The D-Day Landings

The D-Day Landings

On Tuesday 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overload began. Codenamed Operation Neptune, more commonly known now as D-Day and the largest seaborne invasion in history. The D-Day landings marked the start of the campaign to free North-West Europe from the Nazis.

Planning the Operation

Planning for the operation began in 1943. However, talks about completing such an offensive had been ongoing between Winston Churchill and U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt since early 1942. You can read a full account of their fluctuating support for such an assault on The North Africa and Italian campaigns took precedent, they proved to be lengthier and costlier than expected. Operation Overlord finally came into planning at the end of 1943. Leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a military deception, called Operation Bodyguard. Bodyguard succeeded in its mission. It misled the Nazis over the date and location of the mass landings. As a result, the Nazis were surprised by the D-day landings and Hitler delayed sending reinforcements.


Poor weather delayed the D-Day landings for 24 hours. Any further delay would  have resulted in plans being put back by at least two weeks. Why? The plans had been carefully devised around the phase of the moon, tides, and the time of day. As a result, only a handful of days a month proved suitable.

The attack began with a bombardment of German defences along the coastline. This allowed the troops to get ashore easier. At the same time, planes and gliders dropped allied soldiers behind the German defences, taking control of key roads and bridges. Over 6,000 vessels landed allied troops, their objective, to link the Normandy coastline. This involved landing at five key beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The men faced heavy gunfire, barbed wire, mines, and wooden stakes. Casualties were extremely high, particularly at Omaha with its large cliffs. The five beaches were not connected until 11th June.

The Casualties

More than 150,000 brave, young soldiers from America, Britain and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy. Poor weather and German resistance made the landings bloody and chaotic. Casualties in this first wave were horrendous. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, each of the beaches had been claimed. The Allied fatalities for D-Day alone amounted to an estimated between 5,000 and 12,000. German casualties (killed, wounded, or missing) it is estimated numbered between 4,000 – 9,000. Just 2 days after the D-Day landings, the first Allied cemetery was dedicated. There are now 27 war cemeteries in Normandy. Some have fewer than 30 graves in them, the largest has over 20,000.

The Outcome

D-Day gave the Allies the foothold it needed to turn the tide against the Nazis, though it had not entirely gone to plan. Capturing Caen, for example, a major objective, did not occur until July 21st. The Battle of Normandy, in fact, dragged on until August. Allied casualties amplified to over 226,000! There is no doubt though, that the D-Day landings were instrumental in winning World War II. The attack set on that day lasted for 11 months. It led the Allies to Berlin and Adolf Hitler’s Bunker Headquarters. On 8th May 1945, the World celebrated Victory in Europe. 3 Months later, in August, World War II ended with Victory against Japan too.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide range of World War II memorabilia available, including the D-Day landings. Come and have a look! Our products span the whole of the 20th Century, a remarkable period in our history.

10 Health Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles

10 Health Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles

Though youngsters may turn to electronic devices for gaming and puzzles, the popularity of jigsaw puzzling is on the rise. Many adults are finding them a great way to unwind and to challenge their brain in a new way. Even celebrities like, Sir Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Rory McIlroy find them stimulating! So here are 10 health benefits of jigsaw puzzles:

  1. Improved Memory


The science bit, solving puzzles strengthens the existing connections between our braincells. It also improves the generation of new connections. As a result, mental speed and though process improves. Jigsaw puzzles are particularly good at improving short term memory. Puzzlers must remember certain shapes and colours and where they fit into the puzzle. They need to visualize the finished piece to see how the pieces slot together.

  1. Better Visual-Spatial Reasoning

As mentioned above, when solving the jigsaw, we look at different pieces and figure out where they fit into the larger picture. This helps to improve our visual-spatial awareness. This is a skill we use regularly in everyday life, for example, driving a car, packing a box or suitcase, map reading etc.

