Friday, January 7, 2011

Girlfriend Gathering: Hot Chocolate Mixer

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a hot chocolate social 'mixer' is great way to get together with the girls for delicious sweets and a warm treat during the remaining winter months.  Get ready to sit by the fireplace, here are some ideas to help you plan your own.

{Inspiration Board Created by K. Sibert - Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams - photo credits below}

1. Select your Cocoa
Start with good quality hot cocoa like Marie Belle Aztec Hot Chocolate or Ghirardelli for a splurge and set out Swiss Miss or Nestle packets for tried and true standards. 

2. Arranging your Hot Cocoa Bar
Display your hot cocoa by flavors/brand (milk chocolate, white chocolate , sugar free, dark chocolate, etc.). You can present packets in a basket embellished with ribbon or place packets in decorative envelopes cut from scrapbook paper to coordinate with your theme; use this tutorial as a guide to make your own.   If your cocoa is in a canister, be sure to have a small scoop spoon available.

Keep hot water and hot milk warmed in coffee carafes for easy dispensing.  A fondue pot will keep melted chocolate nice and warm for guests who want a more homemade tasting cup.

Put  toppings and 'mixins' in bowls or stemmed glasses so guests can create their own custom flavors.  Some suggestions for toppings are whipped cream, marshmallows, Hershey's Miniatures, sugar cubes, or crushed bits of peppermint, toffee, candied ginger and Oreo cookies!  Don’t forget to label each item for easy identification.

Use tasty confections as stirrers. I recommend chocolate covered pirouettes, vanilla swizzle sticks, peppermint and cinnamon sticks.  Place these items in footed mugs for a grand display. You can also dip spoons in melted chocolate or add a dollup of whipped cream to them.

Be sure to have plenty of mugs and spoons on hand for guests who want to try more than one cup!

3. Provide Sweet & Savory Bites
A hot cocoa social is sweet but be sure to have a few sweet and savory bites which guests can nibble on.  Set out  pistachio biscotti, Chocolate Dipped shortbread cookies and savory chicken salad or cucumber tea sandwiches will keep guests from going hungry.

4. A 'Favor'-ite Activity 
Send your guests back into the wintery world with their own custom hot cocoa mix.  Have guests create their own cocoa mix then package them in mason jars or soup containers to take home as favors.  Label or tag each container with the guests name and what type of cocoa mix they created.

5. Wintery Decor
Hues of soft blues and brown compliment the theme.  Hang knitted mittens, scarves, hats, paper doilies or snowflakes from the ceilings or light fixtures.  Little snowballs made from cotton balls or styrofoam spheres also add a wintery element.  If you have one, a fireplace adds a bit of coziness and warmth to set the scene.

*Bonus Tip
For a small group of friends, create a cocoa mix recipe based on their different personalities.  For a friend who is spunky and fiery you might create a custom Mexican Hot Cocoa using your favorite chili powder.  For the friend who is adventurous and outgoing, a zesty Orange and Cream Hot Chocolate would be fitting.  A friend who is very traditional, a classic Hot Cocoa is suiting.  Make sure to include instructions for preparation and additional ingredients.

Now that you are inspired and have the plan - here is a free printable invitation for you to download and send out to your gals!

Photo Credits:

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