Hot Chocolate Station Essentials

hot chocolate station essentials for everyday and parties

 

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Who else is whipping up lots of hot chocolate right now? Ari’s two favourite things right now are tea parties and hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows), and she got me thinking about the idea of a hot chocolate station.  They’re a fun addition to holiday parties or to have set up with everything you need for your favourite warm bevvies when you come in out of the cold (you can also add tea, coffee, maybe some Irish cream or Kahlua…;) ). I love the idea of setting up a station, but if you’re limited for space you can go vertical (use a tiered stand!) or stock a basket or container with your favourite essentials and tuck onto a shelf or into a cupboard and pull it out when you have guests coming over- or when you’re craving a hot sweet drink! 😉

Another twist on this idea is to put together a gift basket that includes everything you need for a deluxe hot chocolate- think a yummy mix, marshmallows (the gourmet mallows from Marsh&Mallow are the best), sprinkles, and some pretty cups – or add essentials to a cute togo cup like this one). I just realized I didn’t include a seasonal essential- candy canes!!!- but hopefully this post gives you some ideas. Side note: how cute with this be to have set up on Christmas for when you’re opening gifts? Add a few snacks and you’ve got a cute buffet!

I’ve included a few ideas from some of my favourite local shops in this post (see # 1, 2, 5, 6, and 9) + some easy to shop online ideas.Have you ever set up a hot chocolate or beverage station? What did you include?

Check out some local shops featured in this post!

Victoria Senges | Dainty Sprinkle Co | Paper + Parties Co | Marsh&Mallow

Disclousre: This post contains affiliate links

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hot chocolate station essentials for everyday and parties

The Secret Dinner: A Night to Inspire

The Secret Dinner party table setting

It’s hard to believe that this evening- The Secret Dinner– was almost two weeks ago already. After months of preparing and planning, the evening celebrating the launch of the Captured In Squares website (the photo styling company I run with friend and blogger, Janette of Ava to Zoe) came and went in a flash- don’t the best kind of nights always go by too fast? A lot of love and time went into planning what Janette and I hoped would be a creative way to launch our website and we’re sharing some of the details on our blogs.

The catch of The Secret Dinner was that hostesses and location would be kept a secret until the last minute (hence the name), but hints were dropped on the event’s Instagram page so guests would have some idea of what to expect. I had the task of taking Janette’s idea of a secret dinner (all credit goes to her for the idea) and bringing all the details together while she hustled away on getting the website ready for the launch. Inspired by a wall of dreamcatchers, we wanted to go with a style that was a little bit boho/ rustic/ vintage with a white, gold, green colour scheme with accents of dark red for drama/ contrast. Let the pinning marathon begin! 

The theme of the evening was ‘a night to inspire’ and we wanted to use it as an opportunity to bring together some of our supporters and clients since starting Captured In Squares as a way of saying thank you. It was a chance to enjoy an al fresco meal in good company while swapping stories and experiences from being in business. Hose d’oeuvres from Fork & Knife Catering and flatbread from Rocky Mountain Flatbread were served alongside wine from Evolve Cellars, followed by a show- stopping naked cake by The Cake Mama.

We wanted the dinner to be outside to make the most of the last of the late Summer nights and our date in August didn’t disappoint. As a final way of keeping everything a secret until the last minute, guests had to walk down a path to enter the dinner area, turning a corner to see the set up. We opted for a low- lying palette table set with white and gold, vintage wine glasses, and wooden cutlery; menus were placed at each setting topped with a fresh sprig of greenery from my parent’s garden. Pretty finishing touches included a table- length runner of fresh seeded eucalyptus (Budget Blooms) from placed on top of sheet music and fabric, tea lights (Canvas Candle Co), the words ‘inspire’, ‘ignite’, ‘achieve’ in gold calligraphy (Paper + Parties Co) at each place setting, and a notebook topped with a mini dream catcher (Shop Ava to Zoe) for each guest. Since it was a low table, piles of cushions and blankets surrounded the table so the ladies could lay them out as desired and sit comfortably. 

We kept the decor simple, using a palette to display a selection of the photos from Impressed App we’ve taken since starting Captured In Squares, and decorating the food table in a vintage lace tablecloth and fresh flower bouquet provided by Budget Blooms. Fresh greens and a dream catcher (another Shop Ave to Zoe piece) served as a backdrop, with a vintage magazine wrack as a wine holder on the table. The cake made for a pretty focal point, finished with fresh flowers from Budget Blooms and a gold ‘Captured In Squares’ calligraphy cake topper from Paper + Parties. 

