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How to Make an Outdoor Hot Cocoa Bar

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How to make an outdoor Hot Chocolate Bar:  Hosting an outdoor gathering, but it’s still cool out?  This DIY Outdoor Hot Cocoa Bar is perfect for serving hot cocoa, coffee and other warm beverages to all your guests.  (Or, as in our case, I just wanted a hot chocolate bar as a backdrop to our family photo session.)

How to set up an Outdoor Hot Cocoa Bar

Outdoor Hot Cocoa Bar

Do you remember my post a few weeks back about our family photos/cold shoulder top sewing tutorial?  Our Outdoor Hot Chocolate Bar themed photos turned out amazing and I actually got several emails asking questions about our set up, so I thought I would do a follow-up post and share a few more details!

outdoor hot chocolate bar

DIY outdoor hot cocoa bar

I set up this hot cocoa bar as a backdrop for our family photo session this year, but it was a real Hot Chocolate Bar- with hot cocoa in the slow cooker and all sorts of toppings and goodies to go along with and top off our drinks. (Yummy from scratch Hot Cocoa Recipe.)

I even let the kids set the hot cocoa bar back up the following day to “sell” hot chocolate to the neighborhood kids.  (They even had cookies and gave out the goodies for “tips only.”  Kept them out of the house and busy all day! )

In the photo below you can see a bit better how we set up the table/stand…

hot cocoa bar ideas

I used my entryway table as the bar, but almost any table with some sort of tablecloth could work.  In our lemonade stand, I did a few years back, I used an Ikea sheet to make a ruffled tablecloth to cover our outdoor coffee table.

To make the holders for the banner, I bought long wood 1 by 2’s and quickly gave them a light coat of stain to match the table.  We then zip-tied the 1 by 2’s to the table’s back legs.  I wanted to be able to hang a banner, so we drilled holes at the top of the 1 by 2’s and strung the banner through the holes.  (Hubby did the work for me.)  I do recommend trimming your zip ties and using a color that blends so they won’t be as noticeable or will at least be easier to photoshop them out.

IMO, that banner really made a world of difference in the final look.  It’s a smidge extra work – but don’t skip it!

hot chocolate bar ideas

To decorate the Hot Cocoa Bar, I used various knick-knacks that I already had, plus a few more items from Hobby Lobby, Joann’s and Amazon.

Links to items used (or recommended):


hot cocoa bar

Hot Cocoa…  Only 100 cents!

serve hot chocolate outside

We also had a lovely tiered platter of cookies and brownies that were supposed to be where the cake stand was, but they were accidentally dropped by an unnamed munchkin, while we were setting up, lol.

I just love how the hot cocoa bar turned out!

What do you think, is this something you would do?

More fun bars and photo setups for any type of party:

Indoor DIY Hot Chocolate Bar

How to Make a Lemonade Stand

Popcorn Bar

New Year’s Resolution Photo Booth

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  1. Charity Crawford says:

    I absolutely love this! I’ve been wanting to do an outdoor hot cocoa treat with neighbors but have if a challenge figuring out what to put the cocoa in. A crockpot is so easy it’s genius!

  2. To keep the hot chocolate warm, do you put the slow cooker on low or warm?

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      Warm if your slow cooker has it. Otherwise I would use low and just cycle it off and on.

  3. How long for did the slow cooker keep the cocoa warm? Do you have a secret outlet behind that table?

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      It kept it warm for quite a while, but anything more than 45 minutes you will probly want to plug it in.