Boswells Blog

19th March 2015

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

For her second guest post on the Life's a Journey blog Julia at Happy Cakes has chosen one of her Easter favourites - the Sachertorte. Famously created for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna in 1832 by 16 year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher this dark, dense, chocolatey cake is definitely a favourite of the Happy Cakes team and is a real treat for Easter.

This cake keeps well so will last the whole Easter weekend – if you can resist it! To make it you'll need...


  • A 10” cake tin, greased and lined with baking parchment
  • Two large, clean mixing bowls
  • Kitchen scales
  • Whisk (an electric whisk will make life easy, if not then a metal balloon whisk)
  • Large metal spoon (electric mixer optional for creaming the butter and sugar)
  • Teaspoon
  • Desert spoon
  • Sharp knife or metal skewer
  • Wire rack or roasting rack (to rest the cake on)
  • Sieve


For the torte

  • 7 eggs, separated in to yolks and whites
  • 220g softened butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 270g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best)
  • 140g self raising flour, sieved
  • 3.5 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
For the glaze
  • 150g granulated sugar
  •  250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 7 tablespoons of water
  • Apricot jam


Make the Sachertorte

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a clean grease free bowl to form soft peaks. You should whisk plenty of air into the egg whites but don’t make them too stiff or it will be too hard to fold them into the cake batter later on. When soft peaks have formed set the bowl aside
  3. Melt the chocolate slowly in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (We sometimes do this in a plastic bowl in the microwave but you have to do it in short bursts and keep stirring)
  4. While the chocolate is melting cream together the softened butter and caster sugar in another clean large bowl, until pale and fluffy
  5. Stir the egg yolks into the creamed butter and sugar
  6. Add the melted chocolate and brandy or orange juice and stir well
  7. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa powder using a large metal spoon in a figure-of-eight motion
  8. Finally, fold in the egg whites. Make sure they are evenly mixed but try not to overwork the mixture as you'll knock all the air out of the egg whites, meaning your Sachertorte will not rise
  9. Spoon your mix into your prepared tin making sure it’s level
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes until springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean
  11. Leave in the tin to cool completely
  12. When your torte is cool cut a thin layer off the top cake to make it level
  13. With a plate on top, flip your torte over onto a wire cooling rack ready for glazing
Glazing the Sachertorte
  1. Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and melt on a low heat
  2. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn’t start to burn
  3. Leave to stand for 15 minutes to cool and thicken slightly
  4. Warm a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam, sieve it and brush a thin layer over your cake
  5. Very quickly pour your glaze over your cake, smoothing with a palette knife
  6. Using a slice, transfer your cake to your serving plate
  7. Once the icing is set, melt a little more dark chocolate or some milk chocolate and pipe the word "Sacher" with a flourish over your cake
You should store your Sachertorte at room temperature.

Slice of Sachertorte
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.

3rd February 2015

Valentines Day Recipe: Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Valentines Day Recipe: Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

We are delighted to introduce our first guest post from Julia at Happy Cakes. They make gorgeous cupcakes and cakes in Oxford for all sorts of people, from the cast of local TV institution Lewis to birthday party-goers. This is a nicely romantic treat that's simple enough for just about anybody to try - a combination of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with some lovely fondant decoration. You'll need...



Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 15-18 cupcakes

  • 250g softened butter or margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 15-18 cupcakes

  • 250g softened butter or margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Vanilla Icing

  • 125g softened butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Milk

Chocolate Icing

  • 125g softened butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • Milk
Icing Toppers
  • Fondant icing in pink or red (we're letting you cheat for this bit - making your own fondant is rather difficult!)


For The Vanilla Cupcakes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and put a cupcake case into the cake tin

  1. Cream the butter, vanilla & sugar in a mixing bowl until pale & fluffy. You can use a metal or plastic spoon to do this, but we'd recommend an electric mixer to save your arm muscles
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each into the mixture before adding the next. Make sure to mix them thoroughly or your mixture might split
  3. Fold in the flour. Don't overmix or you'll lose the air you've beaten in.
  4. Using the desert spoon fill each cupcake case around 2 thirds full (you want space for the cakes to rise)
  5. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes & remove from the oven
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack before icing

For The Chocolate Cakes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C

Use the same method as for the vanilla cupcakes above, adding the flour and cocoa powder together in stage 3.

