Boswells Blog

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!

4th November 2014

Winter Skin Care Guide

Winter Skin Care Guide

Autumn has taken a firm hold and we’re now well on our way towards colder days and longer nights. The good news is that this means we’re also well on our way towards Christmas. But winter is definitely bad news for your skin. Chapped lips and dry hands can afflict us all, so we’ve put together a guide to keeping your skin healthy and hydrated until spring.


Even when you think your body is protected by all your layers of clothes during winter, you still need to moisturise it every day. This is especially true for exposed areas of skin, such as your face and your hands. Use a hydrating body wash or apply a moisturizer after your bath for best effect.
Top pick: Dead Sea Magik Moisturiser

Our Moisturisers     Our Serums & Treatments


Winter is the best time to clean and exfoliate your skin. Use a cleanser for your face and choose a body scrub adapted to your skin type.
Top pick: Avène Gentle Purifying Scrub

Our Exfoliators

Nourish your skin

During winter your skin will be exposed to changes in temperature, especially when you step outside. That’s what cause dryness. To counter the effects of these temperature changes you should nourish your skin with a lotion or serum.

Heal your lipsBadger Lip Balm

One of the most unpleasant things about winter is dry, crackedlips. Choose an efficient lip balm or lip butter to shield your lips during the day. You could even put on your lip balm at night and keep it on your lips all night long.
Top pick: Anything from the Badger lip balm range

Our Lip Balms

Change your skincare routine

If you’re only using one skincare routine for the whole year winter is the best time to start a new one. Try to build a routine adapted to the weather and to your skin type, taking care to choose one that will help to moisturize your skin.

Hydrating face mask

Your face gets a lot of exposure to the cold, so using a hydrating mask during winter can give your skin a real boost. Even better, you can take advantage of the time your mask is on to relax.
Top pick: Dead Sea Magik Mud Mask

Take a warm bath or shower, not a hot one

If you use water that is too hot it will only make your skin dryer. Even though a hot shower might feel good when it’s cold, try turning the temperature down a bit to help your skin hold on to its natural moisture.

Nourish your hands and nailsBronnley Hand Cream

Along with your face your hands are going to be exposed most to the cold. Try a moisturising hand cream to hydrate your hands, nails and heal your cuticles.
Top pick: Bronnley Hand & Nail Cream

Our Hand Creams

Bonus tip - Drink plenty of water and get proper nutrition

What you eat during winter also has an impact on your skin. Eat foods like grapefruit, broccoli, and chocolate which contain Vitamin D, K and B and skin-smoothing compounds to give your skin the best possible care this season. You also need to drink water to preserve your skin from dryness.

29th October 2014

Oxfordshire Firework Displays

Oxfordshire Firework Displays

Autumn is with us once again. The clocks have gone back and the leaves have started falling, which means Bonfire night is just around the corner. It’s the day when everyone gathers to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes gun powder plot, warm up around the fire, and of course watch beautiful fireworks displays.

To help you plan your evening – or evenings – of fireworks gazing and candyfloss eating we’ve put together a list of some of the great events going on in and around Oxford.

1st November

Wallingford 1155 Fireworks Display 6pm

The annual RAF Brize Norton Station Bonfire & Fireworks 6pm-7:30pm

Marsh Baldon Fireworks and Funfair

Guy Fawkes Fireworks - Old Swan & Minster Mill Supporting Special Effect 6:30pm

2nd November

Witney Rugby Club annual community Fireworks and Bonfire Party 6pm

5th November

St Michael’s Primary School Annual Fireworks Night and Bonfire 5.30pm

(You should definitely go to this one – we’re supplying the fireworks!)

Bonfire Night at the Plough , Fireworks and BBQ, The Plough, Wolvercote,

Kidlington Fireworks Display Wed 5th November 6pm

7th November

Matthew Arnold School Fireworks 6-8pm

Hanborough Musical fireworks, 7th November Time: Gates 6pm, Display 7.15pm

8th November

Oxford Round Table at South Park 4pm-9pm

(The biggest gathering of people in Oxfordshire all year)

Standlake Sea Scout Fireworks, 8th November 6pm

Don’t forget, if you’re planning on holding your own fireworks spectacular we have a great range of fireworks in store. Ranging from child friendly low noise fireworks to gigantic rockets, we’ve got you covered.

