Trimming the tree. Sledding parties. Weekend afternoons, watching Hallmark® holiday movies on the sofa. Whatever your favorite traditions may be, there are plenty of reasons to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa this winter!

In fact, you can make some of those moments even sweeter by creating your own hot chocolate and cookie board. It’s really fun, festive and easy to personalize with your favorite toppings and treats. Plus, everyone can help themselves to those signature sips and sweets of the season – making it perfect for snow days or holiday gatherings.

How to Make Your Hot Cocoa Bar & Cookie Board
Ready to get started? Here’s how to stir it up, step by step:

1. Bring on the hot beverages.
First things first: make the star of your holiday bar – those cozy winter drinks.

  • S’more Cocoa: For a rich and creamy cocoa for a crowd, simply whisk 1 package S’mores Frozen Drink Mix with 7½ cups warmed 2% milk, 1 cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup Malt Mixer. Heat on low in your slow cooker, stirring occasionally, for up to 2 hours. It’s a perfect way to keep everything toasty, plus everybody can refill their own cups whenever they’re ready!

Want to offer a couple more options for anyone who doesn’t love hot chocolate?

  • Hot Cider: Use a second slow cooker for hot cider. Simply mix 64 oz. warm cran-apple juice with 8 teaspoons Warm Up! Mulling Spice. (As an added bonus, your whole house will smell heavenly!)
  • Hot Chai: With a creamy blend of black tea and cinnamon, Oh My! Chai® Drink Mix is a delicious spiced alternative, too. Make it by the cup in your microwave in only two minutes. Oh, and it pairs perfectly with gingerbread cookies!

2. Gather your serving supplies. When you’re ready to create your self-serve cocoa station, grab a large wooden cutting board, serving tray or pizza paddle. You may want to choose a few small dishes for toppings, too.

3. Stir up something sweet. Start by arranging a variety of sweet sticks on your board, such as:

– Peppermint sticks
– Cinnamon sticks
– Candy canes
– Rolled wafer cookies

They’ll do double-duty for stirring those drinks, plus they’ll add a bright pop of color as garnishes.

4. Mix up your mallows. Jumbo. Fruity. Chocolate-filled. You name it.

Wonderfully soft and pillowy, marshmallows are obviously a must for any hot cocoa bar, and now you can find more varieties at your neighborhood grocery store than ever before. Choose 2-3 different flavors and shapes, especially if you’ll have any pint-sized guests at your party.

5. Create a cute variety of mini cookies. A little sugar. A little spice. A whole lot of everything nice.

When it comes to building your board, arrange all kinds of petite cookies in different shapes, flavors and textures. By using bite-sized cookies, you’ll be able to fit a much bigger selection onto your board – and offer a little something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a some inspiration, try these easy and delicious recipes!

Try these Absolutely Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Absolutely Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Try these Bite-Sized Monster Cookies
Bite-Sized Monster Cookies
Try these Peanut Butter Blossoms
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Try these Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

6. Add holiday spirit(s) for the adults. Have Jack Frost nipping at your nose? Create a mini bar with different liqueurs next to your cocoa board – the perfect way to warm up any grown-ups who want to add a nip to their hot drinks.

My personal favorites:

– Irish cream liqueur (e.g., Baileys® Irish Cream)
– Horchata liqueur (e.g., RumChata®)
– Vodka (traditional, vanilla or marshmallow varieties)
– Peppermint schnapps
– Butterscotch schnapps
– Coffee liqueur

Tip: if all of your guests are 21+, you can certainly spike your hot chocolate in advance, too. But a self-serve station is a fun way to let everyone personalize their own cozy cocktails.

7. Top off those finishing touches.

And last but not least, don’t forget those extra drink toppings. Small dishes work perfectly for anything with a little crunch! Set out a few sweet garnishes, such as:

– Chocolate chips
– Chopped malted milk balls or candy bars
– Crushed peppermint candies
– Shredded coconut
– Whipped cream
– Hot fudge or Creamy Caramel Sauce
– Ground cinnamon or cocoa powder

Have fun with it, my friends … and have a cup of cheer!

– Jen

P.S Don’t forget – you can find all kinds of additional drink recipes for the holidays, from hot toddies to Moscow mules, on Tastefully Simple’s website, too. Check back often to see what’s new!