For The Vanilla Icing

  1.  Mix the butter in a clean mixing bowl for around one minute, until pale (if you beat it for long enough it will almost turn white)
  2. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, passing it thorugh a sieve to get rid of any lumps, and mix into the butter (you can do all the icing sugar at once, but you may end up in a small personal snowstorm)
  3. Add a teaspoon of milk and beat in. 
  4. Your icing should now be the perfect consistency for piping. To test, dip your spoon or mixer a little into the icing and pull back up; stiff peaks should form
  5. If you're using a nozzle, put it into the bag
  6. Use the desert spoon to add your icing to the piping bag (support it in a jug to make this easier)
  7. Snip the end off the bag, near the end of the nozzle if you're using one or around an inch from the end if you're not
  8.  Pipe each cake, in one movement starting from the outside and spiraling inward

For The Chocolate Icing

Use the same method as for the vanilla icing above, adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in stage 2.

For The Romantic Toppers

  1. Roll out your coloured fondant until it is around the same thickness as a 2p piece
  2. Cut out enough hearts and kisses to put decorate each cake and leave, flat, to dry for around half an hour
  3. Put a decoration on each cake, serve, and woo appropriately 
23rd January 2015

Romantic Oxford

Romantic Oxford

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d help find the most romantic place in Oxford for you and your loved one. Be it your 15th year together or your first date, we’ve got you covered.

Above Image Credit: Colin Smith

Blenheim Palace

Just a short distance outside of Oxford you’ll find the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. This beautiful Palace is set in 2,000 acres of countryside which you are free to explore on a romantic walk, or maybe you want to find out more about the history and architecture with a tour of the Palace itself.Blenheim Palace

One of the most romantic areas of Blenheim Palace are the formal gardens, with hundreds of varieties of flowers and a beautiful waterfall, you would struggle to find a more romantic place. And if after all of your exploring you need a break, why not settle down for lunch in one of the restaurants, or treat yourself in the Champagne bar.

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

What’s more romantic than looking out above the city of dreaming spires? Take a trip up the 124 steps inside the church spire and emerge on the balcony for the best views in Oxford. Looking south you can see the spires of Christ Church up above many of Oxford’s other famous buildings. From the north side you have the best view of Radcliffe Square and the Bodliean Library, All Souls College, the Sheldonian Theatre and of course the Radcliffe Camera. Having had a bit of exercise you will deserve the coffee & cake in the Vaults cafe located underneath the church in one of Oxford's oldest meeting places!                           

Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant

After a morning exploring the Ashmolean why not head upstairs and grab some lunch at the Rooftop Restaurant. With delicious food from local Oxford suppliers and a view of the Oxford spires from the terrace, this hidden gem is one of the most romantic places in Oxford. And if you’re not ready to commit to a full lunch or dinner, why not try their afternoon tea, served from 3pm daily.

Oxford University Parks

A favourite for Oxford locals to relax in during the summer, the University Parks also make a great place for a romantic walk in winter. If the weather is on your side, a picnic on the banks of the River Cherwell can make the perfect date. Gather up some delicious picnic food from a local Oxford deli and you have a great recipe for success.

Oxford Castle

This might sound like an odd suggestion if the mention of the Oxford Castle conjures up images of the dungeon, but trust us on this one. The old prison is now home to some of Oxford’s finest restaurants, most stylish bars and fanciest hotels. So why not take a romantic stroll up the 64ft tall grass mound, enjoy the panoramic views of Oxford, and then wander back down and enjoy a delicious meal.

Magdalen Bridge Punting

Magdalene BridgeThis might not be the most suitable option for a Valentine’s Day date, but during the summer months, hiring a punt and taking a trip down the River Cherwell is one of the most romantic things we can think of. Take along a picnic to enjoy as you cruise through the University parks and onto Christchurch Meadow. And if you’re feeling lazy, you can hire a punt chauffeur; but we think it’s more romantic to do it yourself. 

Image Credit: Colin Smith

Botanic Gardens

This might be one to save for a sunny day, but the wait will be worth it. Full of thousands of different plants in many different collections, you can spend hours walking around admiring the rainbow of colours and the beauty of the plants. With no restaurants or cafes on site, the Botanic Gardens are a perfect place for a romantic picnic.


Boars Hill Oxford

Boars Hill

A less well known part of Oxfordshire, the small hamlet of Boars Hill is an ideal place for a romantic walk and picnic. It may only be 3 miles southwest of Oxford, but apart from the beautiful views over the city, Boars Hill feels like true English countryside. There are many spots to sit down and enjoy your lunch, in peace and quiet.

