Once December arrives, our homeschool schedule slows down…way down. We step away from our usual schedule, close up our books, and put projects on hiatus. Our focus shifts to advent activities, church Christmas productions, Christmas and New Year parties, and movie nights at home with family and friends.

On Christmas Day, the family gathers at my house for a feast full of delectable dishes: juicy meats, succulent side dishes, satisfying desserts, and festive beverages. After guests have enjoyed a plateful of yummy dishes, it’s time for dessert. Slices of cake and pie are sampled, decorative cookies are nibbled, and colorful candies are crunched. As the moms and dads, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, and others enjoy delicious desserts, they love to sip a mug full of something warm and comforting.

Christmas Recipes and a Craft

Enter The Thorpe Family’s DIY Hot Chocolate Bar! Our sweet beverage buffet is always a hit with Christmas guests, young and old. Kids especially love the hot chocolate bar because it gives them a chance to personalize their beverages while playing around with new tastes and textures.

Fill your slow cooker with creamy hot chocolate and set out an array of tasty add-ins and toppings. Don’t forget to include a fun and delicious selection of stirrers, so your guests can mix flavors properly.

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate Recipe

I prepare this in my 3-quart (12 cup) slow cooker, but you can fill a larger slow cooker by doubling the recipe. This recipe makes a thick, rich, and creamy hot chocolate, but if you’d like to cut calories and trim fat, use half and half  (even fat-free) instead of cream and use 1% or 2% milk rather than whole milk.

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups heavy cream

6 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet chocolate chips.)

Pour sweetened condensed milk, cream, milk, and vanilla extract into the slow cooker. Use a whisk to combine ingredients.  Sprinkle chocolate chips into the slow cooker and mix them in so they melt evenly. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Yummy Add-ins

Make your hot chocolate bar a festive place by setting out several yummy add-ins. These can be placed in clear mini mason jars or added to a variety of small bowls or mugs.

  • honey
  • caramel sauce
  • strawberry or raspberry sauce
  • maple syrup
  • maraschino cherry juice (one of my favorites!)
  • flavored coffee creamers
  • cayenne pepper (for a Mexican hot chocolate)

Fun Stirrers

Stirrers will help guests get all those yummy add-ins incorporated into their hot chocolate. Stirring can be done with a spoon, but it’s much more fun when using one of these tasty tools.

  • lollipops
  • candy canes
  • Pirouline rolled wafers (pictured above)
  • cinnamon sticks
  • chocolate covered pretzel sticks (eat them before they get mushy!)
  • plastic spoons coated in hardened chocolate


Put the finishing touches on the hot chocolate and pump up the flavor by adding some delicious garnishes!

  • whipped cream (and lots of it!)
  • shredded coconut
  • crushed nuts
  • sprinkles (chocolate, rainbow, and assorted colors)
  • miniature chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips
  • miniature marshmallows
  • cocoa powder
  • crushed pretzels (for those who love salty and sweet)
  • crushed coffee beans
  • crushed candy bars (our favorites are Twix and York Peppermint Patties)
  • crushed cookies (chocolate chip and vanilla wafers taste great)

Let us know if you give these ideas a try for the holiday season!