We’re all finding ways to adapt to a new normal. One challenge some are facing if they’re choosing to stay home as much as possible is pure, unadulterated boredom. After all, there are only so many television shows you can watch and workouts to post on Instagram. If you’re one of many who are looking for new things to do, consider taking it back to the basics with a good old jigsaw puzzle.
You won’t be alone. In fact, people are buying puzzles right now at an unprecedented rate. “There has been an extraordinary increase in jigsaw puzzle sales over the past three to four weeks,” says Ben Jamesson, vice president of marketing and product development at BuffaloGames. “At some retailers, we have even seen a 1200% increase when compared to the same time period last year. Activities that people can do while social distancing at home are in high demand right now.”
With that in mind, puzzles can be pretty hard to find right now, but if you aren’t picky, there are still tons of jigsaws available. If you’re ready to start puzzling but don’t know where to start, Jamesson says piece count is an easy jumping-off point.
“I would recommend starting with a 300- or 500-piece puzzle because you can finish them in a weekend or even a single evening if you put your mind to it,” he says. Then if that’s too easy, you can graduate to the puzzles with 1,000, 2,000 or even 3,000 pieces.
“Beginners should look for puzzles with bright colors and very clear color separation,” she says. “That will make it easier to sort the pieces into the different sections to be able to finish it quickly without getting frustrated.” On the flip side, if you’re looking for a challenge, she says to look for puzzles with large areas of a similar or even the same color.
In the end, it’s all about finding a puzzle that you truly enjoy. “I love puzzles with bright, saturated colors, since if I’m going to be looking at a puzzle for hours, it should be colors that make me happy,” Kavett says. So whether it has a smooth gradient or features the adorable Baby Yoda, there’s a puzzle out there for you.
To help you find a puzzle that balances challenge and aesthetics, we’ve compiled a list based on Kavett’s and Jamesson’s recommendations. The puzzles are broken out by difficulty, and we even threw in some unique puzzles and accessories so you can use your time indoors to become a jigsaw junkie.
Fairies 300 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle ($14.95; barnesandnoble.com)
Start off with an easy 300-piece puzzle with this option from Barnes & Noble that depicts a dreamy fairy land.
Cosmic Lights 500-Piece Puzzle ($13.99; barnesandnoble.com)
Up the ante a little bit with more pieces. At 500, this puzzle features the beautiful colors of cosmic lights.
Star Wars The Child Puzzle 500 Pieces ($9.74, originally $10.99; amazon.com)
Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim 2-Sided 500-Piece Puzzle ($15.99; barnesandnoble.com)
This dual-sided puzzle depicts Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Guggenheim Museum. On one side is a beautiful photo of the iconic architectural feat, and on the other is the blueprint to the building.
Harry Potter Flying Keys Puzzle ($15.95; barnesandnoble.com)
For the Harry Potter fan in your life, this 500-piece puzzle is the perfect starter to sharpen their problem-solving skills.
Moruska Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh 1,000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle ($18.99; amazon.com)
Can’t make it to The Museum of Modern Art in New York to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person? This puzzle is your next best bet as you can piece together a copy of the world-famous painting.
Nevertheless She Persisted Puzzle ($18; uncommongoods.com)
If you need some inspiration, try solving this puzzle, which showcases 24 of history’s most empowering women. Tons of motivational quotes are laden throughout the image, so you can persist through this 1,000-piece puzzle all the way to the end.
Galison All Are Welcome Here Jigsaw Puzzle, 1,000 Pieces ($23.99; amazon.com)
Put together a crowd of colorful, peaceful people with this delightful 1,000-piece puzzle.
Rocky Mountain National Park Poster Art of The WPA 1,000 Jigsaw Puzzle ($19.99; amazon.com)
If you’re seeking a puzzle with a different look, this stylized option looks like a poster for Rocky Mountain National Park.
Colorful & Intricate Stained Glass Ceiling of Palace of Catalan Music ($39.99; etsy.com)
This gorgeous puzzle is not only delightful to look at, but will also be a joy to slowly piece together until it reaches its beautiful complete form.
