For those parties with eclectic guests—the young, the old, the posh, the down-to-earth—nothing tends to reliably delight like hot chocolate. But you can’t just bust out packets of the pre-made stuff and add hot water to really knock this one out of the park. Here are our tips, from the type of chocolate to use to the accoutrements, to make your party sparkle like the holiday season.
The Hot Chocolate
Sure, there’s a time and a place for high-quality powdered cocoa. But for a hot chocolate party, you’ll want to think more along the lines of high-quality, European-style chocolate shavings, whisked into milk (or even cream!) and served hot. Ideally, you’re also in possession of a good-looking vessel with which to serve it. A good Dutch oven with a ladle works, or a one-handled copper sugar pot would be a nice touch. If you’re feeling ambitious, offer different flavors of hot chocolate, like salted caramel or hazelnut hot chocolate. Or, skip traditional hot chocolate and offer mugs of warm milk with a selection of hot chocolate stir sticks or hot chocolate bombs (below). Bonus points for keeping decanters or bottles of whiskey, Irish cream, and spiced rum kicking around for adults who want them. Got perfectionist guests obsessed with hot chocolate? No problem: Set out an electric milk frother so they can make theirs as foamy as they like.
Toppers, Sticks & Bombs
Yes, you could serve candy canes alongside and have folks stir the hot chocolate with them. But this doesn’t do quite right by mug or cane; the cocoa gets a sort of thin pepperminty veneer and the cane quickly melts into a pointy winter weapon. So up your game with marshmallow snowmen, mini snowflake marshmallows, or peppermint bark dog marshmallow toppers. How about peppermint sticks coated in chocolate, so you make your cocoa even more chocolate-infused as you stir? Or sweet mini gingerbread houses (below) perched on the edge of a deep, dark chocolate lake? The sky’s the limit.
Of course, you can’t leave out the hot chocolate experience of the moment: hot chocolate bombs. Slip the cocoa-filled Frothy the Snowman into a pot of warm milk and watch it melt to make enough hot chocolate for five; use silicone chocolate bomb molds (below) to make a bittersweet chocolate version for dark chocolate-loving guests.
Hot chocolate is great, but it’s cold out there, and folks will need sustenance, too. In a pinch, a bowl of pretzels will do just fine, but you could set out a killer cheese board to give folks a protein and produce fix. We’d also suggest some sort of sweet-and-salty foil to the cocoa, such as these peanut butter and sea salt cookies, or this striking raspberry salted shortbread.
You could snap up ho-hum disposable cups from the office free pile, sure. But even better are collectible mugs, like these festively illustrated porcelain Twas mugs inspired by a 19th-century American Christmas poem. For an extra memorable touch, delight guests with a mug sporting his or her monogram. After the sweet sips are over, the gold-toned monograms are also a thoughtful party favor to take home.