Today, I'm sharing a DIY hot cocoa bar for small spaces! I love seeing all the hot chocolate stations on Pinterest at this time of year, don't you? If you'd love to set one up yourself but think you have no space for it, this post is for you. I'm setting up a woodland themed hot cocoa bar in a tiny corner on my kitchen counter. This hot cocoa bar is pretty enough to be the only Christmas decoration in a small kitchen too. If cocoa is not your thing, aromatic, flavoured coffees and winter teas will work just as well.
I love the thought of coming inside after working hard in the garden and having a cocoa bar ready and waiting for me to make the most scrumptious mug of steaming hot cocoa!
As we don't have much space in our kitchen (I like to keep the counters clutter-free), I thought my hot cocoa bar dream would stay just that – a dream.
A hot chocolate bar blog hop
This week, Kippi of the blog 'Kippi at home' challenged us to create a hot chocolate bar in our homes. I'll be honest and say that, because of a lack of kitchen counter space, I wasn't going to join in at all. So what changed my mind? The cocoa jar!
I noticed that the cocoa jar practically lived on the kitchen counter anyway. I got it out to make cocoa then put it away again. Here comes my son, cold after working on his car outside, gets the cocoa out, puts it away again and so on. After witnessing that cocoa jar (and additions) go in and out of the pantry more times than a cuckoo in a Swiss clock throughout one autumnal weekend, I realised I might as well give a cocoa station a try.
What can I say? It works! Well, some things didn't quite go to plan (more on that later) but all in all, I'm happy with my woodland styled bar.
The bread bin and knife stand which usually take up this space had to take a winter hike, to make room for the cocoa bar. Let me tell you, the sacrifice was worth it!
My wooden cutting boards were allowed to stay. I think the cutting boards add to the rustic wintery woodland theme anyway.
So, here we are with the smallest hot cocoa bar my world has ever seen!
SAVE IT FOR LATER
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- A hot chocolate bar blog hop
- SAVE IT FOR LATER
- Supplies – set-up and styling
- Shop the post
- Hot chocolate bar toppings
- Watch it on YouTube
- Hot chocolate variations
- Snacks for the hot cocoa bar
- Decorating the hot cocoa bar
- These posts are good too!
- More hot chocolate station ideas
- Sign up to our Newsletter
- Enjoyed this post? Show your support!
Supplies – set-up and styling
Here are the supplies you will need to set up and style a small hot cocoa bar like mine:
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- Wooden sleigh, space-saving stand or something like this wooden crate
- Large wooden Christmas decoration like this wooden tree
- Large round table placemat
- Glass jars (small)
- Glass jars (Tall)
- Evergreen picks
- Evergreen picks/berries
- Faux evergreen tree
- Glass vase/tall jar
- Container/box (to stand the vase on)
- String lights
- Small Christmas garland
- Wood slices
- Dried oranges (optional)
- Christmas mugs
- Wooden spoons
- Natural seed heads (optional)
- Candy canes
- Cocoa bar sign (see below)
TIP: Space-saving stand
In a small kitchen, space is at a premium. Some kind of stand is essential to create height by elevating your glass jars.
For my stand, I'm using a wooden Christmas sleigh that I sourced locally. It didn't cost me very much and I know I can use it in my Christmas décor every year, even if not for the cocoa bar. Tiered trays and narrow wooden boxes turned on their sides also make great stands for the jars.
- Cocoa/Drinking chocolate
- Mini marshmallows
- Caramel bits
- Fleur de Sel (sea salt)
- Chocolate drops
- Candy canes
- Creme filled wafers (I used chocolate hazelnut)
Shop the post
Easy hot chocolate bar set-up
The first thing I did was hang my cocoa bar sign. I designed the graphic myself and gave it to my husband to print out in his home office. He left the prints in an envelope on my desk and I stupidly didn't look at them until it was time to set up and shoot the hot cocoa bar.
I must have gotten the measurements wrong. Parts of the design had been cut off and it didn't fit my A4 frame. My husband was on a telephone conference so there was no chance of printing out another copy in time for the shoot!
To make the most of it, I trimmed the print down to fit the frame. There was a big gap at the bottom of the frame which I managed to hide by hanging the picture down a little lower behind the sleigh. You can see it in the first photo next to the sleigh.
After styling - nobody noticed!
I've since redone that print and it looks great but it just goes to show, even my crafts don't turn out perfect 100% of the time. When things go wrong, I carry on and make the best of it.
HINT: Usually nobody sees the faults unless you point them out!
By the way, if you want the print, it's been added to the free newsletter subscriber library.
The complete version looks like this.
Confession out of the way – let's get started with the set-up.
Start by laying down a table placemat or a napkin for the stand to rest on.
Place the sleigh/stand across the corner.
Fill in the triangular space at the back of the sleigh with sprigs of evergreen and mistletoe (I used a mixture of faux and real picks). If the vase or jar is not tall enough, stand it on a box or container.
