Christmas traditions are special because they connect us with each other. Traditions are laced with good memories passed down through generations. There is also a real magic in beginning new traditions bringing you closer with new friends and old. As a child my siblings would play outside year round. When we could no longer feel our toes, we would come inside, lay with our backs on the floor and put our feet up by the fire. My mom would be in the kitchen making hot cocoa on the stove. We would giggle as our toes tingled back to life, knowing mom was about to deliver the greatest treat.

Sibling picture by the fireplace with these classic holiday sweaters! Screen printed and puff paint originals
My sister – The Oldest – The Caretaker – The boss
My brother – The Baby – The Comedian – The Musician
Mandy – The Middle Child – The Adventurer – Full of Charisma

Now in my marriage I have kept the joy of playing outside even when it’s cold. Jonathan and I come inside to fuzzy blankets ready to watch a classic like Home Alone with our tree shining bright. These are the special moments that I make hot cocoa. Different than my mothers, I now make it dairy free with maple syrup as a sugar substitute. With different ingredients it still brings back the same memories.

“Would you please tell him that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. ” – Kevin Mcallister

I use coconut milk – from a can- and almond milk, but you can use any dairy free beverage. I use coconut milk from a can because It has a layer of thick cream filed with good fats and flavor. I add almond milk to balance the coconut flavor. You will need a stove top with a medium sized pot and whisk. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups, perfect for Jonathan and I each to have a mug. If you are making this for a larger group you might want to double or triple the recipe. It is so delicious, you might want to double it just to give yourself a second cup!


  • 1 can of coconut milk 13.5 oz
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp Cacao powder or 2 tbsp of Cocoa powder – Cacao is less sweet but has more antioxidants.
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can of Non dairy Whipped Cream – Kroger sells an almond milk version by Reddi Whip that is low in calories and sugar. It does have some additives to thicken, but I am fine with that once or twice a year.
  • sprinkle of coarse Himalayan salt – optional


Open a can coconut milk. Pour all that goodness into the pot. Heat the stove top to medium low. Begin whisking the coconut milk slowly breaking up the heavy cream and blending the mixture. Continue whisking as you pour in the almond milk.

Next comes the maple syrup. Whisk after you pour this making sure it does not settle on the bottom of the pot and burn.

Slowly sprinkle in your Cacao powder as you whisk breaking up the little chunks of powder and blend them into the creamy mixture.

Add the vanilla extract and whisk until all ingredients have come together in harmony. When the temperature is to your liking, it’s ready for your favorite mug! I top our hot cocoa with non dairy whipped cream. If you are like the Gurneys, and you appreciate a sweet and salty combo, sprinkle a bit of coarse himalayan salt on top. It would also be delightful with a dusting of cinnamon.

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Wishing you a happy Christmas full of peace, adventure, and quality time with the people you love.

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