  1. Improved Problem-Solving Skills

Puzzles require us to take different approaches to solving them. The end goal is to complete the puzzle, but there are many different paths we can take to do this. Fitting the correct pieces together can be a matter of trial and error. We learn the importance of formulating theories, testing them, and adapting when the plan does not come together. These skills can be transferred to the workplace, making us more adaptable and innovative employees.

  1. Increased Attention to Detail


Often, when completing a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces can look remarkably similar in colour or cut. Paying attention to the details, the subtle differences, help us solve the puzzle. An ability to pick up on the finer details is a great skill to have in our work life. Our quality of work can literally improve!

  1. Increase Your IQ

Dr. Susanne Jäggi, from the University of Michigan, led a team of researchers to investigate the benefits of puzzling. They found that spending just 25 minutes a day doing a puzzle, can increase your IQ levels by 4 points.

  1. Meditative Benefits


Completing a jigsaw can have a similar effect on you to meditation. It generates a sense of calm and peace, a form of mindfulness. By concentrating on the puzzle alone, our minds are cleared of other stresses and anxieties we may be facing.

  1. Increased Productivity

When we are stressed or agitated, we find it harder to concentrate. When concentration improves, productivity can soar! Taking time out from work or school to work on a jigsaw puzzle, is therefore a great way to reset the brain. Even a few minutes can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything!

  1. Independence

Completing a jigsaw puzzle is a fantastic solo past-time, particularly if you live alone. It is easy to become absorbed into completing the puzzle, and the hours can whizz by! The satisfaction you feel as you slot that final piece of the puzzle in place, is second to none! What a great emotional buzz.

  1. Social Skills

Likewise, completing a puzzle with family, friends or work-colleagues is a great way to improve teamwork. Build collaboration through discussion and interaction. Researchers at Yale University found that solving puzzles at work improved relationships and the ability to co-operate together.

  1. It is Fun!

Every time we place a piece into the correct place, we get a release of Dopamine into our system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and optimism. Our brains move from a ‘Beta’ state (wakeful) to an ‘Alpha’ state (the same state we are in when dreaming) when puzzling. This lowers stress levels and improves our mood. Finally, what a great feeling, completing the challenge and seeing the puzzle in its full form!

So, after reading the 10 health benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles, what’s not to love? Start reaping the benefits of completing a jigsaw puzzle today! They are a complete work out for your brain, exercising both the left and right sides. They will improve your cognitive function, can delay the onset of Alzheimer and Dementia, and will certainly help you to chill out! We stock a lovely array of Gibsons Jigsaw puzzles here at Sweet and Nostalgic, so come and have a look and start puzzling!





Quirky Gifts For Women

Quirky Gifts For Women

What do you give the lady in your life, that is different? Buying unique gifts for your Mum, Wife, Girlfriend, Sister or Friend for instance, can be difficult. Searching for quirky gifts for women is a fantastic idea, because no-one wants to seem predictable when gifting a present. If you give a great gift, it is not only a positive experience for them, but for you to! Why you may ask? Doctor Ellen J Langer, a Harvard psychology professor has a theory. ‘It is believed giving to others reinforces our feelings for them and makes us feel effective and caring.’

The social value of gift giving has been recognized throughout human history. In a fascinating article written by Tara Parker-Pope for the New York Times, gift giving has even had evolutionary connections. Some researchers have highlighted that men who were the most generous, may have had the most reproductive success with women. Likewise, women who were skilled at giving (be it food or a well-fitted pelt), helped sustain the man in her life, as well as their children. Men are more price conscious and practical when giving gifts. Women are more concerned with the emotional effect giving and receiving gifts can have.

There is so much to consider! Is it any wonder that searching for the ultimate, quirky gifts for women, feels like hunting for the Holy Grail? If you buy personalised presents for your loved one, however, you may just succeed! What could be more exclusive, than a gift personal to the one accepting it? Consequently, at Sweet and Nostalgic, we have an exciting range of personalised gifts for her. For example, is she a romantic, a music lover, a lady with a sweet tooth or maybe someone who enjoys the odd tipple? Then read on!

Is she a Romantic?


