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Baby, it's cold outside. Celebrate the season with a DIY hot cocoa bar.

By Melanie Fincher
Updated December 03, 2020
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Three women with hot chocolate mugs
Credit: Getty Images/svetikd

We're well into hot chocolate season, and what better excuse to throw together a hot chocolate bar party with friends? Whether you're having a dinner party and you want to finish off the evening with a special treat for your guests, or you simply want to make memories with friends, hot chocolate bars are all the rage nowadays. The great thing about hot chocolate bars is the toppings are so cute, they double as decor! You can pull together a hot chocolate bar without breaking the bank — read on for tips on how to DIY a hot chocolate bar.

How to Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar

The first thing to consider: where to set up your hot chocolate bar. Choose a part of your home with enough space for people to crowd around the table (because they inevitably will). To avoid traffic jams as much as possible, make a clear starting and ending point to your hot chocolate bar. Start with mugs at one end, and then hot chocolate and toppings should follow.

You can either set up on a bar or on a table, depending on the size of your hot chocolate bar. Drape a tablecloth over your table, for decor and easy cleanup. Don't feel like you need to spend a fortune to have a Pinterest-worthy hot chocolate bar. Mason jars make great topping containers — try tying a ribbon around the rim and hanging mini chalkboard labels from them to clearly identify your toppings. You may also want to use these cute, small wooden spoons as serving utensils for your toppings. Cake stands can also be used to display toppings and bring a layered presentation to your hot chocolate bar.

Here's What You'll Need:

Once your setup is complete, it's time to gather the supplies. The great thing about hot chocolate bars is they're totally customizable. Is it for a kid's birthday party? Forget the booze. Is it an adults only dinner party? Providing your guests with a little something extra for their cocoa might be appropriate. Take what you need from this list and leave what you don't.

Mugs

While disposable coffee cups might look more uniform, I personally prefer the look of a mismatched collection of coffee mugs. Clear out your cabinets because you'll likely need every mug in your stockpile. If you do have more guests than mugs, you can always purchase disposable coffee cups.

Hot Chocolate

Obviously the most important party of any hot chocolate bar is the... hot chocolate. Skip the mix and go for homemade to really wow your guests. Using a slow cooker is the way to go; the hot chocolate can be made entirely in the slow cooker and kept warm throughout the night. Leave a ladle in the cooker for guests to spoon the hot chocolate into their mugs. Get this top-rated recipe for slow cooker hot chocolate.

Toppings

Now for the fun part! It's really up to you how crazy you want to go with your toppings. It's easy to go overboard and overwhelm your guests. Remember, you can only fit so much in a mug, so choose your toppings wisely! Here are some ideas:

Booze (Adults Only!)

If this is an adult-only hot chocolate bar, it's only made better with booze. From vodka to bourbon to whiskey, there is more than one way to spike your cocoa. Consider getting fun, flavored vodka like caramel, peppermint, or cherry. You also can't go wrong with Irish cream or peppermint schnapps.

Cookies

While hot chocolate is the star of the show here, a plate of cookies never hurt anything. Biscotti is great for dipping in hot chocolate. Other seasonal cookies include: ginger cookies, shortbread, and sugar cookies.

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