Festive Cocktails and Mocktails for the Holidays


Whether you are dashing through the snow or dreaming of a white Christmas, a little holiday cocktail is sure to make your celebration just a little more merry (and bright). Here are three of my very favorite holiday cocktails and some kid-friendly options.

hot chocolate

Spiced Apple Cider

I always have apple cider brewing in the crockpot all day on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a personal favorite and a hit with friends and family. This recipe is also fun and easy for a potluck. If we happen to have a light crowd, and it isn’t all gone by the end of the night, I just pop the leftovers in a pitcher and save it in the refrigerator for an easy evening treat later in the week.


  • 1 gallon apple juice or cider
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 12-15 whole cloves
  • 6 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bottle spiced rum


Put everything but the rum in the crockpot and turn it high for one or two hours before you’re ready to serve. (Pretty tough, right?) Once it is hot, reduce to low heat. I leave some mugs and a bottle of rum on the counter near the crockpot for guests to serve themselves. For the kiddos or those who prefer not to drink alcohol, just skip the rum.

Hot Chocolate, with (or without) Irish Cream

Hot chocolate is a classic crowd pleaser for young and old, and it is so easy to turn this into a make your own hot chocolate bar with peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and sprinkles. If I’ve got a crowd to impress, I take the time to make this in the crockpot with the recipe below — but, more often than not, I rip open a bag of premixed hot chocolate powder and add hot water. With a little Irish cream, it’s still pretty yummy.


  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk (because it’s Christmas)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 bag (10 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bottle Irish cream liqueur, any flavor
  • Marshmallows, Central Market always has fancy-pants marshmallows out around the holidays which are especially fun for the grown-ups, but even the not-so-schmansy mini-marshmallows are yummy. (What I’m saying here is . . . don’t skip the marshmallows!)


Put the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in the crockpot. Turn the pot on high and cover. Stir frequently until the chocolate chips are completely melted. Slowly add the milk in small batches, stirring to combine. Once your hot chocolate is smooth and completely mixed, reduce the heat to low, and add the almond extract. Again, I like to leave this out with some mugs and a bottle of Irish cream, and, of course, marshmallows.


Doesn’t that sound fancy? My aunt introduced me to this little gem years ago, and it’s still my go to for the holidays. And, frankly, it’s harder to spell than it is to make. Think a Mimosa for the holidays.


  • 1 part cranberry juice (or cranberry juice cocktail, if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 4 parts champagne (or ginger ale for a mocktail)


You hardly need directions for this one. Just pour your champagne into flutes and top with a splash of cranberry juice. If you want to dress it up a bit, you can garnish this with some fresh cranberries or a little orange zest. 

This year, whether you are slaving away in the kitchen or catering your turkey dinner, I hope you are sipping on something yummy. Cheers!


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