Many women grow up listening to a Fairytale or two. Cinderella, Snow-White or Rapunzel, girls often dream of being the princess in the tale. As they mature, they often read classics, like Pride and Prejudice or Emma, imagining themselves meeting their very own Mr. Darcy. How excited and delighted would she be, therefore, to receive a book that places her in that very story? Our range of excellent titles will help you fulfil her dream and she will know how much you care about her!

Is she a Music Fan?

Fans of The Beatles or David Bowie would love a personalised newspaper book packed with headlines and articles about their idols. Leather-bound and filled with images, these newspaper books are a must for all devotees. Alternatively, surprise her with a personalised music fact book or quiz book from a relevant decade, ideal if they are celebrating a special birthday.

Does she have a sweet tooth?

Is your lady sweet like candy? Perhaps you are buying for someone who loves to reminisce about their childhood and spending their pennies in the local sweet shop? Giving someone a personalised retro sweet hamper or a wooden box filled with delicious goodies is a sure-fire way to impress them. Eating retro sweets can, for many, stimulate lost memories of hazy summer days, playing tag with your friends and going on joyous family holidays. You never know, she could be so pleased with her gift she might even share!

Does she enjoy a tipple?


Receiving a unique bottle of prosecco or champagne with your name on the label must be thrilling! It is a perfect way to celebrate a special birthday. Teamed up with a newspaper from a special birth date or a box of luxury chocolates, these gifts are guaranteed to make a great impression. Alternatively, she might prefer a fine gin or a delicious wine. These exclusive gifts will certainly win ‘brownie points’ for you!

We hope we have taken the pressure out of buying some quirky gifts for women. Whatever you decide on, we are sure the extra thought you put into it will shine through. We leave you with a final word from Sir Winston Churchill, ‘We make a living by what we get, we make a life from what we give.’

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Personalised Gifts For Men

Personalised Gifts For Men

What do you give the man who has everything? This is a dilemma felt by friends and relatives across the world. For birthdays and Christmas people scour the internet looking for unique present ideas for the man in their life. However, whilst we all want the receiver to be thrilled with a gift we may give, the most important thing to remember is, ‘it’s the thought that counts.’ The key to gift giving is summed up beautifully in a quote from Tinku Razoria. ‘Some gifts are big. Others are small. But the ones that come from the heart are the best gifts of all.’ Personalised gifts for men are a great solution to this eternal problem.

Whether it is a declaration of love, to mark a special occasion, or just to show gratitude to someone, the giving of gifts is engrained in our DNA. There is an excellent website called ‘Curious history’. Here they explain the origins and history of gift giving. Gifts have been given since the origin of the species. Gifts were given not just to show affection, but to bestow status and favours with leaders and royalty. Nowadays, gifts are given as a way of expressing our feelings and making connections. Personalised gifts are an even better way to do this, to show your loved ones that you have put real thought into their present. They are unique to the individual receiving them and therefore perfect for the man that has everything! There are thousands of personalised gift options available, here are a few suggestions to help you find that perfect present.

Sports Fans?


Are you buying a gift for an avid sports fan? Do they love rugby, football, horseracing, cricket, cycling or golf? At Sweet and Nostalgic we have an extensive range of personalised newspaper books packed with historic headlines. These copies of newspaper articles relate to specific sports and events. From the historic wins of Red Rum in horse racing, to England lifting the World Cup in football. Our leather-bound books are an excellent reference source and celebration of each individual sport.

Fancy A Tipple?

What better way to celebrate a special occasion than to raise your glass with a favourite tipple? There is a wide selection of personalised alcohol gifts on the market. If the man in your life is celebrating a special birth date, then you could mark it with one of our unusual Alcohol and Original Newspaper gifts. Selecting the drink of your choice, to sit alongside an original Times Newspaper from the specified date is a sure-fire way to make a unique impression on your loved one. Indeed, on selected spirits the label itself can be personalised!

Sweet Tooth?