Are you holding a firework event or a bonfire evening in or around Oxford? If you are then get in touch with us over Twitter or by email and we’ll add your event to our list.

24th October 2014

Top 10 Toys for Boys

Top 10 Toys for Boys

Whether you’re buying Birthday or Christmas presents there are a wide variety of toys to buy for boys. But sometimes the choice can be too wide, making it difficult to decide. To help you find that perfect present we’ve put together a list of out ten favourite boys’ toys for 2014.

1. A-Wing Star Wars StarfighterA Wing Star Fighter

LEGO and Star Wars together – enough to keep the geek in us happy for days on end. The box says 7-12 years, but to be honest we’d be happy having this in the office.

2. Technic Cargo Plane

If you’re buying for a boy who’s a bit older or who’s developing a keen interest in engineering then LEGO Technic is great fun. This is one of their most demanding sets – making it perfect for teenagers – and lets you control the plane’s flaps, cargo bay doors, and even the propellers. As a bonus you can transform it into a hovercraft – just in case you need a bit more fun!

3. Talking Fireman Sam

Fireman Sam has been a kids’ favourite for years (I remember getting the VHS for Christmas many years ago) and this 12” high soft toy is great for children aged 3 years and above. Not only a plush toy, it can also play the Fireman Sam theme tune and talk.

4. Flying Hero – Batman or Spiderman

Batman and Spiderman are very popular superheroes, so are popular for young children. This toy is suitable for children aged 4 and above and will fascinate them when they see their favourite superhero figurine fly in front of them.

5. Military Vehicle

One of our bestselling action toys, this military Jeep comes with a figurine and a range of accessories. It’s a great for starting a collection to form tableaux and scenes to play with.

6. T - Rex

This board game is a dinosaur chase – try to get your dinosaurs around the board, but don’t get eaten by the Tyrannosaurus! Suited to children aged 6 and above, this will keep them entertained for hours on end.

7. Captain America vs. HydraCaptain-america-vs-hydra

More LEGO, but this time from a different collection. This set is based on Marvel superheroes, and has been one of our most popular LEGO sets this year.

8. Lazer Copter

This Lite Brix construction toy will captivate boys’ attention with its colourful LEDs. Suitable for children aged 6 and above this toy is perfect for keeping children occupied and entertained for long periods of time. They’ll have fun building and flying it.

9. Doctors Carrycase

Every child loves to dress up and play; with the Doctors Carrycase they can enjoy using the variety of instruments and doing role play. This toy is suitable for 3 years and above.

10. Nerf Vortex Aero Howler

Although our other choices can be played with outside they aren't designed for pure outdoor play. Unlike these beauties. Playing catch is never the same again once they've tried the Nerf Vortex Aero Howler! Designed for the best throwing experience finger grip zones help the Mega Howler spin faster for tighter spirals and greater accuracy. Suitable for 3 years and above but we recommend for 7 and above where throwing and co-ordination are already in place. Come on next summer... 

22nd October 2014

Footsteps FUNdraising weekend at Boswells!

Footsteps FUNdraising weekend at Boswells!

Having some of our staff running in the Oxford Half Marathon for our 2014 charity Footsteps Foundation was a bit of an inspiration for us and this weekend we have a whole load of activities going on in store to raise as much money as possible money for them. Read more about Footsteps work with disabled childen here.

So take a chance with our "Lucky Dip" or our "Tombola". 

Make it a game of skill with "Pin the Tail On The Donkey" or educated guesswork with "How Many Packing Chips In The Suitcase" and win the Samsonite suitcase worth £155!

Or just join in with the fabulous Ghost Hunt and make a donation upon entry.

For the weekend we will also be asking for a donation of your choice, to take purchases away via our carrier bags.

Staff will be either in fancy dress or Footsteps t-shirts to celebrate.

19th September 2014

Essential tips for buying the perfect gift for a newborn

Essential tips for buying the perfect gift for a newborn

There’s nothing more difficult than shopping for other people and even more so when buying for a newborn baby! So let us give you a few tips and ideas in case you’re stuck for what to buy.


Clothes are commonly bought for newborn babies. Most people will buy clothes for 0-3 month old; these will be great for the day, but they may only fit for a few weeks. So when buying clothing for newborns, consider buying for a 6-9 month old, or even 9-12 month olds because it’s likely that newborns will grow out of smaller sizes quickly and you thinking ahead will give some relief to the busy parents.


