Hot Chocolate Bar

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. 

Hot chocolate bar

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.

Toppings

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).

Decorations

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

Other Stuff

  • 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
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The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

Get into the Holiday spirit, by completing the Ultimate Christmas Bucket List.

The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When my husband and I got married, we decided to start a tradition. We started an activity Advent calendar. Instead of stuffing our advent calendar with sweets or small toys, we fill it with activities. This has really helped us bond as a family. It creates memories for our children and encourages us to spend time together. Starting December 1, we do a Christmas or Holiday themed activity every day as a family.

It’s a wonderful way to get you out of your rut and into the Christmas spirit. We use an actual advent calendar with the activity written on little slips of paper. These are easily moved around if our schedule changes. Every year, I rotate a few of them out. If you don’t have an advent calendar, you can simply write them on your calendar. Alternatively, you can put the slips of paper in a jar or you can use the FREE Christmas Advent Calendar printable I’ve made for you. Just cross them off as you complete them. I’ve listed 75 different activities you can do to complete the Ultimate Christmas Bucket List. Some require planning, while others can be done in a moment’s notice.

 

advent calendar

Our Advent Calendar

The Ultimate Bucket List

1. Bake Gingerbread Cookies

2. Watch Home Alone

3. Trim the Tree

4. Make a Christmas Wreath

5. Take a Family Christmas Photo

6. Make Christmas Candy

7. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life

8. Build a Gingerbread House

9. Make an Ornament

10. Visit Santa

11. Read the Polar Express

12. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas

13. Go to a Holiday Party

14. Drink Hot Apple Cider

15. Go Sledding

16. Visit a Christmas Market

17. Build a Snowman

18. Watch Elf

19. Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

20. Bake and Decorate Sugar Cookies

21. Enjoy Eggnog

22. Go Christmas Shopping

23. Send Christmas Cards

24. Watch A Christmas Story

25. Wrap Gifts

26. Listen to Christmas Music

27. Attend a Performance of The Nutcracker

28. Make Paper Snowflakes

29. Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater

30. Watch Love Actually

31. Drink Hot Cocoa

32. See Christmas Lights

33. Go Outside and Make Snow Angels

34. Make a Popcorn Garland

35. Watch The Polar Express in Your Pajamas

36. Host or Attend a Cookie Exchange

37. Mail a Letter to Santa

38. Hang Mistletoe

39. Watch White Christmas

40. Go Ice Skating

41. Find a Fun Way to Display Christmas Cards

42. Give Gifts to Your Neighbors

43. Make a DIY Gift for Someone

44. Watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

45. Cuddle by the Fire

46. Read the Nativity Story from the Bible (Luke 1-2 & Matthew 1-2)

47. Do a Random Act of Kindness

48. Watch or Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas

49. Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

50. Watch or Read A Christmas Carol

51. Make Sugar Plums

52. Send a Care Package to Someone in the Military

53. Watch Miracle on 34th Street

54. Roast Marshmallows

55. Donate to a Toy Drive

56. Go Christmas Caroling

57. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas

58. Thank a Mail Carrier

59. Hang Stockings

60. Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter

61. Watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

62. Make Mason Jar Snow Globes

63. Attend a Holiday Party

64. Attend or Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange

65.  Make a Christmas Centerpiece

66. Create an Advent Wreath

67. Watch Christmas Chronicles 

68. Attend Christmas Mass or Church Service

70. Research and Share How Other Countries Celebrate Christmas

71. Make Fudge

72. Watch Jingle All the Way

73. Cut or Choose a Christmas Tree

74. Make Your Own Gift Wrap (kraft paper & paint)

75. Decorate Your Porch for Christmas

 

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Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte

slow cooker pumpkin spice latte

Living in Texas, we don’t have much of a Fall here, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying all things Autumn. Today I’m sharing one of my most favorite recipes of all time. Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte. Its divine. I make it for all occasions, but it’s espcially good for entertaining. Guests can serve themselves and best of all, it’s stays hot. Did I mention the house smells delicious too?  I make it for playdates (mommies love pumpkin spice). I make it for dinner parties and Thanksgiving so coffee is always ready with dessert. Try it and you’ll love it, best of all, it’s totally fresh. No syrups!

Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte

This recipe is great for everyday entertaining. It's a simple fall recipe you make ahead of time for a crowd. It combines hot coffee and milk with fresh pumpkin and fall spices. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: autumn, coffee for a crowd, crockpot, drinks, entertaining, fall, latte, pumpkin, slowcooker, spice
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 12 Cups Coffee Hot, Strongly Brewed
  • 6 Cups Whole Milk or Half and Half
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree Canned

Instructions

  • Add milk and vanilla to warm crockpot 
  • Add strongly brewed coffee ( I use a French press to control the strength)
  • Add sugar, stirring well
  • Add pumpkin puree and stir frequently until fully incorporated
  • Cover and cook on high. It reaches peak temperature within 2 hours. 
  • (Optional) Serve with whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon stick

Notes

Notes: For a sugar-free option, Splenda does well in lieu of sugar. For late night serving, you can use decaffeinated coffee. 

Looking for other great fall recipes? Try Zuppa Toscana Soup

 

Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte first appeared on My Beautiful Mess