How to Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar

Celebrate the season with a DIY hot cocoa bar.

Three women with hot chocolate mugs
Photo: Getty Images/svetikd

When the temperature starts to dip, but you still want to gather with friends, what better excuse to throw a hot chocolate bar party? Whether you're hosting an after-dinner event or a catch-up with friends, hot chocolate bars are always a great idea.

Setting up a hot chocolate bar is incredibly easy — and fun. Not to mention, the toppings (candy canes, marshmallows) are so cute and double as decor. Pulling together a hot chocolate bar doesn't need to break the bank either — read on for our best DIY hot chocolate bar tips.

Choose the Right Space and Table for Your Hot Chocolate Bar


The first thing to consider is 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, make a clear starting and ending point to your hot chocolate bar with mugs on one end, followed by hot chocolate, and then toppings.


Choose a table that comfortably fits the mugs and food items to reduce the chance of them getting knocked over and spilled. Use a tablecloth for decor and easy cleanup. Mason jars make great topping containers. For an added touch, tie ribbons around the rims and hang mini chalkboard labels from them to identify the toppings. Consider using cute, small wooden spoons as serving utensils for your toppings. Cake stands are great for displaying toppings and bringing a layered look to your hot chocolate bar.

Supplies You'll Need:

Once you finalize the space and table, it's time to gather the supplies. The great thing about hot chocolate bars is that they're customizable. Is it for a kid's birthday party? Forget the booze. Is it an adults-only dinner party? Add some extra frills. Take what you need from this list and leave what you don't.


While disposable coffee cups might look more uniform, we love 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 supplement with disposable coffee cups.

Hot Chocolate

The most important part of any hot chocolate bar is chocolate. Skip the mix and go for homemade to impress 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 serve themselves (so you can enjoy the party). Get this top-rated recipe for slow cooker hot chocolate.


Now for the fun part! Which toppings to serve is up to you, but don't go overboard. You don't want to overwhelm your guests. Remember, you can only fit so much in a mug, so choose your toppings wisely! Here are some of our favorites:

Booze (Adults Only!)

If you're hosting an adult-only hot chocolate bar, it's only made better with booze. From vodka to bourbon to whiskey, there are many fantastic ways to spike your cocoa. Consider getting fun, flavored vodkas like caramel, peppermint, or cherry. You also can't go wrong with Irish cream or peppermint schnapps.


While hot chocolate is the star of the show here, a plate of cookies can't hurt. Cookies — like biscotti — are great for dipping in hot chocolate. Seasonal cookies like ginger cookies, shortbread, and sugar cookies are a nice added touch as well.


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