Host an outdoor hot chocolate party for an easy and safe get-together with a few friends or family. Learn how to set up the perfect toppings bar for a perfectly sweet soiree in the great outdoors.
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Hot cocoa in the winter is perfection. But hot cocoa with loved ones? It’s always more magical.
Time with friends and family is a gift I’ve come to appreciate just a little bit more during the last year. It’s such a different time for togetherness right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have them. I believe it is possible to do so safely, with a little creativity!
One of my dearest friends got married recently, and Chris and I were able to watch it via livestream. Later that night, the bride’s new sister-in-law hosted an outdoor afterparty in the newlyweds’ backyard for a small group of friends.
It was mighty chilly that night, so we bundled up in face masks and double the wintry layers. We brought our own drinking vessels, camping chairs and blankets for a night of physically distanced toasts under the stars.
Chris and I brought our favorite Stanley legendary camp mugs filled with hot tea (okay, and later, champagne) and we celebrated our friends from afar.
This little shindig got me thinking… a hot chocolate party outdoors is absolutely genius.
Our new house has a patio in the backyard that is a perfect spot to socialize from a safe distance, so I wanted to show you how to do the same.
How to throw an outdoor hot chocolate party
This should go without saying, but if you plan a hot cocoa party outside, make sure you are doing so in accordance with the guidelines in your area. The health and safety of you and your guests are paramount! (And keep that hand sanitizer close by!)
Here’s what you’ll need to throw the perfect hot cocoa party outside:
You can also fill the dispenser with hot water and let folks mix up their own with packets of hot cocoa mix. (I love these hot cocoa packets.)
If you don’t have a dispenser, a large insulated bottle like Stanley’s classic legendary bottle works well for pouring a cup at a time.
Insulated mugs for hot cocoa
Hot chocolate is no fun if it’s not hot! Insulated mugs are a must.
We love the Stanley camp mugs I mentioned earlier, but a travel mug like the Stanley trigger-action travel mug would also work beautifully. Stanley’s products are perfect for a chilly evening because they are stainless steel and double-insulated, which means your hot bevvies will stay warm for hours.
Ask guests to bring their own mugs for easy cleanup, but it’s always a good idea to have a spare or two on hand.
Toppings for hot cocoa
Hot cocoa is better with toppings and dippers! You can provide individually portioned treats in small bowls, cellophane bags or even cupcake wrappers. (I used spoons for serving because we enjoyed the hot chocolate pictured here with family in our safety bubble.)
Here are a few toppings I recommend putting out:
- mini marshmallows
- chocolate chips
- toffee candy crumbles
- cookies for dipping
- peppermint swizzles
- cinnamon sticks
- whipped cream
Alcohol for spiked hot chocolate
If a boozy hot chocolate is your jam, you can provide mini-bottles of alcohol for your guests to stir in, or you can pre-mix it right into the hot chocolate. Here are a few ideas:
- Irish whiskey and bourbon are both classics for hot cocoa.
- Elevate your hot cocoa with creamy Irish cream liqueur.
- Add some caffeine with a bit of coffee liqueur.
- Light a fire with spicy cinnamon whiskey.
- For a s’mores flavor, try marshmallow vodka.
- At the holidays, peppermint vodka is a great choice.
- For a tropical vibe, add spiced rum or coconut rum.
Once your hot cocoa is bedazzled with your favorite toppings, it’s time to sit back in your camping chair and enjoy your company, from six feet apart of course!
A socially distanced hot cocoa party would definitely be a fête to remember, but it can also be a lovely way to catch up with a couple friends on a chilly afternoon or if you are planning to homegate or camp!
Stanley’s gear is durable and will last way longer than this season in our lives, which has made it a great investment for us as we look forward to future celebrations with our loved ones.
Cheers, friends. // susannah