Toys are usually initially bought as distraction and amusement for babies, rather than for playing purposes. Check that the toy is hazard-free and avoid anything small enough to swallow.  One of our favourites is the "Talking Igglepiggle" , a toy suitable for 0-18 months.

Some toys will help to improve the development of baby’s senses; babies are becoming used to the environments around them all the time, so toys with bright colours or different textures and sounds will be effective in speeding up sense development. The “Baby Maraca” will be effective in helping a newborn to become aware of the unusual sounds surrounding them, as well as entertaining them with bright colours.

 Everyday Essentials

 Clothing and toys are popular because they’re colourful and exciting, but everyday essentials are a good gift idea as they will always be needed. Products such as soap, shampoo and sponges are all appropriate and useful. Burt’s Bees “Baby bee getting started kit” is a good quality gift that will be perfect in helping to take care of a newborn. The kit includes a nourishing lotion, shampoo and body wash, nappy ointment and baby oil.

Free Time

Parents of newborns can be understandably reluctant to leave their baby with strangers so if you have baby experience then an offer of baby sitting to give the parents a night off and out can be very welcome. It's not just grandparents who can help out.


22nd August 2014

Lego® buying guide

Lego® buying guide

With the summer holidays coming to the end, many parents have run out of ideas to keep the kids entertained, so we’re here to help with our guide to buying Lego.

When buying Lego® there are some key things to consider; who is it for; you, a friend or a child? Will they be happier with a set that allows them to create a specific item such as a Lego Star Wars A-wing Starfighter or a replica of Big Ben, or would they prefer the fundamental bricks that will allow their creativity to run wild? This guide should help make buying Lego much easier.

Lego A-wing Starfigher Lego is for all ages

Lego comes in many different age ranges from 0-2, 3+, all the way up to 12+. This helps you to decide which sets will be most appropriate when buying for children; however it is important to remember this is not a strict rule. Lego is suitable for all ages and if you believe a ten year old would enjoy the challenge of a more complex 12+ set then this could be perfect for them.

The 12+ sets tend to have more extras included such as lights, moving parts and all sorts of electronics. The sets designed for much younger children are from Lego’s sub-brand, Duplo and have much larger bricks, making them far safer. They are also designed in a cartoon style making them more appealing to a younger audience.

Lego can satisfy everyone's area of interest

Lego sets come in many different styles, so to ensure the recipient (or you) gets the most enjoyment from their new Lego, it is important to consider their interests. Lego sets are divided into themes such as City, Technic, Friends and Creator.

For example, Technic sets are based around machinery and electronics and are usually aimed at the older age groups, with sets often including cars, planes and construction vehicles.

Whereas Friends sets tend to be more targeted towards girls with pink boxes and sets that include hair and pet salons. It is worth researching the different sets available and all of our staff in the toy department will be able to help you match a set to a person’s interest.

Lego themes

There are also branded themes such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Marvel and of course the famous Star Wars sets. These sets allow fans to recreate scenes from famous books, movies and games as well as create their own alternative stories.

These themes are extremely popular with fans of the associated brands, so if you know someone who has a keen interest in any of the themed Lego this could be the perfect gift.

Basic brick sets

For many people the joy of Lego comes from being creative and making entire cities, vehicles, houses and more from scratch. For people like this, the Lego boxes containing the basic bricks can make the perfect present.

The fundamental brick sets come in either mixed colours or sets all in the same colour and are perfect for people new to Lego who want to start exploring what they can do, or Lego experts who want to expand their collection.

Boswells love Lego and are here to help!

There are thousands of different Lego sets, bricks and accessories available, so if you have any questions all of our staff in the toy department will be happy to help!

14th August 2014

Brighten up your summer dining with these great table decoration ideas

Brighten up your summer dining with these great table decoration ideas

Summertime is here and it’s definitely time for BBQ’s, picnics and alfresco dining. In store, we have some great ideas on how to create the perfect decoration for outdoor dining. It’s the best time to bring some colour and character to your table. Here are some of our ideas which will hopefully inspire some of your own!

Spode Plate

Floral dinnerware sets

If you want to have special dinnerware for summer, choose one with a floral pattern or anything else that reminds you of the sun and holidays! 

Bright /pastel glasses

Besides the plates and cutlery, having bright and colourful glasses is also a good way to bring some joy to your summer table. In store you can find sets of glasses or mix and match single glasses of different colours.

