I may not be able to get my family around the dinner table every night for a hot meal, but when there is a new jigsaw puzzle on my dining room table – the family bonding begins. When I was little, the first snowfall meant 3 things – hot chocolate, days off from school, and jigsaw puzzles. There was always something about putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle that facilitated great conversation, teamwork, lots of laughs and great memories. As an adult, I’m carrying on this tradition with my own kids. I started them out young with Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles and then they graduated to floor puzzles of the United States and modes of transportation. It didn’t take long for them to earn a spot at the dining room table for the main event. While my love of jigsaw puzzles has remained steady, my kids have had varied levels of interest. Andrew took to it quickly. As a lover of the Lego, he is a natural builder with qualities like patience and determination to succeed. Jenna, on the other hand, had a passing interest for many years. She would come and do a few pieces at a time and then become frustrated by the process and leave the table. But I always knew she would be back. 2017 is her year. She is now passionate about finding the right pieces and feels the satisfaction of linking them together in holy matrimony. And then, she keeps going – knowing another perfect match is right around the corner. As you can see, we really get into this. There are happy dances and high fives all around. We play music and a family sing-a-long is not unheard of. And we do have some rules about jigsaw puzzles that I’d like to share with you in case I’ve convinced you to try one with your loved ones.
- Choose your puzzle carefully – When selecting a puzzle at the store, don’t go for the 2,000-piece puzzle at first. You are just setting yourself up for failure. Go with a 500 or 1,000 pieces. Also, pick a puzzle that you would like to see come to life. This year, we have a dog park puzzle. Last year, we must have been hungry when we selected the doughnut themed one and two years ago, we were in a New York state of mind when we did two puzzles in one winter – Central Park and Times Square.
- Anyone can participate – Puzzles are fun for all ages and abilities. You can be a novice or an expert. And we are known for our multi-generation puzzle doers. We have had 3 generations working on a puzzle at once. We also invite neighbors and anyone else who wants to help. All are welcome.
- All methods are welcome – There are many ways to approach a jigsaw puzzle – by color, by section of the puzzle, or by the shape of the piece. Whatever floats your boat and you can change methods. No one will ever judge you.
- No fighting, except… – The only fighting allowed is over the box cover that features the entire puzzle. Also, it is not cheating to refer to the picture for help – just don’t keep it to yourself.
And most of all—have fun!