It is finally February and that means a host of key calendar events are on the horizon, the first being Valentine's Day! Romantic love, self-love, it's all about the love. And let's face it, after a lengthy January, we all need any excuse for gifts and pampering ASAP. Bullring invited me to take a peek at their retailer offers and pick out a few select gift ideas to suit different budgets, whether that's a treat for yourself or a heavy hint to drop to the person you have in mind.
One of my New Year's resolutions of 2015 was to be more adventurous with dating and to say yes to any offers (within reason...), and that resulted in a host of experiences, from the Tinder matches and the cash-flashing guys who plan a second date abroad a few sips into the first drink, to the local lads that actually live half way across the country and the First Dates experience. Yes I even auditioned for that show! These experiences were just for the fun of meeting new people, think more Sex and the City rather than Bridget Jones, not that I don't think our Bridge is awesome. Dating is so fun and while this year has began more promisingly, it's so rewarding to embrace chance encounters and shower someone with gifts and eventually... love!
Be sure to download the Bullring Plus app before you set out as speaking of sets, you can pick up a sweet gift with every Boux Avenue purchase. There is just something satisfying about browsing rows and rows matching sets and sliding open the white draws to pluck out your size. I jumped on that band wagon and read The Magic Art of Tidying last year, where Marie Kondo spoke lavishly about stacking your underwear drawer so delicately that my dream is now to have drawers of this style in my own future home. I picked out this beautiful set as a chic alternative to pink or red, and I'm determined to find a way to show off the gorgeous racer back feature of the bra as part of an outfit. A swipe of the app later and there's a sweet free gingham heart-shaped hand mirror and set of scented roses in with your gift wrapped purchase! Make a beeline for Boux, pronto.
It wouldn't be a Bullring day without visiting Selfridges of course; the home of quirky gifts from the most desirable brands. I stumbled across this adorable collection of pink presents, the most cost-savvy being fruity EOS lip balms in strawberry sorbet and summer fruit. At less than £7 a pop, these are a cute accompaniment to a statement card or as part of a selection of wrapped items. It's almost even more fun to open lots of little gifts than one big one!
But if you're looking for a grander gesture, Gucci Bamboo is my scent of the moment. I have at least one version of all of the Gucci fragrance releases and I've lost count of the times people have revealed they turned their head to follow the scent in a bar or confessed a few dates down the line that they can't get enough of this perfume. Bamboo is the latest addition and it's much more earthy and gritty than the rest. Trust me on this one, it's the fragrance that stands out in the best way.
As the gift for those who don't want any of the frills and faff of this Hallmark holiday, a more practical present is a BKR glass water bottle, the chemical-free way to appreciate each one of your eight glasses each day. This will look so pretty yet sophisticated perched on any office desk and would spark a few questions in meetings. I like the open screw-top rather than a stopper too as it encourages you to drink even more. Apparently the Kardashians drink 6 litres per day!
Here are my gifts suited to gents who are lucky enough to have our shopping skills at their advantage. Men rarely invest in a skincare regime and a few Clinique products will pep up their mornings - and you can have a little dabble yourself! This River Island bag will also solve those overnight and weekend stay issues where their things are slung into something resembling a bin bag. Music is always a winner and a browse of the Selfridges tech section showcased the Bose headphones that my brother spend a year saving up for and the Beats Pill he can only dream of owning. Serious brownie points for cool technology gifts are to be had! This Jo Malone fragrance would never be wasted on a trip to the pub - it's worth sniffing out your favourite so you can borrow it too and layer it with your favourite fragrances! And how chic will this Krups coffee maker look on your - I mean their - kitchen counter?
I was browsing for gifts with my BFF as it's so handy to get a second opinion, even if most gifts end up being for yourself! We were treated to lunch at Chi Kitchen in Debenhams and after stepping into the scenic blue and copper space tucked away in the beauty hall, we enjoyed a lavish three hour lunch - no joke! This will be my go-to when dining in Birmingham from now on as just look at these gorgeous dishes, all made fresh to order, including this heavenly sushi. The best sushi I've ever had! They are also offering three course Valentine's menus featuring a host of dishes inspired by the lengths of South East Asia - it should definitely be the contender for your special evening.
Following this heavenly selection of morsels, we shared a Chocolate Sphere dessert that melted in front of our eyes as warm caramel sauce was poured, revealing cold vanilla ice cream. Amazing!
And soon enough we had completed our tasks and were heading home with our bags. Thank you to Chi and Bullring for the challenge, I'm so ready for the big day!