I don't know if it's an 'end-of-year' or a 'happy new year' deal, but I have a tradition of putting together a jigsaw puzzle as we close out a year.

My family used to do a puzzle as part of the holiday activities. I have discovered some of my friends also like to test their brains with the sometimes devious little time-suckers.

Through the years of testing out different types and styles of such puzzles, I've settled on a few personal discoveries:

  • 1,000 piece puzzles are the perfect size for a normal card table or dining room table. 500 piece puzzles can be too easy, but if you don't have much time....
  • Speaking of size, make sure the space you're working on can handle the puzzle when completed. Check the puzzle box and measure. Some of the 'landscape' puzzles are long!
  • Scenery photos are always fun, but please, not too much clear blue sky!
  • I will ALWAYS choose a Jan Van Haasteren puzzle over all others. He's an incredible cartoonist that draws for a Dutch company. The puzzles look intimidating, but try one and you'll be hooked.
  • If you have cats, don't attempt jigsaw puzzles, unless you have a way of securing the puzzle pieces when you're out of the house.
  • Don't hog the board. Share and help each other.
  • Experiment with types of lighting. A puzzle can look totally different in sunlight or with different light sources.
  • If you're curious, try one of the 3-D puzzles. It's a totally different experience, but it's a nice change of pace. It's not for everyone.
  • I guess putting together a jigsaw puzzle can be a way of 'completing' a year... unless there's a piece or two missing! Dang it!