Image Credit Derek Harper

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

It might be a bit of a mouthful, but Le Manoir is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Oxfordshire and arguably the country. Based in Great Milton, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin star restaurant and Hotel is the perfect place for a very romantic getaway.

You can spend your time at Le Manoir relaxing and enjoying the beautiful gardens, food and drink or you can get more involved and take part in a cookery class run by world class chefs. The hotel is only a short drive away from the centre of Oxford,

Pierre Victoire

Just down Little Clarendon Street in the centre of Oxford you will find “Oxford's busiest and best-loved independent French restaurant”. Pierre Victoire serves simple French food, and is a well-known Oxford favourite, and for this reason booking is always a good idea.

The prices for the great French food that is served are very reasonable and if you go for lunch, a 3 course meal is only £11.90 – an extremely good price for amazing food. The whole restaurant has a rustic, cosy feel which makes it the perfect place for a romantic date.

The Nut Tree

The Nut Tree may appear to be your usual village pub, but this is a bit different. The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star 7 years in a row and has featured in a long list of restaurant guides. But don’t think that this cosy pub is trying to be a big city restaurant. It’s still a lovely pub with a great range of beer and wine that just so happens to serve wonderful food. The perfect place to take someone you really want to impress.

The Feathers

If after a long day of exploring Blenheim Palace you need somewhere to stay the night and relax, The Feathers is the ideal place. Located in Woodstock, just outside the Palace gates this hotel has a great selection of rooms, and an even better selection of gins. With over 200 behind the bar, this is the ideal place to bring a gin lover for a romantic weekend. And it’s not all about the drink; they have a great menu to refuel you after a day exploring.

If you think we’ve missed any romantic Oxford places off the list, let us know!

21st January 2015

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

To celebrate our rather wonderful Haberdashery section we've created a magical window, but how to create a window out of the rather small buttons, ribbons, scissors, wool, needles and zips etc that make up every good sewers or knitters kit bag? Chrissie our visual merchandiser has the answer. Make rather bigger and even more fun examples!

Cotton reel So we started off with same rather outsize cotton reels bought from an helpful Christmas elf, well not really but one does seem to have helped drop it off - see picture.

Haberdashery Preparation

Then Chrissie got busy with polystyrene and printed designs to create some fabulous buttons and used bottles to create the impressions of thousands of buttons. Then combine with some balls of wool...

What's any good dress maker without their trusty mannequin and scissors?

Don't go looking for any giant scissors in store though, as these are a flimsy plastic, useless to cut with but good for health and safety purposes. We have some rather more helpful real scissors.

Then to put them all together in our window, which is where the designer's eye comes in. Add a "dash" of hearts on the window, and there you go. We hope you love, sewing, knitting and habby as much as we do and don't forget we have new fabric ranges and a cutting table too.

Completed Haberdashery windowClose up Haberdashery window

8th January 2015

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

After the awful English winter weather comes the problem of dry skin. Too much wind, having the heating on all day, and not enough sun means your skin can feel uncomfortable and lacking in moisture. With nicer weather on the way as spring approaches, here are 5 tips on how to get your skin healthy again and ready for summer.

MoisturiseA Derma Moisturiser

You should moisturise all year round, but it’s especially important after the harshness of winter. Continue to exfoliate and moisturize your body through the winter months to give your skin a boost. A-Derma’s Exomega Emollient Balm is an ideal post-winter moisturiser; it’s been designed for dry skin and it’s fragrance and paraben free.

Reduce length of hot showers and baths

Prolonged hot showers and baths remove the natural oils from your body, reducing the moisture levels in your skin. Taking shorter, cooler baths and showers will help to prevent too much moisture loss. Always remember to moisturise after baths and showers as well, to replace the water your skin will have lost.

Turn the heating down – or even off

It’s understandable that the heating is on during winter, but reducing the humidity of a room reduces the moisture in your skin. When the temperatures outside increases a bit, try to reduce the heat in your home and layer up instead. This is also a good way to save money on your household bills.

Take vitamins regularly

Vitamins are essential to having a healthy body, especially for keeping skin in good condition. Ensure that you take vitamins regularly; also ensure that you eat more foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, as vitamin C helps keep skin moisturised. Jason Organic Vit E Cream also contains vitamin E, topping your levels up even as you moisturise.Jason Vitamin E

Reduce Dehydration

Lack of moisture in the skin is caused by dehydration. Turning the heating down and taking shorter showers will reduce the amount of moisture your skin loses during the winter, but you also need to increase the amount of water you take in. Drink regularly throughout the day to make sure you’re consuming enough.