We ended the evening with prize bags contributed by some of the event’s sponsors: The Handpicked Home, Canvas Candle Co, Kristina Benson Art, Marsh&Mallow, and Budget Blooms, and a heartfelt thank you to the ladies in attendance. The notebooks and mini dream catchers from the table were sent home with the guests along with a swag bag of goodies as our way of showing our appreciation for everyone who came. And just like that, the evening was over. Janette and I couldn’t have been happier with how everything came together and how we marked the milestone of launching our website. It was a heart full moment and we are both so grateful for everyone who helped us bring it together and attended. For more details about The Secret Dinner, see below and visit this post on the CIS website. 

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner fresh greens table runner

   The Secret Dinner party table setting  The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner party table setting

The Secret Dinner Shop Ava to Zoe mini dream catchers

The Secret Dinner white flower bouquet

The Secret Dinner party decor Shop Ava to Zoe dream catcher

The Secret Dinner Evolve Cellars Wine

The Secret Dinner Fork and Knife Catering appetizers The Secret Dinner Fork and Knife Catering appetizers The Secret Dinner Rocky Mountain Flatbread

The Secret Dinner flower bouquet by Budget Blooms

The Secret Dinner naked cake by The Cake Mama

The Secret Dinner Paper + Parties gold calligraphy cake topper The Secret Dinner naked cake by The Cake Mama

The Secret Dinner palette photo wall

The Secret Dinner palette photo wall

The Secret Dinner fresh greens decor

The Secret Dinner fresh greens decor

The Secret Dinner swag bags from Essential Packaging The Secret Dinner guests with balloon garland from Paper + Parties Co

Thank you to these sponsors for helping us bring together The Secret Dinner 2017!

#SecretDinner2017

Photos & Styling by Captured In Squares

Food & Refreshments

Appetizers: Caprese Skewers, Lemon & Garlic Chicken Skewers, & Prosciutto and Mint Wrapped Melon Skewers- Fork & Knife Catering | Facebook | Instagram

Selection of flatbreads: Fig & Brie, Parma, Classic, & Tomato Basil- Rocky Mountain Flatbread | Facebook | Instagram

Naked Cake- The Cake Mama | Facebook | Instagram

Wine- Evolve Cellars | Facebook | Instagram

Decor

Balloon garland, gold striped plates, cake topper + gold words (on cutlery)- Paper + Parties | Facebook | Instagram

Florals & greenery garland (on table)- Budget Blooms | Facebook | Instagram

CIS photo prints (displayed on pallette)- Impressed App | Facebook | Instagram

Invitations (emailed to guests)- A Little Love Creative | Facebook | Instagram

Swag Bags + Prizes

Bags & tissue- Essential Packaging | Facebook | Instagram

Gift tags- A Paper Life | Facebook | Instagram

Prizes

$30 Gift card- The Handpicked Home | Facebook | Instagram

$100 e- gift card- Kristina Benson Art | Facebook | Instagram

$50 candle gift pack- Canvas Candle Co | Facebook | Instagram

Floral bouquet- Budget Blooms | Facebook | Instagram

Gourmet marshmallows- Marsh&Mallow | Facebook | Instagram

Swag

$10 coupon codes- Kristina Benson Art | Facebook | Instagram

Set of free photo prints- Impressed App | Facebook | Instagram

Mini white dream catchers- Shop Ava to Zoe | Facebook | Instagram

Individual gourmet marshmallows- Marsh&Mallow | Facebook | Instagram

Cinco De Mayo Party

Who’s ready for a party?? Cinco De Mayo is right around the corner and let’s face it, we’re all in need of something bright and cheerful after the grey months behind us. I got together with my blogger gals Janette (Ava to Zoe) and Heydy (Raising Jay and Abel) to put on a Spring Fiesta with our kids and let’s just say I’m doing a happy dance after seeing it all come together. We all pitched in to bring this party together- yay teamwork!- and you can find the links to the posts Janette and Heydy have up on their blogs, plus source info and links at the end of the post (Janette made to- die- for vegetarian tacos and Heydy whipped up some wicked sangria). 

We went for a twist on the classic Cinco De Mayo theme, taking colour inspo from Mexican blankets and muting them down for a more pastel pallette. We opted for a Tex- Mex menu and a few sweet treats to keep things simple, all around a Mexican theme (how cute are those cactus cookies?!). We added some pops of colour to the table with the flowers and cactus, whipped up a cute ‘Taco ’bout a party’ sign (thank you dollar store!), and added a few fun details like the pineapple and tissue garland at the front of the table for finishing touches. A lot of the items for dressing the table were things we already had, simple DIYS, and some dollar store finds and we wanted to show that you can throw one helluva party without blowing the budget (I’ll be sharing the DIY for the tissue backdrop soon).Whether you throw a Cinco De Mayo party, or like the idea of a Mexican themed fiesta, I hope you get some ideas from these photos! Scroll to the end for links and source info. Ole!

