While cold temps might keep you indoors, you don’t have to fall straight into hibernation mode. Instead, keep the winter blues at bay by diving into a DIY project — one designed to actually help you thrive this season.

Local experts share a few projects that can be accomplished in just a single afternoon — from soothing bath bombs to far-richer-than-Swiss-Miss hot chocolate to a balm that’ll keep your lips silky smooth.

Project 1: Make your own bath bomb

Like bubbles in wine, the fizzy power of bath bombs can turn a simple soak in the tub into a spa-like experience. While crafting your own might sound intimidating, Franklin and Whitman founder Christopher Cieri says it’s not much different than making your own pancake mix. And the dry winter months are one of the best times to do it.

“You want to make bath bombs on a day with low humidity. The less moisture in the air the better, especially during the drying phase,” says Cieri.

Cieri says it’s worth splurging on a high-quality essential oil, and avoiding anything labeled “fragrance.” The citric acid, which interacts with the baking soda to create the signature fizz, is sold at most Target and Walmart stores. Find it in the same aisle as canning supplies. Cieri notes that Michaels stores often sell citric acid, too, but the cheapest option is to source it online from Amazon.

“If you want to color your bath bombs, avoid anything synthetic or artificial, and add a pinch of naturally colored salts,” says Cieri.

Homemade Bath Bombs

Yields 4 (1/3-cup-sized) bath bombs


1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

2 Tbsp. Epsom salt

3 Tbsp. coconut oil

10 drops essential oil

1 tsp. water or more if necessary

1/4 cup colored Himalayan salt, optional

Bath bomb molds or 1/3 cup measuring cup


In a large bowl combine baking soda, citric acid, and Epsom salt. Stir well.


Place coconut oil in a glass measuring cup or small bowl, and heat in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely melted.


Add essential oil to the coconut oil.


Slowly add wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use a spatula to mix ingredients together, and then use your hands to further knead everything together. The mixture should reach a crumbly consistency. It’s ready when the mixture sticks without falling apart when pressed in your hands, like a slightly damp sand. If it’s too crumbly, add water, 1 tsp. at a time; mixture should be dry but able to hold a shape.


If using Himalayan salt, spread a thin layer of the salt into the bottom of a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Proceed to the next step if omitting the salt.


Pack the mixture into Bath Bomb Molds or into 1/3 cup measuring cup, pressing firmly to secure. Once packed, flip the cup over onto a clean counter, and tap the top of the measuring cup with your fingers to help loosen the mold. Let sit for an hour, and then transfer to a baking/cooling rack to dry for about 24 hours.


Use one bath bomb per bath, and enjoy.


— Franklin and Whitman founder Christopher Cieri

Project 2: Mix your own hot cocoa

Treat yourself with a hot cocoa worthy of your favorite mug. This recipe from Shane Confectionery’s head chocolate maker Kevin Paschall yields a richer, slightly thicker version thanks to the solid dark chocolate that’s added to the mix.

“Look for a chocolate made with a blend of origins,” says Paschall. “Single-origin chocolates, while often unique and delicious, can sometimes impart acidic or otherwise ‘off’ flavors to a hot drinking chocolate.”

Paschall also advises to scan ingredient lists and choose a chocolate without artificial flavors, like vanillin. When selecting a cocoa powder, go for one labeled “natural” versus “dutch-processed.”

“Dutch-processed cocoa powder has that classic brownie flavor. It won’t ruin the drink or anything, but a natural cocoa powder will retain more of the character of the cocoa bean rather than tasting like cake,” says Paschall.

To make the decadent drink even richer, swap the milk for half-and-half and add a touch more of the dry mix upon simmering.

Simple Hot Chocolate Mix

Yields about 14 cups


Hot Chocolate Mix

For the mix:


7 oz. dark chocolate (60-70% cacao)

9 oz. (1 cup) cane sugar

6 oz. (1.5 cups) natural cocoa powder


Place the chocolate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.


Remove the chocolate from freezer, and place in a food processor. Pulse on high speed until chocolate is reduced to a coarse powder. Add to the mixing bowl, and stir all ingredients until well combined. Store mix in an airtight jar for up to six months.


Per cup of hot chocolate:


8 oz. of whole milk or plant-based milk

3 Tbsp. drinking chocolate mix

Marshmallows or whipped cream, to top


Optional additions include:

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Pinch of orange zest

1 oz. of bourbon or brandy

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

A few drops of peppermint oil

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract


Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add 3 Tbsp. of the drinking chocolate mix, and any optional additions, if desired, and mix well with a whisk. Serve hot, topped with marshmallows or whipped cream.


— Shane Confectionery head chocolate maker Kevin Paschall

Project 3: Create your own lip balm

Chapped lips are unattractive and uncomfortable, and dry winter air can unfortunately make the condition all too common. Lip balm can help by moisturizing the skin and providing a protective layer to seal in hydration. To make an effective version of your own, try Steve Duross’ recipe, requiring just a handful of ingredients.

“The measurements are by volume, so you need to eyeball everything as you’re measuring it out,” says Duross, cofounder of Duross and Langel. “For a softer balm, add a little more oil, or if you like a harder balm, use more beeswax.”

Both the beeswax and shea butter ingredients can easily be sourced online. For the oil, Duross opts for sweet almond oil over extra virgin because of its longer shelf life once heated (10 months versus three), but says either will work. Duross sources his essential oils from New Directions Aromatics.

“The beauty of making your own balm is that you can get creative with the flavor combinations, like lemon and lavender or spearmint and lime,” says Duross.

Lip Balm

Yields about 8 ounces


½ cup (4 oz.) sweet almond oil or extra virgin olive oil (or a combination)

Approx. ¼ cup unrefined shea butter

Approx. ¼ cup beeswax pellets

½ tsp. honey, or more, to taste

6 drops of essential oil

Chopstick, to stir

15 ½-ounce tins, or 8 1-ounce tins


Using a 2-cup glass measuring cup, pour in sweet almond oil or extra virgin olive oil, or any combination of the two, until oil reaches the ½ cup marker. Add very small chunks of shea butter until the oil rises to the ¾ cup marker. Then, add beeswax until the volume of the liquid reaches the one cup marker.


Transfer to a small pot and place over medium-low heat. Let melt, stirring once or twice with a spatula. After about five minutes, the wax should be melted into a liquid state; keep the heat low since the ingredients can easily burn. Once melted, remove from heat and pour back into the glass measuring cup.


Stir in honey. Add 6 drops of essential oil, and stir. Use the end of chopstick to transfer a drop of the liquid onto the back of your hand. Rub your lips across your hand, and taste. Add more honey and/or essential oil, if more sweetness or flavor is desired. (Essential oils can vary in potency.) Go slow to avoid over-sweetening, and gauge the essential oil by smell.


Pour the balm into ½-ounce or one-ounce tins, depending upon the size you want to make. The liquid will solidify into a balm within 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room.


— Duross and Langel co-founder Steve Duross