Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, mainly because I love bundling up in layers of clothes and blankets, sipping steaming hot beverages from my favorite mug and cuddling with my boys.
This winter I wanted to make my home more visitor friendly which isn't easy when you have a 3 year old with cabin fever running loose. However, a quick Pinterest search led me to find some simple hot chocolate bars/stations.
My little brain started churning... what about a winter drink station where you could have something for everyone? Since I had been craving spiced Russian tea (recipe below), I knew I wanted to incorporate that. Hot chocolate was a no brainer, but I decided to use packets for simplicity. For holiday parties, we definitely needed to add coffee.
I liked the idea of the tiered storage because it kept from cluttering up my counter top and felt more organized. I've had that basket thing for years and it finally has a good use!
The hardest part was figuring out what to use to store all of the mix-ins. I needed something with a lid that didn't cost a lot, so when I saw a box of a dozen Wal-mart brand jelly jars for only $8, I was sold. Now I could keep my station set up all winter.
The mix-ins that I used were marshmallows, crushed candy canes, chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks and coffee creamers. You could use all kinds of things. You might be surprised at what you already have around the house that you could use... caramels, Hershey kisses, white chocolate chips or cinnamon.
I finished it off with a little wire basket from Wal-mart to old my hot chocolate packets, a thermos that I can quickly fill with hot water whenever we have company, a super cute sign that I got for free here and my coffee pot. If you have a Keurig or something similar, you could skip the packets and the coffee maker.
And the recipe for the Russian tea. I tried several variations of this recipe before finally settling on this one. I like it sweet and orangy so this was perfect. I am completely addicted to this so I trimmed back a few calories by making a few sugar free substitutions.
instant tea powder (I like decaff)
orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
1 (3 ounce) package
powdered lemonade mix (or 1 pkt sugar free lemonade mix like Crystal Light)
1 cup Splenda
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.
To serve, mix 2 heaping tablespoons into 1 cup hot water.