To help our guests navigate the bar, we provided some instructions: “Fill a mug with hot cocoa, then find your favorite fixings...” followed by hot ideas for creative cocoa combinations. Preparation included taste-tasting new recipes every night for most of December—somebody had to do it! For the custom cocoa concept to work, we needed variations that could start with the same base, a simple but decadent mix of Guittard Grand Cocoa Drinking Chocolate and whole milk, and easily take on new flavors (S’mores! Peanut Butter Fluff! Salted Caramel!) with a few key additions. Check out our list of recipes below...
To create a cozy, rustic vibe for the bar, I started with an antique buffet table and added an eclectic mix of serving pieces and chalkboard-inspired signs and labels. Here’s how it came together, plus a few tips:
- For the chalkboard-style signs and labels, I downloaded a free Baby It’s Cold Outside sign and labels for the mugs and toppings. To make the list of cocoa combos, I downloaded a chalkboard background and holiday-ready chalkboard fonts. I then printed everything at OfficeMax for less than $2. Tip: Print signs to fit frames you already have and temporarily swap out your wedding photos come cocoa time.
- To show off the toppings, I used a mix of glass jars and white serving pieces (I loved putting this little set to use). Tip: Don’t be afraid to repurpose what you’ve got in your cabinets. A cake stand made for the perfect way to elevate some of the toppings, and a tea cup held a handful of stirrers.
- To complete the rustic look, I used twine to tie on the labels and put out wooden scooping spoons.
- I made use of the buffet’s drawers by filling them with extra tea cups to have nearby.
The custom hot cocoa bar made for a fun, creative addition to our Christmas Eve festivities. My dad called it the best hot cocoa he’d ever had in his life, and my brothers invented their own recipes by adding almost every topping to their drinks. This DIY bar would also be perfect for a New Year’s Eve party (just add some 21-and-up fixings, like Bailey’s Irish Cream and Peppermint Schnapps), a winter wedding or shower, or just to have out as decor—and easy cocoa access—all season.
P.S. See what happened last year when we hosted Christmas Eve.