7 hot chocolate station ideas – create a Wonka-worthy hot chocolate bar to cosy up at this Christmas

Because nothing says Christmas like an extra-special mug of hot chocolate, quite frankly

Hot chocolate station with marshmallows
(Image credit: Future PLC)

We are obsessed with all the hot chocolate ideas popping up on social media at the moment, and can you blame us? Wrapping our hands around a mug of this powerful chocolatey elixir is, after all, the quickest route to a seriously cosy Christmas.

We know, we know: people usually shine a spotlight on their favourite Christmas tree ideas over the holidays. Still, extending the festivities into the kitchen isn't ever a bad idea – especially as that's where a lot of the magic happens at this time of year.

Over the last couple of years, hot chocolate makers and milk frothers like the Velvetiser have raised the hot chocolate game. We all already know and love coffee station ideas, but when Christmas rolls around why not make a comforting hot chocolate station for the family to enjoy? We've rounded up our favourite way to bring your Willy Wonka-inspired dreams to life (minus the chocolate waterfall).

Hot chocolate station ideas

Explaining why hot chocolate station ideas are proving so popular this year, Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson says simply, 'Hot chocolate is synonymous with Christmas and the holiday season'. 

'My first hot chocolate is usually sipped under a chunky knit blanket with a terrible (but brilliant) Christmas romcom,' she adds. 'It gives me all the festive feels!'

1. Save space with stackable containers

Hot chocolate station with special glassware

(Image credit: Etsy)

If you're trying to squeeze a hot chocolate station into your small kitchen ideas, then stackable storage containers like the glass hot chocolate station from Etsy seen above, can make all the difference. The best part about hot chocolate station ideas is the toppings so these are the essentials to have on display if you're short on space.

'One of the best things about a hot chocolate is the toppings and the best thing about the toppings is the possibilities,' Dayna adds. 'There is no end to what you can adorn your hot chocolate with, from sweet treats like marshmallows, to savoury snacks like pretzels, or even a sprinkle of coarse sea salt!'

2. Make a statement with your hot chocolate maker

Hot Chocolate testing

(Image credit: Future)

If you want your hot chocolate station ideas to be the envy of all (and your chocolatey drinks to taste exceptionally good), then it's definitely a good idea to invest in one of the best milk frothers you can find.

Because, while whipping a spoon around a mug really, really, really fast works in a pinch, nothing screams quiet luxury quite like a perfectly frothed hot drink at this time of year.

3. Decorate with foraged greenery

Hot chocolate

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Brittain)

You don't have to spend lots of money on making your hot chocolate station ideas a reality; you can team classic and timeless stoneware (like the robin-printed Sophie Allport designs seen above) just as beautifully with foraged materials.

'With the ongoing cost of living crisis and the rise of DIY culture, foraging is set to become a huge Christmas wreath trend this year,' says internationally renowned floral designer and Interflora consultant, Karen Barnes.

Noting that collecting materials on a winter walk is a great way to add some festive flair to your hot chocolate station, she goes on to suggest to 'look out for holly, fir, mistletoe and eucalyptus, all of which can be foraged from woodland or hedgerows – just make sure you have the land owner’s permission'. 

'My top tip for foraging is don’t forget to keep your eyes on the ground, too,' she adds. 'Fallen pine cones, feathers, twigs and branches can add interest to a thrifted wreath without costing a penny.'

4. Pop in a sign

Hot chocolate station with marshmallows

(Image credit: Future PLC / Polly Eltes)

'Every hot chocolate station needs a sign!' says Dayna simply, and she's not wrong: a welcoming sign is the easiest possible way to help everyone feel comfortable about tucking in!

If you need a little inspiration for your hot chocolate station ideas you can purchase a premade one. Alternatively, we love the look of a chalkboard which you can personalise to your family or an event.

4. Show off with some mason jars

Mason jars are the perfect addition to your hot chocolate station ideas, as you can use them to fill up with treats and toppings! 

You can either pick up some plain jars from Hobbycraft and decorate accordingly, or buy something ready-made and pre-beautified, like the gorgeous jars below.

Not sure what to fill your jars up with? 'For a grown-up and dark hot chocolate, try Willie’s Cacao 100% Venezuelan Black,' suggests Laura Rowe, head of content at Ocado Retail. 

'For the kids, start with classic Cadbury Drinking Chocolate, or if you need it dairy-free, try vegan-friendly dairy-free Cupsmith Dark Hot Chocolate Flakes (70%).'

Then it’s down to the all-important toppings! 'Try a can of spray cream (plant-based if you like), a bowl of mini marshmallows, edible sprinkles, finely grated chocolate or ground cinnamon.'