Are you buying a gift for someone with a sweet tooth? We all enjoy a sweet treat occasionally. What could be better than receiving a personalised hamper, box or jar packed full of your childhood favourites? There will be no confusion in the house whose sweets they are with a name on it! Retro sweets are an evocative gift to give, the look, smell and taste of these delights are sure to make anyone reminisce over their carefree childhood days.

Something Quirky?

Often while searching for personalised gifts for men, we want something unique or quirky. Have you ever thought about a personalised book? From the Beano Annual (from your selected year) to Star Wars, Thunderbirds to Ladybird’s classics, we can personalise them for your loved one! Have you ever imagined the man in your life to be the hero of his own novel? That is not a problem, we can personalise one, like Frankenstein or Robin Hood, how cool would that be? It might be you are looking for a memento to mark a special celebration that is deeply personal to the man in your life. Favours for a special party for example. At Sweet and Nostalgic we can create bespoke mugs or signs (minimum order of 25 required) featuring your own artwork, saying or photograph.

So, next time you are wondering what to buy the man in your life, consider personalised gifts for men – you’ll be amazed at the choices available to you!

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VE Day 75th Anniversary GIfts

VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts

On 8th May 1945 the Allied Forces of World War II officially accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces. This ended nearly six years of a war that had cost so much. Millions of lives had been lost, homes and cities had been destroyed and families torn apart.

The end of World War II itself, did not occur until Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945. Despite this however, celebrations erupted in towns and cities across the world. Over a million people took to the streets of Great Britain singing and dancing. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. There King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony of the palace. They greeted the cheering crowds, sharing their feelings of relief and pride. Famously Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret joined the masses incognito. The princesses fully immersed themselves in the revelry and joy, a very rare feeling of freedom.

2020 will observe the 75th Anniversary of this historic event and there are many VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts available to mark this milestone and the events of World War II. Take a look at our replica miniature war medals or our vintage coins, they’ll make a great addition to your commemorative goody bags!

Nazi Germany Surrenders

On 7th May 1945, at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower in Reims, France,  General Alfred Jodl signed the treaty on behalf of Germany. The treaty officially came into effect the next day.  The Imperial War Museum website states that ‘Germany’s surrender was not a surprise’.  Indeed, the news had been anticipated by many for some time. It was late on 7th May that the BBC interrupted its scheduled broadcast with a news flash. The announcement stated that Victory in Europe Day would be a National holiday and would take place the next day.

Newspapers rallied to run the headlines. Special edition papers were printed and distributed to commemorate the long-awaited announcement. We have some excellent examples in our personalised newspaper books which make wonderful VE Day 75th anniversary gifts for enthusiasts. The books contain scans from original newspaper articles. Each book captures the stories and events of World War Two as they happened, including VE day. With no embellishments or alterations, the book’s contents are printed exactly as they were when first published. Our World War Two Pictorial Book also features masses of high-quality photographs. It provides a provocative and educational insight into WWII.

Celebrations Begin

Many people didn’t wait for the official day to celebrate victory in Europe, they began the festivities as soon as they heard the news! Colourful bunting lined the streets, parades were organised, bonfires were lit, pubs were filled with revellers. Churchill had assurances from the Ministry of Food that there was enough beer in the capital!  Dancing broke out, licensing hours were extended, and dance halls stayed open until midnight. People had endured so much, from horrendous air raids (captured in our Blitz memorabilia packs), to strict rationing of food and clothing. They were more than ready to let loose and enjoy themselves.

The 8th May was, however, a day of mixed emotions. The noise and celebrations were too much for some who mourned the loss of their loved ones. Others remained worried for those still serving overseas. The war years had taken their toll on many, leaving some individuals feeling weary and not in the party mood.

