A hot cocoa bar is a fun addition to any holiday party, and also a perfect way for your family to warm up throughout the winter months. These tips and free printables will help you create the perfect hot cocoa bar for your family and holiday guests!
I put together a hot cocoa bar during the holidays a few years ago and my family and friends loved it. The students that I tutor had fun making their own cup of cocoa before they started their tutoring lessons, and it was also a huge hit at the holiday parties we hosted.
We used it so much that I kept it set up until after Valentine’s Day. It’s now become my youngest son Max’s favorite new tradition. You can read more about our Christmas traditions in my holiday home tour post.
Hot Cocoa Bar Ideas & Tips
I set up our hot cocoa bar on my buffet next to the kitchen. It’s a convenient location, and it makes a super cute holiday display! Having items at different heights makes the display more visually appealing. I use cake stands to elevate some of my items. Decorative boxes, baskets, books or a tiered tray would work too.
Mugs and Mug Tree
We had 20-year-old Christmas mugs from when my kids were little that were in very sad shape. So new mugs were a must when I decided to create my hot cocoa bar. I found these cute mugs at Target.
I checked my local Target a few days ago and the mugs I purchased are no longer available. In fact, their selection was pretty slim. I found some in the Bullseye Shop and a few in the kitchen section.
Hobby Lobby had a much bigger selection. They were located in a few different holiday aisles including one that had a section dedicated to hot cocoa bar items. Aren’t they adorable?
If you need to purchase mugs, keep in mind how long you plan on having your hot cocoa bar set up. You may not want Christmas mugs out after the holidays.
Hosting a holiday party and need disposable cups? Party City has cute buffalo plaid cups that can be used all winter and go perfectly with my free printables.
Hot Cocoa Bar Toppings List
The list of ideas for toppings is endless. You can make your hot cocoa bar as simple or elaborate as you want. For every day, I keep the toppings simple. When we are hosting a party, I add more options. This is a list of some things you may want to include:
- Candy Canes
- Chocolate Chips
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Crushed Nuts
- Crushed Peppermint
- Pirouette Cookies
- Toffee Bits
- Whipped Cream – I like making my own using honey or maple syrup as the sweetener.
I know that this list contains several sugary toppings with a bunch of processed ingredients. You may be thinking how does a person who blogs about clean eating have a hot cocoa bar with all this junk in her house? If you have been following me, you have heard me talk about my 80 – 90 percent healthy and 15% FUN philosophy.
Finding balance has been a big part of my clean eating journey. Including fun choices 15% of the time has helped me to find that balance.
Ok, back to the fun! I found adorable jars to hold all of the toppings at Dollar Tree a few weeks ago. I had fun working with my graphic designer Kimberley to create free printable tags for the jars. We made sure to leave some blank, so you can customize them using a chalk pen.
Candy canes, cinnamon sticks, pirouette cookies, and peppermint sticks are fun options for stirrers. I also found some great disposable stirrers on Amazon.
You may want to hide some of the FUN toppings from your teenage son. Otherwise, he might devour them all in one day. I may or may not be speaking from experience. 🙂
Hot Cocoa isn’t just for the kids! When hosting an adult party, add your favorite mixers to the hot cocoa bar. Your guests will enjoy adding a splash of holiday cheer to their hot cup of cocoa! You probably want to hide the holiday cheer from your teenager as well! 😉
Hot Cocoa Sign
One of my favorite new additions to my hot cocoa bar this year is the sign that Kimberley designed. It matches the topping tags and I just love the buffalo plaid mug! I bought the rustic wood frame at Hobby Lobby.
The sign I was using previously was from Etsy and had a Christmas theme. I like that this sign can be used all winter long. You can download the FREE sign and the tags for the toppings at the bottom of this post.
I made this hot cocoa banner last year with a banner kit from Hobby Lobby. I had to get creative with the second O in cocoa. The kit only included two Os. I used a black marker and a chalk pen to change the Q to an O. You know you wouldn’t have noticed if I wouldn’t have mentioned it.
My local Hobby Lobby did not have the exact kit I used when I checked last week. However, they have several other DIY banners to choose from.
You can’t have a hot cocoa bar without the hot cocoa! We like using homemade hot cocoa. Max helped me come up with a recipe last year. You can find our Easy Hot Cocoa Recipe here. We keep our cocoa powder in a jar on the hot cocoa bar.
You’ll need a dispenser to keep your hot cocoa warm. I recommend something insulated. I bought my ceramic hot cocoa dispenser from Target many years ago but to be honest, it’s not the best. It’s super cute but it doesn’t keep the cocoa hot and you have to have it filled pretty high for the hot cocoa to come out. I found several options on Amazon.
If you are purchasing a hot cocoa mix for your hot cocoa bar, check out this review from Eat This, Not That!
Hot Cocoa Bar Location
You do not have to have a buffet, or a huge space to set up your hot cocoa bar. I created a few examples of other ways to set up a hot cocoa station.
A bar cart is a great option! I purchased this one several years ago from a local FaceBook garage sale page for $10. It was in sad shape, but I knew a good cleaning and some spray paint would do the trick. This handy little cart gets a lot of use around here. You may have seen it in my recent holiday guest room post.
A kitchen counter works well too. We have a small counter space next to our stove, which is a very convenient location for everyday use. I stacked the mugs instead of using the mug tree.
A flat serving tray or tiered tray would be another excellent choice because it allows you to set your hot cocoa bar up just about anywhere!
What do you think? Will you be setting up a hot cocoa bar this winter?
If you do, here is a quick checklist of the items I used:
- Hot Cocoa
- Mug Tree
- Containers/Jars for Toppings
- Cake Stand
- Hot Cocoa Sign/Frame for Sign
- Hot Cocoa Banner
- Labels for Toppings
If you have ever set up a hot cocoa bar, please share your ideas and tips!
Don’t forget to grab your free printables!