We’re in full hygge-mode at my house with homemade soups and stews on the stove, cozy blankets draped over the armchairs, and a new jigsaw puzzle on the table almost every week. Puzzling has been our go-to indoor activity for years. This winter, between busy schedules and a few unfortunate bouts of illness, we’ve especially enjoyed spending evenings together over the puzzle table, with mugs of hot tea in hand.
Jigsaw puzzles help combat the inevitable cabin-fever that pops up during these chilly, gray post-holiday months of winter. They’re also an excellent bonding activity, super-affordable (especially if you pick them up at thrift stores or yard sales), and good for your brain.
According to a 2014 Yale study, the low-stakes task of completing jigsaw puzzles builds collaboration and teamwork. The activity engages spatial reasoning, promotes problem solving, and rewards participants with a sense of accomplishment. (I’m thinking this might be part of the reason that our Modern Mrs. Darcy team of “conscientious first-born daughters who got good grades and believe in finishing what they start” enjoy puzzles over board games. We had a lively discussion about it the other day) Other studies suggest that puzzles support memory function and might prevent the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Over the years, we’ve discovered a few helpful puzzle accessories to make this already relaxing hobby even easier. A puzzle mat or large flat surface like a bulletin board also allows you to move your work-in-progress from the sunroom to the coffee table without leaving a trail of pieces for Daisy to pick up. (That bulletin board is shown above with our most recently completed puzzle, Piece Out’s No Probllamma 1000 piece puzzle. You can see that Daisy still got a piece!)
Ironically, the most useful puzzle tool comes from our small collection of outdoor athletic gear. A camping headlamp illuminates small details and faint color differences, particularly during this time of year when early winter evenings are so dark.
Lately, I find myself pausing at the puzzle table when I bring Daisy in from our afternoon walk, just to finish a few more minutes of my audiobook. Whether you’re puzzling solo or working together as a family, an audiobook provides extra entertainment and brain-exercise. (If you want to add audiobooks to your jigsaw puzzle toolkit, I highly recommend an audiobook subscription service like Libro.fm; there’s a special deal for MMD readers at that link.) These are some of my very favorite audiobooks; our complete audiobook archives are right here.
A few of our puzzles are missing several pieces (I’ll give you one guess as to the culprit), but even if that wasn’t the case I’d still be on the lookout for new additions to our puzzle cabinet. I’m eager to share 16 pretty book and plant-related puzzles in my collection or on my wishlist, and I hope you’ll drop a link to your favorite puzzles in the comments, too!
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Galison Bibliophile Book Club Darlings 1000 piece puzzle. This 1000 piece puzzle features another of Jane Mount’s paintings, portraying popular book club selections including The Kite Runner, The Red Tent, and A Tale for the Time Being.
Ravensburger Cozy Retreat 500 piece puzzle. We love Ravensburger puzzles at my house. This scene from their “cozy” series features a view that will look familiar to many a book lover.
Galison Book Club 1000 piece puzzle. This adorable puzzle portrays hundreds of people reading books.
Re-marks Heroines 1000 piece puzzle. This collage of book covers features 24 titles that put females front and center, including A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Joy Luck Club, The Color Purple, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
Galison Vintage Library 1000 piece puzzle. I just ordered this one for myself; I couldn’t resist the gorgeous design at a great price.
White Mountain Puzzles “Best Sellers” Vintage Book Covers 1000 piece puzzle. We’ve worked this puzzle featuring 53 bestsellers several times now.
I’d Rather Be Reading 1000 piece puzzle. Who could argue with the sentiment or those beautiful color-sorted spines?
Galison Ideal Bookshelf 1000 piece puzzle. My family loves this puzzle featuring Jane Mount’s art—although ours is now a 997 piece puzzle, thanks to Daisy.
Laurence King Publishing The World of Shakespeare 1000 piece puzzle. This vivid scene of Shakespeare’s London will delight his fans. I would do the border first, then start in on the river.
I’d love to share the New York Public Library puzzle that I just brought home from New York, but alas, it’s not available for sale in the NYPL’s online gift shop! (UPDATE: you found the puzzle! Get it here.) (But it is pictured above, in airport security, because my puzzle triggered a search, who knew?) Puzzles from the same line are easier to find online, like this pretty puzzle featuring Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain.
Plants and flowers puzzles
Moxie Succulent Garden 1000 piece puzzle. This puzzle features a beautiful potted succulent garden, and looks challenging, but doable.
Galison Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden two-sided 500 piece puzzle. I have this, I love it, I’ve worked both sides multiple times, and YES you really can tell which side is which when you’re working it. (I was worried, but I needn’t have been.)
Buffalo Games Good Vibes Succulent Windowsill 2000 piece puzzle. This huge puzzle features a dreamy view of succulents galore and a setting sun.
Piece Out Puzzles Bouquets for Days 500 piece puzzle. I LOVED working this one over the holiday break.
Re-Marks Succulents Cactus Plants 1000 piece puzzle. This beautiful scene reminds me of my local plant shop, with its abundant succulents and air plants in pretty pots.
Clementoni Bowl of Flowers 1000 piece puzzle. I’ve heard wonderful things about Clementoni puzzles; this floral arrangement resembles an Old Masters painting.
Galison Full Bloom World Map 1000 piece puzzle. I want to get this one immediately! This puzzle puts a fun twist on the world map, using a colorful collage of flowers and butterflies to stand in for the continents.
Do you share my love of jigsaw puzzles? I’d love to hear about your puzzle preferences, along with your favorite brands and designs, in comments.