What Is National Puzzle Day?

What Is National Puzzle Day?

 National puzzle day is a non-official holiday celebrated on the 29th January every year. On this day, people are encouraged to try out puzzles of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of difficulties! Puzzles can be anything from crosswords to jigsaws, Sudoku to Rubik’s Cubes. The idea is purely to have fun and enjoy the challenge of tackling a puzzle!

 The Benefits

Scientists are confident that participating in puzzles is beneficial to our health. In Science Daily, there is a report from the University of Exeter, published in 2019. The report states, ‘Older adults who regularly take part in word and number puzzles have sharper brains.’ The findings come from the largest online study to date. Certainly, other research lists benefits to be, improved memory, increased I.Q., and better problem-solving skills. In addition to this, participating in puzzles can decrease stress and lift your mood. So, what puzzles should you try?

Puzzle Ideas

Marmite Jigsaw 1000 PiecesA puzzle is any game, toy or problem that tests your knowledge, ingenuity, and patience! Puzzles come in all formats and many people have their favourites. Some puzzles tackle words, for example, crosswords, anagrams, riddles, and word searches. For those who enjoy numbers, mathematical problem solving and sudoku are popular. Tactile, mechanical puzzles have been around for centuries too. From Chinese puzzle boxes, to puzzle jugs, puzzle locks, to the more recent, (by comparison to some of these earlier varieties), jigsaw puzzles. Visual puzzles like dot-to dot or spot the difference can be great fun too! Modern video gaming has introduced a whole new world of puzzles to a different generation, for example, tile matching games, platform games and adventure games! In fact, the history of puzzles spans centuries! Let us look at it in more detail.

History of Puzzles

The earliest documented puzzles come from riddles found in Ancient Greece and Egypt. Greek mythology produced the Riddle of the Sphinx, whilst labyrinths proved intricate puzzles, one of the most famous being the Ancient Cretan Labyrinth. The earliest tactile puzzles include bottom-fill vessels first found in Cyprus 1000BC with decorated versions discovered in China around 900AD. In Rome, secret compartment rings dating to 200BC show the use of intricate levers and clasps. In addition to this, the Roman Trick Lock, is carbon date to 100-400 AD. Indeed, trick locks appear to have been extremely popular in Ancient Rome.

Puzzle jugs first appear around 1400s. The trick with these jugs is to drink the contents without spilling a drop. Sounds easy? Not so! The jugs contain a series of holes that leak if you drink normally. The trick is to find a tube that runs through the jug, cover the holes, then suck the fluid up, like a straw.

The origin of Chinese puzzle rings has a mysterious past. Some believe they first appear in Egypt, others, Arabia. History shows them being used as locks and as engagement rings, to be united on the wedding day. You might know them as those interlinked metal hoop puzzles found in many Christmas crackers!

Manufacturing of puzzles came with the Industrial Revolution and a rise in a wealthier middle class. Initially paper or wood versions of puzzles became popular. Sliding puzzles and dissection puzzles, for example. 1760, and the first jigsaw puzzles appear. Created from cut up maps and used to teach geography, jigsaw puzzles have since grown in popularity and remain loved by young and old.

The 1800s introduced puzzle boxes to the masses, often made from ivory, the boxes became associated with the mysterious Chinese culture, though many probably originated from Europe. Joining a mass demand for puzzles, magazine and newspaper editors added puzzles to their publications in the early 20th Century. Prizes increased readership too!

In the 1970’s the Rubik’s Cube took its place in the puzzle chronicles. The Rubik’s Cube created a mass frenzy of new puzzle fans across the globe! Whilst the peak of Rubik’s Cube popularity remains in the 1980s, it is still challenging individuals daily. The World record time for solving this puzzle is an amazing 3.47 seconds, by Du Yusheng, in 2018.

The rise of video gaming leads us onto a new era for puzzles. Tile matching games, for example Tetris, really took off in the late 1980s. Platform games and adventure games also often include puzzles as part of their format. There is certainly plenty of choice for all those that wish to celebrate National Puzzle Day!

29th January

So, be it a traditional crossword, a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle or a hidden objects video game, make sure you celebrate on 29th January. Enjoy the benefits, revel in the history and above all folks, have fun!!

