Boswells Blog

7th December 2018

How to Choose the Perfect Gift This Christmas

How to Choose the Perfect Gift This Christmas

‘Tis the season to give and receive gifts, and now that we’ve learned about the history and psychology behind our gifting practices it’s time to have a look at how you can choose presents that say the right thing. As you can remember from the previous blog post in this series, gifts carry significant meanings, so it’s important to stop and think about how your present may be received.

When considering what to give someone as a gift, first consider how much you know about them. Then you need to decide whether to go for something useful, if not too exciting (like socks) or something slightly more unexpected or luxurious that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves.


The ‘Holy Grail’ of gifts is something that is both of these things - a present that is practical, but also a positive surprise that shows that you know the receiver well. An example of a gift like this could be a fancy stand mixer for someone who is a keen amateur baker, but can’t justify spending lots of money towards their hobby.


There are a few golden rules when it comes to choosing presents for the people we care about. These include getting creative and personal - you should strive to give them a gift that could only come from you. Pay attention to what the gift receiver often brings up - are they often complaining about how their laptop is getting old and slow? Or that they love collecting vintage handbags? Giving a gift that shows that you pay attention to what the receiver likes and needs shows how much they mean to you.


Feeling inspired? Check out the gift-giving matrix below from the original article by Activity Superstore for more ideas.

Activity Superstore Gift Giving Matrix Infographic Image


30th November 2018

Why Do We Give Gifts?

Why Do We Give Gifts?

This week in our series on gift-giving practices we’re taking a look at different theories for why we give each other gifts. The practice of gifting is so common in modern society that most of us don’t think about why we do it, but when you dig a little deeper you’ll discover a number of reasons for this tradition. Sometimes culture dictates when gifts are given, like on birthdays and at Christmas, while at other times, they’re given simply to build and reinforce relationships.


Giving someone a gift is a strong way to communicate your appreciation for the receiver. Some sociologists argue that this is the reason why we only give gifts to people we want relationships with. Certain gifts can also carry significant symbolic meaning and are used as a way of communicating with the receiver. Take for example flowers and engagement rings and what these tokens of appreciation symbolise when given to a romantic partner.


According to sociologist, Dimitri Mortelmans, giving someone a present creates a debt in the relationship, meaning that something is expected in return. When giving a gift to reciprocate, giving something much less valuable is considered a sign that you don’t appreciate the relationship equally. On the other hand, giving a much more valuable gift can also be a faux pas as this can create an embarrassing imbalance in the relationship.


As you can see, giving gifts is far from a simple practice and you can discover even more theories for why we give gifts in the visual below and the original article by Activity Superstore.

Why We Give Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

Types of Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

23rd November 2018

The History of Gift Giving

The History of Gift Giving

With December and the festive period fast approaching, many of us are looking for inspiration when it comes to finding the best, most unique gifts to give to our loved ones. To help you with this challenging task, we have three exciting blog posts to share with you on the psychology and history of giving gifts in the run-up to Christmas.

This week, we’ll be taking a look at the history of gifting. The practice seems to have been around for almost as long as human civilisation has existed, with cavemen giving each other unusually-shaped rocks and animal teeth to show their appreciation for each other.

In Ancient Egypt the deceased were given gifts to bring with them to the afterlife. These gifts were buried with the dead and consisted of everyday necessities such as bowls and food, with wealthier people also being buried with amulets, jewellery and other valuables.

In Medieval Europe, gifts were given to forge and strengthen social bonds. Dowries were a prominent example of this, with the father of the bride showering the groom with gifts such as land, money and livestock, amongst other things.


Have a look at the illustration below for some of the most famous gifts throughout history and come back next week for the next installment in our series on gift-giving with Activity Superstore - you can read their full article here.

Activity Superstore Infographic Psychology of Gifting History

18th April 2018

Discover this Great New Game, Bears vs Babies!

Discover this Great New Game, Bears vs Babies!

“It's all about building amazing monsters, eating delicious babies and destroying the competition!”

Bears vs BabiesFrom the fantastically furry box to the amazing card artwork Bears Vs Babies is very much a part of the Exploding Kittens universe – random and raucous fun that’s open to everyone.

If you’re a first-time player, you can start by using the brilliant step by step tutorial to guide you through the process of building your own monsters ready to battle against one of the three baby armies.

Bears vs BabiesOnce you’ve got the hang on the basics more advanced cards are introduced raising the strategy, and hilarity, contained within. Do you focus on the Land army or do you make sure you can battle Sea and Air as well? Do you conceal your monster identity with a ninja mask ready to strike? when should you use the powerful, yet highly vulnerable, rainbow bear heads?