Lanterns and candles

Lanterns and candles can be really useful if you plan to stay outside and enjoy the summer nights after dinner. They can also be a lovely way to decorate your table as they come in a range of bright colours and patterns.

Paper lanterns and garlands

If you have trees in your garden or an umbrella for your garden table, you have a fantastic opportunity to highlight your dinner table! You can go with a set of colourful paper lanterns or even create your own garlands with fabric or tissue paper. They look can look fab attached to walls or hanging from trees.

Mason drinking jars

If you want to add some style to your table this summer, you should definitely think about mason drinking jars. They are perfect for flavoured water, homemade lemonade or even smoothies. Just add colourful straws, some fruit on the top and they will combine yumminess with good looks!

Colourful napkins

They are easy to find and they can be a good place to start if you want to add a specific theme to your dinner. Try with one single colour or plenty of different tones.

Vase and flowers

Wibble Vase

 Flowers – a summer classic and essential loved by everyone! You can buy a beautiful arrangement from the florist and put it in a vase, pick flowers from your garden or wild flowers from the countryside. Alternatively why not use them to make hand-made seating cards. The Dartington Crystal “Wibble vase” is an ideal vase as it showcases the beauty of the flowers whilst understating its own elegance.

If you want some more summer decoration inspiration, drop by the store – we have everything here and much, much more.

12th August 2014

Nine of the best outdoor toys this summer

Nine of the best outdoor toys this summer

What better way for children to spend the summer than enjoying themselves outside in a garden, at the park or in a pool? There are plenty of outdoor toys and games to keep your children busy and entertained over the summer, and these are some of our favourites.

1. Water pistols

The king of summer toys! Whether they’re used in a swimming pool or in your garden, water pistols are a lot of fun for children (and admit it – you have just as much fun with them as the kids do). They come in lots different sizes and styles, from small pistols to huge Super Soakers! You can also buy garden sprinklers, which are a great for children to play in while your lawn gets watered. Nerf have different types of water pistols which you can find in-store.

2. Racket games

Summer is the perfect time to introduce your children to racket sports. Badminton, tennis, beach tennis rackets, ping pong; most of them only require some space, two rackets and oneball or a shuttlecock. Swingball is a great game to play in the summer as a family and is simple to use; you can find Swingball in our store in the Toy section.

3. Making sandcastles

Castle Buckets

If you’re planning to go to the beach or if you have a sandpit in your garden think about buying tools for sandcastles. You can buy traditional round buckets, or for the lordling who aspires to more than a simple keep you can also find castle-shaped buckets .

4. Nerf toys
Nerf have a large range of toys especially made for outdoor activities. There are crossbows, shotguns, pistols, longbows, and all sorts of other variations on foam dart guns – there’s even a whole girl’s range now, the Rebelle. Nerf toys are fun and suitable for playing in the park or garden, although we wouldn’t advise playing with them too near other people. Just in case…

5. Chalk

Scribbles on the pavement or on your patio? That’s something your children will love! With chalk designed especially for this use you won’t have to worry about cleaning away any unwanted drawings. Easy to remove, The Craft Cupboard coloured chalk just needs some water to disappear and can be used on a variety of surfaces.

6. Frisbees and boomerangs

Summer is also the time to get out the flight toys. Whether it’s a frisbee or a boomerang, you can have endless fun on the beach or in the garden; they are toys that are fun for all ages and are excellent when playing in large groups. This summer we’ve had fun with the Mega Fun Flying Disc.

Mirage Kite

7. Kites

The classic outdoor toy to play with is a kite: coming in different colours, shapes and sizes, they are the all-time favourite toy for a hot sunny day. Kites are suitable for all ages, so even toddlers are allowed to join in with the fun of flying a kite.

8. Rockets

An unusual toy perhaps, but one that kids will love. Rockets will keep your kids playing for hours, and come in a variety of types, from the Pump Rocket Junior – which fires small foam projectiles - to the Cosmic Rocket - which uses vinegar and baking soda to launch up to 50ft in the air! These toys are perfect to play with on a hot summer’s day and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

9. Bubble Blowers

Bubble Blowers are by far one of the best summer toys to have, they are great at keeping children and the whole family entertained for hours on end. A bubble blower is the ideal toy to have going at barbeques and for sunny days in the garden, especially if there are children around.

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