It’s Time to Start Sharing Puzzles
In the era of physical distancing, the consumption of jigsaw puzzles in America has skyrocketed. People trapped in enclosed spaces with nothing to do have morphed into tiny, brightly colored, irregularly shaped pieces of cardboard to give them a sense of control over a chaotic world. For proof, look at the ongoing Kickstarter (admittedly very cool-sounding) Magic Puzzles from Magic Puzzle Company, which has grossed an amazing $ 2.5 million and continues to grow (full disclosure: I’m a three-puzzle proponent).
Retailers can’t keep puzzles in stock, and manufacturers can’t keep up with growing orders; According to NPR, sales of leading puzzle publisher Ravensburger are up 370% in the last two weeks of March over the same period last year. A cursory examination of the adorably quirky websites of various puzzle makers from around the world reveals that almost all of them are reporting delivery delays due to increased demand caused by the pandemic. Hell, Ravensburger doesn’t even obey orders.
So, what to do if you are desperately trying to clean up at least one aspect of your increasingly chaotic life, but you either do not have a stock of sufficiently difficult puzzles (if you are over 10 years old, you will want at least 500 pieces) or you have already collected everything. what did you get home from Barnes & Noble before they turned off the lights and locked the doors? You have two options: you can bite the bullet and finally assemble this slightly repulsive, possibly race-insensitive puzzle that your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas a few years ago, or you can arrange to exchange puzzles with your similarly assembled … of friends. You see, here’s the thing about the puzzles: making one of them is great – I find it just as relaxing as an hour of yoga, plus I can listen to a podcast at the same time – but once you’re done with that, the fun part. basically useless. Of course, you can paint it with puzzle glue (you won’t) and store it somewhere safe until you find a frame that’s the right size (you won’t) and hang it up (you definitely won’t), or you can awkwardly leave it cramping your dining table for a week or so until you meekly undo all your hours of hard work by hastily disassembling it, tossing the parts back into the box and shoving it into the darkest and most abandoned corner of your play closet, never to be seen again until you accidentally knock it down while you were looking for a deck of cards, and spend the next 15 minutes collecting the Star Wars poster gallery in roughly 35/1000 handfuls.
Or – or – you can take a picture of the completed puzzle (because you now know you have all the pieces), carefully place it back in the box, and then take it to a friend’s house (using approved physical access) where you will receive one in return. from recently completed and lovingly disassembled puzzles of the specified friend. As long as you don’t piece the pieces back together like an over-zealous three-year-old, the puzzle should last at least a few life cycles, which means you can keep spreading things out indefinitely. If you want to get really ambitious, you can create a Facebook or Instagram group where you can invite members of your wider community to share your puzzles outside of your immediate group of friends. You can even hunt down a community of like-minded puzzle enthusiasts on the Internet – like the folks at the Jigsaw Puzzle Swap Exchange – although keep in mind that if you’re swapping puzzles with people from other regions, shipping costs can quickly overshadow the shipping costs of a new puzzle. If you are even a little like me, you definitely have time for this – even as the country continues to “open up,” I still sit around a lot. I have nothing but time and have my eye on my friend Bill’s collection of Edward Gorey puzzles . Updated to include a link to share puzzles.