest option. But, if you don’t have enough mugs on hand, you’ll need to buy some. One option is to head to your local thrift store for Christmas mugs. Thrift stores usually have TONS of mugs and having an assortment of different mugs can add a fun look to your table.
If you’d rather not mess with glass mugs, or you’re going to be serving a large group, disposable coffee cups with lid are a great option. And, basic white foam coffee cups are super inexpensive. Of course, using disposable cups also means you won’t have to wash mugs after your party.
We usually make our own homemade hot chocolate, which is actually really easy to do and very frugal. Once it is made, we keep it heated in a slow cooker and use a ladle to pour it into cups for serving. Alternatively, you could also use a hot beverage dispenser.
If you don’t want to make it homemade, you can certainly use instant hot chocolate mix packets. They are an easier option and fairly inexpensive too. Place the packets in a nice basket or tin to keep them together. I actually used this green gift box since it was the perfect size.
If you are serving a larger crowd, you might want to buy a multi-serving container of hot chocolate mix. This mix can be displayed in glass bowl or canister with a scoop.
If you use the dry hot chocolate mix, you’ll need to have hot water handy, so I would recommend using a hot beverage dispenser.
Even if you’re short on time, I recommend making your own whipped cream. It’s very simple to do by beating heavy whipping cream and sugar in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks are formed. If you have a stand mixer, you can made a batch in just a few minutes, but even with a hand-held mixer, it’s fairly fast.
If you don’t want to mess with homemade whipped cream, aerosol whipped cream is an easy choice. Some people refer this option since it tends to keep better while on the Hot Chocolate Bar. You can fill a bowl with ice and set the cans in the ice to keep them cold.
Want to show off? You can make your own frozen whipped cream dollops. Just make homemade whipped cream, place in a pastry bag with star tip, and create your own dollops on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer to allow your whipped cream to freeze. When frozen solid, store them in a container until ready to use.
If you have the time, and really want to impress your guests, homemade marshmallows are the way to go. They are easier to make than you might think and SO delicious. You can even cut them into fun shapes, like Christmas trees or snowflakes. My favorite is my Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows. They are SO good in a cup of hot chocolate.
But, while I absolutely adore homemade marshmallows, but you can’t beat a bag of mini marshmallows for the price and convenience. Many times we’ll grab a bag at the store and use those instead.
OTHER TOPPING IDEAS
I tend to go bit overboard with my toppings, but you don’t have to. The basics like marshmallows or whipped cream are sufficient. If you want to go a step further, you can easily add some mini chocolate chips or crushed candy canes.
If your able to spend a bit more, and want topping options, there is lots of toppings that you can pick up that require little or no prep. Some of the toppings we’ve enjoyed: chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, caramels, coconut flakes, flavored syrups or creamers (traditionally used in coffee drinks), chopped candy bars, assorted sprinkles, and more. Just place each item in a bowl and you’re ready to go.
While your hot chocolate might be decadent enough, we always include a dessert or two on our Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar. Cookies are our usual choice, like Candy Cane Cookies, Hot Chocolate Biscotti, or White Chocolate and Ginger Chip Cookies.
FOR THE ADULTS
If your DIY Hot Chocolate Bar is for adults, you might like the idea of a boozy hot chocolate. Offering some alcoholic mix-in – such as Kahlua, Bailey’s, and peppermint schnapps – in an option. If this sounds like your style of hot chocolate, be sure to check out my Peppermint & Whipped Vodka Hot Chocolate recipe.