Ravensburger’s 3D Gingerbread House puzzle. (©Ravensburger)
By Jennifer McKee
Even for the seasoned introvert, 2020 has been a challenge. It’ll be as important as ever to limit your contact outside the home this holiday season, but don’t fear, we’ve got a slew of great puzzle choices to keep you happy and occupied.
Known for its high-quality products, German-based Ravensburger is one of the world’s highest-grossing brands when it comes to puzzles, games and interactive toys. In 2019, it achieved the highest sales in its history, EUR 524.2 million, or 21 million puzzles sold. And the numbers are only set to increase, with an increasing industry demand for hands-on activities and analog games.
The tremendous increase in puzzle demand spurred Endless Games to debut new products set for 2021 in the fourth quarter of 2020. With its Playbill Broadway cover puzzle collage a sell-out success, the game manufacturer released two new 1,000-piece puzzles, “The Patriot” and “Peace on Earth.” The puzzles feature nature graphics by artist Malcolm Watson. In addition, “The Korner’d Challenge” is a board game that plays like a puzzle.
Exquisite works of art are the endgame at Wander Puzzle, multicultural puzzles designed to inspire and empower women. Among the artist-driven puzzles is “Inner View,” in which Turkish illustrator and watercolor Hulya Ozdemir creates a colorful portrait of a woman confident in her self discovery. A portion of proceeds of every Wander Puzzle are donated to African Social Enterprises, Feeding America and the Women’s Center for Advancement.
Another case of beauty on cardboard, MoMA’s jigsaw puzzles pay tribute to famous artists and artworks. The Day of the Dead-inspired Frida Kahlo 1,000-piece puzzle features illustrations with details from Kahlo’s works in the MoMA collection. The 750-piece Frank Stella puzzle takes on artist’s geometric painting “Firuzabad.” There’s also a line of puzzles that celebrates the museum’s collaboration with artist KAWS.
Revere the rich heritage of the Big Apple in a puzzle from the New York Transit Museum. Artist Yuko Shimizu brings Grand Central Terminal to life in “Starbright;” Yohey Horishita reflects the culture and diversity of a vibrant community in “Harlem Serenade.” And the kids will love the Locomotive Train Puzzle & Vehicle Play Set, which comes in its own carrying case—there’s even a conductor and passenger that can board the train.
The largest jigsaw puzzle company in the world is a family-run business in St. Louis. Puzzle Warehouse carries more than 12,000 items and offers nearly 80 different puzzle brands, in various shapes, sizes and pieces—everything from four pieces up to one with 40,000. Find a puzzle for all ages, from popular Melissa & Doug puzzles for kids to challenging puzzles from MasterPieces, Springbok and Cobble Hill. There are also brain teasers, 3D puzzles and much more.
Speaking of brain teasers, Roto Brain is an all-ages 3D puzzle sphere that’s like a Rubik’s Cube—with a twist. It enhances memory, critical thinking skills and tests IQ all while challenging players to unlock the code to one of its thousands of color combinations. With all the possible combinations, you won’t be able to put it down.
Stick Together challenges the notion of the traditional puzzle, with fun-filled results. Each kit comes with a coded poster, color key and “pixel” stickers—tack it up on the wall and fill it in at your leisure. Great for large or small groups, Stick Together encourages engagement and can also be used in classrooms, senior centers and more. Choose from regular or large-format kits that feature landmarks, famous paintings, animals, landscapes and seasonal themes.
The ultimate gift for jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts, Hammacher Schlemmler’s Easy Fold and Store Puzzle Table makes putting puzzles together a breeze. No need to clear off the kitchen table (or render it unusable), this compact puzzle table gives you your very own workspace—there’s even a panel on each side for sorting pieces. This item is exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmler and stores easily in a closet or under the bed.