 

     

   

 

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Photo credit: Ava to Zoe, one half of Captured in Squares

Backdrop- OHP (DIY here)

‘OLE’ balloons, party plates, wooden forks, & cactus gummies – Joonie and Joe | Instagram | Facebook 

Glass jug & glasses, napkins, & taco tray- President’s Choice | Instagram | Facebook 

Wood cactus plates- Timber Child | Instagram |Facebook

Colouring pages- Taylin Threads | Instagram | Facebook 

Flowers- Ever Red Fresh Designs

Mac & Cheese, organic blue corn chips- President’s Choice | Instagram | Facebook 

Vegetarian tacos- Ava to Zoe using Veggie Grounds from Big Mountain Foods

Sangria- Raising Jay and Abel 

Cactus cookies- The Cake Mama | Instagram | Facebook 

Nacho flavour popcorn- The Popcorn Bar | Instagram 

Churros- Lola’s Churro Bar | Instagram | Facebook 

 

 

Recipe: Mango Strawberry Salsa

When you get together with family & friends, is there always a dish that everyone loves? That just gets pounced on and devoured in minutes? You know what I’m talking about. This little recipe would be one of those. This salsa has been a favourite at family dinners this Summer (I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s my SILs that I have to thank for this) and I thought it would be perfect to share as we head into August (seriously, where is this year going?!). It takes minutes to make and is just. plain. yummy. Whip up some guac to go with it and you’ve got the makings for a tasty experience. Now just to find a beer & a lime wedge to go with it…!
Ingredients:
1 cup strawberries, diced
2 medium mangos, pitted & diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
Directions:
1. Dice the strawberries, mangos, and onion and stir together. 
2. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and salt, tasting as you go until you get the flavour you like
3. Enjoy right away or chill in the fridge for an hour (or a few) to let the flavours combine
4. Serve with your favourite chips & enjoy!

Pretty Spring Table DIY

Are you hosting Easter Dinner this year? Entertaining can be a lot of fun, but it can get expensive and be a lot of work- especially when it comes to the dishes and clean up! Today I’m sharing some fun and simple ways to set a Spring table including this pretty DIY table runner made from ribbon and fresh flowers/ greens. Added bonus: I used paper plates and napkins and wooden cutlery for an easy clean up instead of linen, china and silverware: just pop them into recycling and the compost when you clear the table and you’re done! Scroll to the end of the post for all the details. 

 

I love finding inexpensive ways to decorate and finding ways to use items I already have, and setting the table for special occasions is the perfect chance to do this. When it comes to entertaining, I love spending the time with loved ones, I just don’t enjoy the time it takes to clean up after having guests. So I opted to set this table with as many recyclable/ compostable items as possible, as well as ones that can be used again- such as the mason jars and pretty candle holders– to cut down on clean up. I used these beautiful paper plates as the jumping- off point (can you believe they’re paper?!) and went from there. The silver chargers I already had, and I simply folded up some paper napkins to lay the cutlery on. When guests are finished, the plates can go into recycling and the cutlery and napkins can be composted. All I’ll need to do is pop the mason jars in the dishwasher and wipe down the chargers with a cloth. And then there’s that table runner… 
I love making pretty centrepieces, but I don’t like trying to see over them to talk to people across the table, so this low- lying beauty is perfect. All you need are some pretty fresh flowers and greens, and any other materials you would like to use. I laid down craft paper to serve as placemats (another easy thing to clean up!), then layered satin ribbon on top running the length of the table. I used ivy as the base then added some dusty miller and roses- use whatever you’ve got in the garden or pick up some fresh cuts at the grocery store. This doesn’t have to be expensive to make a statement. If you’d like the roses to last longer, pop them in floral tubes with water. For a fun finishing touch for Easter, give each guest an egg and paint pen (or use a regular/ permanent marker) so they can decorate an egg while they wait for dinner to be served- this is a great way to keep the kids entertained and it’s fun for the adults too. I hope this post gives you some ideas for your own Easter table! See the checklist below for what I used.
Table checklist:

Place settings:
– paper plates- Heather and Gem
– wooden cutlery- Grace Miller & Co
– kraft paper (used as placemats, I used a roll I bought from IKEA)
– chargers 
– napkins
– mason jars
– paper straws
Table decoration:
– wooden candleholders- From the Seeds 
– table runner:
— satin ribbon (I just laid it down on the table, but you can use double- sided tape if you’d like it secured in place)
— fresh greens- seeded eucalyptus, nagi podocarpus (used in a lot of flower bouquets), ivy, and dusty miller are a few ideas
— fresh flowers- pick flowers that suit your style and colours that suit the rest of the table

Thanks to 
Heather and Gem,  From the Seeds, and Grace Miller & Co for helping me pull this all together!

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