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope you have enjoyed reading about National Puzzle Day. We are passionate about celebrating nostalgia and have a wide range of gifts available on our website all celebrating the 20th Century. We are also thrilled to be in the top 50 blogs to read on Feedspot!






What’s Your Bucket List?

What’s Your Bucket List?

What’s your bucket list? You have decided to make a bucket list, but what exactly is a bucket list? Does it have to be expensive? Perhaps you have a special birthday coming up and you want to achieve something before it? What are you going to put on your list? This blog will hopefully give you inspiration, so read on!

The Origin of Bucket Lists

The term ‘bucket list’ is used by people to describe the things they want to see or do before they die. Initially used by individuals facing imminent death, diagnosed with a terminal illness for example, the term is now more widely used by people as a list of things they would like to do someday.

‘Bucket List’ comes from the term to ‘kick the bucket’, to describe someone passing away. A relatively new term, it became popularized by the film ‘The Bucket List’, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in 2007. IMDB sums it up perfectly: ‘Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.’ In fact, the expression is not recorded as being used prior to 2006, so the film truly can be credited with the concept becoming so popular.

When to Make a Bucket List

As portrayed in the film, bucket lists are popular with those facing a terminal illness. The lists are a great way for individuals and their families to create some wonderful, fun memories during darker days. However, as explained earlier, bucket lists are now created by those facing special birthdays, retirement, or just those with lifelong ambitions. Basically, anyone with a list of dreams, goals, or challenges they wish to achieve during their lifetime, can make a bucket list! The task can be quite daunting though, so where to begin?

What goes on a Bucket List?

The most important thing to remember, is that a bucket list is a personal journey. The entries on your list should be quite unique to you! What do you want to achieve in your life? What do you really enjoy doing? Think carefully about the things that make you happy. Whether it is sport, food and drink, creativity, travel, or personal development, you are only limited by your own imagination.

Whatever happens, however, do not include every day, mundane things on your list. For example, redecorating the lounge or cleaning the car are more like chores. Learning a new language, donating blood, sky diving or attending a cookery course, these are challenges and personal achievements, therefore suitable for your list.

Stretch yourself, create a list which is going to inspire you to get up and go and do not be put off by fears of the unknown. Remember, your list can include simple things too, like reading specific books or watching certain films! In fact, it is imperative that your list has a variety of entries. Adding a mixture of short-term goals as well as long term ones will help you feel a sense of achievement as you cross them off.

Don’t forget the children too! The National Trust created a fantastic bucket list for children. 50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4! The list includes things like building a den, making friends with a bug or having a snail race. To be honest, why not add some of these to your list, they sound great!

How Long Should a Bucket List be?

There is no limit to how many goals you add to your list. Some like to relate it to the special birthday they are celebrating, for example, 50 things to do before reaching 50. Others like to have an ongoing list, constantly achieving and adding to their lists, ever evolving. If you find your list is getting too long, you could break it down into smaller ones, categorized by type or deadline dates. If you are still not sure, begin with 25 items, making sure it includes a mixture of short and long-term goals.

Be Realistic

When making your list it is good practice to add a date that you would like to achieve each goal by. However, be realistic! If you want to travel in a hot air balloon, for example, but funds are limited, work out a small amount you need to save each month, even if it takes two or three years, then set that date as your target. By planning ahead and being methodical you will achieve more! Do not forget however, not everything on your list must cost a fortune! Simple things like learning how to draw, completing the couch to 5k challenge, or getting on a TV quiz show, will cost you little more than your time!

Ideas for Your List

There are so many ideas of what to put on your bucket list, it can be overwhelming. Annette White from bucketlistjourney.net suggests brainstorming ideas from different categories. Her category suggestions are: Adventure, Career and Finances, Charity, Creativity, Education, Entertainment and Events, Family, Food and Drink, Just for Fun, Local Experiences, Personal Growth, Nature and Wildlife, Sports and activities and Travel. You may have another category not listed that you could add too.

The most popular things on many buckets lists include: Sky Diving, See the Northern Lights, Visit the Grand Canyon, See the Milky Way, Own a Pet, Run a Marathon, Write a Book, Take an African Safari, Learn to Play an Instrument, Walk the Great Wall of China, Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Go Glamping, Visit Stonehenge, learn sign language, to name but a few!

