And there's no recipe, per se, just a straightforward process. The more bark you want, the more ingredients you'll have to buy. It's that simple.

Here's how it works. First get everything you need out onto the counter: baking trays lined with parchment paper, your chocolate (it can be dark, milk or white chocolate in bars, chunks or even chips – just make sure it doesn't have added ingredients like caramel or nuts). Get out your double boiler and gather whatever garnish you plan to put on top (could be nuts, dried fruits, chipped candy canes, Smarties).

Next, heat the water to boiling in the double boiler and melt the chocolate. When that's done pour it onto the lined baking trays and smooth it out to a quarter to half-an-inch thick (.6 to 1.2 cm). Sometimes just tilting the tray will do it. Then, while it's still hot, sprinkle your topping over it – evenly – so each piece will have some topping once it's broken apart. But don't overdo the topping, cautions Centner, or the bark won't hold together as well.

If you've got two double boilers you can even melt two kinds of chocolate then swirl them together on the baking tray to make marble bark.

After that, it's into the frig for an hour or two until the chocolate solidifies. (This is a great time, suggests Centner, to sit down with your young helper and watch a holiday movie.)

Then comes smash up time.

"Kids always love this part the best," says Centner, who recommends bypassing your toolbox hammer in favour of a can of soup or a heavy jar of tomato sauce, which tend to work well without overkill.

When the job's done you can either wrap the bark in cellophane and tie it with ribbons or – and this is his favourite – you can put it in parchment paper inside small Asian take-out containers, which are available online, in small restaurant supply stores and some grocery stores.

NEXT: A Gift for the Grownups

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