How To Set Up A Hot Chocolate Bar (Hot Cocoa Bar Ideas)

Last updated on November 6th, 2022 at 01:58 pm

Nothing says “winter” more than a warming cup of cocoa during the cooler fall and winter months. So why not set up a hot chocolate bar at your holiday celebrations to add some cheer!

You can set one up as early as thanksgiving, have one ready at Christmas and/or celebrate New Years with a delicious hot chocolate station.

I’ve even made one for a winter themed baby shower (Baby it’s cold outside!)

Below are tips to make it delicious, special and a welcoming part of your home this year.

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How To Set Up A Hot Chocolate Bar (Hot Cocoa Bar Ideas)


how to set up a hot chocolate bar

First things first, decide where to put your hot chocolate bar. If you’re planning it for a party, you might want it in the food serving area or dining room.  

Great options are to use the dining room buffet, hutch or even a bar cart. If it’s a family celebration for the holiday season, maybe a corner in the kitchen is the best place for it as everyone tends to congregate there anyways!

What to Include

hot cocoa bar ideas

Here’s the fun part!

There are so many yummy ingredients that you can offer when it comes to creating a hot chocolate bar – you can go all out and have a range of options or keep it simple with only your favorites.

If you’re setting up a hot chocolate station for a holiday party, you might want to have several batches of hot chocolate already made and staying warm in a crock pot.  

Here’s a great slow cooker hot chocolate recipe from Saving Talents that even gives a few flavor variations. Savvy Mama Lifestyle has a delicious mint version (my favorite) that’s perfect for the slow cooker as well.

If you’re looking for an “adults only” hot chocolate recipe, check out this Baileys Hot Chocolate from Amy Treasure.

Another way to serve a larger crowd is to use hot chocolate bombs – they are the newest winter drink trend.

hot chocolate bomb bar station

Hot Chocolate Bombs are individual chocolate balls that are full of hot cocoa mix, when hot milk is poured over top the chocolate shell opens up and the bomb explodes in your mug.

At your station, each guest would pick their ‘bomb’ and pour over warm milk that you can keep in an electric kettle or crock pot.

We asked some of our favorite recipe bloggers for their best hot chocolate bomb recipes. You can find them below or you can buy some on Etsy.

Etsy – Hot Chocolate Bombs

Note: Amazon has hot cocoa bomb molds

Hot Chocolate Bomb Recipes

Homemade Hot Cocoa Balls with Marshmallows and Peanut Butter!


These Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate Bombs are filled with peanut butter flavor and marshmallows. Included is an easy step-by-step tutorial so you can make them right at home!

Turtle Holiday Hot Cocoa Bombs


Turtles are my absolute favorite chocolate holiday treat! These hot cocoa bombs have all the same ingredients to wow your guests.

Minnie Mouse Hot Cocoa Bombs


These Minnie Mouse inspired hot chocolate bombs are great for kids to enjoy.

3-Ingredient VEGAN Hot Chocolate Bombs


Vegans or anyone with a dairy allergy can enjoy your hot chocolate bar too with these vegan hot chocolate bombs.

Hot Chocolate Bombs Hack!

Use this ingenious hack to make hot chocolate bombs in just minutes. (And save some money too!) If you have a large crowd, this hack can help keep costs down – the kids can help stuff them too.


Or you might just want to go the route of providing individual packets of hot chocolate mix, especially if it’s a bar that will stay up semi-permanently.

Make sure that you have a carafe of hot water available at all times, or an electric kettle that’s always full of water so that it’s quick and easy to prepare.

Festive Cups and Mugs Are Essential (of Course!)

There are TONS of festive mugs and cups out there.   Mismatched or all the same type both work well.

Amazon has these disposable hot chocolate cups, but if you are able to use reusable mugs  it’s a nicer and more sustainable choice.

Make sure you have napkins and stirrers, too.

hot chocolate bar toppings

A really cool stirrer idea comes from  Betty Crocker.   Add chocolate and sprinkles to a spoon so guests can mix right into their hot chocolate! This is a simple way to get a “wow!” from your guests.


hot cocoa bar ideas

Now that you have a recipe for your hot chocolate, you’ll want to provide a range of delicious toppings.

To make your display cohesive, use pretty bowls or mason jars to hold the toppings. Also, make sure to provide a spoon for each topping, so that your guests can easily scoop out what they want.

Here are some topping ideas:

  • marshmallows
  • dark chocolate chips ““ dark, white or butterscotch
  • toffee bits
  • cinnamon sticks
  • crushed cookies ““ gingerbread or graham crackers
  • crushed peppermints
  • candy canes
  • hot chocolate stir sticks (see above recipe)
  • whipped cream
  • chocolate syrup
  • caramel sauce
  • shaker of ground cinnamon
  • festive sprinkles

Set Up and Decorations

And finally, choose how to display your hot chocolate bar.  

You can use stands to hold all the toppings or just spread them out on your table if it’s large enough. Some fun ideas are to add some twinkle lights for a little bling or tuck in some ornaments here and there.

You can even weave a garland through the setup.

Have fun with it!   Add some cute signage to help make it festive. You might want to add cute labels to all the toppings, too.

Here are some downloadable signs from Etsy

Hot Chocolate Bar Signs

Hot Chocolate Bar Sign

“Warm up at the hot chocolate bar

Hot Chocolate Bar Printable Kit

This “kit” comes with downloadable signs, menus, and tags.

Printable Buffalo Plaid Hot Chocolate Sign

This buffalo plaid sign screams winter! Download and print at home. The set also comes with cup tags and topping signs.

Conclusion – How To Set Up a Hot Chocolate (Cocoa) Bar

No matter how you set up your hot chocolate bar, the moment people see it, this will be the most popular place in the house.

It’s hard to resist a steaming cup of cocoa and with the range of irresistible toppings you provide, this hot chocolate bar is sure to be a holiday crowd-pleaser!

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