If all of this sounds just a little silly, it most definitely is, but that’s where the fun lies. Imagine the world where poor defenceless monsters are overrun by provoked armies of babies without laughing out loud and you’re doing better than any of my family did over the weekend.

I would highly recommend this game to everyone who’s after having a good chuckle whilst playing a family-friendly, highly-strategic (if utterly bizarre) party game.

25th August 2015

We're Going Colouring Crazy

We're Going Colouring Crazy

Traditionally speaking colouring in has tended to be considered a children’s activity—a way to encourage the little ones to express their creative freedoms through their colour choices, and to engage the imagination through brilliant and fanciful scenes. And yet, colouring books have recently experienced a surge in popularity with an older audience. In fact thousands, no, millions of grown adults worldwide have given up stealthily colouring in their children’s books while they snooze, and taken, instead, to colouring in any number of books designed especially to be decorated and doodled in by adults.

Animorphia Designs

Needless to say the current craze for adult colouring books looks to be far from exhausted, with colouring books currently ranking amongst multiple best-selling book lists and more and more releases increasingly on the horizon. In America the 2nd of August 2015 was even declared National Coloring Book day! So what exactly is the appeal of colouring books for adults?


So Why Colour?

There are almost as many perspectives on how to answer this question as there currently are adults with colouring utensils in-hand. For many, colouring has proven to hold the key to a relaxed mind. The act of colouring allows the brain to focus on the task at hand—the shapes, the swirl of colours, the pattern as a whole—which in turn is thought to help shift attention away from everyday responsibilities and worries and onto a single creative task. Essentially, colouring is thought to soothe the mind through concentration and creative distraction. In this way colouring reduces your greatest worry to which colour to choose next, and whether to doodle or to shade—or at least momentarily. While experts are torn as to how therapeutic colouring in someone else’s design my may be, research does show that the activity does lessen activity in the amygdala—the fear centre of the brain—leading to a relaxed feeling.

Some enthusiasts claim that part of the release (and joy) of colouring lies in the fact that it’s an “analogue” activity—an escape from the daily barrage of notifications and messages that has, for many of us, become the norm. And others suggest that the trend is all about personal expression—in fact those same creative freedoms we encourage children to indulge in, through which we each commit something unique to the page. And, for those who worry that colouring itself may not be creative enough, books such as Colour Therapy: An Anti-Stress Colouring Book have gloriously blank spaces, as well as complex designs, for you to fill to your hearts content with anything you wish! 

The one thing that everyone does seem to be agreed on though is perhaps the most important: colouring is fun! Rather simple really, but fun in and of itself is good for you. So don’t let the kids have all of the fun, pick up some pencils, pens or paints and get stuck in!

Getting Started

Colouring in Progress

There really are great ranges of books available, and finding the right book for you is important. For serene floral patterns you could try Fabulous Flowers: The Gift of Colouring for Grown-Ups, to settle your mind ready for a great night's sleep The Can't Sleep Colouring Book might be just what you need, and for budding surrealists there's always Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge. Or why not visit the Colouring Books For Adults section of our website to get started, or take a trip into our gifts department in store, where you can find a fantastic variety of publications that are sure to get you scribbling away in no time!

14th June 2015

Make Dad A Hero This Father's Day

Make Dad A Hero This Father's Day

Jen in our Gift's department has observed a few years of Father's Days and is making a special plea this year on behalf of our family heros. 

Father's day CardsI think our Dad's are rather unsung heros. After many years of deserverdly raising the profile of Mothering Sunday we have rather reached the stage that it has swung the other way and poor old Dad normally get's forgotten. However if you are anything like me as an adult in particular it is Dad you turn to when you need help. As a teenager it was Dad sitting outside the night club at three in the morning waiting to take us home. Dad we call to stop the bath tap from dripping in our first home away from home. Or who thinks of providing a set of tools when we leave home with some advice too.

So the very least we can do is buy a Father's Day card, there are many different types to reflect what Dad means to you personally and writing a heartfelt personal message inside can make all the difference.

Or try a gift that reflect's Dad's interests. We have a fantastic range of models and modelling kits for those fascinated by the world of rail, aircraft, ships and cars. There's the traditional Airfix, Revell, Corgi route or try something unusual with our wooden or metal kits.

Decanter SetMany Dad's have developed a refined taste in drinking over the years (to which we may have contributed) so make it an elegant experience with our ranges of glasses, decanters or flasks for being out and about.

Finally Dad's are by definition men and often strangely fond of their shed's and manly gadgets we have many tongue in cheek, but also actually quite useful ways of showing them we understand the need for time communiing with the bits and bobs box.