5. Don't forget the festive mugs!

Christmas Tree Mugs (Set of 4), £58.00 from Wayfair

(Image credit: Wayfair)

'For the piece de resistance, every good hot chocolate station idea needs a festive mug,' says Dayna – and we wholeheartedly agree. It's impossible not to smile when sipping chocolatey deliciousness from a novelty mug that ties in with all of our DIY Christmas decor.

For something more traditional, you can't go wrong with the nostalgic Christmas Tree Mugs from Wayfair seen above. But if they're not quite your cup of tea (or hot chocolate!), don't worry: there are plenty more options out there...

6. Make it extra fancy

Hot chocolate spoons in mug

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

If you really want to ramp up your hot chocolate station ideas, it pays to think outside the box a bit.

'Hot chocolate bombs are a really fun and easy option,' says Laura. 'The cute M&S Robin Hot Chocolate Bombes have marshmallows in the middle and are great for kids. Serve a flock of these alongside a jug of warmed milk and a stack of mugs and let everyone (carefully) make their own.'

Alternatively, you could let things get a little boozy for the adults. 'At this time of year, you can’t beat adding a shot of Irish Cream Liqueur or another spirit of your choice,' Laura suggests.

For a DIY treat try dipping spoons in chocolate and leaving them to set. You can then pop one in each mug ready for everyone to dig in.

7. Curate with luxury details

Hot chocolate on chopping board

(Image credit: Future PLC / Polly Eltes)

Don't scrimp on the little details when it comes to your hot chocolate station ideas – a tiny whisk or a petite chocolate grater might seem extra under normal circumstances but they're essential for a truly luxurious set-up. 

However, if not just the extra details that can be dolled up, go for an extra splash of flair with the stables like the coaster and the spoons - 'they're essential for scooping and piling your toppings high. Opt for long-handled spoons that allow you to dig right to the bottom of a tall hot chocolate mug, or look too wooden spoons for sprinkling toppings on top. 


What do you put in a hot chocolate station?

As well as all the ingredients needed for a hot chocolate (as well as some super toppings: think marshmallows, whippy cream, and sprinkles), some essential items to create your hot chocolate station are:

Mason jars: Perfect for filling with treats and toppings.

Labels: So everyone knows what’s inside! 

Spoons: For scooping and piling your toppings high!

A sign: Every hot chocolate station needs a sign!

A festive mug: For the piece de resistance!

What goes well with hot chocolate?

'Having a range of dunkers is a great idea for any hot chocolate station,' says Laura, 'But just remember you need a biscuit with a bit of integrity, so it doesn’t immediately disintegrate.'

She suggests that you try M&S’s Extremely Chocolatey Milk Chocolate Rounds from Ocado if you want to ramp things up to the next level.

Alternatively, you could serve your hot chocolate up with candy canes, caramels, cookies, churros, popcorn, or even pretzels!

Why is hot chocolate so popular at Christmas?

Once upon a time, chocolate was a luxury; due to the costs involved with shipping, very few people could afford it, let alone on a regular basis, and as such, it was reserved for a special occasion. A special occasion such as, say, Christmas!

Nowadays, of course, chocolate has become more of an everyday treat – but it still has a special place in people's hearts over the festive period. 'Searches for ‘hot chocolate’ on Ocado always peak in the weeks around Christmas,' says Laura. 

'There’s something so nostalgic and comforting about a warming cup of cocoa – it’s ideal for all those winter walks. With more options than ever (especially on Ocado) when it comes to vegan, free-from and flavoured drinking chocolates, milks and toppings, it’s a treat that everyone can enjoy.' 

What's a good hot chocolate recipe?

You can't beat the old classics: good-quality chocolate stirred into hot milk is the best and easiest way to get the hot chocolate of your dreams. Pile on the toppings, add a squirt of whipped cream, and voila! Perfection.

'If you really want something special, try the Peppery Hot Chocolate recipe by Ryan Chetiyawardana, which balances rich and creamy hot chocolate with the warmth of whisky and pink and black peppercorns,' adds Laura.

Hot chocolate with marshmallow man

(Image credit: Future PLC / Jenny Wood)

If all of these hot chocolate station ideas haven't left you craving a mug of chocolatey goodness for yourself, you must be made of stronger stuff than we are!

If you do decide to indulge in one of your own, just be sure to top it accordingly. After all, to quote Kamila Shamsie, 'The world won’t get more or less terrible if we’re indoors somewhere with a mug of hot chocolate… though it’s possible it will seem slightly less terrible if there are marshmallows in it!'

Wise words indeed!

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.