Winston Churchill reflected these feelings of mixed emotions in his famous speech to the nation at 3pm on 8th May. ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but lets us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that they still had to defeat Japan and that the political, economic and social impacts of the war would be felt for many years to come. Indeed, ration books remained in place until 1954, nearly ten years later. Perhaps, if you are organising a VE day party, you might like to give everyone their own ration book (they can write their name in it)  or a ration book themed mug, they make great VE day 75th anniversary gifts? On the other hand, why not treat yourself to a 1940’s hamper, packed with memorabilia for that authentic party feel?Retro Gift Hamper

VE Day Celebrations in 2020

It is ironic, that the 75th anniversary year for VE day should now be hit by its own horrendous difficulties. A new war, an unseen enemy, Coronavirus has impacted almost every country in the world. NHS workers, Care givers and keyworkers are the new heroes whilst thousands of people have sadly lost their lives.

Celebration plans for VE day have, understandably, been put on hold with a tentative hope that they may now be combined with VJ day celebrations on 15th and 16th August. During these difficult times sentiments from World War II are being echoed throughout the country. Even the Queen, in an unprecedented address to the nation, recalled the events of World War II. The Queen recollected how she and her sister had spoken to the evacuees to have courage whilst parted from loved ones. Her parting words indeed were, ‘We will meet again’.

We would like to reiterate those feelings here at Sweet and Nostalgic. These are troublesome times, but look back to World War II when our parents, grandparent and great grandparents faced such traumatic difficulties and loss. They survived, they came through it. When this terrible time in our current history is over, we will celebrate as they did with joy, revelry and of course reflective remembrance for those that we have lost. Stay Safe x

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World War II Educational Resources

World War II Educational Resources

WWII touched the lives of all that lived (and died) through it, from 1939 -1945. It was a global affair, involving most of the world’s countries.  WWII features heavily in Britain’s educational curriculum and is taught to us from a very young age. It is vital that children learn about the horrors, the politics and the social and economic impact that the war had, but this needs to be done, above all, sensitively and without glorification. There are a number of excellent World War II educational resources available online to help teachers, those home schooling (especially during lock down) or indeed keen amateur historians.

The key to engaging students with learning is to make it interesting and fun. Encouraging them to use their imaginations, to explore, discover and question, will certainly have a positive effect in their understanding for the events of the Second World War . Online classrooms like BBC Bitesize and Teaching Ideas are excellent. These wonderful sites provide fun games, videos and activities to engage children. Activities include word searches, poetry templates and quizzes. The exercises are all tailored to specific age groups and are free to use!

We all learn through stimulation and it is generally understood that this is achieved through one of four different methods, known as the VARK learning styles. These styles are divided into four groups; Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. Below are a few ideas on how to engage each of the learning styles with World War Two.

Visual Learners

Visual learners enjoy graphics and charts. Creating timelines for events during this period is a great way to help visual students retain dates. Our World War II memorabilia packs also make excellent visual aids and specialise in all aspects of the era. The packs include ‘Children’s War’, ‘The Home Front’ and ‘The Blitz’. Each one contains replica documents like ration books, images and examples of advice leaflets given at the time. They are a visual feast for those wishing to learn more about the war time period.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners like to recite information out loud to remember it. They prefer to listen to information and discuss it, rather than reading it. Watching educational videos about the era, like those on, for example, can really benefit children retain the details. It is a great idea to set up discussion groups too, giving them an opportunity to talk about the videos they have watched.


If you have students that prefer to learn through the more traditional method of reading and writing, why not try simple question and answer handout sheets?  Researching information online or from books and making notes is another effective method. There are some very informative World War II books available in our shop. Another great idea, read some original newspaper articles from the day, then set a challenge to students to write an article themselves. There’s a superb selection of replica newspapers available at Sweet and Nostalgic, these are excellent World War II educational resources.


Finally, Kinesthetic learners. They prefer a more hands on approach. Often thought of as ‘tactile’ learners, these individuals are stimulated by far more than simply utilising their ‘touch’ sense. These learners tend to use all their senses equally when learning. They are very active, so flash cards and practical exercises can be very beneficial. We stock World War II educational colouring postcards and posters suitable for younger students. These packs create a fun, practical way to learn some of the facts of this era and come with the colouring pencils too! Immersing youngsters into the period itself can be great fun too! Role playing events, for instance, purchasing goods with a ration book and vintage coins, can be really effective. Take a look at our World War II gifts for more ideas.