Man TinSo I wrote recently about standing up and buying "A Gift For You" so let's come together on June 21st and "Make Dad Our Hero"! See our Father's Day Gift Ideas here.


25th May 2015

Buy a gift for you!

Buy a gift for you!

I work in the Gifts Department here at Boswells and I hear the same thing said time and again. " I'm buying this for myself but I shouldn't really" or " I wish I could buy this for myself" when getting that birthday, anniversary, leaving present for someone else. So why is it we feel like that?

Most of us spend more time working than we do in our own homes. So I think it's only right that we use our hard earned money to treat ourselves!

Handmade chocolatesWho says that a box of scrummy handmade chocolates has to be a gift for someone else and not just something to make us smile? Not saying that should be an everyday treat mind. 

Treat yourself to a nice pen for letter writing to family and friends. Then it is a gift  that encourages a very personal form of communication too.

See our Shaeffer pens here


cufflinks display

Looking smart on a night out is also a real confidence boost so a gift to yourself of a nice pair of cufflinks for you men out there or for women earings or a brooch.

See our cufflinks here

See our Espree Jewellery here

lanternsWe find that homewares are already products that people generally feel more comfortable buying things for themselves because it is for "the home", but try buying something purely decorative that acts as a reminder that you deserve pretty or stylish things. Or if buying something practical like lanterns for the garden then choose something that shouts you!

Buying yourself a gift doesn't have to cost a lot of course. Sometimes just a decorative pack of tissues for your handbag rather than boring old white can be a nice reminder even when that's blowing your nose or wiping a child's face.

I think that anything that makes us smile, no matter what we have bought ourselves is money well spent. Yes it is a pleasure when others think of us on those special occasions or as a surprise but we can (and should) think of ourselves too. So come on Oxford. Stand up and be counted and "Buy a Gift For You"!

20th May 2015

Everyday Essentials For Every Young Lady

Everyday Essentials For Every Young Lady

Whether you’re a busy professional or studying, here’s what we think you need.


You never know when your best idea is going to come to you, so it’s always worth having a notepad with you and this Japanese Lacquer Box Shidare Ultra Notebook is a little bit special. Lacquered using the Maki-e tradition in tree sap, this is far more stylish than tapping notes on your phone.


Despite the fact summer isn’t far away, living in the UK means that there is always the chance of rain so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. we’ve got a huge selection of different umbrellas, from compact to golf neon pink to black, we’re sure that you will find an umbrella you love. One of our favourites is this Minilight 2 Poppy Bloom Umbrella from Fulton with its great pattern and the ability to easily fit in in a handbag.

Hand Cream

Sometimes we forget about caring for our hands, but considering how much we use them every day it’s important to give them some love. This Dead Sea Magik hand cream will effectively soften and re-hydrate dry, sore or chapped hands.

Water Bottle

We’ve highlighted the importance of keeping in our Everyday Essentials for Young Men blog post and in our Winter Skin Care post, and we’re going to tell you again here. Drinking water throughout the day has many benefits from keeping skin healthy to keeping your energy levels up. Your body is 70% water, so help it stay like that with the bobble bottles. With a built-in filter system these really are an everyday essential and they look great too.


The sun is shining, the weather is getting warm, and your summer wardrobe is sorted. All you need now is the perfect practical accessories, and this year we’ve got you covered with our great range of stylish sunglasses. Whether you have enjoy the look of the classic aviators, or you’re a fan of the more modern syles like these wooden arm glasses, we’ve got you covered.

BagHealthy Bag

Now you’ve got your essentials you’re going to need a way to carry them all in style and in comfort. You could go for a Healthy Bags which is designed to to help your spine by spreading the weight across your body. We also have a great range of fashionable handbags and bigger holdalls if you’re going away for a few days.


Armed with your new bag full of Everyday Essentials, you’re now ready to face the world. Don’t forget to check out our Everyday Essentials for the Commuter blog post too.

17th April 2015

Everyday Essentials for The Young Gent

Everyday Essentials for The Young Gent

Whether you’re a young professional who’s just started his first proper job or you’re still living the student life at university, we think there are some essential every young gent needs. Check them out:

Shaving Cream and Brush

Kent Shaving Brush

There’s no denying that a good razor is key to a close shave, but a proper shaving brush and a high quality shaving cream are in a close second and third place. Using a shaving brush and cream gently exfoliates the skin while getting the cream underneath the hairs for the smoothest possible shave. Some of our favourite cream and brushes come from Kent and Truefitt & Hill, two brands that are very well known and respected in male skin care.


