Festive Holiday Date Night + Tasty Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe
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As much as I love Christmas and everything that goes with the holiday season, as Christmas approaches this year, I’ve been feeling some mixed emotions. This will be my first Christmas away from all of my family (minus Dustin & Roo, of course). Dustin couldn’t take any time off during his first 3 months of his new job, so we’ll be celebrating Christmas together in Arizona while the rest of my siblings fly home to Boston to spend it with my parents. Part of me is excited to have my first Christmas just with my little family and the other part of me is bumming, majorly, to miss out on this Christmas with my family.
So, to counteract any sadness that may be lingering around, this time, Dustin and I have decided to make this month as joyful as possible, by going on lots of holiday-themed date nights and filling our evenings with as many Christmas activities as possible. We recently went on a festive holiday date night that was simple and fun, and it allowed us to get into the Christmas spirit while fulfilling my wish to be close to my family this year.
Every year, Dustin and I put together a little holiday picture card and send it out to our family and friends. This year, since we aren’t going to be home for Christmas, I knew I wanted to send out more meaningful cards to my family instead of just a picture of us and Roo. So, this last weekend, Dustin and I ventured out one evening to wander the card aisles of Walmart, in search of some meaningful Christmas cards to send out to my family (and Dustin’s, of course).
I immediately was drawn to these beautiful cards at the Hallmark display. They were so festive and after reading some messages (and getting teary at them) I knew I had found the right cards to send.
Dustin, on the other hand, got distracted by the Hallmark Ornaments on display right next to the cards!
We spent some more time looking at the ornaments and trying to decide which one we wanted to bring home. My Christmas ornament collection is one of my most prized possessions as it includes several ornaments that used to belong to my grandmother and my great grandmother. I love adding to that collection with meaningful ornaments every year, so after much debate, we decided to bring home a snowman ornament that had 2015 on its hat! 2015 has been a crazy year for us, with three moves, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and definitely wanted to add an ornament to our collection to remember this year!
We came home and decided to continue our holiday date night by turning on our Christmas music (Hallmark actually has an AWESOME Pandora station for Christmas music!), hanging the ornament on the tree, making our tasty homemade hot cocoa and writing out our messages to the family in our Christmas cards.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Recipe:
I used to be obsessed with this little hot cocoa place in Rexburg called the Cocoa Bean; their hot chocolate was SO good (the salted caramel one, in particular, because #saltedcaramelislife) but it was a little spendy. Dustin decided he was going to figure out how to replicate the hot chocolate at home so I could still drink it in batches without spending a month of rent on Cocoa Bean Hot Chocolate. Be still my soul, after many failed attempts and experimenting in the kitchen, he NAILED the most amazing hot chocolate recipe and makes it for me weekly so I can drink my weight in it. It’s the perfect treat to have while writing out Christmas cards and listening to Carol of the Bells!
1/3 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/3 C White Sugar
4 Cups Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons Torani syrup to taste (we use hazelnut or salted caramel)
1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and slowly heat it up to a medium heat. Wait until the milk is warm enough that is steaming, or else the ingredients won’t mix in well.
2. Slowly add the ingredients one at a time, making sure you STIR the ingredients in constantly! This is key in making sure that the milk doesn’t curdle or burn and that the ingredients get mixed in evenly.
3. It’s okay to add more syrup to the hot cocoa if you want more flavor to come through; just keep on tasting it as you go.
4. When the cocoa has passed the taste test, pour it in mugs and top with whipped cream and marshmallowsDustin and I spent the rest of our night drinking hot chocolate, writing out Christmas cards and trading stories about our family traditions! We also talked about what traditions we wanted to start together and quickly decided that this date night dedicated to sending our holiday cards was one we wanted to add to the list.
I’m so grateful for our new holiday tradition, for amazing homemade hot chocolate and for Hallmark for helping me find meaningful cards to send my family this year. I know that I can’t be with them this year, but I hope they will feel our love and our holiday wishes for them through our Christmas cards this year. We may not be together, but (yes, I’m getting cheesy) my family will always be in my heart and that’s most important.
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I’d love to know what your holiday traditions are and if you send out Christmas cards every year. You can also check out more amazing Hallmark cards here!