We have just touched upon the plethora of World War II educational resources available to teachers, students, parents and keen amateur historians.  The internet is awash with information and we hope our suggestions will help guide you towards some original ones. World War II is a period in our history that should never be repeated and we believe at Sweet and Nostalgic that it is only through education, understanding and remembrance that we, the human race, will avoid such an atrocity recurring again in our futures.

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Activities to do at home during Self-Isolation

Activities To Do At Home During Self-IsolationActivities to do at home

Coronavirus has impacted on all our lives, young and old. Knowing what activities to do at home during self-isolation each day will give you a sense of order. With schools shut and people being asked by the Government to stay at home, we are all experiencing unprecedented changes to our lives. Humans are naturally social creatures, but many people now find themselves alone, in self-isolation and claustrophobic. How can we look after our mental wellbeing and get through this tough period in our history?

Creating new routines to our day is certainly a good starting point. Routines don’t have to be regimented, but still having a sense of ‘feeling in control’ of the situation will certainly be beneficial. So, because we care, we’d like to share with you a list of our ideas, things we are doing to help us get through this difficult time and we hope you find them useful:

1. Plan each day for everyone in the household

Give each person 3 or 4 tasks to complete, including household jobs, schoolwork, exercise etc, because when you cross things off a list you get a sense of achievement.

2. Communicate

Talk to each other (you are all going to be feeling anxious during this time, young and old alike). Chat to your friends and family regularly on the phone or using social media too, remember, you don’t have to feel alone.

3. Spring clean

It’s the right time of year for it and open the windows, get some fresh air through the house.

4. Gardening

Activities to do at home during self-isolation can, of course, include the garden. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, get out there and spruce it up. Gardening is a great way to keep fit and you might be spending more time looking at it over the coming months. If you don’t have a garden, why not get some fresh potted herbs on your next trip out to the supermarket?  Placing plants on your windowsills can help to give you a sense of wellbeing and as a result, you’ll feel better.

5. Cookery

What a great feeling of satisfaction you get when sitting down to a meal you have created from scratch yourself. Dig out that old cookbook at the back of the cupboard for instance. Alternatively, there’s a multitude of simple recipes online and what a life skill to teach to children too! Freshly prepared meals are generally healthier for you and often a lot more economical, as a result you’ll save money, so get cooking!

6. Read

How many of us only have time to pick up a good book when we are on holiday? Now, however,  we are home let’s take advantage and read more. Maybe you are helping your children with schoolwork, we have a selection of history books and memorabilia packs in our shop that would make great teaching aids.

7. Gaming

Playing online games with friends is a great way to still feel connected. You could set up a family league table for playing computer games or indeed traditional board games for the duration of this self-isolation period and why not offer a prize for the ultimate champion at the end of it!

8. Watch TV100 Movies Bucket List - scratch off poster

Steer clear of the news though,  watching that constantly is too depressing! Binge watch box sets or settle down to watch a good film. We have a fantastic 100 Movies Bucket List scratch off poster, imagine the hours you could pass working your way through that!

9. Exercise

If you can go out, go for a walk run or cycle (but remember the social distance rule). To make it fun for children why not create a scavenger hunt, things they must see and cross off a list whilst out will make it into a good game. If you are stuck indoors there are some great online exercise programmes, like Joe Wicks’ P.E. sessions on YouTube. Exercising helps to enhance your mood and reduce stress levels, something we all need now!

10. Have Fun!

There are so many activities to do at home during self-isolation. Try developing new skills, like learning a new language, drawing or writing. Keeping a diary is a great start, it helps to express your thouVintage Marmite - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzleghts and emotions privately, again beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Why not try a jigsaw, we have a lovely selection of Retro Jigsaw Puzzles here at Sweet and Nostalgic. Tackle jigsaws as a solo challenge or together as a family. Have a themed day at the house; a pyjama day, a pamper day or a pirate and princess day for the children. Above all, laugh, it really is the best medicine, to combat stress and anxiety and to keep families united during this difficult time.