Once you’ve put the effort into looking good it’s time to smell good. Aftershave is a very personal purchase - only you know which smells the best for you - so we’ve got a different ranges in store for you to try, from the fruity scent of the West Indian Limes to the more hearty scents of Sandalwood aftershave balm.

Tablet Case

You’ve finished all of your personal grooming so now it’s time to pack your bags ready for a busy day.

Lots of people take a tablet wherever they go. If you’re one of these people you’ll know how important it is to protect it: a smashed screen can come with a hefty price tag. A case or sleeve will not only protect your tablet but make it a stylish accessory as well. One of our favourites is this Ted Baker Canoe sleeve because of its fashionable tartan design and superb protection.Teb Baker Tablet Case

Shirt Case

If you’re heading away for a few days there’s nothing worse than having to use a tiny hotel iron to get the creases out of your shirt. Skip the hassle and put up to three of your shirts in this stylish shirt case from Gentlemen’s Hardware, the perfect way to transport shirts, crease free.


So you’re ready to leave the house, but don’t forget your wallet, - you probably won’t get far without it! There are many things you need to consider when buying a wallet apart from style: how many card slots does it have? Has it got a change pocket? Is there space for anything else you may need? We think a good all-round wallet is this nice simple Samsonite Attack Billfold Wallet, or if you need lots of internal space the Secrid Twinwallet wallet has plenty of room but is half the size of a normal wallet on the outside.

Water Bottle

Our final item is one that is often forgotten but should never be over looked: the humble water bottle. For a busy young gent, keeping hydrated can help keep skin clear (we’ve talked about the importance of skin hydration in one of our previous blog posts) , can help you stay focused, and can allow you to exercise for longer. Far more environmentally friendly - and cheaper - than regularly buying bottled water, this Wild and Wolf water bottle should always be at your side.Wild and Wolf Bottle


You’re now ready to face the world and you’re looking dapper as you do it! If you want enjoyed this, be sure to check out our Everyday Essentials for the Commuter post, which will give you ideas for making your commute more comfortable.

2nd March 2015

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Most of us have some sort of commute to work by bus, train, car or bicycle and there are a number of everyday essentials that make our lives easier and able to handle problems that arise. So here's our suggesions for a comfortable life in todays hustle & bustle.

A Good Office Bag

Office BagMale or female we need to carry a number of electronic gadgets these days as well as those handy essentials below. We have often taken a great deal of care in our appearance to look neat & professional so don't let your office bag let you down. A carrier bag or party girl/boy bag is probably not the look you are going for.

An efficient bag that can contain your work & personal essentials shouldn't be too cumbersome to carry every day. There are many smart shoulder bags & backpacks. It needs to provide security, particularly if you use crowded public transport, but still allow you to access key compartments without fuss. A comfortable handle or shoulder strap is also important. Always try a bag out by walking around & adding a weight to simulate weight. Don't be afraid to adjust the straps!

Tablet CaseA Tablet Case

For business or pleasure many of us carry a tablet around and even though a good office bag will have a compartment for a laptop or tablet protecting the tablet as we carry it around (which is the point of them after all) is essential. Anyone who has cracked a screen will recommend one.

notebookPen and Paper

pen and pencilYes we are all gadgeted up but having good old pen & paper to hand can be a lifesaver when you can't make a note and be on the phone at the same time or the charge has run out on those marvellous pieces of kit. It's also easy to pass on a note or scribble a thought. A smart looking notebook and pen will still look professional and rather classic. If you prefer pencil then an automatic pencil will protect the lead whilst being carried around better than a manual & look smart too.

 An Umbrella

umbrellaWhether using public transport or a car you are likely to be exposed to the elements at some point or just want to pop out at lunchtime. Having a bag sized umbrella for emergencies that can withstand the more extreme winds etc that we encounter these days will keep you dry and presentable. You can even be the saviour of a less prepared colleague... 

A Multi-Tool

multi-toolOnly recommended to contain blades for those who can control access to their bag (we don't want any little hands getting hold of even a small blade), but very useful to have for clothing, biking or other mechnical emergencies or even a lunch time picnic. As well as the famous Victorinox brand with all the handy variations of the tools you might want to consider a small torch multi-tool.  


If you travel by some form of public transport or you walk you may enjoy listening to music or an audiobook as you go. If you are a sensory mult-tasker you may even be a reader & listener at the same time. So a pair of earphones are essential for your listening pleasure and to keep your fellow commuters happy.

bicycle repair kitFor bicycle commuters

You will have a whole other set of essentials including waterproofs that you like to carry but if we can recommend; 

If you travel in your business clothes then a smart set of bicycle clips are a must and be ready for mechanical emergencies with a bicycle repair kit and if we can suggest a Travel First Aid kit for bumps and scrapes.

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