We can Help

If you are still not sure where to start or what to do, maybe we can help. At Sweet and Nostalgic we have a fantastic range of bucket lists available. From 100 Albums to listen to, to 100 Books to read. Perhaps you fancy trying a 100 Cocktails or maybe 100 Craft Beers (not in one go, of course!). Our scratch off bucket list posters could be the inspiration you need to get started. We have a list of 100 Things to Do and 100 Places to Visit. They make great gifts too; you could inspire your friends and family to join you on the bucket list drive!

What’s your bucket list? We hope that Sweet and Nostalgic have helped you to establish that. Whether you create your own or use one of our ready-made posters, enjoy achieving your dreams! Have fun exploring our website packed with 20th Century gifts and thank you for reading, we are in the top 50 blogs for gifts with Feedspot.












Ice Cream and Vans, Their History!

Ice Cream and Vans

‘Stop me and buy one!’ We have all experienced the joy of buying a delicious ice cream or lolly from an ice cream van, but when did this tradition begin? The history of ice cream and vans is rooted with the Victorians. Read on to discover how the tradition of buying an ice cream from a street vendor began!

Hokey Pokey Sellers

In England, the first recording of anyone enjoying ice cream is Charles II and his lucky guests in 1672. The location for this momentous event, Windsor Castle, at a Feast of St. George banquet! Ice cream needed to be served immediately, as no suitable storage facilities existed, therefore, it remained an exceedingly rare delicacy for a couple of centuries, enjoyed by the elite only.

In 1847, Carlo Gatti, a Swiss born immigrant, came to Britain. Italian speaking Gatti, took residence in Holborn’s Little Italy, in London. He first started selling waffles and chestnuts from a stall. In 1849, he opened a café and restaurant specialising in chocolate and ice cream! He is therefore credited as being the first to make ice cream available to the general public. Gatti established a contract with the Regent’s Canal Company for the import of ice, enabling him to expand. He opened a stall in Hungerford Market where people could buy a penny’s worth of ice cream, served in a glass or shell, known as a ‘penny lick’.

Soon, ice cream vendors appeared across London, selling their wares from wheeled carts. The sellers, mainly Italian in descent, often cried out, ‘Gelati ecco un pocco’ (‘ice cream, here’s a little bit’), which became corrupted into the term ‘hokey pokey’! As popularity for this treat expanded across Britain, Hokey Pokey sellers began to appear in more and more cities!

‘Stop Me and Buy One’

Penny licks proved popular, but very unhygienic! The glasses often got washed in dirty water before the next customer used it or wiped with an equally questionable dirty cloth. As a result, customers often found themselves falling ill after indulging in this frozen treat. Indeed, an interesting article on The Victorian Web, describes just how bad ice cream could be for you. A London council medical officer discovered ‘cocci, bacilli, torulae, cotton fibres, lice, bed bugs, bug’s legs, fleas, straw, human hair and cat and dog hair’ in samples taken! Consequently, in 1898, a law, banning the use of ‘penny licks’ passed in parliament.

Fortunately, a wonderful culinary entrepreneur, Mrs. Agnes Marshall, included a recipe for edible cones in her book, Fancy Ices of 1894. The cones soon became an exceedingly popular way to enjoy an ice cream!

In 1923, Wall’s Ice cream introduced the first mobile ice cream sellers, using bicycles! Cecil Rodd, of Walls, came up with the slogan ‘Stop me and Buy One’, a phrase still often seen today on modern ice cream vans! These distinctive bicycles increased sales for Walls from £13, 719 in 1924, to £444,000 by 1927!

During the Second World War, ice cream manufacture naturally declined. The tricycles, used to sell ice cream, became requisitioned by the army for use at military installations. Walls sold 3,300 bikes in 1947 and turned their attention to stocking freezers in shops instead.


In 1945, Westye Bakke, of Wisconsin, USA, invented the first electrical Freezer. Before this invention, ice cream was stored in insulated cabinets surrounded by blocks of ice. Due to the impact of World War II, general distribution of freezers to the public stalled until the late 1950s, early 1960s. Working class families, however, could not often afford the luxury of owning a freezer. The introduction of ice cream vans, therefore, ensured they did not go without this delicious sweet treat!

