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Homemade for the Holidays No. 2

December 9, 2013



We don’t have many holiday traditions as a couple, Evan and I. I think this is for two reasons: 1) we’ve always spent this season with family and celebrated the traditions we grew up with, and 2) we’re still fairly young in our relationship. But now that Baby P is on the way, we’re seeing Christmas in the big picture sense. How will we make it special once our little one is here? Will we always chop our tree down from a farm? Will we wear matching pajamas? Will we string popcorn garlands? Will we break tradition and fly to a tropical location every year? Will we promote Santa? (Evan grew up a believer, I did not). So many questions we have. So many ideas and visions of how our near future might turn out. And I have to admit, I’m a little scared. There’s a lot of pressure to make this season magical for little ones…especially when they’re your little one. You want them to grow up with fond memories of Christmas mornings and of family traditions. And maybe, you want them to love some traditions so much that they carry them on to their own families one day.



While we’ve been really minimal with decorations up until now (because we’re never home for Christmas), we’ve always made an event of decking the halls even if we’re only stringing lights in the shape of a tree on our wall (we did that one year). We put on holiday music (usually the Mariah Carey Holiday Station on Pandora – I’m one of those rare birds that never tires of All I Want for Christmas) and make hot cocoa (usually spiked with peppermint schnapps). It’s the one tradition we’ve created so far. Simple and sweet, and we hope to continue it with our growing family as the kickstart to this merry season.



Because hot cocoa is the only staple in our newly born holiday traditions, I thought it a perfect homemade gift idea. Making hot cocoa mix couldn’t be easier or more inexpensive. You can flavor and prepare it a number of ways. Packaged in a cute tin or jar, you’ve got yourself a lovely gift that will sweeten anyone’s day.

Here are three hot cocoa mixes for you to try out: Peppermint, S’mores, and Spicy. A little something for everyone. Enjoy!






Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix {Three ways!}

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup powdered candy canes (pulverized in a food processor or ground finely by hand – about 25 mini canes)

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini marshmallows (optional)

Garnish with: Chocolate dipped candy cane stir stick

S’mores Hot Cocoa

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Garnish with: Chocolate dipped marshmallow sprinkled with crushed graham cracker

Spicy Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

pinch nutmeg

pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 cup mini marshmallows (optional)

Garnish with: Chocolate dipped stir spoons sprinkled with coarse salt and cayenne pepper

Packaging directions for all

Layer each ingredient in a jar or tin. Avoid mixing for a prettier presentation.

Preparation directions for all

Heat 2 cups milk over medium heat, just until simmering but not boiling. Add cocoa mix and stir until well dissolved. Pour into cozy mugs and top with marshmallows, whipped cream or chocolate shavings as desired.

* Use good quality cocoa whenever possible. Valrhona and Scharffen Berger are my go to’s. 

25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2013 8:27 am

    Love these ideas!

  2. December 9, 2013 8:52 am

    Oohh, these are just too adorable!!

  3. December 9, 2013 10:26 am

    Great gift ideas! We’re flush with Kilner jars this year, so finding incredibly cool homemade gift ideas that work beautifully in jars is totally inspirational! LOVE LOVE LOVE the jar with the polar bear on it!

  4. December 9, 2013 10:33 am

    You are such an inspirational blogger, any tips for a younger one, hoping to be like you and many others?

  5. December 9, 2013 11:13 am

    These are so lovely! I love making hot cocoa mix for Christmas gift, but yours looks SO much prettier layered in the jars like that. I will definitely save this for future inspiration!

  6. December 9, 2013 11:18 am

    I love your cocoa gift ideas. I’ll probably mix up some just for me :-) and maybe spike it a little with Amaretto when it really gets cold. As for traditions… don’t worry, make your own and enjoy the time and love with your new little family.

  7. December 9, 2013 1:07 pm

    I love these homeade hot cocoa ideas! Thank you!

  8. December 9, 2013 2:23 pm

    These are gorgeous! I especially love the little extra details like the chocolate spoons on the side. I’m sure your friends and family will be over the moon to receive these :)

  9. December 9, 2013 8:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Candles and Cocktailsblog.

  10. Mert Parsons permalink
    December 9, 2013 10:28 pm

    Gorgeous, Paola! You are SO creative!

  11. December 9, 2013 10:36 pm

    Have to try the smores one for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  12. December 10, 2013 9:05 am

    Love the chocolate hot cocoa! I was looking for something to drop off to a few of my neighbors this year and this will be perfect! Thanks!

  13. December 10, 2013 12:55 pm

    So sweet, I love this. How do you keep the marshmallows and other toppings from going into the milk at first along with the actual cocoa flavorings? Or do you just pour the whole thing into the milk at once, toppings and all?

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      December 10, 2013 1:15 pm

      Hi Kelly! The mini marshmallows go right into the hot milk and melt away. Makes the cocoa so much more rich and creamy :)

  14. December 10, 2013 1:48 pm

    adorable!!! I need some holiday gifts and these look perfect :)

  15. Mommy G permalink
    December 11, 2013 2:31 am

    These look perfect… it’s my baby girl’s first Christmas this year and though my ambitions for making it perfect will probably be made impossible by her:), I might try to make these when she naps. My husband will absolutely love them! Thank you for inspiration!

  16. December 11, 2013 10:45 am

    Reblogged this on amanda hardt and commented:
    I think this is such a fun and creative idea for a Holiday gift!

  17. neetukushi permalink
    December 11, 2013 11:07 am

    I love giving homemade gifts too. Thanks for sharing your beautiful and festive ideas.

  18. Marta permalink
    December 13, 2013 12:44 pm

    That’s a brilliant and super cute idea! :)
    Can I ask you the volume of the jars? 1 liter, 1/2 liter,..? :D thank you!!

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      December 13, 2013 1:10 pm

      Hi Marta,

      For the sake of pictures, I used all sorts of sizes and filled them accordingly but each recipe will fit nicely into a 1 pint jar.

      • December 13, 2013 1:29 pm

        Ok perfect! I asked because I don’t wanna make a messy work :P
        Thank you!

  19. March 9, 2014 8:06 am

    All of these look absolutely delicious and the photos are beautiful! I’ll be sure to try them as soon as I get the chance


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