A Hot Chocolate Bar is a fun way to entertain and feed your guests at the same time. It’s always a huge hit at my holiday parties. Today, I’m sharing how to create an awesome hot chocolate bar your guests will love.
I love entertaining. I love creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for family and friends to flock to. But even more specifically, I love when people are actually excited to come. When they start asking me months in advance if I will be hosting something, I know they enjoy it. For the last 6 years or so I’ve done a hot chocolate bar during the holidays. I’ve been shocked to learn how much guests love this. They’re talking about it even weeks after the event. So today I’m going to share how I create a hot chocolate bar.
I will share all the things I’ve learned through (mistakes and) the years. Guests naturally want something to do. They enjoy being entertained. Guests also typically wait to be served and even being the first one to slice into a dish can be awkward. So giving them something that they can’t wait to dig into is a great ice breaker. The hot chocolate bar also get your guests to serve themselves and be happy about it! It takes the pressure off you to constantly refresh drinks. I have found the hot chocolate bar is a total win all the way around! Let me show you how to do it!
How To Set Up Your Hot Chocolate Bar
Slow Cooker Recommendations
I recommend using a slow cooker to keep your hot chocolate warm over several hours. The size of the slow cooker is dependent upon how much you are serving.
There are 4 cups to a quart. Consider that one cup is about 8 ounces. Most mugs and disposable coffee cups are typically around 12 ounces which is greater than a cup. Also consider that guests may have more than one cup. Here is what I recommend:
- 3-4 qt slow cooker for 8-12 cups
- 5-7 qt slow cooker for 12-20 cups
- 8 qt slow cooker for 20 or more cups
The slow cooker can hold more than I’ve recommended, but when the contents are piping hot, it is best not to fill the slow cooker to the rim. Always use caution when leaving hot appliances around your guests.
The Hot Chocolate
You may have your favorite hot chocolate recipe. However, if you’re struggling to find a good one, look no further. I have the best hot chocolate recipe you will ever find! It’s creamy and decadent. It’s absolutely delicious and always has rave reviews from my guests. I’m always asked for the recipe, so I’ve shared it here.
I’m going to give you a great tip: Reynolds Slow cooker Liners are the best invention ever! Okay, maybe not the best like electricity or running water, but still amazing. I don’t use a lot of disposable things, but I highly recommend these. They make cleaning your Crockpot a 30 second chore. They fit all slow cookers. No scrubbing or soaking your dirty slow cooker. Just put the liner in like you would a trash bag on a trash can. When you’re done, gather and toss in the trash. Easy! You can find the in the store near the Reynolds wrap and sandwich bags.
Cups and Mugs
For small get-togethers I recommend using glass cups or mugs. In an intimate setting, actual dishes create a cozy, personal atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to pull out your beautiful china that rarely gets used. If you’re saving it for the Queen, I hate to tell you this, but she’s never coming. Don’t save it. The time is now.
Disposable cups are great for large parties. Otherwise you will need to keep a constant supply of fresh cups. If you don’t have many, you’ll end up spending the evening chasing down used cups for washing. After many years of hosting I can tell you, people set their cups down and can’t remember which one was theirs, so they simply grab a new cup. It creates endless work for you if you’re hosting a large party.
If you’re hosting, particularly a large party, prepare yourself for spills. They can and will happen. I highly recommend doing what you can to minimize spills and the ensuing damage they cause. That means, getting disposable cups with lids! They actually do help. I also recommend getting sleeves for cups, because even though everyone knows hot chocolate is hot, burns still occur. Do your part as a host to make things safe. I’ve inserted a link on this page to the ones I use. They aren’t fancy, but the neutral color means I can use the unused cups for any other parties during the year.
This is where the fun begins. For whipped cream, I just put the can of spray whip in a bowl with ice. The really fun part is watching your guests pile on chocolate mints, peanut butter, or marshmallows. Cherries, nuts, butterscotch and caramel are all great additions. Adults love when you provide liquors along with the toppings. Great options are rum, coconut rum (Malibu), Irish Cream (Baileys), Raspberry (Chambord), Hazelnut (Frangelico) and Coffee (Kahlua). In my Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included different pairing recipes!
Here is a tip: I put the toppings in mason jars. This is especially helpful if you’ll be using your hot chocolate bar for several events. Fill your jars with toppings. Label them, so people don’t have to guess or taste test. Make sure to provide spoons or some utensil for serving and to avoid cross contamination. When not in use, pop the lid on and put it away or just leave it on the set up (if it doesn’t need refrigeration).
The theme you do is totally up to you. My personal favorite is galvanized metal, buffalo plaid, and kraft paper, but feel free to try things out. If you are super uncreative and have no idea how to pull it together, look no further. I’ve made a Hot Chocolate Bar Printable to help you! Buy it and follow the instructions. Print the sign on photo paper and put it in a document frame or trim it down to size and put it in an 8×10 frame. Print out the labels on full sheet sticker paper. Then cut out and stick them to your favorite container. Pair with red napkins and accessories.
In the Hot Chocolate Bar Printable, I’ve included
- A Buffalo Plaid Hot Chocolate Bar Sign
- Labels for Toppings
- Adult and Child-Friendly Recipes (to encourage creativity)
- Shopping List
- Use a spoon rest to minimize sticky counters. (If you don’t have a spoon rest, a bowl or bread plate works just fine)
- Always place napkins at your bar. Spills and drips happen.
- Place coasters where your guests congregate to minimize damage to furniture. (Liquid and heat damages wood)
- I suggest using stirs for people to stir their mix-ins. They create much less waste than disposable spoons.
- Paper straws or wooden spoons also add a special touch.
That’s it! I hope this post inspires you to do something fun! I’d love to hear what fun things you do at your parties!
Learn more about the Best Hot Chocolate Recipe you’ll ever find!
If you’re looking for other tools to help you at Christmas, try my Christmas Planner Printable