In 1956, the first ice cream van selling soft whip ice cream appeared in West Philadelphia, America. In 1958, Dominic Facchino, having visited America and seeing the success of Mister Softee, established Mr. Whippy in Birmingham. These Mr. Whippy ice cream vans quickly became a nationwide success. The following year, Mister Softee vans began trading in the U.K., as franchises.  The link between ice cream and vans had established!


As the popularity of the ice cream van grew, vendors realised they could attract more customers by playing a catchy tune. The jingles often reflected local folk songs, for example Greensleeves in Britain and Pop Goes the Weasel in America. The jingles became associated with different vendors and became very distinctive. Nowadays, some may think them outdated, but they still have a nostalgic place in many people’s hearts.

Flake 99

Probably the most famous treat associated with an ice cream van is the Flake 99. Many believed it achieved this title from its price of 99p, but this is not the case. The Flake 99 first appeared in 1922 and certainly did not cost 99p, more like 1d! Cadbury’s state that the reason for the term has been lost in time, however there are a couple of theories. The first is that it started in Portobello, Scotland, when Stephen Arcari, who owned a shop on 99 Portobello High Street, broke a flake in half and stuck it into an ice cream. The name came from the shop’s address and became adopted by a Cadbury’s employee. The second is the guard of an Italian King consisted of 99 men, thereby associating the number with anything first class! Whatever the reason, the Flake 99 remains a popular choice for many!

Ice Cream Vans

The 1950s and 60s certainly heralded the glory days for the ice cream van. In the 1960s, some 30,000 vans existed in Britain. As freezers became more commonplace, however, ice cream vans diversified to sell more novelty ice creams and popsicles, like Fab and rocket lollies. Although their cheerful chimes can still be heard occasionally around the streets on a warm summer’s day, ice cream vans have declined significantly. Now more associated with carnivals and festivals, there are estimated to be just 5,000 classic ice cream vans in the UK to date. So, next time you hear the cheerful call of the ice cream van, why not go out and treat yourself to a bit of nostalgia?

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope you have enjoyed reading about the history of ice cream vans. We are passionate about celebrating nostalgia and have a wide range of gifts available on our website all celebrating the 20th Century. We are also thrilled to be in the top 50 blogs to read on Feedspot!







British Seaside Resorts History

British Seaside Resorts History

Seaside resorts first developed in Britain in the 1700s when the practice of ‘taking the waters’, popular at spa towns, extended to the coast. Doctor’s began to prescribe immersion in seawater for the treatment of conditions like rabies, gout, hysteria, and melancholy! Initially, not a pleasurable experience, though a growing fashion to experience the benefits did alter these attitudes very quickly. One of the earliest such resorts could be found in Yorkshire, at Scarborough. Already a popular spa town, because of acidic water running from one of the cliffs, it became a natural leader in the new trend for bathing. The British Seaside resorts’ history had begun!

Bathing Machines

Bathing machines first appeared in 1735, believed to be in Devon. The bathing machines provided a modest, sheltered place for guests.  Bathing Machines became a significant part in the etiquette of bathing, particularly for the ladies. They proved popular throughout 18th century right up to 20th century. Men and women usually remained segregated to ensure members of the opposite sex could not see them in their bathing costumes. However, it is worth noting, men often bathed in the nude, up to the 1860s!

Guests entered the machines whilst on the beach, wearing their street clothing. They changed into their bathing costumes and the machine would be wheeled into the water usually by a horse or horses pulling it. Some resorts employed a strong individual of the same sex, known as a Dipper. The Dipper assisted the guests from the bathing machine and into the sea. Many of the bathing machines had a flag on them that the user could raise when they wanted to return to shore.

By the 1890s the popularity of the machines waned. They remained parked at the top of the beach to be used as changing huts. These soon evolved into beach huts!

Beach Huts

Beach huts, like their earlier counterparts, afforded the gentry a private space to change. However, in the early 20th century, the huts became more associated as holiday homes for the working classes. In the 1930s the image of beach huts changed once again. Loved and used by royalty, including King George V,  the upper classes renewed their passion to utilize them. The outbreak of World War Two required the beaches to be closed, but post war, saw a huge resurgence for the British seaside holiday.

