No matter your celebration, it’s better on the ice — and with hot cocoa after.

It’s winter. It’s cold. 

I know, I know. These are two great reasons to stay inside, snuggle in a blanket, and watch Disney+ or Netflix all day. While that might sound like the perfect day, trying new things is good for us.

Ice skating is the perfect way to get out and active with the entire family this winter, and we’re lucky to have it right in our backyard. Fun Fact: JC Parks has the closest ice arena within 50 miles. Mizzou’s hockey team even hosts their home games here. For kids and adults, the ice arena is a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Last winter, I went skating for a birthday party, and I remembered how fun it was to get on the ice, listen to the music, and glide freely for an hour. I’m going to be the first to admit that I am no Oksana Baiul, but if I only fall once or twice, I call it a win. 

This party also marked the first time my kids had gone ice skating. Going into it, I was a little worried they would be falling and I would be hugging the wall trying to keep them up, but that wasn’t the case at all. JC Parks rents out sliding walkers as walking aids so the kids can skate around independently. My boys loved this because they felt comfortable and were able to get a good feel for how to skate on the ice before being completely on their own. Within an hour, one of my boys had ditched his walker and was skating around all by himself. Don’t get me wrong — he was falling at least every other lap. Still, he was loving it.

If you want to take your ice skating experience a step farther, the ice arena has a room that can be rented out for parties. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or simply wanting to get together with friends and family, this room adds an extra element to the arena experience. Also, since ice skating isn’t for everyone, this is a great place for people to sit, visit, and still catch all the action from the huge windows overlooking the ice rink. They also have a TV in this room, so if you’re like my family, you can still have the Chiefs game on in the background. 

For my cousin Sonya’s birthday party, we put the cocoa bar in this area. What’s a more perfect way to finish off an ice skating session than a hot cup of cocoa with all your favorite toppings? Let me tell you: nothing.

For the cocoa bar, we made hot chocolate in advance and kept it warm in a big thermos until everyone was finished skating. Then we set all the toppings out on the table in separate bowls with scoopers. Every topping had a label with it for an additional element of cuteness. When everyone was ready, they all got to make their own special cup of hot cocoa. The best part was how many topping combinations there were — and that all the children got to make their own creation. 

Next time you aren’t sure what to do on a Saturday afternoon, try out the ice arena! If you don’t have the party room for your hot cocoa bar, you can get all the ingredients on the way home and enjoy warm chocolateness on your couch.

What’s a more perfect way to finish off an ice skating session than a hot cup of cocoa with all your favorite toppings?

Let me tell you: nothing.

Hot Cocoa Bar

Homemade Hot Cocoa


  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half 


Combine cocoa, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. 

Topping Ideas

  • Marshmallows
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Peppermint Sticks
  • Crushed Peppermints
  • Whipped Topping
  • Chocolate Spoons
  • Coconut
  • Pirouette Rolled Wafers