How to Make a DIY Hot Chocolate Bar

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Setting up a DIY hot chocolate bar at your next party or gathering is sure to be a huge hit with guests! See how easy it is to set up and check out our list of the recommend supplies and most popular toppings!

DIY Hot Chocolate Bar Setup

A few years ago (okay about ten years ago), we hosted our first multi-family Christmas Eve dinner. My aunt had previously hosted this annual holiday gathering and was ready for a break. We had just completed a major addition to the house (a new kitchen) and were eager to have a turn to host. It turns out that we did a pretty good job with hosting, because we have now held the Christmas Eve get-together for for about 9 of the last 10 years! We look forward to welcoming our family over each year and always have a huge assortment of yummy food and drink.

Several dishes that we made that first year are repeated each and every year because they are such huge crowd pleasers. One of the staples each and every Christmas Eve on our counter is the DIY Hot Chocolate Bar! Everyone loves this tasty feature and while it has taken various forms over the years, it’s always there in some capacity.

Last fall I attended a DIY craft workshop for a fundraiser and the project that I chose to make was a hot cocoa bar box! I knew that this box would be put to good use. Not only would it make our Christmas Eve hot chocolate bar even easier to setup, it would also come in handy for other cold weather gatherings!

Here is the box after I finished staining and painting it:

board and brush hot cocoa bar box

Top Tips for Setting Up Your Hot Chocolate Bar

Here are some of my top tips for setting up a successful hot chocolate bar:

  • Place your hot chocolate bar on a very sturdy surface, such as a countertop. If you have small children attending your party, make sure that the hot water dispenser (and other ingredients) are kept up and out of reach.
  • Cute mugs look great on display, but might be impractical for bigger groups. (Lots of dishes to wash, potential for breaking, etc.) Insulated to-go style cups with lids are a wonderful option for serving the hot chocolate. The disposable cups are also a great choice if you are setting up your hot chocolate bar outside. You won’t have to worry about any broken mugs.
  • Keep any refrigerated items (like whipped cream) in your refrigerator until your guests start to arrive.
  • If using disposable cups, place a Sharpie marker next to the hot cocoa bar for guests to write their names on their cups.
  • Start heating your water well before your first guests begin to arrive. Our urn heats up pretty fast, so we usually turn it on about 30-45 minutes before the party start time.

Hot Chocolate Bar Water and Cups

Best Equipment for a DIY Hot Cocoa Bar

Here are some of our favorite items and pieces of equipment to use with our setup:

I found some cute Santa themed plastic cups at the dollar store and used one to hold our spoons.

Santa Cup Dollar Tree

Popular Toppings and Treats to Include in Your Hot Chocolate Bar

The sky is truly the limit when it comes to possible toppings for your hot cocoa. I know that we always have whipped cream on hand and usually candy canes and sprinkles. We swap different toppings in and out but have rounded up some of the crowd favorites from the last few years.

Check out some of the most popular toppings and other mix-ins for your bar:

DIY Hot Chocolate Bar Jars

Yummy Treats to Serve with Hot Chocolate

Your guests are going to love adding their own toppings to their hot chocolate! As you plan out the rest of your party menu, consider these tasty treats to compliment the hot chocolate!

  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Rice Krispies Treats
  • Cupcakes
  • Chocolate-dipped pretzels
  • Soft pretzel tray
  • Stroopwafels
  • Chocolate-dipped strawberries

Holiday Desserts to Try

We have a bunch of great recipes on the blog that would compliment your Hot Chocolate Bar. Lots of sweet and salty treat ideas that are perfect for any holiday get-together.  Take a look at some of our favorites:

Dessert Charcuterie Final

I hope this helps to spark some fun ideas for your own hot chocolate bar!

The fall and winter seasons are really the perfect time to have a little fun with seasonal treats and a hot chocolate bar. I love watching party guests arrive and be so excited when they see the DIY cocoa station. It doesn’t seem to matter what age you are – both young and old always love this addition to parties!

Let me know if you have any different suggestions for setting up a hot chocolate station! Do you use the same equipment or something different? Are there toppings that your family and friends LOVE that we didn’t have on our list of suggestions? Definitely drop us a comment and tell us about it!

And if you are new to hot cocoa bars and you decide to give it a try, let us know how it works out for you! If you post a pic on social media, feel free to tag us – we’d love to see it! 


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