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The winter months can often leave us feeling depressed and unmotivated to get out with our friends. When it’s snowing, windy, and bitter cold, the only thing we want to do is stay in and watch movies in our pj’s. What if I told you you could host a gathering to catch up with your girlfriends while relaxing in your pj’s in the comfort of your home? That’s right, ladies! This winter, host a cozy girls’ night in, a hot cocoa gathering, where you can sip delicious hot cocoa, watch a movie or play board games, catch up with your girlfriends, and snack on all the savory and sweet treats you can gather. If you are like us, you can even add a little extra heat (wink wink) to your beverage. I miss those nights from college and my early 20s spent laughing and feeling so connected to my friends, without a thought or care in the world besides our weekend plans! This felt like one of those nights, full of laughter. You know, the kind that makes your belly hurt! Keep reading to find out how to host one yourself!
First things first. You need to gather hot cocoa mixes. I received a bundle for the holidays, so I emptied the different flavors into cute little jars I found at Target and added labels. Grab mini spoons for serving.
Next, you will need your toppings. I picked up an assortment of toppings, stirrers, and sauces. I received the adorable mini snowflake marshmallows for Christmas. They are no longer available, but Williams Sonoma is currently carrying the hearts and Easter bunny marshmallows, and the marshmallow snowmen on sticks. You can grab them here. I found the sweet heart marshmallows from Madyson’s marshmallows, a family owned sweet treat and gift company specializing in freshly made gourmet marshmallows. The vanilla heart marshmallows are gooey and full of flavor. They do not melt instantly when they hit the cocoa. They actually grow in size! Even better, the marshmallows are made using natural, gluten free ingredients and they have a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from.
The peppermint stirrer sticks from Melville Candy pictured above, are a great addition to a mint, dark, or milk chocolate hot cocoa. We really enjoyed it paired with the heart marshmallow because when the marshmallow became gooey, the peppermint pieces began melting into it and it was scrumptious. The tree sticks (a Target find last year) were perfect for stirring beverages without marshmallows and for the girls who did not want flavored stirrers. You can find cute drink stirrers at Oriental Trading, Etsy, Target, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I bought a canister of Pirouline wafers as a sweet treat to snack on and we fell in love when we decided to use them in our beverages.
My favorite addition to the hot cocoa bar was Jordan’s Skinny Marshmallow Foam Topping and Ghirardelli Premium Sauces. I never used foam topping or flavored sauces in my homemade drinks, specifically hot cocoa, and this was honestly the most flavorful addition. And of course, we had to throw in a few drops of our favorite liqueurs. All of my girlfriends were raving about how much the topping, sauces, and flavored liqueurs added to the experience. Because drinking hot cocoa is all about the experience, am I right?
Lastly, you need to add a few savory and sweet treats to snack on during you gathering. Flavored popcorn and soft pretzels are a good salty choice. Popsations sent us these fun flavored popcorn bags to try and they didn’t disappoint. Gluten free, caramel, drizzled in chocolate, they make for a sweet treat that pairs well with any dessert beverage. I found pretzel bites that can be heated and topped with salt in less than 5 minutes. Pretzilla bites are soft, slightly sweet, and made for snacking. I could not keep my hands off! Piroulines, chocolate covered marshmallows, and shortbread cookies are great dessert pairings. You can find my recipe for salted chocolate peanut butter shortbread here.
A good host doesn’t send her guests off without a personalized favor. Ghirardelli sauces must be used within 3 weeks of opening, and I knew I couldn’t make that happen, despite how delicious they were! So I found small jars and filled each with chocolate, white chocolate, or caramel sauce. I pulled out my handy gel pen and labeled each jar. The girls took a jar home to enjoy in their coffee, hot cocoa, or as a special topping on dessert. They even have enough to share with their family and friends!
I hope this inspires you to host a cozy and relaxing night in, drinking hot cocoa and catching up with your best girlfriends.You won’t regret it when those belly laughs start creeping in!