Build a Hot Chocolate Bar for Your Next Winter Party

Trust us—the whipped cream-rimmed smiles will make building a homemade hot chocolate bar for your loved ones well worth it!

A store-bought package of hot cocoa mix stirred into hot water often does the trick, but a special occasion calls for creamy, homemade and decked out with a whole assortment of goodies.

Set a date and call your friends. Follow these simple steps for a chocolaty, swoon-worthy setup all your party guests will love.

Start by Simmering

You can’t go wrong with any of our hot chocolate recipes, but we think the contest-winning Fluffy Hot Chocolate recipe is the perfect base for guests’ hot cocoa concoctions. Unless you know your crew’s preferences and can cater to their tastes specifically with your recipe selection, we suggest you stick to a basic recipe and allow your friends and family to customize their beverages themselves.

Pour the prepared cocoa into your trusty slow cooker and let it simmer on low so it stays warm and steamy-good throughout the party. Add a ladle to encourage guests to keep coming back for more.

Mug It Out

A cozy drink cannot be fully enjoyed without a cute mug to go along with it. Set out a collection of mugs for guests to grab. The well-loved, reusable glasses will make your guests feel more at home (and their hands less hot!) than if you were to use plastic or paper alternatives. If you don’t have enough mugs in your own stash at home, head to a consignment store and stock up. Bonus points if they’re seasonal or just plain funny!

(Here’s what else you should look for at the thrift store.)

Mix It Up

Chocolate needn’t be the only flavor filling up your mug—the possibilities are endless with the right hot chocolate add-ins. Delightfully decorated jars of surprising mix-ins such as creamy peanut butter, instant espresso, maple syrup, vanilla extract and eggnog allow party guests to create their hot chocolate just the way they like it. Label the different ingredients for easy identification.

Top It Off

Move over, marshmallows! There are a million and one unexpected yet equally tasty toppings to put on your cup o’ cocoa. Give guests the option to go classic with toppings such as marshmallows, chocolate shavings, cinnamon, whipped cream and caramel, but make sure to save table space for the more adventurous options: crushed peppermint sticks, rolled wafer cookies, toasted coconut and even chocolate puffed cereal. You can also fancy it up with this hot chocolate Cool Whip hack.

Jam jars, ramekins and small bowls are a pretty way to offer up these goodies. Just don’t forget the serving utensils.

Ready, Set, Spike!

Warm up your mug even more with the option for the addition of boozy spirits. The 21-and-over crowd will love stir-ins such as whiskey, peppermint schnapps, Irish cream (our homemade rendition is positively irresistible) and kahlua. Now, crank up the holiday tunes, indulge in your customized cocoa and be merry, because, hey, it’s a celebration!

Nibble While You Sip
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Annamarie Higley
Annamarie is Taste of Home’s Shopping Editor. In this role, she’s able to channel her affinity for online shopping and novel, cost-effective products into helpful insights, recommendations and roundups for our readers. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, crafting and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.