We hope you find something in our list above to help you through these unimaginable times. From the Sweet and Nostalgic team, we wish you all well, keep safe and look after each other. X




Gibsons Jigsaws – Jigsaw Puzzles through the Decades

Jigsaw Puzzles through the Decades – Gibsons Jigsaws

Gibson Jigsaws at Sweet and Nostalgic

Jigsaw puzzles, a source of entertainment, education, frustration, joy and definitely of achievement (once they are completed, of course!). Many of us are first introduced to jigsaw puzzles when we are little. Who remembers the thick wooden shapes that, as infants, we carefully slotted into the right place, much to our parents’ delight? For some of us, the lure of completing that seemingly impossible task never leaves. Jigsaw puzzles for adults remains a popular pastime, despite this age of technology!

What’s the history of Jigsaw puzzles?

We can thank a London Cartographer, John Spilsbury, for creating jigsaw puzzles for commercial markets. In the 1760s he mounted maps onto hardwood, then cut them along the boundary lines. He created a puzzle useful for teaching geography. These puzzles were known as ‘Dissections’. The name ‘Jigsaw’ became associated with the puzzle around 1800, when fretsaws became the tool of choice for cutting the shapes. The name appears to be a misnomer therefore, as fretsaws are distinct from jigsaws! In the late 1800s the first cardboard jigsaw puzzles appeared. These were slow to replace wooden puzzles, as manufacturers feared they would be perceived to be of inferior quality. The profit margins on wooden jigsaws were larger too!

When did jigsaw puzzles become popular?

Jigsaw puzzles through the decades remained a source of amusement, but it was during the Great Depression when the popularity of jigsaw puzzles escalated. They provided a cheap, long-lasting, recyclable form of entertainment. The complexity of the Jigsaw puzzles flourished too, making them more appealing to adults. Companies saw value in jigsaw puzzles as marketing tools. Often they were Gibson Jigsaw Wall Ice Creamgiven away in product promotions and in advertising. Customers then completed the image of the product being promoted,for example, our new Walls’ Vintage Ice-cream Jigsaw puzzle made by Gibsons.

When did Gibsons start making jigsaw puzzles?

Gibsons Games were established in 1919. However it was 1986 before they first launched their jigsaw puzzle range! Gibsons Jigsaws quickly became very popular on the market. Gibsons rebranded in 2002 and their boxes changed. Their blue boxed puzzles, are the ones we are all familiar with today. By this time, they had over 250 titles in their Gibsons Jigsaw collection.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we sell a small range of Gibsons Jigsaws. In keeping with our ethos they depict nostalgic and sweet memories. We love the retro brands and of course Jigsaws through the decades. The puzzles have between 500 and 1000 pieces. Whilst you may think a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is a challenge, spare a thought for the World record holders! The University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam are the Guinness World Record holders. They put together a jigsaw puzzle depicting a lotus flower, with the most ever pieces. The puzzle consisted of 551,232 pieces, was just over 48ft x 76ft and was put together by 1600 students on 24th Sept 2011! Suddenly a 1000piece Jigsaw puzzle doesn’t seem so daunting, does it?!

Origins of Valentine’s Day

origins of Valentine's Day

The Origins of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, a time for people to express their feelings of love, affection and friendship. Many mark this amorous day by exchanging cards and Valentine’s Day Gifts. Some make romantic dinner plans. But, what are the true origins of Valentine’s Day? What is the history behind one of the most charming dates in our calendar? The truth is, no one really knows! The history is a bit murky and actually a little gruesome in some accounts. Its backstory is a heady mix of strange traditions, pagan rituals and grisly executions.

Saint Valentine

Popular belief is that  Pope Gelasius I established Valentine’s Day, or the Feast Of Saint Valentine, in AD496. The date to be celebrated, 14th February, in honour of the Christian Martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome. Saint Valentine, a clergyman in the Roman Empire, ministered to persecuted Christians. Emperor Claudius II executed him. It is reported he was buried on February 14th AD269. However, there are numerous martyrdom stories associated with this date in history, so it could be related to one of these instead.