You should also consider eating more fish, especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel. The Omega 3 fatty acids in these fish help your body to absorb water, making you more efficient at replacing the moisture you lose.

19th December 2014

The Perfect Gift Ideas For Your Parents This Christmas

The Perfect Gift Ideas For Your Parents This Christmas

Christmas is getting closer, and we know how difficult it can be trying to buy presents for your parents. But look no further, because we’ve come up with a list of gifts to inspire you and make sure your parents get presents they love.

Gifts for Mum

Beauty sets

Strawberry Bomb Cosmetics

When buying for your Mum, a beauty gift set will never disappoint. The Strawberry Patch set is a perfect beauty gift set, containing bath bombs and soap that will leave Mum’s skin feeling and smelling amazing. 


You can’t go wrong buying perfume for a woman, as long as it smells nice of course! Perfume is a good Christmas gift idea, but make sure you check the bottles your mum already has to see what type of scent she prefers, for example floral or fruity.


Jewellery is always a favourite present, but earrings and necklaces are pretty common. For a more unusual gift, why not get your Mum a bracelet instead? Treat her to a new piece of jewellery this Christmas with a gorgeous “Newbridge Silverware Desire Heart Bracelet”.

Gifts for Dad


If your Dad wears suits or double cuffed shirts often and cares about his appearance then a pair of cufflinks may be a good gift. If your Dad is a more traditional chap then try a traditional silver pair, or if he’d like something slightly quirky then try something like this Harvey Makin Vintage Map pair. Whatever his preferences a nice pair of cufflinks can add a lovely finishing touch to a smart outfit.Silver Cufflinks


Most men wear aftershave, making it an ideal Christmas gift. There is a large variety of aftershave on the market so you should try and make sure that you choose a fragrance that your dad will like and wear. As with Mum the easiest way to do this is look at his current choices.


A shaver is an essential for most men and replacing razor blades is surprisingly expensive. Buying your Dad a rechargeable electric shaver will not only save him time in the morning – all that lathering up can take a while - but will also save him money. This means the Philips Senseotouch 2D Gyroflex Wet & Dry Shaver is a great gift to buy for your dad this Christmas.

3rd December 2014

Oxford Christmas Activities

Oxford Christmas Activities

Every year Oxford plays host to a huge range of Christmas activities so this year we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites. If you think we’ve missed something that should be here, let us know!

Winter Light at the Oxford Botanic Gardens

4th – 6th December 5pm

Oxford Botanic Gardens

The Oxford Botanic Garden is always a beautiful place to wander around, but this Christmas there is the opportunity to see it in a completely different light- literally. Follow candlelit paths around the gardens and see features lit by spotlights before heading to the naturally decorated Christmas tree, where you can make your own decorations to hang up there or to take home.

Carols at Oxford Castle

6th December 6:30pm
Oxford Castle Quarter

Get in the Christmas spirit by joining BMH productions, their choir and their band in singing Christmas carols new and old at the Oxford Castle Quarter. As well as the carols there will be poetry and stories to keep you entertained and hot drinks to keep you warm.

Cogges Winter Fayre & Market

7th December 10:30am

Farther Christmas will be heading to the traditional winter fayre at Cogges Farm on Sunday. For the adults they’ll have homemade food and more than 30 stalls from local business selling crafts, handmade goods and locally produced food and drink. For the kids there will be decoration making and storytelling, as well of course as the chance to meet Santa. Adding to the festive spirit there will be performances from the Voicebox Choir and The Sniggering Foxes.

Cowley Festival of Christmas trees

7th – 9th December
St James Church

Have you ever seen 30 decorated Christmas trees in one place? If not then head to St James Church, Cowley on the 7th of December where more than 30 Cowley businesses and community groups will be showing off their trees. While you’re wandering around the trees you can also enjoy bell ringing, carols and refreshments.

Oxford Christmas MarketOxford Christmas Market

11th-21st December
Broad Street

This is one of the biggest events in the Oxford Christmas calendar and definitely one of our favorites. From the 11th of December more than 40 Christmas cabins will be selling everything from chocolate to candles, and alpaca rugs to vegetarian hot dogs. And while your shopping there will be music to put you into the Christmas spirit including performances from the Oxford City Singers and the Oxford Community Choir. A perfect chance to do some Christmas gift shopping, or even to pick up a tasty treat for yourself.

