Puzzles: A Great Way to Pass Time in the Winter

Here in the upper Midwest, the winter can seem endless. Gray skies, wind, snow, and sometimes sub-zero temperatures are common. Even for someone with a lot of hobbies like me, one needs something to pass the time. We’ve found that jigsaw puzzles are a great way to do just that! Luckily, we have a large kitchen table that seats eight; we only use that space when we have company. With just my husband and I, we can leave the puzzle at one end of the table and work on it at our leisure!

This has been the case for several years. All the puzzles we’ve done have been at least 1,000 pieces. Some we framed and put on our walls as works of art.

Puzzles make great gifts too if you know the person you are giving the jigsaw to likes them. Two of our son’s girlfriends like puzzles and we’ve given them as gifts to both. This year, it was our turn to receive a puzzle as a gift. And, it’s a doozy! There are 1,000 pieces but the clincher is that the picture on the box does not exactly represent the puzzle in its finished form! It makes the process harder – believe me! We’re getting there but without an exact picture to follow, there have been some surprises along the way.

We do like to get outside in the winter too. We hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and travel to warmer destinations. But when we’re home and inside, a puzzle is a great activity to turn to. It exercises the mind and is fun to see the picture come together.

Puzzle completed in the past. Photo by © Carol Labuzzetta, 2023.

Where do we buy our puzzles?

Buying a high-quality puzzle is key to enjoyment. The pieces are cut well and fit together well when their appropriate spot is found. Although big box stores like Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Target, and Michaels have puzzles, they are not always the best for selection or quality. If you are buying a puzzle for a school-aged child – certainly one of these stores would suffice. You put it together with your child and then pass it on, donate it, or put it in a garage sale. Feel good that you did an activity with your child and are recycling the product.

In recent years, we’ve spent more on puzzles of quality. I’ve bought them at Barnes and Noble, and gift boutiques like Patina in St. Paul. You can expect to spend upwards of $20.00 – $30.00 on a good-quality puzzle.

What puzzle brands do we like?

Personally, I like the Ravensburg brand puzzles. Their pieces are sturdy and well-made. The jigsaw cuts are clean and fit together well. But, we’ve had several other brands, like those above that have been just as good.

Puzzles and health

Although we’ve always done puzzles with our family members, we really ramped up during the pandemic. Many others did the same. An article by FortuneWell, cites that one puzzle maker saw a 370% increase in sales over the previous year during March 2020 (Source). That’s not really surprising since we were all stuck in our homes with literally no place to go!

Puzzles have been linked to memory health and improved visual-spatial reasoning (Source). They have been also thought to help prevent cognitive decline as we age. Plus, they’re a fun way to unplug, spend time with friends and family, and pass those cold winter months!

With all those benefits, who wouldn’t want to work on a jigsaw puzzle?

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