Others believe the origins of Valentine’s Day stem from an older Roman festival called Lupercalia. Lupercalia took place at the same time of year, the middle of February. The  festival marked the official start of Spring in the Roman calendar. Reports about this debauched event include a Pagan fertility right, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The pair would then ‘couple’ for the duration of the festival, or for longer, if the match was right. Another ritual involved slapping women with goat skin thongs to enhance their fertility.

Valentine’s Day as we Know it

It was Geoffrey Chaucer, in the 14th Century, who first introduced the tradition of courtly love on this date. Later, in the 18th Century, the Feast of Saint Valentine grew into more of an occasion.  Couples began to express their love for one another by sending ‘valentines’ and exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts like flowers or confectionary. Certain symbols like cupid, hearts and doves also became synonymous with Valentine’s Day.  These traditions have remained popular right up to the present day.

So what will you do this year? Treat your loved one to a special Valentine’s Day gift from Sweet and Nostalgic?  Exchange cards filled with endearing expressions of love? Maybe you’ll indulge in a fine meal for two? However you chose to mark the occasion, remember the origins of Valentine’s Day and how things are not always what they seem to be!

Vintage Pub Signs

Vintage Pub Signs

Vintage Pub Signs at Sweet and Nostalgic

Cocktails have always been popular, even before the dawn of Tom Cruise’s iconic film Cocktail. With the rise of the gin culture, there’s never been a better time to learn how to make a perfect cocktail. Impress your friends and family! Better still, home bars are making a comeback. Many of us are converting our unused garages into our own special home bar, complete with vintage bar signs. Likewise, it’s now fashionable to create a bar space in our gardens. How much nicer is a personal bar in your garage or summer house, than the usual garden tools? So, why not consider creating your own bar and decorating it with a few retro bar signs? Check out out blog post featuring our take on Vintage Pub Signs.

Irish Bar SignIt’s all in the Name!

Whether you run a pub, or have hopes of turning a room in your home into a bar, you need a good name. There are many different pub wall signs to choose from. Each sign will give your bar a cosy, vintage atmosphere. You really can create your very own Irish bar theme by using a 3D Irish metal pub signs and advertising McConnell’s Whisky and Murphy’s Irish stout! If it’s a traditional English pub theme you’re after, you can’t go wrong with The Black Swan, The Old Crown or a Red lion. Maybe you fancy something more tongue in cheek? Try out the Pickled Newt retro bar sign or The Cock Inn!

Cocktail Lounge

If you’re after a more sophisticated feel to your bar, and want to create an elegant cocktail lounge why not try adding a few Cocktail Wall signs. You could even use these to add some fun and colour to your kitchen. Adding a few metal wall signs to your kitchen or garage pub space, is a really great way to introduce a fun cocktail theme. Cocktail signs will remind your guests to challenge you to make the perfect cocktail of their choice! You can choose a cocktail recipe metal wall sign in a variety of sizes which can be your go-to cocktail maker menu. If you want to be a cocktail aficionado, get cracking on those cocktail recipes and hone your cocktail making skills.

What’s your Poison?

It’s amazing what you can do with a spritz of Prosecco, a dash of vermouth and a healthy splash of rum and tequila. Fancy a Mai Tai or a Cosmopolitan? Make sure you stock up on some essential bases, for example, Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Curacao and Cointreau. Adding some vintage Absinthe wall signs to your kitchen diner can add a certain olde worlde charm too! From Beck’s Beer to Tennent’s, Clan Castle Scotch whiskey, to John Jameson, we’ve got it covered!

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide selection of Vintage Pub Signs. Come and have a look at what life was like in 20th Century Britain, our products give you a warm nostalgic flavour for this wonderful time. Our range covers the whole of the 20th Century, so there’s something on our site for everyone interested in the most influential century that the world has known to date.