(Image courtesy of Oxford Christmas Market)

Oxford Ice Rink Show

13th & 14th December 3pm & 6pm
Oxpens Road

Oxford’s ice rink has been here for 30 years, this year’s celebratory show is sure to be spectacular. They’ve got stars from ITV’s Dancing on ice performing as wells as national and international skating professionals and over 100 local skaters. Its sure to be an amazing night, and your chance to get up close to the people we all watch and want to skate like (we struggle to stand on ice, let alone do flips and tricks!)

The City of Oxford Choir

Saturday 13th December 7:30pm
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High Street, Oxford

Nothing sounds more like Christmas than carols filling the air. This year join one of Oxford oldest Oxford's leading chamber choirs to celebrate the festive season. The City of Oxford Choir will be holding their Joy to the World concert in the beautiful The University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Along with the beautiful sounds of the choir there will be mulled wine and mince pies to enjoy.

City of Oxford Silver Band

Sunday 14th December

There are loads of performances from bands all around the county in the run up to Christmas, but these chaps are one of our favourites. The City of Oxford Silver Band have a packed calendar throughout December with performances all over the county. Their biggest event will be held at their band hall on Sunday 14th December and it will be a chance to hear their Sliver Band, Training Band and beginners’ band.

Helen and Douglas House Santas on the Run

Sunday 14th December 9am
Oxford City Center

This year’s Santas on the Run has sold out, but it’s always amusing to see 1,700 bearded Santas running though Oxford so make sure you head down to cheer on the runners - and of course support a great Oxford charity.

Santa’s Grotto Millets Farm

15th November – 24th December
Millets Farm

Be transported to the North Pole and take a journey through Santa’s grotto, past the elf’s working hard to get the presents sorted and into the Big Mans office where he will reading stories and listening to Children, learning what they want for Christmas. And if the adults are on the nice list, there will be a mince pie for them to!

28th November 2014

Christmas Dining Inspiration

Christmas Dining Inspiration

We’ve put together some ideas that will mean your Christmas will be talked about for years to come.

The Centrepiece

If you’ve got enough space on the table with all that food, a centerpiece is a great way to impress your guests. Tall candles always make a striking centerpiece and they’re nice and Christmassy at the same time. Having a candle in the middle of your table also means you can turn the lights down low and have an atmospheric candlelit Christmas dinner.

Top pick: Aluminium Nickel candle holder

If you’d prefer something a bit less traditional then a really good alternative to a candle holder is a vase filled with baubles. Pick a simple design and some beautifully sparkly baubles to give your table a crafty vibe.

Top pick: Dartington Saunton small vase

TableclothChristmas Table Cloth

Table cloths can be life savers on Christmas Day. With all the wine, gravy and cranberry sauce around, there’s guaranteed to be a mess on the table. But they can also be a bit boring so make clearing up easy and make a statement with a Christmas themed table cloth.

Tablecloths with Christmas jumper style patterns are very popular this year and work especially well with white crockery sets and tableware. If you’ve got a large table you could even use a smaller, patterned Christmas tablecloth on top of a larger white one to add some kitch vibrancy to your festive meal.

Top pick: Christmas Helene tablecloth


With the influx of family and friends during Christmas, cutlery is often in short supply - especially matching cutlery! Serve Christmas dinner in style this year by buying a lovely large cutlery set for special occasions. It might only come out once a year, but it will make your Christmas that little bit less stressful and stylish for decades to come.

Top pick: WMF Denver 58 piece cutlery set


Dishwashable. If there’s one word that will save your life this Christmas, that’s it. Make sure your crockery (and glassware) is dishwasher safe and can be stacked in the dishwasher when you’re finished with dinner so you can swap the sponge and Marigolds for charades, mince pies and Baileys.

If you’ve got a grand centerpiece and colourful tablecloth you don’t want to crockery that clashes! If this is the case, then we recommend simple white crockery for your Christmas dinner to give your table a sophisticated look.

Top pick: Maxwell & Williams 12 piece cashmere coupe dinner set

Wine glassesDartington Glass

Good glassware is not only elegant and stylish; it actually helps wine taste better. Red wine in a glass made from the thinnest crystal and with a nice big bulb helps get as much air as possible in contact with the wine, giving it more oomph than it would have in a thicker glass.

