The holidays are here! The most wonderful time of the year. I seriously cannot get enough Christmas in my life, which is why I was very excited that my turn to host book club fell in December.

Annie and I have been in the same book club for over five years. In that time, this was only the third time that I have hosted. That is because we have so many members that your name only pops up every couple of years.

I decided that in addition to having book club that it would be fun to do a cookie exchange and make crockpot hot chocolate (recipe below). This meant that those who normally don’t read the book have something to contribute to the party. The cookie exchange was a huge success. All of our friends are very creative and the cookie display was quite impressive! Each person brought 3 dozen cookies, which meant that they took home 2-3 of each kind of cookie. Annie made delicious peppermint macarons. She’s starting to get really good at making macarons, which is perfect, because they are one of my favorite food groups.

holiday cookie party and hot chocolate bar | a couple of amateurs

In addition to the cookies, I thought it would be fun to have a hot chocolate bar. Since half of our book club is either pregnant or breast-feeding, hot chocolate is a nice alternative to alcoholic beverages. Although, I did make sure there was plenty of Baileys and Peppermint Schnapps to accompany the drinks. I thought butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and marshmallows were nice additions.

crockpot hot chocolate | a couple of amateurs

I modified a few different recipes that I found for crockpot hot chocolate and came up with a delightful cocoa that wasn’t too sweet. Here’s the recipe for crockpot hot chocolate:

  • 8 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the above ingredients together and let simmer in crockpot on high for 1 hour or low for 2 hours before ready to serve. Stir occasionally. This yields about 12 cups of cocoa.

crockpot hot chocolate | a couple of amateurs

With all this sugar, I needed to have some delicious, salty appetizers to balance our palates. A display of cheeses, nuts and crackers is always an easy option. I try to pick one seasonal cheese (cranberry), two hard cheeses (aged gouda and white cheddar) and two soft cheeses (blue and goat). One of my favorite holiday cheeses is brie, because there are so many interesting ways to prepare it. This time I decided to use brown sugar, pecans and a little brandy. It is a nice warm, salty, and creamy delicious bite on top of crostini.

book club cookie party | appetizers | cheese tray | a couple of amateurs

Another appetizer I made was cranberry, feta and cream cheese pinwheels bites. I used this recipe from Explore Love Eat. I didn’t have any green onions, so I substituted onion powder. Not quite the same, but still delicious.

I encourage you to try some of these ideas at your next book club, holiday party or cookie exchange. The crockpot hot chocolate bar was a huge hit and everyone enjoyed preparing it their own special way. Leave a comment below with your favorite thing to add to your hot chocolate!

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