"Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays..." We've all heard that classic tune croon through our radios come December, and it's words really couldn't be more true! As a college freshman, I couldn't wait to be back home for the holidays to spend time with my beau, squad, and, of course, my family. Over the past couple years, hosting Christmas parties for my closest group of ladies has been a tradition for me, and the star of the show has always been my hot chocolate bar.  

Lexi Shepherd

Putting together a fun and tasty hot chocolate bar really is the perfect addition to any wintertime get together. The best part about creating one is the total free reign you have over customizing it in any way you want! Use my simple, tried-and-true tips as a guide to help turn your hot chocolate bar into something everyone at your party will love. 

Ask Your Guests For Help 

tea, coffee, Friends, laughing, Friendship, smile, happy
Julia Gilman

First of all, don't be afraid to ask your guests for help. As host, you already have a lot of work on your plate as it is. Trust me - your guests will be excited to help customize your hot chocolate bar!   Not only that, but this strategy also helps make sure there is at least one item in your hot chocolate bar that everyone will enjoy. Ask your guests to bring a topping or dessert that can be added to or dipped in your cocoa and watch their imaginations run wild. If you want to go the extra mile, even designate your holiday party as BYOM - "Bring Your Own Mug." 

Experiment With Texture

chocolate, candy, cookie, Oreo, Oreos, Eating, Unhealthy, sweet, outdoors
Anna Arteaga

Texture truly is key to any popular, people-pleasing dish. What is a smooth glass of milk without a chewy cookie, or chunky salsa without crisp, crunchy tortilla chips? Nothing, that's what. Thankfully, there are tons of deliciously fun ways to add texture to your hot chocolate bar. Graham crackers, cookies, and even crunchy candy bars (like Kit Kats!) are perfect ways to add this texture. Do the shopping for these items yourself, or consider asking your guests what cookies and other texture-filled treats they'd like to dip in their cups of cocoa.

Have Fun With Flavor

candy, sweet, peppermint, Candy cane, holiday
Jocelyn Hsu

Adding flavors other than traditional chocolate is the next step in upping your hot chocolate bar game. This can be as simple as stocking your bar with peppermint marshmallows, or as creative as picking the perfect flavor of Oreo to dip in your hot cocoa. (For extra fun, use this Oreo personality test to determine what flavor will show up on your cocoa bar.)

This trick also works great when it comes to the flavor of your actual hot cocoa. Test out different flavors and recipes for your hot chocolate, whether it be store-bought, homemade with cocoa powder, flavored with peppermint, or even consider fixing up a big batch of this delicious Nutella hot cocoa. Experimenting with a few different recipes will help you settle on the perfect cocoa flavor that your guests - and you! - will love. 

Get Melty and Merry

chocolate, peanut
Isabelle Langheim

Melting things in your hot chocolate is an essential part of the experience. Instead of just sticking with marshmallows, consider adding items like chocolate covered pretzels to your hot chocolate bar to give your guests something creative and fun to melt in their mugs. Feeling extra fancy? Whip up a batch of these super simple chocolate dipped spoons, and I guarantee your guests will be ready to #foodstagram your hot chocolate bar all over their social medias. Which brings us to my final tip . . . 

Optimize For Photo Ops

Analiese Trimber

It's undeniable that everyone loves a good #foodstagram. Up your guests' #foodstagram and #drinkstagram game with fun, colorful hot chocolate toppings that will make for the perfect Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook post! This can mean whipped topping, colorful or festive sprinkles, chocolate shavings, mini chocolate chips, fancy straws, and so much more. Let your imagination run wild and watch as your guests snap more pictures with each refill of their mugs. 

I hope these five simple tips will help you put together the hot chocolate bar of your dreams that both you and your party guests will adore. Hopefully it can even become a wintertime tradition of yours, just like it is for me!