Hot Cocoa and Apple Cider Bar

EASY Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

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Hot Cocoa and Apple Cider BarEASY Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

You too can set up an easy Hot Cocoa bar — really you can! I will show you how.  In fact, you can simply have hot water and the dry mixes and that would be really fun too. 

Wondering when to have it?  It’s always a good time!  

Stan and I have done 30 Open House style Dinners I believe, but we decided to do a Hot Cocoa Bar this time, and it turned out fabulous, or I should say scrumptious.

So who do you invite?  

Well, you could invite your family, or your friends, or what about your neighbors?

We decided to put the word out there, but to make sure that every single house in our neighborhood – all 171 was invited.

Did people come?  YEP!

How did we do it?  We asked for help of course and you should too!  I’ll tell you more about that.

I’ve also included tips and recipes, just in case you might want them:) Click on any blue for easy linking

Let’s get this delicious party started:

To begin: we got hold of some really inexpensive Chinese take-out containers like these HERE

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa bar

Then we filled them with my yummy White Chocolate Covered Corn Pops.  You can find the recipe HERE

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

We had some help as I mentioned, because angels always come to our rescue.  Natalie, who has a FB page HERE  made the adorable tags.  She  makes all sorts of cards and tags that are handcrafted, unique, each one extraordinary and always special gifts.  Make sure to check out her page!



Our neighbors, more angels; Bret & Teresa Cutler and their sons, helped us deliver almost all of them after Stan and I put them together.

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

For the BIG event I made my Crock Pot Creamy Hot Chocolate.  It’s so easy and you can find it HERE  I did make a change of part semi-sweet chocolate chips and part milk chocolate chips so it was not too sweet or too dark of a flavor for the add-ins/mix-in’s.  (See the notes at the bottom.)

This thermos kept the drinks perfectly warm and it didn’t pick up the taste of either the hot chocolate OR the cider either – at least not in my situation. 

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

eighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

And I also made my Caramel Apple Cider, the recipe is HERE

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

I didn’t want to exclude anyone, so I had hot water in the 2 thermos’s and Steven’s Milk Hot Chocolate which is gluten-free.

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Now for the FUN part!  I had add-in’s or mix-in’s you may call them.   (You can click on the links for easy ordering) 

You simply can’t have a Hot Cocoa Bar without marshmallows!

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

For the paper products we found these awesome cups.  You can get some like it, WITH the little stirrers HERE

Don’t forget the Napkins!


Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

And of course you MUST have Spray Whipped Cream in the can for the Caramel Apple Cider AND the Hot Cocoa!

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

Neighborhood Hot Cocoa Bar

The drinks kept extremely well in the Igloo Jugs, which you can find HERE

Oh, and I mentioned, I use my fabulous thermos all the time to keep water and drinks hot, like I did for the party, or when we go out to events and activities – you will find one HERE

Now, to save you frustration and calculations, for a party of 75-85 people, and some people had both kinds of drinks; while others had many ‘tries’ of hot cocoa flavors too:)

  • I used only one bottle of all the syrups, the larger one of the chocolate
  • 3 bags of miniature marshmallows
  • 4 cans of spray whipped cream
  • 1/4 can of Stevens hot chocolate mix
  • 1 – 1/4 can bag of heath toffee bits
  • about 1 1/2 cups total of crushed candy canes
  • 1/4 cup approximately of Mexican vanilla
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of orange and almond extract



  • Put towels on the floor to absorb any drips from the Igloo jug
  • Garbage cans around to collect the empty cups, spoons and napkins.  We line 5 gallon buckets and have around the rooms.
  • Have a bowl of ice for parents to put in their kids cups if the drink liquid is too hot.


I will give you the formula that I used for making large batches of the Creamy Crock Pot Hot Chocolate and the Caramel Apple Cider.  I made it the day before, kept it cold and then warmed it slowly over the stove and poured it into the Igloo jugs.  The jugs kept the drinks much hotter than I expected, so warm it just a little hotter than you would drink it if it will be used within 4-5 hours.

This is what I needed with a little left over for 75-85 people, kids and adults included:



4 quarts or 2 half gallons half and half

8 cans sweetened condensed milk

3 gallons of whole milk

1/4 cup vanilla (I like the Mexican vanilla)

3 packages  semisweet chocolate chips

5 packages of milk chocolate chips

Full recipe instructions are HERE



3 recipes of cinnamon syrup*

9 quarts apple juice ( not apple cider)

6 envelopes dry spiced cider drink mix

1  1/2 cups caramel sundae topping (use one 14 oz. bottle and that’s perfect)

Follow recipe instructions HERE


I hope you get a chance to have family, friends and even YOUR neighbors over for a hot cocoa bar and maybe you’ll want the caramel cider too. 

Here are all my hot drinks so far that I have created that are family friendly and delicious. Simply click on the picture and it will take you there!

9 Fabulous Family Friendly Hot Drinks

 9 Fabulous Family Friendly Hot Drinks










Carrie Groneman’s recipes

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2017

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Affiliate links as described.

2nd Sunday Dinner

2nd Sunday – Oct 2016

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2nd Sunday Dinner

I had my left knee replaced, making both with total knee replacements within a three week period and this Second Sunday was even more difficult than the last one….but our awesome neighbors came to our rescue!  I feel terrible that I didn’t even take ONE picture of the set up, or dinner – that’s how weak I was feeling, sorry folks. 

