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Pass The Cocoa

The very second that we have cleaned up Thanksgiving I began to crave hot chocolate. I think the Macy's Day Parade + the start of holiday decorating just flips a hot cocoa switch in my brain.  Years ago when the kids were really little and lived off of the chocolate in a cup I set up our first hot cocoa station and never looked back.  I love a fully dressed hot cocoa, and so do they, so I gather up some of my favorite toppings + the cutest little accoutrements and a hot cocoa bar is born. 

For the last few years our hot chocolate station has lived here on the chest in the breakfast room.  It is perfect for them to make their cup at the Keurig and then to step away and be able to dress it on the chest.  I find that the mornings when we have family and friends over the kitchen is the first thing to get clogged up so this helps with the "traffic" in the kitchen.  When we have people over I will set out the whip cream in a ice bucket so they can add it and it stays cold.  I mean, can you have hot cocoa without whipped cream?

I thought I would share my go tos and my sources for our favorite items just in case you need some tips to set up your own.  It really is so very easy and anything you add will be perfect, but I do suggest you try one, even if you do it for just an evening or a weekend if leaving it out is not your thing. 

First, make a list of the things you wish to include. The best way for me was to think of how I liked my hot chocolate and then expand from there.  I prefer mine with peppermint hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and then adorned with sprinkles.  My girl fills her cup of the same type of hot cocoa with all the marshmallows her cup can hold.  My husband just likes it straight up ... and my older son likes to spike his and then add marshmallows and sprinkles.  My middle child likes it with marshmallows + sprinkles. Clearly we like it all just a bit differently.  So from there my list would include ... hot chocolate (peppermint + regular), marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, and something for the oldest to spike his with, preferably Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. My husband likes his straight up with a mug buddy if I can find the gingerbread men at Trader Joes.  They are his favorite part and I am convinced he only has the cocoa to eat the gingerbread hugger. 

I usually hit Target + World Market for sprinkles, hot chocolate, and fun things to add in.  In the past I have used peppermint spoons when I could find them, and all the fun marshmallows.  I have great luck finding fun marshmallows at both Target and Homegoods.  The pink striped ones are a Homegoods score.  And Trader Joes, that is the source for my husband's beloved gingerbread mug friends. 

Yes, white marshmallows are perfect, but when you can find pink and white stripes why not get those instead??  I find full marshmallows at Home Goods + World Market and they are always a huge hit.  This year Target also had mug toppers, marshmallows that float on the top of the cocoa, which would be a great add in.  They also have really cute sprinkles varieties.  I tend to buy all the sprinkles and then drag them out all year long for different occasions.  Red and white ones are perfect for Valentines + Fourth of July, and solid green words for spring and St. Patrick's Day and always for ice cream and desserts you want to add just a little something extra. Don't fret if you go overboard with your sprinkle purchases, you can reuse them for other things. 

To set up the bar I start with a great tray.  This one is from Emily McCarthy and it is so big and works perfectly for my space.  Then I add in the hot cocoa and this year I divided it between the cute Santa cookie jar + the glass compote.  You can pull out and use so many fun things to display your items, there are absolutely no rules. 

Here is a run down of all the vessels I used and what I put inside and on top of each. 

Mint julep cup - candy canes
Pink cabbage bowls (small ones) - sprinkles + silver plate spoons (demitasse is the best size)
Glass jar with a lid (add a bow)  - crushed peppermint 
Glass cake plate - Christmas cookies and then when they were gone I swapped it for a gingerbread house
Revere bowl - marshmallows (it's ok if they get a bit stale, they will last longer in the hot cocoa)
Small lazy Susan - to go cups (always Homegoods) + Jackson Morgan 
Spooners - mug toppers + more marshmallows

This is the area I have the most fun with ... finding fun things to hold my goodies.  Every item I buy needs its own vessel, it makes it way more fun that way. 

This year I added two things I haven't added before, but I love.  The first is a candle.  I love that I can light it in the evening and the sparkle just makes the set up even more festive. The second is my advent calendar.  I have not had one for many years and I have loved opening a door a day with my morning coffee.  Anything that creates a magical feeling is perfect for me. ⭐

And do not forget to tie ribbons on anything that works.  I really think adding some bows and a vintage piece, or three, makes it even more special. I found this darling cookie jar while I was getting more marshmallows at Homegoods and I thought he was just darling.  In the past I have added vintage trees, bowls of ornaments, and even a bit of light garland.  Fairy light in the bottom of the tray is also a great idea for some fun. 

I buy a number of different hot chocolates, depending on what I can find and from referrals that others tell me they love.  If you are looking to make your own for a crowd I loved the idea of this recipe, I can not wait to try it myself.  Also, here is this one if you like to make it and gift it.  I think this in jars tied with ribbons would be so very fun. 

The hot cocoa station is one thing my children look forward to each year.  They had have it for about 12 years now and I think it would feel weird without it.  I think the best part for me is that they instantly know what I am doing when I clear the space.  One year I found them all sitting at the table talking and when I was done I noticed they were waiting for their first hot cocoa of the year.  It has become a tradition for us, and one I truly love. 

Happy Monday

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