As the winter months settle in and the holidays pass, we’re still eager to host events for family and friends who will enjoy a good time away from the humdrum of the world. Hosting a themed party – whether that’s a winter garden party or a movie marathon, and using some hot chocolate to push away the wintry blues is a great way to do that!
As you host a party, deck out your kitchen with a hot cocoa bar. You can take these many hot chocolate bar ideas for types of cocoa to serve, how to serve it, and what to mix in and serve on the side.
Supplies: The Chocolate
The main ingredient, of course, has got to be the showstopper when it comes to your hot chocolate bar. Here are some of the best ways to draw jaws and build that solid foundation of amazing for your party.
Supply A Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Every year around this time, my mom used to pull out the giant Tupperware tub and fill it up with a homemade cocoa mix. Now, as an adult, I love doing the same! So, for your hot chocolate bar, I highly recommend whipping up a batch of your own for the party. It’s definitely better than anything you’d get in a store!
Melting Chocolate for Your Cocoa
When I met my first chocolatier, I was a walking tour guide in downtown Chicago. I brought my tour groups into a gorgeous little shop, L.A. Burdick, on State street. There, I met the most delightful people who introduced me to melting chocolate bars for hot cocoa. Heaven in a cup! If you can afford to get fancy, I’d highly recommend ordering some of their melting bars (or from others, if you have a favorite) for supplying the most decadently delicious cocoa for your hot chocolate bar.
Serve Hot Cocoa Bombs
I know, I know. These aren’t as popular as they were a few years ago, but they’re still a darn good idea. You can purchase some from local stores or make your own hot cocoa bombs, depending on what you’re feeling and your budget.
Make it With Abuelita Hot Cocoa Discs
The popular Mexican hot cocoa discs are becoming more and more mainstream for a reason: they’re utterly delicious! So, if you’re looking for something a little different than the typical American blend, grab some Abuelita from your local grocery or online.
Go Easy with Pre-Mix
Of course, if you know you’re going to be short on time or just love a pre-bought mix, you can serve that up, too. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, unless you want to.
Make Hershey’s Hot Cocoa
Of course, you can always whip up a batch of Hershey’s hot cocoa, made from the directions on the powdered drink mix label. Tweak it with some extra milk or some mint extract if you like!
Serve it Up With a Keurig
Keurig has some great hot cocoa pods these days – from a variety of brands and places. So, make it easy on yourself and pull out the Keurig and let folks queue in line for a quick cuppa chocolatey goodness at the hot cocoa bar.
Use a Hot Chocolate Maker
If you can find one and want to invest in it for the many hot chocolate parties you’ll host, an actual hot chocolate maker is a great way to serve up your cocoa. There aren’t any specific types of chocolate products needed to use it, either, so whatever you’re keen on is perfect.
Make it in a Slow Cooker
Here’s one way I wouldn’t have thought of: making hot cocoa in a slow cooker! The recipe takes two hours, so the creator recommends making it ahead of time, then pulling it out of the fridge a bit before the party to serve up, reheated, from an insulated server.
Next, it’s important to know how you’re going to serve up that liquid gold. There are some basic options and some twists on them that might add a little bit of fun.
Heat-proof Punch Bowl
One super easy option is using a smaller heat-proof punchbowl to serve up that creamy cocoa goodness. I say smaller because larger bowls will cool too quickly and you’ll have to reheat. If, however, you’ve got a larger crowd, you can use a larger bowl if desired.
It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago and spotted some cocoa pots in a local thrift store that I had any idea what these lovely things are. They’re basically mugs, but with lids and often a little notch built in for keeping a spoon in the cup for easy blending of the drink after the chocolate settles at the bottom. These are now my favorite way to enjoy cocoa, especially on the snowiest nights!
Holiday or Winter Mugs
If you’re whipping up the hot chocolate bar for Christmas Eve, an Epiphany celebration, or the night before you begin Lent, you might want to find some holiday-themed mugs. If not, any wintry-themed mug will do for your guests.
It might seem a little odd to some to use teacups and saucers, but I actually love drinking cocoa from a teacup. There’s something super elegant about it, plus that saucer is the perfect resting place for my spoon and some little nibbles.
If you’re making a few different varieties of hot chocolate, you may want to skip the ceremony and just grab all the coffee, tea, and cocoa pots you can find in the house and serve them up. Be sure to label them so people know they’re getting mint versus caramel.
As long as the cocoa isn’t scalding, you can serve it up in Mason jars. Personalize the jars with some fun seasonable stickers, the names of your guests, or chalk paper so folks can write their names on them and keep them from getting mixed up. It’s up to you.
Mix and Match Mugs
This is my favorite way of serving up cocoa at a party: mix and match mugs. Assign mugs by personality to your guests or let them choose the mug that suits them best. Then, send them home as a gift as a bonus! Be sure to have a few extras on hand in case someone winds up with a mug they don’t love and see if you can switch it out for them.
If you’re sending mugs home as a gift with your guests, doing matches mugs might be a fun way for everyone to remember the amazing evening by. They’re also great for fun photos of the whole crowd together.
Supplies: Toppings and Infusions
Of course, hot chocolate isn’t just hot cocoa anymore. We’ve come to realize that we can infuse a load of different amazing things into this incredible goodness. Here are some of the best suggestions I’ve used or I found suggested by folks who know.
What’s better than rich, gooey caramel and chocolate together? And since most of us can’t find a good quality hot cocoa with caramel, this is your winner! I’d highly recommend using the caramel sauce Trader Joe’s carries. It’s amazing for this!
A popular choice that most of us are familiar with is the marshmallow. Mini marshmallows, in most cases, make for the best add-in, though you can also use larger marshmallows, or, if you’re serving it up in a wide-mouthed mug, you can even use giant marshmallows if those are the handiest option.
English Style Marshmallows
Or you can go with English-style marshmallows. Often these come in flavors like strawberry which can add an extra kick to your cocoa goodness. Or, whip up a batch of your own if you can’t find any that you love.
Dark Chocolate Syrup
What’s better than chocolate? Chocolate with more chocolate – specifically dark chocolate syrup. It’s the best way to ramp up your chocolate game without a lot of extra work.
And who doesn’t love whipped cream for their hot cocoa? Grab a can, a tub, or make it yourself if you’ve got the time and energy! Whatever you serve it, chances are at least half the guests will want it!
If you crush up peppermints fine enough, they’ll actually melt into the sweet, chocolatey goodness, infusing the flavors for the perfect treat for mint lovers.
White Chocolate Shavings
Here’s a twist my hubby loves – white chocolate shavings. Just grab a bar of your favorite white chocolate and a potato peeler or grater. Peel away over a bowl for the least messy results.
Another easy add in that so many of us love is the simple pirouette cookie. They’re easy to find and add a real touch of elegance and fun for each mug of cocoa.
Milk Chocolate Truffles
Here’s one I wouldn’t have thought of, but now I can’t think of anything else! Using milk chocolate truffles in your hot cocoa! I can only imagine the oozing, gooey goodness of this addition!