So, before the first surgery I had made Au Jus and purchased the deli style cooked roast beef to serve as French Dip Sandwiches.  Both were in the freezer along with a few batches of brownies and Circus Sugar Cookie bars.

However, the problem was sides/salads and more desserts.  I was not feeling well and Stan had his hands full of taking care of me AND getting the house ready.  Our son Derek came over Saturday night to help set up the tables, chairs and some other things (thank you a billion times over Derek!).  But, during the week, I was worried about it and just knew I couldn’t make anything….I wasn’t even making food for us, unless making a glass of chocolate milk counts.

So I put out a call for help on the neighborhood facebook page, and boy, everyone was so willing to help! In no time at all people volunteered to bring the food we needed and it was all set.  Stan and I are incredibly grateful to our friends-neighbors (same thing) who came to our dinner and help to strengthen our community in such positive ways. 

ANNOUNCEMENT:  We have a new grand baby coming in November and we are SO THRILLED! However, because this little one is not geographically close to us, we are on stand by and will be traveling as soon as we get ‘the word’ the baby is on it’s way:) This means that we will be taking a hiatus to our 2nd Sunday dinners for November and also through the holidays.  When we start up again, we will post and let y’all know!!!

Now for the dinner:

I served the BEST EVER FRENCH DIP SANDWICHES and you can get the recipe HERE

Au Jus and Beef Sandwich for French Dip

The BEST Ever French Dip Sandwich with Homemade Au Jus

Also CIRCUS ANIMAL COOKIE BARS and you can get that recipe by clicking HERE

Circus Animal Cookie Bars

Circus Animal Cookie Bars

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2016

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Second Sunday Dinner

August 2nd Sunday – Open House Dinner

 It was a FABULOUS 2nd Sunday Dinner with a large crowd of about 60 AWESOME people! I went with a Hawaiian Theme and here’s a few of the items on the menu:

Hawaiian Sliders

Hawaiian SlidersRoasted Corn Couscous

Roasted Corn Cous Cous

Pineapple Dream Bars

Pineapple Dream Bars

It was a crazy, busy week for Stan and me, but we still managed to get the house cleaned.  The fridge, pantry, fingerprints on walls, wood, etc., you know the deep stuff I normally don’t do with my regular daily cleaning. And of course cooking and getting everything ready to greet our guests.

The menu consisted of: 

Hawaiian Pork Sliders with Slaw and Sauce – click HERE for the recipe

Roasted Corn Couscous – click HERE for this recipe

Island Baked Beans, Mini Cucumber Bites, Pineapple Dream Bars – click HERE to get this recipe

Toasted Coconut Poke Cake – always a fav, click HERE for this one.

I mentioned to my friend Diane at RecipesForOurDaily Bread I was doing a Hawaiian theme and she said she had a recipe she had that would go perfectly.  I asked her to send it and I will tell you, that it was so unique, that I could not even imagine what it would taste like.  Our friends that join us for 2nd Sunday Dinner are very adventurous (I try to introduce at least one food they may not have had before) and thought this would be a great time to try this.  I made a triple batch to fit in my over-sized pan, and people were scraping every little bit out and asking for the recipe before they left.  Can you imagine what it would taste like to mix pineapple and cheese together, then top it with butter and Ritz crackers?  Well – this is what the people were asking about and rushing the serving counter for.  Head on over to Diane’s place to snag the recipe for Baked Pineapple Cheese Casserole and see it for yourself.  Click HERE for her recipe.  Second Sunday Dinner

Second Sunday Dinner 1

Second Sunday Dinner 2

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.


2nd Sunday Dinner Open House

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It was 2nd Sunday and we had one of our largest crowds ever, which made Stan and me so happy.  Neighbors brought people to meet new friends, and it was really a wonderful time.

I have been asked many times how & why we do this dinner every month, here’s a few of the reasons

  1. We feel very strongly that we are to host this dinner.
  2. Miracles happen every month.
  3. The people that come are wonderful and become friends

Here are a few of the latest miracles:

When our grand daughter was born a few days before 2nd Sunday, and struggled with life for several days, we had the energy and strength to help with the other grand kids, keep up my blog responsibilities & Stan his work, deep clean, cook, prepare and still hold the dinner.

I have a small budget set aside for this event and, without fail, miracles happen, for example –

One month I really wanted to make my Asian BBQ Chicken, but the meat alone would bust my budget. As the day came closer I felt impressed to go to a local store. Of course I did, and found they had exactly what I wanted at marked down prices!

This month I wanted to make the Beef Bourguignon I posted, but that particular cut of meat would be much more than a few months of my set-aside-funds for the dinner. Again, I felt to go to a certain store, and found the butcher was marking the meat down to about the cost of hamburger due to the upcoming marked date!

It is not an easy task to pull off every month, but it is so worth it and we relish in the feeling in our home as we get ready for and have the dinner.


Now for this month’s menu:

  • Beef Bourguignon over Chunky Masked Potatoes (click HERE for the recipe)
  • Strawberry Mousse   (I am so sorry my neighbors who I said I would have this recipe up – I forgot to take pics and write down what I did! I’ll make it again next month and put it up then)
  • Rolls & Butter
  • Green Salad & Dressing
  • Sugar Bars with Cookie Butter & Chocolate (recipe coming)
  • Stuffed Angel Food Cake (recipe follows)
  • Chocolate Cookies
  • Carrot Sheet Cake















DSC_0663Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.