Add a large rustic Christmas decoration towards the back of the sleigh, in front of the vase. If you can get one that lights up, all the better.
Next, add some evergreen picks at the front and to the side of the sleigh. A small faux evergreen tree fills in a gap at the back of the sleigh.
Display some candy canes in a tall glass jar at the back end of the sleigh.
Hot chocolate bar toppings
To save space (and cavities), we keep our hot cocoa toppings to a minimum. I decanted each topping into a clear glass jar. Here are the toppings we currently have on our hot chocolate bar:
You all know what toppings go down well with your family, but just in case, here is a list of popular toppings you could try:
Watch it on YouTube
If you'd like to watch the video showing how I set up and style this woodland themed hot cocoa bar, you can see it on YouTube here:
Woodland themed hot cocoa bar - YouTube
Hot chocolate variations
Spicy – A pinch of chilli powder or turmeric will add heat and a kick to hot chocolate.
Deluxe – Almond milk hot chocolate with a squirt of cream and caramel or chocolate sauce.
Adults only - Add a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream, Amaretto or rum.
The jars of toppings are placed along the length of the sleigh. I found a cute star-shaped jar in a local shop. I think it looks so pretty filled with creamy white mini marshmallows. For a festive look, I tied some red and white Gingham check ribbon around the top of the jar.
Our hot chocolate jar is HUGE and would completely fill all of the space on the sleigh. To make it more accessible, I decanted some hot chocolate powder into a smaller spring-top jar and placed it towards the front of the sleigh. I used some more ribbon from my stash to create a festive bow on this glass too. I'll top up the cocoa powder as needed.
Next, I decanted caramel bits and chocolate drops into small spring-top jars and placed them in between the hot chocolate powder and the mini marshmallows.
Lastly, for the salted caramel fans, I added a small jar of 'Fleur de Sel' (Sea salt). You only need a tiny sprinkling of this precious sea salt on top of your finished drink. Alternatively, you could use your usual sea salt.
Snacks for the hot cocoa bar
Are you a cookie dipper? Oh good, so am I! These chocolate, hazelnut, cream-filled wafers are perfect for dipping into hot cocoa.
To keep the wafers fresh, pop them into a tall glass jar. Stand the jar in front of the candy canes on the left side of the sleigh.
As soon as I start baking Christmas cookies, I'll swap out the wafers for home-baked Christmas cookies like these chocolate-dipped Christmas tree cookies or some of these embossed Christmas cookies and other festive goodies.
Decorating the hot cocoa bar
Now it's time to finish off decorating the hot cocoa bar.
I'm adding a large paper star to the front of the sleigh. If you'd prefer to have more toppings on your cocoa bar you could use this space for those.
Next, come the Christmas mugs. I'm stacking some cute reindeer mugs onto a wood-slice coaster on the right-hand side of the sleigh. You can find cute mugs like this everywhere at this time of year but if you want to keep costs down, use the mugs you already have.
I couldn't resist the cute little reindeer faces on these mugs, plus reindeer go well with my woodland theme!
I found some gorgeous wooden spoons and placed them on a wood-slice coaster at the front of the sleigh. The wooden spoons can either be used for stirring the hot cocoa or for scooping out the toppings.
I've found these small wooden scoops and I think they will be great for scooping out the toppings so I might replace the wooden spoons with those. For now, the wooden spoons are fine too.
No display of mine is complete without some natural elements. Pinecones, orange slices and natural seed heads are tucked in and around the front of the display.
A simple garland of tiny copper chimes is draped along the front edge of the sleigh. I have several of these garlands and use them throughout my home at Christmastime.
Lastly, I wanted to add a string of lights. You know, the type that are tiny LEDs on a wire. They are my favourite sort of lights for displays because they are so discrete. Well, I added my lights to the hot cocoa bar and managed to shoot some lovely pics and then – poof!
The lights went out and would not come back on despite a battery change! That's why, in the video I made of setting up this hot cocoa station, you'll see a different set of lights. I switched out the string lights for a set of pretty snowflake garland lights until I can replace the set. Luckily, you can find those LED lights everywhere at this time of year too!
Here's a pic of the finished hot cocoa bar.
I hope you like my tiny hot cocoa bar. Let me know in the comments below if you've made one of these yourself and if so, what are your fave toppings?
As for dreams, just remember - they really do come true!
These posts are good too!
More hot chocolate station ideas
Cindy of the blog Cloches and lavender says "A hot chocolate bar is fun and special to set up for your guests. Include different types of hot chocolate mixes, marshmallows and a dessert. Make it layered with varying heights to make items easy to see and reach. It's always great to add pretty mugs, cocoa bombs and pretty napkins too!"
Visit Cindy's blog post to see her full hot chocolate bar set up.
Bring some holiday cheer to your home by creating a festive and functional hot chocolate stand in your kitchen using a tiered tray and vintage Christmas decorations like this one from Rebecca of the blog Zucchini Sisters.
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