One year I was walking through HomeGoods, found a cute winter plate with a snowman on it and thought “this is so cute! I think the kids would really like this. But what will I do with it? Will I really use it or will it just be something else to fill our space?” On that same shopping trip I noticed a hot water carafe and put it in my cart. My idea was coming together! As I walked through the food section I saw all sorts of fun marshmallows and coffee syrups. This is how we began our hot chocolate bar tradition!
A hot choclate bar seemed like such an unexpected and fun thing to do for my family to ease the holiday let down and make the long, dark winter months more magical. While bars and boards are all the rage right now and lots of people are offering how-to’s, I want to offer some of my own tips for making your family’s eyes sparkle with a magical hot cocoa bar!
The Key to Making a Hot Chocolate Bar Magical
In my experience, a hot chocolate bar sparkles when it’s magical. You can’t worry about sugar or chocolate overload. It’s got to be totally over the top! Spectaular marshamallows. Litlle cookies. Fun candy canes. New-to-us syrups. Colorful and festive sprinkles. Anything you can find to make a cup of hot chocolate instagram worthy!
Before you freak out!
Know that your Hot Chocolate Bar won’t be up forever. I have found that the hot choclate bar is super exciting and well utilized for the first few days. Mug after mug is made during those first couple of days though most are not consumed. The magic is all about decorating and using this new medium to create something beautiful. Typically, after two weeks at the most, nobody in my family is using the hot chocolate bar anymore and I take it down. I wait until everyone has had their fill and then I’m sure to take it down promptly.
Tip 1 for Making your Hot Chocolate Bar Magical
Stay on top of stocking the bar. Keep the water hot. The carafe I have keeps water hot for about 12 hours so I refill it each morning and then maybe again in the evening. As soon as marshmallows have been used I refill them, instead of waiting for them to get low. My tip is to keep it overflowing. Same with all of the fun toppings. It’s the same concept as “facing” at a store (when product is consistently pulled to the front instead of there being visible empty space).
Try to get several different kinds of each thing to keep it fresh; different shaped marshmallows, different syrups, sprinkles, cookies, etc. This way every few days the kids have something new to work with.
There is no right or wrong way to do this! Have fun putting the bar together and refreshing it. Save some of the hot chocolate flavors to put out later or put them out all at once. Use five different kinds of sprinkles or just two. If you see something in the store that you think might be a fun addition, get it! Put it out! See if the kids like it!
Feel the magic yourself! Are you feeling tired or overwhelemd? See what happens when you use the hot chocolate bar to make a creation. Are things getting snippy because everyone is sick of being inside? Invite your kids to make a mug of hot chocolate with you and drink them together! Have they been in their room all day and you miss them? That’s right, see if they want to create a hot cocoa masterpiece with you!
Remember; this is about creating something fun and magical for your kids. Let them have fun with it and have fun with it yourself. It is a way to make the winter warmer and childhood more special.
These are some things I have noticed over the years that make my family excitedly ask “when is the hot chocolate bar going up?!”. (I answer the same way I answer the question “when are our Christmas Mailboxes going up?!” which is to say; “I don’t know. Some morning you will wake up and they will magically be there”. 🙂 )
I don’t know how long the tradition will last but we are enjoying it so much now!
Do you put up a hot chocolate bar? What things have you found that make it magical?
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