Initially bathing machines, fishermen’s huts and boat sheds made up the bulk of the ‘new’ beach huts, however, as the trend and demand increased, many beach huts became purposefully built. In 1909, at Bournemouth, the council’s borough engineer designed and built 160. Positioned either side of the pier, there are now 520 huts owned by the local council and a further 1200 privately owned ones at this site.

As stated above, beach huts can be owned by local councils or be privately owned. On popular beaches, the privately owned huts can reach phenomenal prices. Recently, a report in the Daily Mail, stated that a 12ft by 10ft beach hut sold for a staggering £330,000. Declared to be Britain’s most expensive beach hut.  The hut is situated on Mudeford Spit, Christchurch Harbour Dorset, a second hut sold for £325,000 just a week later. Fortunately,  beach huts still owned by local councils, enable those with a smaller budget to rent them for the day and experience the nostalgia and convenience associated with them.

The growth of the Railways.

Improvement’s to Britain’s transport system, particularly the railways, contributed significantly to the growth of the British seaside resort. From the 1840’s onwards, expansion of the railways to the coast often transformed small fishing villages into popular resorts! Making access quicker and cheaper, the railways brought working class and middle-class citizens to the coasts of England and Wales. In Brighton, for example, numbers increased so rapidly, that in 1841 the British Royal family abandoned the place as their resort of choice!

Blackpool became extremely popular.  It experienced a massive economic and demographic boom. This was exacerbated by the Lancashire Mill owners introducing the concept of a holiday break for workers. They closed the mills for one week, once a year, to conduct essential maintenance on the machinery. This, in turn, gave their employees a much-needed rest. Each mill closed on different weeks. The staggered closures created a steady flow of holiday makers visiting the resorts of the north. Known as Wakes Weeks, the practice soon extended to other industries. In Scotland it became known as Trades Fortnight, in Wales, Miner’s Fortnight. The concept of the annual holiday had been born. British seaside resorts’ history rocketed.

By the end of the 19th Century over 100 popular resorts existed in England and Wales. From Llandudno in North Wales, to St. Ives in Cornwall. With increased numbers of visitors, for both day trips and annual breaks, the resorts had to expand. They needed to provide accommodation and entertainment. The Victorians rose to the challenge and the iconic piers came into being!


The First seaside piers originated in the early 19th Century. These wooden constructions originally started life as landing stages for boat trips. As the popularity of the British seaside resorts grew, the platforms developed to become complex entertainment venues. The World’s oldest seaside pier can be found in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Ryde pier opened on July 26th, 1814. The industrial revolution, then introduced ornate ironwork to piers. Many existing piers converted from wood to iron and a host of new piers sprung up too. Margate pier, originally a 1100 ft wooden jetty, became the first iron pier in 1855. Designed by Eugenius Birch he became one of the most famous pier designers of the age.

Providing a walkway out to sea, the piers often included amusements and theatres. Some remained open to the elements, others roofed or partly roofed. The longest pier still open to date, is Southend. Reaching out 1.34 miles over the Thames estuary, the pier is a grade two listed building and is also home to a pier train!

By 1914 over 100 pleasure piers existed in Britain. However, susceptible to the elements, fire, and collisions with drifting craft, many have been destroyed. It is believed there are now just 55 surviving piers in England and Wales. The National Pier Society, founded in 1979, have helped to protect many from demolition.

20th Century Changes

Despite temporary closures during both World Wars, the British seaside resorts continued to flourish. Ironically, further development in the transport industry, once the resorts’ champion, began a decline in their popularity. Air travel and the introduction of the package holiday saw more holiday makers heading to ‘guaranteed’ sunnier climates. Spain, Portugal, and Greece became the first choice for many. More recently, the introduction of low budget airlines has made holidaying abroad more affordable.

The once, classic images of British seaside resorts, like holiday camps, sticks of rock and donkey rides on the beach, are now regarded by many as outdated. Decline seemed inevitable. Many resorts, like Torbay on the English Riviera, have adapted to the change however.  Now offering excellent restaurants, shops, and nightlife, it is popular still with day trippers and holiday makers. Others, like Newquay in Cornwall, have become destination resorts for activities, like surfing. When the sun comes out, especially on a Bank Holiday, thousands still flock to the resorts, recreating scenes from the heady heydays of the British Seaside holiday.