It’s the same with brandy and balloon glasses; the big bulb on these serve the secondary purpose of letting you fit your hand around the drink to bring it up to the perfect temperature for quaffing.

If you want your meal to really impress then hold back on the expensive wine and pick up some expensive glasses instead. You’ll see – and taste – a real difference.

Top pick: anything by Dartington Crystal

Serving Up

This year everything’s gone a bit rustic. Gone are the serving bowls of yesteryear and in are serving boards and platters. Wooden serving boards are great for showing off your food and even better, they’re easy to clean. Just avoid getting red cabbage on them or you might not get it off!

Top pick: Sophie Conran serving boards

If you prefer the heat-retaining properties of china tableware then as with crockery go for something simple that lets your centerpiece and tablecloth shine.

Top pick: Portmerion rectangular roasting dish

Crackers and NapkinsGold Christmas Crackers

Not just useful for messy eaters to keep themselves clean, napkins can be a great way of tying place settings in with the rest of your table.
Christmas Day is the only time the crackers come out, so why not make them a bit luxurious? Our Golden Peacock crackers look great on any table and the gifts inside are a bit more special than usual.

If you’re still stuck on how to prepare the perfect Christmas table, pop in store and one of our lovely staff will help you create a spread to impress.

26th November 2014

Crafty Christmas with Boswells

Crafty Christmas with Boswells

‘Tis the season for… being creative!
 Here at Boswells, we have collected six great craft ideas to get you started – and we’ve got just the craft items you need. Do you want to make your own personal Advent calendar? What about your own Christmas cards?
Follow these fun craft ideas for all the family, and bring some cheer to winter afternoons.
What you will need:

  • Plain, or coloured thin card
  • Felt-tip pens
  • Pencil
  • Craft scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Christmas Tree DecorationExtra items detailed in each craft idea 

Origami Christmas Tree Decoration

  • For this project (and the origami Christmas calendar) you can use our set of multi-coloured origami paper
  • Taking a sheet of green origami paper, follow these step-by-step simple instructions on
  • Draw Christmas decorations on your origami tree with your felt-tip pens, or use some glitter-glue or sequins – be creative!
  • Finally, use a little craft glue to stick a loop of ribbon to the back of your design 

Origami Christmas Calendar

  • For inspiration on this project, take a look at these instructions for an origami calendar 
  • Use origami paper or wrapping paper for a festive feel 
  • Once you have your origami envelopes, fill with treats and seal the envelope with fun stickers
  • Then cut four lengths of ribbon, attach to the wall with pins, and clip your origami envelopes on with mini craft pegs to complete your calendar

Festive Hama Bead Decorations

  • First time of using Hama Beads? Have a look at this handy Hama Bead how-to guide 
  • If you already know how to use Hama Beads, then see our exciting Hama Bead range and pick some Christmas colours
  • Have a look at some example patterns of Christmas Hama Bead designs, or make up your own. Remember the grey dots on the provided templates are where you put no Hama Beads at all
  • Thread a ribbon loop through one of the gaps in your design and it’s ready for the Christmas tree

Hama Bead Decorations

Sparkling Christmas Cards

  • With glitter chenilles (you may know them as craft pipe cleaners) you can make a card that will shine
  • Use these Christmas chenille card designs for inspiration
  • Stick your pipe cleaners onto your card with a few dabs of glue and add decoration, with felt-tip pens or glitter glue, to finish your card

Felt Nativity Finger Puppets

For a fun way to teach children the Nativity story, take a look at this felt finger puppet Nativity design and use the templates provided for inspiration

  • Take a look at our colourful range of felt material
  • Draw the design templates on to your felt with pencil
  • Draw the main body template twice for the front and back of each finger puppet
  • Leave an extra ½ centimeter round the main body template for gluing 
  • Carefully cut out your design templates from the felt with scissors
  • Glue down your template details, such as the faces and hair etc, to the front half of your main body template. Allow to dry and then glue the two halves of your main body template together down the edges
  • Add optional eyes and smiles with felt-tip pens and you have finished!

Nativity Puppets

Christmas Loom Band DecorationsLoom Christmas Trees

Loom bands are all the rage at the moment. Need to find out what they are? Have a look at the official Cra-z-loom video demonstration

Don’t forget to take a photo of your crafty projects and tweet them to us or post them on the Boswell’s Facebook page – we’d love to see the whole family getting creative! If you teach, why not show us a photo of the creativity in class? If you have more great ideas for Christmas craft projects, let us know!

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