Bgraamiens Blooming Color 1,000-Piece Round Jigsaw Puzzle ($20.99, originally $23.99; amazon.com)
This colorful puzzle is a real treat to put together. The intricate shades make it a tough one to solve, but if it gets too hard there’s some lettering on the back of the pieces to make it easier.
SpongeBob SquarePants 3,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle ($29.95; barnesandnoble.com)
If you want a puzzle that’s hard due to its sheer number of pieces, this 3,000-piece kit is the one for you. It’s filled with the whole cast of Spongebob Squarepants in a crowded underwater scene. Just make sure you have enough room on your table for this behemoth, as it measures 45 inches by 32 inches.
Areaware Gradient Puzzle ($25; urbanoutfitters.com)
This gradient puzzle is quite tricky because the only thing that distinguishes the pieces is slight differentiation in color.
Bgraamiens The Lines Puzzle ($18.99; amazon.com)
The hectic lines that are drawn across this puzzle make it hard to tell which piece goes where, as there’s no rhyme or reason to the way they’re drawn. You’ll need to tap into some real puzzling powers to solve this one.
One of the most difficult puzzles out there, this one was created by artist Clemens Habicht. The colors of the pieces change depending on what angle you look at them, which creates a ridiculously difficult and mind-boggling puzzling experience.
Ravensburger Krypt Black ($19.60; amazon.com)
This diabolical puzzle is infamously challenging, according to our experts. There are less than 1,000 pieces, but they’re all the same color. You’ll have to rely on the shapes of the pieces themselves and your own puzzling skills if you’re going to try to solve this bad boy.
Personalized Puzzle (starting at $17.99, originally starting at $19.99; etsy.com)
If you’re looking for something more sentimental, try out this personalized puzzle. Just send in a high-quality photo and you’ll receive puzzle pieces that create that image.
Night Sky Wooden Puzzle ($90; uncommongoods.com)
This unconventional puzzle is made out of wood, and its pieces are shaped drastically different than normal jigsaws.
Wrebbit Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall 3D Puzzle 850 Pieces ($49.99; target.com)
These kinds of 3D puzzles add pop to your standard hobby, as they tower up off the table. This Harry Potter puzzle will have you building Hogwarts right in your own kitchen.
Wrebbit Empire State Building 3D Jigsaw Puzzle, 975 pieces ($$39.95, originally $44.99; amazon.com)
This 975-piece puzzle recreates New York’s iconic Empire State Building, and its 3D build will have the skyscraper shoot into the sky in your own home.
MasterPieces Accessories Jigsaw Puzzle Glue Bottle & Wide Plastic Spreader, 2 Pack ($13.17; amazon.com)
Want to keep your puzzle together forever? Once it’s completed preserve it with this puzzle glue that comes with a spreader to ensure a nice, even coating.
Buffalo Games Puzzle Presto! Peel & Stick Puzzle Saver ($10.99; amazon.com)
If you don’t want to deal with the mess of gluing your puzzle, try these peel and stick sheets that apply right to the back of your puzzle to keep it pieced together.
Lavievert Jigsaw Puzzle Roll Mat ($9.99; amazon.com)
If you don’t want your puzzle to take up your entire kitchen table until you solve it, this roll mat lets you easily store it and break it out at a later date. It measures 46 by 26 inches and holds up to 1,500 pieces.
Brightech LightView Flex Magnifier ($31.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
Are your puzzling sessions going late into the night, or do you simply want some extra light along the way? This powerful lamp will illuminate your workspace so you can see each piece’s every detail. Plus, it has a built-in magnifying glass to help you really focus on the most challenging of puzzles.
MagniPros 3X Magnifying Glass ($21.95, originally $23.95; amazon.com)
Magnifying 300%, this handheld glass will help zoom in on the tiniest details in your puzzle. It also has an adjustable, dimmable light so you can get the perfect amount of light on your pieces.
AllwaySmart Puzzibly Puzzle Sorting Trays ($24.95; amazon.com)
If you’ve got a puzzle with a lot of different sections, these sorting trays are essential to keep all your pieces separated. Divide and conquer with this set that contains eight trays and fits up to 1,000 pieces.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.