We’ve officially less than a week to go to Christmas! You know what this means… As the final shopping trips take place and work comes to a standstill for a magical few days, we’re going to be running on Elf fuel: Hot chocolate. It warms the vocal chords of every caroller and brings the best out of every slightly awkward family reunion. And whilst nothing can quite beat your original hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, in the style of Taylor Swift it can be good to ‘shake it’ up every now and again.

Here are my top 5 tips you can try out with your cocoa this Christmas:

1. A holiday classic, but again frequently underrated, is peppermint hot chocolate. Whilst you can buy this ready made, I enjoy placing a candy cane (or two) when my drink has just been mixed so that it gradually gains more flavour. This one accompanies me on the frosty morning walks to uni because, let’s face it, this is the best way to start the day.

2. Become the Indiana Jones of recipes and head to your local Christmas Market and see what new concoction they have dreamed up. This year, Manchester Christmas market is famous for it’s Bailey’s and cream hot choc but previous hits have also included Chocolate orange hot chocolate (for double the chocolatiness). There is a neverending stream of creativity when it comes to Xmas recipes.

3. Making a gingerbread house? I know just the way you can spice things up – save some of your cookies and enjoy them with your hot chocolate. Just like with peppermint, this is a signature holiday taste which when combined with a warm drink makes everything feel cosy and wonderful. Make sure you save some for Santa though, of course!

4. Not quite ready to say goodbye to Autumn? Bring out the pumpkin spice! Add a pinch of this to the top of your whipped cream and switch on The Nightmare Before Christmas for a perfect Christmas Eve. Those crunchy leaves might be missing from the street now, but snow is possibly even better. Combine this with some Reindeer sprinkles, and you have the best of both worlds.

5. Give it as a gift and let the magic last a month longer! My favourite present to send to my loved ones will always be a mason jar filled with the ingredients they need to make the perfect hot chocolate. This is where all of that Pinterest scrolling is going to come in useful to make some cocoa powder, sprinkles and accompanying cookie dough mix look pretty. Be sure to seal this Christmas magic with a red ribbon!