The Future

With Blue flag beaches, clear waters, water sport activities and stunning scenery, British seaside towns can and will survive.  If they continue to adapt, they can still attract holidaymakers and day-trippers to spend their time and money at beach resorts. Of, course, with the recent global pandemic, demand for staycations, is likely to rise, with more people afraid to fly and travel abroad. Could this be the next chapter in the British seaside resorts’ history?

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide selection of memorabilia from the 20th century, including fantastic Railway Posters associated with seaside resorts. Why not pop along to our website for a browse?




Why Football Is Important

Why Football Is Important

Congratulations Liverpool FC, Premier League Champions 2020. It’s been a long time coming, 30 years to be precise!  Despite fears of a pandemic, fans celebrated long into the night and in this blog, we’ll explore why football is important!

Known as ‘The Beautiful Game’, football is the world’s most popular ball game. Loved by players and spectators alike. The rules are relatively simple. All you need to play is a ball and some goal posts and these can be created with anything, including jumpers! Soccer, as it is called in USA and Canada, is played everywhere! From pitches, parks and school playgrounds to beaches and even a battlefield (as was the case in WWII)! The recent covid-19 outbreak highlighted how important the game is to so many lives and why it was imperative the Premier League completed its 2020 season.


Modern football (or soccer, as it is known in other countries), developed in England in the middle of 19th Century. However, alternative versions of the game go back centuries! In China, in the 3rd and 2nd century BC, records show the first ball game, that involved kicking the ball, being played. Called Cuju, the game played in ceremonial forms. It involved a round ball and a square playing area. Early versions are also recorded in Ancient Greece and Rome.

In England in the 12th Century, games like football could be seen being played on meadows and roads. The games involved kicking and punching the ball with your fist. A host of people played at any one time. Consequently games proved to be a lot rougher and more violent than the modern game – not so beautiful then! Indeed, proclamations against these games meant they were banned for several centuries!

The establishment of a form of football being played in public schools in 1835, reintroduced it back to society. Variations, concerning the size of the ball, rules and the number of players still ensued however. The first football association formed in 1863 in England and they decided handling the ball inappropriate. This meant only the keeper could now touch the ball during play. Football continued to develop over the years, until it finally settled on the game we know today.

Health Benefits of Playing Football

Playing football naturally  impacts your health positively. Our modern world, with a sedentary lifestyle, means any form of aerobic exercise is vitally important. Playing football can help control weight, regulate your blood pressure, and pulse rates. It helps to improve your mood, your cognitive abilities and can help you to relax. Knock on effects then extend to improved digestion, better quality sleep, and an enhanced sex life!

Physical activity releases endorphins into the body. Endorphins act as analgesics, thereby reducing pain threshold. They also act as sedatives, hence why playing football can help you relax. Indeed, during the Covid-19 lockdown, the Professional Footballers’ Association conducted a survey with some of its members. They found 72%  experiencing feelings of nervousness or anxiety. 22% reported feeling depressed. Playing football helps to alleviate these symptoms, making it important to get back to training and matches.

An excellent interview by FIFA with Brazilian football legend Julio Caesar, highlighted his experience of visiting South Asia. He stated, ’it is wonderful to see the power of football and how much it incentivises children…despite the day-to-day difficulties, they never stop smiling.’ Need I say more?

Benefits For The Fans

Fans, often regarded as the most important members of the team, the 12th player! Equally, the health benefits of being a fan are as impressive as playing. Football supporters are associated with being passionate, emotional, and dedicated. Football can unite people. Irrespective of age, colour, religion or ethnicity, fans come together to cheer their team. Friendships and relationships can and do form through the love of football!

It is estimated that more than half of the World’s population consider themselves associated football (soccer) fans. They engage, and get a sense of belonging. Football is a diversion from real life and an outlet to release their emotions. They enjoy the highs and lows of football as though they were playing the match themselves! Therefore, fans also experience the same release of endorphins as players, with the same mental health benefits.

Financial Impact

Finally, there is the financial impact football has on the world economies. In Britain alone, a study of the 2017-2018 season, saw Premier League clubs contribute nearly £8 billion to the UK economy. It is responsible for employing over 100k people and paid £3.3 billion in tax. This does not include employment and financial benefits from the lower league clubs! Compared to the end of the last century, the premier league’s contribution to the economy has increased by 800%! The knock-on effects of football on the economy, particularly during special events like the World Cup, is huge! In 2018, the BBC reported that the UK economy benefitted from a £1 billion boost from feel good factor sales! The positive impact on employment and the UK economy is therefore another reason why we should love the beautiful game!

