Good Life

Seasonal Sip

Warm up a winter gathering with a creative hot chocolate bar

The cooler weather is upon us, which can mean only one thing: It’s hot chocolate season! If you’re planning an upcoming gathering, add a little sugar (and spice) to the event by offering a hot chocolate bar to your guests.

For an impressive display, start with creamy, dark hot chocolate (recipe below), and line up beautiful mugs on a table draped in lush fall colors. As an alternative to mugs, you might purchase paper cups and write customized holiday messages on them for each guest.

Now comes the best part: the toppings display. For a festive look, use mason jars in different sizes, wrapped with colorful ribbon or baker’s twine. Fill each jar with a different topping and use card stock and a felt-tip pen to identify the contents.

For toppings, consider an array of sweet, savory and colorful items, such as:

  • Toasted coconut
  • Crushed peppermint
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Chopped white chocolate pieces
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Toffee bits
  • Dark chocolate sauce
  • Caramel sauce
  • Whipped cream
  • Chopped dark or milk chocolate pieces

Traditional Hot Chocolate Recipe


  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 16 ounces dark chocolate candy bar, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons sugar

In a large saucepan, heat whipping cream, milk, chocolate and sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Pour into mugs. (Makes eight servings.)

Have guests top off their drinks with a candy cane stirrer and enjoy!

Tea for Two (or more)

For a twist on the hot chocolate bar, consider a tea bar with all the accoutrements. Simply set up a station with a carafe of hot water and cups, saucers and spoons, along with a variety of teas. Invite guests to select their own enhancements, which may include:

  • Sweeteners, such as organic honey or sugar roses
  • Milk or creamer
  • Lemon verbena or lemon thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Shaved ginger
  • Spearmint leaves

© vasanty; Tim Ur; AdobeStock