Cup of Cheer

'Tis the season for gathering with loved ones and often sharing a moment or two together. Oftentimes, that means gathering around a table or at least grabbing a few cutout cookies and a mug of cocoa. And if you are looking for a fun way to enjoy your time with friends and family this holiday season, consider making that mug of cocoa a bit of a centerpiece of your gathering:

This time around, instead of prepping the cocoa in the kitchen and bringing a tray of mugs out to the table, consider setting up a festive holiday hot cocoa station in your home. Decked out with a wide variety of types of cocoa powder, a kettle (ideally electric) with hot water on hand, amazing add-ins, toppings, and goodies to stir your cup, a cocoa station is a great way to share the spirits of the season and get everyone involved in putting together their very own special cup of cheer:

You can make your station your own by customizing the offerings as well as the way in which you present them. I love using a variety of canning jars in clear glass. The unified color helps tie the theme together, but using different sizes of jars and jars with different patterns allows everyone to enjoy that special touch. Labels indicating the contents of each jar can be affixed to the jars or even stuck on with gift tags.

If you are looking for a different theme, consider using plastic disposable cups in red, white, and/or green. Grab sharpie markers and label them that way! You could also use decorative candy bowls and the like. They don't get used a lot during the year. Use this as an opportunity to let them shine! Make sure you add festive touches like seasonal decorations, ornaments, or floral pieces to give your station more interest.

When it comes to what to put at your station, in addition to at least a few kinds of cocoa mixes and a kettle of water, you'll want to have a fun variety of mugs, some napkins, and some spoons for mixing (in addition to tasty mixers set out in containers). Some ideas for other items to provide:

  • candy canes — they make great stir-sticks
  • whipped cream
  • a variety of sprinkles
  • cinnamon sticks
  • flavored syrups
  • liquors — for the adults
  • chocolate-covered plastic spoons — for mixing
  • marshmallows — look for different varieties and consider chocolate-covering some for fun

You can also include a platter of cookies, biscotti, and cubes of fudge for dipping or stirring into your cocoa. After all, with such a sweet treat, there are sure to be lots of smiles mixed into the fun, too. You may with to encourage guests to enjoy their creations nestled alongside the tree or by the fireplace, if you have one. Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!