We hope you have found this blog informative! Remember, at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a plethora of gifts available. If you want to celebrate your love of football, or you are looking for a perfect gift for a football fan, we can help. Check out our website for more details.

How To Create A Bar At Home

How To Create A Bar At Home?

There is a growing trend for home bars. Making a pub in your basement, living area, a converted garage, or a summerhouse, is the ideal way to entertain family and friends. Whether you use it for parties, to watch the sport, play cards or just to escape the rigmarole of life, it is important your bar feels authentic! This blog is intended to give ideas and guidance on how to create a bar at home!

Location, Location, Location

The first thing you need to decide, is where to build your bar/pub. Do you have a spare room that is never used? Perhaps you are going to convert your garage? Do you have a summerhouse that is crying out to be utilised? Maybe you are just looking to add a small bar to a lounge or dining room? The good news, there are designs and ideas to suit each of these locations! Big or small, you can create a pub/ bar in your home! Look at Houzz, there is an eclectic mix of designs here.


In order to create a bar at home does not have to mean you blow the budget! There are many bars available online. These come in all shapes and sizes. If you do not have a lot of space, you could just create a retro drinks trolley, probably the cheapest option! Wayfair offer bars from under £100, whilst specialist home bar companies have designs starting from £350. You could, of course, create your own bar. The Family Handy Man, has great, detailed instructions on how to build a fantastic bar. He provides instructions that include the anatomy of a bar, what materials you require and what you need to consider when creating your bar. There is another highly informative guide by the Instructables Workshop, 10 easy steps to building a bar. You could also use recycled material, like pallets, to create a bar, economical and great for the environment!



Giving your home bar/pub a theme will really help you create a professional, fun space for everyone to enjoy. Choose a theme and stick to it, your family and friends will be impressed by the finished results!





Consider the theme you want to give your bar. Is it going to be a cocktail bar, a Tikki bar or a traditional Pub? Will it be a bar that celebrates your favourite pastime, for example a sport, music, or cars? Deciding on your theme will then help guide you in your selection of enhancements. For example, if you are going to create a cocktail style bar, you may want to use LED coloured lighting and a metallic finish to your bar. Alternatively, for a Tikki Bar, you may go light and bright, with rustic wood or bamboo finish. A traditional Pub feel may lead you to using darker, natural wood, with pendant lights hanging overhead? Likewise, the seating should also follow your theme. Chrome and dark coloured leather for cocktail bars, rustic for a Tikki bar and traditional bar stools for a pub, for example.

Enhance the look

So, you have selected the space, set a budget, chosen a theme and your basic bar is in place – great job! Now it is time to give it that va va voom! If you are able, add a back- board, this will give you additional storage and shelving. Decide whether you are going to install a beer pump system, or not. There is a variety of pumps on the market, that certainly give an authentic feel to a traditional pub, plus your beer will be chilled! Talking about keeping things chilled, consider having a refrigerator built into your bar, ideal for wine, prosecco, and ice cubes! Optic dispensers are widely available and a must for any home bar where space allows. You also need storage for glasses – don’t forget your theme, keep them authentic!

The finishing touches

It is time to add those finishing touches. Again, consider your theme. Artwork really helps to enhance your space. Maybe cocktail menus, a pub name, drink advertising signs? You are only limited by your own imagination! Don’t forget practical accessories too, bottle openers, beer mats, cocktail shakers etc! Consider what you are primarily going to use your bar for. If it is to party and entertain friends or family, why not incorporate a sound system, TV, and games. You could have anything, from traditional pub games like dominoes or draughts, to your very own Juke box!

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we hope this guide on how to create a bar at home has inspired you to go for it! The most important thing is to create a space that is going to work for you. Make it fun, unique and above all, enjoy it! Don’t forget, metal wall art can male a great gift for someone too! We are delighted to now feature in Feedspot’s top 50 Gift websites and Blogs and look forward to sharing more informative blogs to you soon!




June Is National Candy Month

June Is National Candy Month

Established by the National Confectioners Association, the month of June is National Candy month! Well, let’s face it, there’s not many of us that need an excuse to enjoy a delicious treat! Many of us have a sweet tooth, but you may feel less guilty to discover that this is not a modern weakness. Candy has featured in our lives for thousands of years!

The First Sweets

Cave men made a form of sweet with dried out honey. It formed a toffee like substance for them to chew on and satisfy their sweet cravings! Honey did in fact form the basis of many original candies. As far back as 2000 BC, the Egyptians used honey to make sweets by adding figs, nuts, dates, and spices. They used these honeyed treats in ceremonies to worship gods and goddesses.

At the same time, the Ancient Greeks also used honey to make candied fruits, flowers, and stems. In addition to this, they discovered how to make syrup out of figs and dates. The Romans and Chinese made barley sugar confectionery with honey cooked or baked in an oven. So, you see, our love affair for sweet treats is a very long-lasting relationship!

Sugarcane and Cacao


The development of candy continued over the years. It is believed that Indians first discovered how to extract sweet juice from sugarcane over 3000 years ago. They were the first to create brown sugar. The spread of sugarcane over the centuries had a major impact on confectionary habits, particularly in China. Here they sweetened liquorice, ginger, and nuts. By 950 A.D. Arabs invented caramel, though originally they used it on hair! They built the first sugar refinery in the world. The Indians were the first to create sugar candy, in 250 A.D.

During the Middle Ages confectionary became extremely popular, though remained exclusive to the wealthy. With the cost of sugar so high it was categorised and sold as a drug. In the 14th Century, the Spanish brought cacao to Europe from Mexico. The Mayan people had been growing cacao since 1200BC, though some evidence shows it might be even earlier than that! The Aztecs enjoyed it in liquid form and regarded cacao so highly, they used it as a form of currency. The Spanish added sugar to the liquid cacao to make it more palatable, but it took almost a hundred years before this new drink reached the rest of Europe. Better late than never though!

The 1800’s


Candy history and the development of sweets really took off in the 1800’s. The reduced price in sugar and development in mass production, meant that everyone could now enjoy confectionary. In 1847 Joseph Fry developed the first chocolate bar. However, the first bars had a bittersweet taste. It wasn’t until 1975, when Henry Nestle, an evaporated milk manufacturer, developed the milk chocolate bar. In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt began to add cocoa butter back into the mix. This created a bar that would hold its shape but melt on the tongue.

In addition to chocolate development, successful inventions included marshmallows, toffee, and fudge. The 19th Century also enjoyed the arrival of peanut brittle, rhubarb and custard, cough drops, sherbet lemons, fruit gums and jellybeans! So candy, as we know it, has been in our lives for over 100 years! Certainly a reason to celebrate and dedicate a whole month to it too!

Business Boomed


The sweet confectionary industry boomed. Production companies experimented with flavours, shapes, and sizes. During the first half of the 20th Century, in America alone, 40,000 different candy bars appeared! Our taste for sweet treats went into overdrive and favourites were established! Youngsters and adults alike, saved their pennies so they could indulge in a bag of their favourite pick ‘n’ mix or chocolate bar!

The economic impact on nations producing confectionary is immense. In America over 55,000 people are directly employed in the industry. In the UK, this is approximately 19,500 people. It is believed that for every person directly employed, another 7 – 10 people are employed in associated businesses. In 2019, sales for confectionary in the UK exceeded £1.5 million. In 2015, the Nestle factory in York, exported 26,000 tonnes of confectionery to over 70 different countries! So, candy plays an important role in our lives, providing employment and boosting the economy, let’s celebrate!

Always a Treat

Of course, sweets should always be regarded as an occasional treat. June is National Candy month, to also raise awareness about portion control. The National Confectioners Association launched the ‘Always a Treat’ initiative to encourage everyone to enjoy their favourite confections, but in moderation, as part of a balanced lifestyle. Giving sweets as gifts, therefore, has become immensely popular. It is an opportunity to ‘spoil’ your loved ones with that special, occasional treat.

Here, at Sweet and Nostalgic, we have a plethora of sweets, all carefully selected to take your loved ones on a trip down memory lane! Have a glance through our range and discover a sweet treat that you can give to your friends and family to celebrate National Candy Month!

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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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